Summertime, and the living's...well, not entirely easy.
As the world continues to grapple with so much sustained heaviness and many of us are still being asked to stay indoors in the interest of public health, this is a summer season that looks and feels like none other. For music fans, that means no live music and a spotty release schedule, with concerts going virtual and some artists pushing their new material off the calendar in hopes of waiting this thing out.
And the song of summer? That's anyone's guess as listening habits have shifted entirely.
While it remains to be seen which track will come to represent this bizarre point in history when we're looking back on it, years from now, we can turn to the songs of summers past to help us get into the spirit of the season—even if just for a few fleeting moments of musical bliss.
Featuring iconic smash hits from the likes of Rihanna, Cardi B, Drake and more, The MixtapE! proudly presents our ultimate Songs of Summer playlist. We hope it helps bring just a little bit more sunshine into your life!
Rihanna feat. Jay Z — "Umbrella"
We're not saying this Good Girl Gone Bad track, which spent seven consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 2007, is the quintessential "song of summer." But whenever we hear that phrase, the slick pop song that propelled Rih into the upper echelons of stardom is the one that immediately comes to mind. So, actually, maybe we are saying that.
Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin — "I Like It"
"Bodak Yellow" may have been the track that put Cardi on the map, but it was this Latin trap bop off her debut album Invasion of Privacy that was everywhere during the summer of 2018. And for good reason. Even though it only spent a week at No. 1 on the Hot 100, in early July, the mix of the "I Like It Like That" sample, Bad Bunny and J Balvin's energy, and Cardi's boss flow all added up to one hell of a vibe.
Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rogers — "Get Lucky"
The warmth the French DJ duo were able to access for this track off their 2013 album Random Access Memories by tapping the singer-producer for vocals and the Chic legend for that syrupy bassline groove helped elevate them out of their usually icily robotic territory and into something refreshingly human. It may have been another Pharrell feature that topped the charts all summer long—Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines"—but, when we think of the summer of '13, it's this song that provides the soundtrack
Drake — "One Dance"
The dancehall track off Drake's 2016 album Views spent a whopping nine consecutive weeks atop the Hot 100 that summer. Maddeningly, it's not available in its studio form on YouTube any longer, so all we have is this sanctioned Saturday Night Live performance to plug in here, but—admit it—you're singing the entire thing to yourself right now anyway.
Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg — "California Gurls"
Frothy and fun—two qualities we're always looking for in summer songs—this ode to the ladies of the Golden off Katy's magnum opus Teenage Dream spent six weeks at No. 1 during the summer of 2010.
Nelly Furtado feat. Timbaland — "Promiscuous"
For her third studio album, Nelly enlisted the Midas touch of Timbaland and went full-on pop star, beginning with this seductive and slinky lead single that spent six week at No. 1 during the summer of 2006.
Nelly — "Hot in Herre"
For seven weeks in the summer of 2002, this lead single off the Midwest rapper's second album Nellyville sat at No. 1, presenting one truly NSFW, if logical solution to the unbearable heat.
Donna Summer — "Bad Girls"
This iconic track from the late Queen of Disco ruled the charts during the summer of 1979 and, given the genre's welcome resurgence in 2020, we think it would stand a good chance of doing the same if it were released today. Toot, toot—hey! Beep, beep!
TLC — "Waterfalls"
A little heavier than everything else on this list, but no less iconic, this socially conscious R&B track from the girl group spent seven consecutive weeks atop the Hot 100. There's not a Millennial alive who doesn't know every word to Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes' verse.
Beyoncé feat. Jay Z — "Crazy in Love"
For eight consecutive weeks in the summer of 2003, Bey's funky AF debut solo single reigned at No. 1, establishing her as a superstar while delivering one of the most inescapable drum and brass productions in music history.
Luis Fonsi feat. Daddy Yankee & Justin Bieber — "Despacito": With 16 weeks spent atop the Hot 100, this reggaeton smash wasn't just the song of summer in 2017. It was the song of the year, full stop.
Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus — "Old Town Road": Sub in "19 weeks," "country trap smash" and "2019" above, and you get the point here.
Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello — "Señorita": This flirty Latin pop bop from the dating duet partners only spent one week at the top in 2019, but the sultry vibe of the track sure made it worthy of the summer months.
Brandy & Monica — "The Boy Is Mine": The sentiment behind this 1998 hit, which pitted the two R&B sensations against one another over a man, may feel a bit retrograde in hindsight, but the 13 weeks it spent at No. 1 that summer certainly aren't anything to fight over.
Christina Aguilera — "Genie in a Bottle": For five weeks in late summer 1999, it was all about Xtina and her irresistible debut track. A real wish come true.