The Beach Boys, who practically invented summer music, are the top artists on the list with five of the top 30 songs: “Surfin’ U.S.A.” at #8, “California Girls” at #16, “Surfer Girl” at #23, “Wipe Out” (on which they were guests of Fat Boys) at #28 and “Surfin’ Safari” at #30. That’s fitting for a group that topped the chart with a compilation titled Endless Summer.
All of these songs reached #1 on the Hot 100, except for “Wipe Out,” which wiped out at #2.
Percy Faith’s shimmering instrumental “The Theme From ‘A Summer Place,’” which headed the Hot 100 for nine weeks, didn’t make the list. Billboard apparently didn’t deem the movie theme “summer-specific,” despite its title and mellow vibe.
Cochran is one of several artists on the list who were still in their teens at the time of the release of their summer classics. Brian Hyland was just 16 when “…Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” was released. The Surfaris were a teen surf rock’n’roll band. Three of the five Beach Boys were still in their teens at the time of the release of their oldest song on the list, “Surfin’ Safari.”
The only songs on the list from this century are Justin Timberlake’s 2007 hit “Summer Love” (#19 on the list) and Perry’s 2010 smash.
Most of the songs were hits in the summer, as you would expect, but several were not. Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” (#22 on the list) peaked in late November 1972. The Motels’ “Suddenly Last Summer” (#24 on the list) peaked in mid-November 1983. At the other end of the calendar, Richard Marx’s “Endless Summer Nights” (#6 on the list) peaked in late March 1988.
There are some oddities. “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” which was considered somewhat risqué in 1960, is listed, but its modern-day equivalent, Sisqo’s “Thong Song,” is not. (It’s not for lack of chart performance: Sisqo’s smash spent three weeks at #3 in 2000.)
Also, there are no country songs on the list. Kenny Chesney’s “Summertime,” which was #1 on Hot Country Songs for five weeks in 2006, didn’t accrue enough Hot 100 points. (It peaked at #34 on the Hot 100.)
“Wipe Out” is the only song to appear on the list twice. In addition to the Surfaris’ recording at #3, a cover version by Fat Boys (with the Beach Boys) is listed at #28.
Here’s a little summer song trivia. War’s “Summer” (#15 on the list) was released on the first day of summer in 1976. (It scaled the chart all summer and peaked at #7 the first week of fall.)
You'll find a link to Billboard's list in the second sentence of this blog. Here’s Billboard’s detailed explanation for how the list was compiled:
“The ranking is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. Prior to the Hot 100's implementation in 1991 of enhanced radio and sales information from Nielsen BDS and Nielsen SoundScan, songs had shorter reigns at No. 1 and shorter chart lives. To ensure equitable representation, earlier time frames were each weighted to account for the difference between turnover rates from those decades and the turnover rates that have occurred since the advent of Nielsen Music data.”
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