Music History

What was the “Song of the Summer” the Year You Were Born?

I honestly don’t remember this “song of the summer” stuff being such a big deal until a few years ago. Someone somewhere in the music industry decided that this was some kind of competition and now everyone seems to have bought into this ridiculous race. Billboard even has a dedicated “Songs of the Summer” chart. Pandora uses listener data to predict songs of the summer. Spotify does the same thing.

On the other hand, we all tend to frame summer memories in terms of the music we were listening to during those few months. Whether we’re aware of it or not, these songs form a temporal reference for summers gone by.

For example, I will always associate 1992 with “New World Order” by Ministry, probably because I stood side stage as Al Jourgensen rained hellfire down on the crowd at Lollapalooza. Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” always reminds me of where I was in 2001–and I don’t even like the song.

Elle has done some chart research, looking back over the biggest summer songs of the 80s. Prince and “When Doves Cry” in ’84? Absolutely. “Shout” from Tears for Fears in ’85? No question.

Let’s expand that even further. What was the big summer song the year you were born? Billboard has this chart that stretches back 60 years.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38293 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “What was the “Song of the Summer” the Year You Were Born?

  • “Song of the Summer” title was likely born out of the industry’s realization that what starts with a fun catchy tune (good or bad – just has to be earworm catchy) at the beginning of the sunny season that people latch on to, airplay (radio/stream/whatever) can beat it into the subconscious of anyone within earshot, until September hits and that very same song is the bane of a normal persons’ existence due to over exposure. Back in the days of physical sales, it probably meant more. These days it’s a near guarantee that you’ll hate it in 3-6 months. If the artist is not established there’s a good chance that was their one shot – you’ll forever be linked to that song that everyone now hates.

  • Off course i dont remember. But your information make me curious. i will check on the billboard 🙂


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