This issue of Top Fives is brought to you by wishful thinking and procrastination. We live in a land where summer is short-lived and sunshine is just a memory for eight or nine months of the year. Please enjoy.
Top 5 Songs About Summer by Ariana Heppner
5. Cruel Summer, Bananarama (*)
The recognizable synth-pop beats of this '80s hit put you in the mood for a little car-groovin', or maybe a little surfing and kicking ass. When you get home, you could always put on some overalls and fix a car.
4. Summertime, New Kids on the Block (redux) (iTunes)
Not to be confused with the familiar Miles Davis tune of the same name (which didn't make this list only because I couldn't decide which of the approximately one million versions I liked best), the sheer audacity of this 2008 release propelled it straight into my Top Five, and that's about all there is to it. I mean, have you heard it? The lyrics are incredibly bad. But also, the a cappella bridge is kind of cool. Don't tell anyone I said so.
3. Summer Breeze, Jason Mraz (iTunes)
One of many covers of the Seals & Croft hit, but perhaps the most imaginative, Mraz's version subtly layers guitars and synth, building consistently and seductively throughout the familiar tune. His vocal riffs, which on most artists would quickly become obnoxious, instead are used to perfection, and they wave and shimmer through the air as all of a sudden you find yourself transported to a campfire on the beach.
2. The Boys of Summer, The Ataris (iTunes)
Yes, there are probably a few of you completely scandalized that I've chosen this cover over Don Henley's original, but while that's a great song in its own right, I feel like the darkness of the Ataris' version intensifies the moodiness and elevates it above simply a good road trip song, bringing it into true unrequited-love anthem territory.
1. Summer of '69, Bryan Adams (iTunes)
What better, more obvious choice for #1 than this classic of all classics? Not only is it Bryan Adams's best-known song (I can't tell you how many times I mention Ryan Adams and people go, "The 'Summer of '69' guy?" Sigh. No.), but it's also an iconic rock sing-along that never grows old.
Top Five Songs about Sunshine by Sarah Miller
5. The Secret Sun, Jesse Harris (iTunes)
I discovered Jesse Harris thanks to Mandy Moore's classic film Chasing Liberty, which I probably watched 32 times in the summer of 2004. Don't judge; Jeremy Piven's in it. Harris was Norah Jones's guitar player and this is the title track from his solo album. It's a mellow acoustic guitar-driven song, perfect for rolling out those lazy hazy crazy days of summer.
4. See the Sun, The Kooks (iTunes)
This song, about the fickleness of love and how one person's sunrise is another's sunset, kicks into a great groove after its emotional free-time guitar/vocal duet at the beginning (a "rubato verse," to use muzik skool terms). I also love the lead singer's voice and how he sings in his real accent.
3. Sunshine, Matt Costa (iTunes)
This is one of those perfect summer campfire songs, complete with sha-la-las, ooh-oohs and friends singing the background vocals. Pass the marshmallows.
2. Shadow Proves the Sunshine, Switchfoot (iTunes)
Here is where I tell you that Switchfoot is probably my favourite band of all time. I really think Jon Foreman is one of the best songwriters of our generation. Check out his just-released Summer EP; it's unreal. I could write an essay about it. But I'll spare you that and instead tell you that "Shadow Proves the Sunshine" is what I call a truly epic song, all about negotiating life's up and downs. There are so many layers of music going on that every time I hear it I hear something new. The song starts off slow and sparse, adding a little something – drums, more guitars, background vocals screamed out through a piano's soundboard – to every verse, until the chorus arrives, and the clouds break and the sun's rays shine through.
1. Here Comes the Sun, The Beatles (*)
There isn't really a whole lot I can comment on with this song, other than to say it's beautiful and poignant and worth listening to when it is raining or the middle of winter and you just want things to get better. George is definitely the most underappreciated Beatle, and this is one of his best songs ever.
*You're going to have to find these songs on your own because as far as we can tell they aren't available for download...
Both #1s would be present in a list of my favourite songs around. Bryan Adams was the first concert I ever attended, and George was definitely my favourite Beatle.