Tuesday, July 24, 2018

What ingredients make a great summer song? (Hint: Justin Beiber isn't one of them.)

Ah, those Summer Nights

Last week, the NPR program Marketplace did a feature on how music companies go about crowning the biggest “Song of the Summer.”

The segment described a tune released by DJ Khaled that was expected to be the hot hit of the 2017 vacation season.
The song was titled “I’m the One” and featured Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Wayne. In the music video, “they’re at a mansion hanging by the pool. Bieber is in a bathing suit and women are dancing around in bikinis.”

The piece went on to talk about the evolution of the summer song from Tin Pan Alley to 60s surf tunes. Then at some point, according to the story, the song of the summer changed. It no longer had to be about summer! It didn’t have to be about sunshine, beaches, sweltering cities, romances (and broken hearts), parties or road trips. It just had to be popular in summer.

Say what??

Come on NPR, wake up and smell the Coppertone!

Now here’s a real summer song:

Or how about this classic?

You can almost feel the ocean breeze with this one. 

By the way, the guy on the left in the video is my good friend Don Dannemon. The Cyrkle is touring again and Don’s voice is as great as ever. (And in case you wondered, that “boing” towards the end was a sitar.)

Here are a few more nominations worthy of Summer Song of the Year. 
“Sunny Afternoon” -  the Kinks
“School is Out”  -  Gary US Bonds
“A Summer Song” - Chad and Jeremy
“Summer in the City”-  Lovin’ Spoonful
“Hot Fun in the Summertime” - Sly and the Family Stone
“Summer Breeze” – Seals and Crofts
“Under the Boardwalk” – The Drifters
“Summer Nights – John Travolta and Olivia Newton John
“Good Vibrations” – The Beach Boys
"Sandy" - Ronnie and the Daytonas
And one of my all time favorites
“California Nights” – Leslie Gore
"Dancing in the Streets" - Martha and the Vandellas
Ken Merson, the "Merson Person" and host of the fab 60's Countdown (#Sirius 60s on 6 channel ) on Saturday afternoons told me about his favorite summer song: 
"It's got to be "Dancing in the Street" by Martha & The Vandellas. The second I hear that drum intro hit followed by the brass section intro, I'm ready to dance with reckless abandon. Once Martha Reeves sings "Summer's here and the time is right for Dancing in the Street", then it's official!

In the old days, lots of kids went on vacation with their parents and had to leave a boyfriend or girlfriend behind. When we had to say goodbye for the summer, we wrote letters! Some arrived with this inscription on the back: SWALCAKWS. 

Did it ring a bell? Did you remember?
Sealed With A Lick Cuz A Kiss Won't Stick.

Now here is our final tune. It’s a slow dance.

And of course, a Ladies Choice. Enjoy. And happy summer.