We all know that music can bring us right back to a certain time in our lives (I mean, who can hear He is Lord without flashing right back to their First Holy Communion?) but summer songs are in a league of their own. One of these guys comes on the radio and I am right back – in Bodrum, in Turkey, aged 11; in secondary school, winding down for the summer holidays; or in the Gaeltacht, snogging a boy whose name I now don’t remember behind prefab number four.
There are some summer songs that are stronger than others in my memory – and, for whatever reason, they’re the ones that resonate most with me when they come on the radio. (The power of music to provoke emotion, incidentally, is the reason why no one should ever listen to Q102 when they’ve just gone through a breakup. Take it from someone who knows.)
Len, Steal My Sunshine
I think I was in college when Len’s Steal My Sunshine came out; it reminds me of a girl I used to be really good friends with, and the kind of intense friendships you have when you’re 19. I was smoking Marlboro Red back then (like an Olsen twin, I used to think to myself) and drinking a lot of French beer from teeny tiny bottles. Whenever I hear it, I have a teeny tiny moment where I think how nice it would be to have a smoke and a cold beer. (Then I remember that I hate the taste of cigarettes and, indeed, of beer.)
Whigfield, Saturday Night
This has to be the ultimate summer song. We were on holidays in Spain at the time, and I remember one night seeing a group of young teenagers (I was about 10) doing the dance. I think that was when I discovered what jealousy felt like. To this day, I get confused about the hand movements, and I always, always end up out of sync. Damn Whigfield.
The Offspring, Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)
According to the God that is Wikipedia, Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) was released in November of 1998, although I distinctly remember it being a summer song. I remember the first time I heard it – in the changing room before PE. I think one of the girls in my class played it on a Discman and we were all astounded by how much we loved it. In hindsight, isn’t this just a teeny tiny bit un-PC?!
Gala, Freed From Desire
Freed From Desire was the song, the second year I went to Turkey with my family; it blared from speakers in every single club and pub we passed by as we attempted to find a nice restaurant to eat dinner in. (My family is very picky about holiday food – we must eat in authentic local restaurants or, failing that, Chinese. Not for us, these burger joints on every street corner. So there was a lot of walking.) I still love that song. It reminds me of the year my cousin Abigail taught me to dive into the pool, and one day I forgot to put my hands out and smashed my nose on the bottom. When the cut healed, I had a big patch of fresh white skin, while the rest of my face was nicely tanned.
What are your top summer songs? Am I missing any gems? It’s funny – since I grew up, so to speak, summer songs have seemed less evocative somehow. Sure, there’s always the summer tune and I do enjoy listening to music in the summer months, but none will ever take me back quite so forcefully as these bangers.