The Ten Best Summer Albums, Ever: Special Edition


I screwed up a track listing, and so I’ve changed that part (it’s noted) and I’ve also swapped out one album for another as I was listening to one this evening that barely missed the list and then realized, it shouldn’t have.

This is headed for one lucky Madonna fan. Because it should.

Anyone who disagrees with this list is an alien. One of the ones that eats people. So if you find yourself not agreeing with this list, I’m reporting you to the government.

This is not a list of the Top Ten Summer Songs; rather, of the cohesive albums that make summer heat fun and summer humidity less torturous.

And I swear by all that’s holy, if you ever thought Madonna would make this list, you should get hit by a meteor. And not one of the cool ones that gives you super powers. One of the bad ones.

Don’t bother with your argument that “Madonna was actually a talented blah blah blah who blech blech barf.” I’m not listening anymore. Name an album of hers without Googling it. Not a song, but an entire album. Exactly.

The Doors album cover
I just can't understand anyone who doesn't love this album. It's perfect.
  1. The Doors, The Doors. While only one of the six best studio albums they did (wait for it…), it’s undeniably the one with the most summer feel – fitting since it was released during the Hippie-saturated Summer of Love. There are some airy surfer-esque entries (I Looked At You), some cigarette-stained humid night and coffee ballads (Soul Kitchen) and even a highly epic song that’s got a haunting, late-night depressed stage of drunkenness song (The End) for all of those philosophical talks that wound up going far, far deeper into the night than you intended. And of course, Light My Fire. Summer through and through.
  2. 5150, Van Halen. This is pretty much the flagship album of summer so far as I’m concerned. Good Enough, Summer Nights, 5150…even Inside beg to be played outdoors while you’re passing time bulls****ing with your friends. This noses out 1984 by a hair. Both of these albums smell like the Pac Man machine and stale cigarettes, with the scintillating sting of pizza. Good times.
  3. Wildflowers, Tom Petty. Just at dusk, when everything’s finally getting a break from the relentless sun, this is a great album. Engages you and makes you happy without asking too much in return. I can’t rave enough for this album in the summertime.
  4. Greatest Hits, Journey. I can’t leave Journey off this list and I can’t choose between three of their albums, so to be fair, why not select one that combines the best aspects of all three? As Captain Kirk would say, “Simple logic.”
  5. 1, The Beatles. As much of a cheat as it may be to have multiple “greatest hits” albums on here, what the Hell else are you supposed to do with the Beatles? I say, just put this on and enjoy the gargantuan journey of four boys who went from aggressive summer pop to mellow, enlightened epics. Honestly, if you put this album on at the right point of the night, the band’s transition mirrors the change from daylight to humid night. That’s pretty neat.
  6. Some Girls, Rolling Stones. When I initially posted this entry, I f*d up the track listing. Then a friend of mine caught the error, and I realize now that this album is inextricably linked for me as part of the soundtrack of the Summer of 1998. Long story short, both albums were in heavy rotation and I was in a very transitional period in my life. As a result, this has become fused as one double album amalgam in my brain with Sticky Fingers. My apologies for the earlier error. As soon as I start making money on this blog, I promise I’ll never make another error.
  7. born-in-the-usa
    This is a metaphor for what he would become after 1991.
  8. Pump, Aerosmith. Steven Tyler was at one time pretty cool. This album is also chock full of summer goodness, if only for “The Other Side.” But the guitars and horns are beautiful outdoor party weather and an absolute blast of fun. Ain’t that what summer’s about?
  9. Giant Steps, John Coltrane. Anything I say about it would sound like a pretentious white kid trying to sound cooler than he is. But my choice stands. I will say I have a terrific memory of driving around Denver with this album playing when Mike and I went to Star Wars Celebration I, because we were the coolest damn cats in the town that weekend.
  10. Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen. Tunnel of Love is a better album, but there are so many catchy back-yard, chart-busting anthems on Born in the USA that I’d be hard pressed to put, in this case, the better album on at the barbeque. Summer albums is the theme, and you don’t get more summer-y than this.
  11. Comfort Eagle, Cake. I wish I could go into every reason why this album is so perfect for summer. But I can’t and I won’t. I’ll carry them with me to the grave. I’m sort of being a hard ass about not putting multiple entries from one band, otherwise this would just turn into a Doors/Cake discography. (This replaced Elv1s from the original list.)

I know the Beach Boys theoretically should be up there, but they just didn’t crack the top ten. If that really bothers you, then perhaps you need to realize I just have better taste.


You may now use the comments area below to tell me exactly how perfect this list is. Thank you.


12 thoughts on “The Ten Best Summer Albums, Ever: Special Edition

  1. While not my favorite album by a long shot, I’ve always marked the official start of summer as the first time of the year I listen to Seal’s second self-titled album (Bring It on, Prayer for the Dying, etc.). There isn’t a better album for summer music.

  2. BTW, without Google, Wikipedia, or any other search engine: True Blue, Madonna, Like a Virgin, and Ray of Light. Also, Who’s That Girl soundtrack. Only True Blue could possibly deserve considered a mention on this list, but I don’t miss it.

  3. John, do you actually own a copy of Some Girls? Because you should probably check the track listing, get the 60’s straight from the 70’s, and edit this blog before I show up on your doorstep with that meteor and a bottle of Liquid Silk.

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