2012 “Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen
It’s still too early to tell which song will most dominate the airwaves over the next few months, but judging from the viral parodies, random think pieces, and Katy Perry singalongs already inspired by it, Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen’s bubblegum pop anthem “Call Me Maybe” is probably here to stay—though we’re still rooting for a Rihanna “Where Have You Been” takeover. Honorable runners-up include Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Usher’s “Scream,” One Direction’s “One Thing,” and Fun.’s “We Are Young.”
2002 “Hot in Herre,” Nelly
Remembering summer 2002 still leaves us feeling a little parched—partly due to the sky-high temperatures, but mainly because every car stereo, grocery store, and radio station wouldn’t stop blasting this song about how sweaty Nelly was. We give him props for bringing back the word “bodacious,” though. Other memorable summer 2002 songs include Eminem’s “Without Me,” Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle,” and Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles.”
1992 “Baby Got Back,” Sir Mix-a-Lot
Sir Mix-a-Lot was the Tyra Banks of 1992: celebrity champion of healthy body image. “Baby Got Back” praised the girls whose voluptuous behinds made them look like “one of those rap guys’ girlfriends” and slammed the “magazines sayin’ flat butts are the thing.” The song stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for five weeks in summer 1992, alongside songs like En Vogue’s sassy “My Love (Never Gonna Get It)” and Boyz II Men’s sappy “End of the Road.”
1982“Eye of the Tiger,” Survivor
This chart-topping theme song to Rocky III was released in late-May 1982 and had been certified platinum by the end of August. Its appeal is undeniable (tiger growls!); its workout potential unlimited (champs have been made from this song—and a montage). And even though no one ever remembers the song’s writer, everyone remembers him demanding that Newt Gingrich stop playing it at his rallies.
1972“Summer Breeze,” Seals and Crofts
Although it wasn’t released until August of that year, “Summer Breeze” is probably the most memorable summer song of 1972. Its harmony vocals, hazy melody, and the toy piano tinkling in the background remind one of lying half awake in a hammock on the beach. In bell bottoms. Alternately, it also makes us think of pot-smoking teenagers, as the song was also featured in Dazed and Confused.
1962“Sherry,” Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
With romance extraordinaire Frankie Valli at the mike and a seductive doo-wop sound, how could “Sherry” by the Four Seasons not have reached No. 1 for five weeks late in the summer of ’62? Its high-pitched, slow-dance-ready sound was innocent, and its lyrics (“Come out mmm, you look so fine/Come out move it nice and easy/Girl, you make me lose my mind”) not so much—the perfect recipe for an enduring teenage anthem.
1952“Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart,” Vera Lynn
English singer Vera Lynn popularized this version of German composer Eberhard Storch’s song “Auf Wiederseh’n, Auf Wiederseh’n” in 1952 and topped the summer charts for nine weeks. (The song also spent four weeks at the top of Billboard’s “Most Played in Jukeboxes” chart.) It sounds more like the storybook opening to a Disney fairy tale than a beach-party tune, but sentimentality seems to have been theme of the year: Jo Stafford’s “You Belong to Me,” Patti Page’s “I Went to Your Wedding,” and Al Martino’s “Here in My Heart” were also among the most popular songs of 1952.
1942“Jingle Jangle Jingle,” Kay Kyser
The biggest summer song of 1942 was a swinging, hand-clapping bandstand tune by Kay Kyser, “the Ol’ Professor,” and his Kollege of Musical Knowledge. The cheerful song about “spurs that jingle jangle jingle” was a happy distraction from the war overseas and stayed at No. 1 on the charts for eight weeks.