Songs of Summer 2016

by | Jun 22, 2016 | Pop Culture

Music should move the mind, the soul, or the body. Taylor Swift for Biblical Literature. Talib Kweli for Catholic Social Teaching. Flatfoot 56 for wrestling practice.

 As a first-year theology teacher at Marquette University High School, I frequently employed music, in the classroom and the gym alike. Music is versatile — it can be a bargaining chip with the freshmen, get the juniors deeper into their small group work, or create a thought-provoking discussion. But school’s out and I need a new playlist. Perhaps you do as well. I’ve organized them by theme. Give these a listen:


1. Adventures of You and Me by Ryan Bingham

Get started on your adventure with this cajun-inspired track. It sets the perfect tone for turning out of the driveway and discovering what’s next.

2. Monsters of the North by The National Parks

Adventures are best shared with a companion. “We watched the sunrise through the windows of our car…”, lead vocalist Sydney Macfarlane croons.

3. Steamboat by Look Homeward

Not all adventures are road trips. If you’re traveling by sea (or water, or lake), put on this track.

4. Cumberland River by Old Crow Medicine Show

That’s right, this Nashville band has more songs than “Wagon Wheel.” Perfect for a relaxing, reflective day on the water.

5. All Blue by Luke Bell

All adventures must come to an end. On the way home, hang onto your wonderful memories with this track.

Summer Love


“You need to know that I’m hella obsessed with your face.” Okay, it’s not Shakespeare, but it gets the point across.

2. Oh My Love by The Score

This is a song that just makes ya want to tell people about how great love is.

3. Can’t Stop This Feeling by Justin Timberlake

JT does it again. This is the perfect love-dance song for the summer.

4. All In by Bronze Radio Return

Do you remember the Barenaked Ladies’ song “If I Had a Million Dollars?” This is the 2016 equivalent — a deep expression of simple enjoyment of love and time spent together.

Chilling at the Beach

1. Teach That Girl to Dance by Civilian

Dancing by the beach. Sounds just as good as “Cake by the Ocean” to me.  

2. All Day All Night by Moon Taxi

Beach campfires are spectacular — the warm breath of the fire maintains the perfect balance with the lake’s cool air. This track will take you there.

3. Perfect World by Allen Stone

For many of us, summertime is utopia. With a perfectly placed horn section and a beat that is just right, this song will take you to your happy place.

4. HandClap by Fitz and the Tantrums

“Turn it up!” You will be compelled to comply with this opening line, especially as the sky darkens and the stars begin to appear.

5. Vacating Love by Zolo.

A dancehall beat with catchy lyrics. The perfect formula for an awesome summertime jam.

Summertime Sadness

No, this is not a plug for Lana Del Rey. Often, summer is a time for goodbyes, break-ups, and loneliness. As The National Parks sing, “You can’t see the stars unless you step into the dark.” If that’s where you’re at this summer, try these tunes:

1. Where the Hell Are My Friends by LANY.

Finding friends after college can be difficult. If you’re missing your pals, this is the song for you.

2. Sound and Color by Alabama Shakes

This soulful band is perfect for those times when you are sitting on the porch and watching thunderstorms roll by.

3. Include Me Out by Robyn

When we feel that we need support, this tune evokes beautiful memories of familial love.

4. Story of an Immigrant by Civil Twilight

Goodbyes are always difficult and sometimes beautiful. Even as the immigrant is “ready to begin,” she feels a sense of loss.

5. Above the Clouds of Pompeii by Bear’s Den

Grab your tissues and watch the first ten minutes of “Up” to put yourself in the mood for this one. They sing in remembrance of a loved one who has passed, but memories of time spent together remain.


What’s summer without a little nostalgia? Here are some great throwback songs celebrating summers past.

1. Last Friday Night by Katy Perry

A party favorite, and a happy reminder of summer shenanigans.

2. Dani California by the Red Hot Chili Peppers

In 2006, the Peppers reminded us that classic is best with their album “Stadium Arcadium.” This track stands the test of time.

3. Here’s to the Night by Eve 6.

“Tomorrow’s gonna come too soon.” When you realize that this song was realized 15 years ago, you have to agree that this band was right.

4. Good Vibrations by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

Have you watched Sister Act lately? You should, just so you can watch nuns dance to this fun-loving song. You, too, can be a dancing sister (or brother).

5. Joy to the World by Three Dog Night.

Does retro mean something different to you than the 1990’s or 2000’s? Fair enough. For my last summer rec, let’s take it back to 1971. If you don’t get up and sing along to this one, well, then I’m just disappointed in you.

This summer playlist is incomplete, of course. Do you have any summer favorites to share? Post a comment and let us know!

Spotify playlist:


Title image by author.