I had this idea a couple days ago to write about my favorite summer songs. I don't mean songs about summer, necessarily, but songs that were big hits in summers past. Having been a Top 40 geek through the '80s, and having so many songs able to transport me back to a specific time of my life, coming up with this list should have been easy, but it was a little trickier than I anticipated. Many songs that do take me back aren't necessarily my absolute favorites -- "Every Breath You Take" by The Police was a monster hit in the summer of 1983, does remind me of that time, yet, I've never really liked the song.
So I had been contemplating my favorite summer songs when I turn VH1 Classic and see ... the top summer songs of all-time. Hosted by original MTV veejay Mark Goodman (who by the way is looking way old, though not quite Kurt Loder old yet), it was purely the best summer-themed songs, including "Vacation", "Boys of Summer" and "Summer of '69". Again, this is just my favorite songs that were big hits from Chicago summers of the 1980s.
1980: "Against the Wind" by Bob Seger I already blogged about why I like this song so much, so I won't rehash. RUNNERS-UP: "It's Still Rock 'n' Roll to Me" by Billy Joel; "Train in Vain" by The Clash; "Steal Away" by Robbie Dupree (yes, it's cheesy soft rock, sue me).
1981: "Hold on Loosely" by .38 Special My first conflict on this list, there are many great songs from this summer. RUNNERS-UP: "The Waiting" by Tom Petty; "For You" by Manfred Mann; "You Better You Bet" by The Who.
1982: "Only the Lonely" by The Motels Not the most upbeat hit of this summer, but not so mellow to descend into soft rock. A simple, thoughtful song. RUNNERS-UP: "867-5309" by Tommy Tutone; "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, "Heat of the Moment" by Asia (insert "40-Year-Old Virgin" reference here).
1983: "Electric Avenue" by Eddy Grant Maybe it wasn't as cool as I first thought it was, but still a favorite. RUNNERS-UP: "Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats; "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This" by The Eurythmics.
1984: "Panama" by Van Halen My general favorite song is "My Everchanging Moods" by The Style Council and is from this summer, but I don't quite connect it with this summer, so I'm not listing it. "Panama" just rocks. RUNNERS-UP: "Round and Round" by RATT; "When Doves Cry" by Prince; "Dance Hall Days" by Wang Chung.
1985: "Invincible" by Pat Benatar Good song from a bad, bad movie ("The Legend of Billy Jean"). RUNNERS-UP: "Glory Days" by Bruce Springsteen; "People Are People" by Depeche Mode.
1986: "Rumbleseat" by John Mellencamp This was the toughest summer to come up with a favorite, not because of too many choices, but a lack thereof. That said, one of my top five Mellencamp songs. RUNNER-UP: "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel.
1987: "Don't Mean Nothing" by Richard Marx Remember the video more than the song. RUNNERS-UP: "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2; "Seven Wonders" by Fleetwood Mac.
1988: "The Flame" by Cheap Trick Their comeback ballad might be a little weird for Cheap Trick, but it's a good song nonetheless. RUNNERS-UP: "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns 'n' Roses; "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard.
1989: "Free Falling" by Tom Petty The 1980s were running out of steam as far as good Top 40 went, and I admittedly wasn't listening to Top 40 as much. Probably the best lyrics of the year. RUNNERS-UP: "Every Little Step" by Bobby Brown; "Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry.
There's the list. After typing it out, well, it's not as earth-shattering a list as I'd had hoped. Maybe I'm forgetting some songs, or maybe as the decade went along, I wasn't connecting as much to what was on the radio (which gradually got more specialized). Oh well, it was still fun to write.