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Songs of the Summer 1993-2013


There's nothing quite like that moment when the sun breaks through, the shorts come out, and the ice cream man finally starts making some money, even if it normally doesn't happen until September.

And as the barbecues start, the radio comes on, and one tune begins to take over as the summer anthem that everyone is listening to. We take a look at the Song of the Summer for each of the last 20 years: sit back and remember those hazy, lazy summer days of yore.

Check out the Spotify Playlist of our choices



Chaka Demus & Pliers - Tease Me

While the summer chart-toppers were Gabrielle, who spent 3 week at the top with Dreams, and Take That, who scored their first number one with Pray (scoring extra summer marks for a beach video), the real sound of the summer was undoubtedly reggae, as Inner Circle, UB40, Ace of Base and Shabba Ranks all scored top 10 hits. The biggest of them all though was Chaka Demus and Pliers' bootylicious Tease Me, which spent 10 weeks in the top 10 through June, July and August, peaking at number 3. If you didn't buy 100% Reggae that year, you missed out on the greatest compilation album of all time.



Warren G feat. Nate Dogg - Regulate

The reggae takeover continued unabated in the summer of 1994, with Big Mountain, Dawn Penn, Red Dragon and Aswad all making appearances, but none laying claim to being the definitive summer track. Unfortunately in terms of sales, there was no competition, as the song that dominated 1994, Wet Wet Wet's Four Weddings behemoth Love is All Around, spent 15 weeks at number 1 throughout the summer months. However, the true sound of the summer belonged to a slinky Michael McDonald sample, Warren G's flow, and Nate Dogg's luscious tones - which combined to create Regulate: an all-time classic.



Outhere Brothers - Boom Boom Boom

The early stages of Simon Cowell's reign of terror, the TV double act of Robson & Jerome ruled the hit parade over May, June and July with their double A-side of Unchained Melody and (There'll be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover. However, seeing as very few people bought that who were either: a) under 65, or b) not a fan of Soldier Soldier (or both), the real song of the summer was undoubtedly the Outhere Brothers' highbrow follow up to Don't Stop (Wiggle Wiggle) which took the formula and perfected it: creating the 4-week number 1 hit Boom Boom Boom. It is scientifically impossible for anyone to say those words and for you not to respond with "Let me hear you say way-o" before the other person agrees, stating: "way-o". Just try it.



Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds - Three Lions

The summer where football came home, the nation believed, and then we lost to the Germans on penalties again. The soundtrack to those epic moments - Gazza's wonderstrike, the Shearer & Sheringham-inspired destruction of the Dutch, winning a penalty shoot-out against Spain - was provided by the best football song ever written: Three Lions, courtesy of Ian Broudie's Lightning Seeds and Fantasy Football stars Frank Skinner and David Baddiel. We're still dreaming lads.



Will Smith - Men In Black

A strong summer of hits in '97 saw highly commended awards go to Hanson, for the are-you-sure-that-lead-singer's-not-a-girl MmmBop, which topped the charts for 3 weeks in June, and the Police-sampling Biggie tribute, I'll be Missing You performed by Puff Daddy, Faith Evans and 112, which spent a total of 6 weeks atop the chart. However, our winner is Will Smith's epic funkathon Men in Black, which was number 1 for a month from the middle of August. A funk sample, big Willie on the mic and some dancing aliens - you really can't go wrong.



The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony

Another football tournament summer arrived and Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds scored another number 1, with the reworked Three Lions '98 topping the charts throughout June. A procession of transient number 1s followed, with B*Witched's C'est La Vie, Another Level's Freak Me, Jamiroquai's Deeper Underground and Spice Girls' Viva Forever all taking top spot, but the song of the summer was undoubtedly the towering Bittersweet Symphony released by a revitalised Verve. Released in mid-June, it peaked at number 2, with both the song and the accompanying video becoming equally legendary.



Ricky Martin - Livin' La Vida Loca

The year of the Latin invasion, the summer belonged to Ricky Martin and Lou Bega. While Lou's Mambo No.5 was a guilty pleasure, so was Ricky's Livin La Vida Loca, so due to its slightly more seasonal chart-topping date (Ricky ruled in July, while Lou hit top spot in September - although imports had been doing well for some time prior to this), we're going for the Puerto Rican superstar. A massive tune, even though you don't want to admit it.



Spiller feat. Sophie Ellis Bextor - Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)

A summer dominated by commercial dance tracks, with Sonique's Feels So Good taking the top spot for 3 weeks in June, and Modjo taking the tail end of summer with the Chic-sampling Lady (Hear Me Tonight). A strong contender for the Song of the Summer came from Kylie's triumphant hotpant-featuring single Spinning Around, but the one for us is Spiller's Groovejet (If This Ain't Love), which was on every radio station throughout the summer months. Featuring the vocals of Sophie Ellis-Bextor, it also stopped Victoria Beckham and Dane Bowers getting to number 1 with the vocoder-tastic Out Of Your Mind, so it deserves it just for that.



DJ Otzi - Hey Baby

The summer where UK Garage 2-stepped its way into the charts, with DJ Pied Piper & The Master of Ceremonies hitting top spot with Do You Really Like It in June, and So Solid Crew doing likewise with 21 Seconds in August. However, the real sound of the summer was released late - September 22 - but had soundtracked every single European holiday over the preceding months. Yes, the monster that was Hey Baby by DJ Otzi was inescapable. Resistance was futile.



Nelly - Hot in Herre

Highly commended also-rans for the title this year came from Blazin' Squad, who covered Crossroads to surprisingly good effect and the JXL Elvis remix of A Little Less Conversation, which sat atop the charts throughout June and July. However, the biggest summer song came courtesy of Nelly, with Hot In Herre; produced by the Neptunes during their imperial phase, it spent 7 weeks in the top 10 and soundtracked a thousand sweaty summer discos where it was, literally, getting hot (in here).



Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z - Crazy in Love

This year is like choosing between two of your children. In one corner, the astounding Ignition (Remix), courtesy of Mr R.Kelly, a song so ridiculous, it went back round the other side and became amazing. In the other, Beyoncé (with a little help from Jay-Z) properly launched her solo career with the epic Crazy In Love. Both topped the charts, both were summer anthems; but Beyoncé just edges it for us, as the video led to girls across the world trying to replicate the Bey-booty-shake. You can't argue with that.



The Shapeshifters - Lola's Theme

Like 2003, two behemoth contenders, with The Streets' seminal anthem Dry Your Eyes capturing the hearts of music fans everywhere, especially in the wake of England's traditional football tournament surrender in a quarter-final penalty shoot-out. However, the tune of the summer was surely The Shapeshifters' Lola's Theme: a song so ridiculously uplifting it should have required a prescription.



Amerie - One Thing

Imagine 2003, then imagine the absolute polar opposite. A dark, dark year for music, the two biggest hits of the summer were - wait for it - Crazy Frog's Axel F abomination, and James Blunt's You're Beautiful, which crawled its way up to number 1, then refused to let go for 5 long weeks over July and August. As if this wasn't enough, Charlotte Church, Fightstar and Lee Ryan all scored top 10s. What were we thinking? In the absence of an obvious winner, we'll go with Amerie's 1 Thing, a brilliant pop song, featuring a truly infectious beat and hook. Without this song, we'd have probably all given up and gone home.



Fedde Le Grand - Put Your Hands Up For Detroit

After the terrors of the previous year, 2006 saw a return to summer hit form, with Shakira and Wyclef's Hips Don't Lie dominating the chart top spot. Lily Allen narrowly misses out on our crown, despite the extremely summery reggae-tinged Smile conjuring up images of a sunny London day (and crack whores). No, instead that accolade goes to a track that built and built throughout the summer - although it only received a full UK release in October - the inescapable Put Your Hands Up For Detroit', courtesy of Dutch DJ Fedde Le Grand.



Rihanna feat. Jay-Z - Umbrella

Some worthy contenders this year, with Kate Nash's Foundations and Kleerup feat. Robyn's electropop masterpiece With Every Heartbeat running close, but in reality there could only be one winner. Step forward Rihanna (with a little help from Jay-Z), whose enormohit Umbrella strode atop the chart for no fewer than 10 weeks through May, June and July. The subject matter was also entirely appropriate for the average UK summer.



Eric Prydz - Pjanoo

A vintage year for summer tunes, with Dizzee Rascal making a break for the mainstream with the irrepressible Dance Wiv Me (featuring Calvin Harris' amazing turn as a barman in the video) and Katy Perry announcing herself to the world with the salacious I Kissed a Girl. However, looming large over the summer months was the three-chord motif of the mighty Eric Prydz's Pjanoo. One genius created a mashup of this and Take That's Greatest Day, possibly the most euphoric 2 minutes and 48 seconds of all time.



Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feeling

In years to come, it will be known as "Guetta's Summer". And still no-one will know exactly how you're supposed to pronounce Guetta. When Love Takes Over was a Kelly Rowland-featuring smash, Sexy Chic (featuring Akon) was an equally giant hit, but his biggest moment came with the Black Eyed Peas worldwide monster, I Gotta Feeling, which he produced. The biggest selling digital single of all time, and guaranteed to be played at every birthday party, wedding and, probably, funeral, for the rest of eternity.



Yolanda Be Cool vs DCup - We No Speak Americano

Only one possible contender for this year, as Yolanda Be Cool vs DCup created the unstoppable We No Speak Americano. Much like DJ Otzi's Hey Baby, this swept away all competition to reach number 1 across the world, was utterly inescapable for a few months, and now no-one plays it anywhere. Yolanda is no longer cool it seems.



Calvin Harris - Feel So Close

Another strong year for summer hits as LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem arrived in May and refused to leave the chart - predominantly due to it being unexpectedly brilliant. Likewise, Rizzle Kicks helped Olly Murs have a hit with the equally unexpectedly excellent Heart Skips a Beat. In a third case of a good song from a dubious source was Pitbull, Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer's Give Me Everything, but the winner for us was The Inbetweeners Movie-featuring Feel So Close courtesy of Calvin Harris. A bona fide summer anthem.



Psy - Gangnam Style

Yep, there's no getting away from it: 2012 was the summer of Psy. A truly viral smash, it quickly gained momentum when it caught the attention of various celebrities, including Justin Bieber's manager Scooter Braun. A quirky song and an even quirkier dance routine performed with gusto by the South Korean star and a billion YouTube views later, it was a cultural phenomenon.



Daft Punk - Get Lucky / Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines

People were justifiably excited about the return of Daft Punk after an 8 year absence, but no-one quite expected their comeback single to have quite the impact it did. Moving away from their electronic roots, just as America was waking up to "EDM", they instead enlisted the services of the hugely underrated guitar genius Nile Rodgers who, together with the soulful vocals of Pharrell, created a monster of a summer track.

...But just as Get Lucky looked to have the title, along came Mr Robin Thicke. An artist with a strong reputation, albeit niche, after 5 previous albums without a significant breakthrough, he was propelled into the stratosphere with the infectious Blurred Lines - again featuring Pharrell (alongside T.I.). Helped by a very-much-NSFW video, it's another giant summer tune.

Take our poll on the right-hand side towards the top of the page and pick your winner for 2013's Song of the Summer.



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