Top 5 Songs for the Heat Wave

By Cara Cerino,

The past couple of days have been HOT for the East Coast. I mean, sickeningly sweaty. To embrace the summer daze, here’s a list of the five best songs about the heat. Or about being hot. Or that are just hot tracks.

5. “Summer in the City” - The Lovin’ Spoonful (1966)
A fun ode to the “urban heat island” effect, The Lovin’ Spoonful released this song in July of 1966, and it spent three consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard charts in August.

Named number 401 of Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” “Summer in the City” is a lasting anthem for sweltering humidity and starry nights.

The song was originally a poem written by the band leader John Sebastian’s brother, Mark, at boarding school. The verses were changed to quicken the pace of the song, but the refrain and title were salvaged from the original poem.

Car horns and jackhammers pervade the bridge of the song as the lyrics tell of the potential for summer love when the sun sets. Sounding cool as a night-time zephyr, this song explains the stickier side of the summer to the countrified or suburban folk who have never felt the oppressive asphalt life of city living.

4. “Hot Night Crash” - Sahara Hotnights (2004)
There’s enough steamy girl-power rawk in this track to raise any music lover’s mercury. This impossibly catchy power-pop band from Sweden has been around since 1992.

“Hot Night Crash,” the story of a tumultuous relationship’s end, is one of those songs you blast in your car driving to the shore as the temperature creeps up into the high nineties. Your hair blows in the window you opened because even your air conditioning is hot as you speed down the highway trying to get to your destination before you sweat through all your clothes.

The uptempo, fun beat of this song has led to it’s inclusion in video games like Burnout 3: Takedown and Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam . It’s a great song by a band who never really reached the audience they deserved.

3. “Too Hot to Stop” - The Bar-Kays (1976)
This song is funky as hell. You may remember it from the opening scene of Superbad, as Michael Cera, Jonah Hill and the gang’s silhouettes dance awkwardly.

The Bar-Kays started out as session musicians in Memphis, Tennessee for Stax Records. Otis Redding chose them as his backing band in 1967, but many from the group, including Redding, died in a plane crash in December 10 of that year.

The band reformed after the devastating crash and have since had a revolving door of members. These artists have made plenty of hits throughout the ‘60s far into the ‘80s with their signature danceable funk.

Incorrigibly groovy, “Too Hot to Stop” is the perfect song for your next booze-fueled pool party. The days are hot, but this track is hotter.

2.“Hot in Herre” - Nelly (2002)
I have a confession to make. I LOVE Nelly; unabashedly, whole-heartedly and truly. This quintessential club-banger from Nelly’s sophomore release, Nellyville was a number one hit, and he is ranked by the RIAA as the fourth best-selling rap artist in American history, so I must not be alone in my adoration.

Despite his terrible one-liners including, “I’m just kidding like Jason,” (a reference to basketball player Jason Kidd) and his flagrant disregard for normalized English spelling; there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on about Nelly. He exudes charisma. His handling of the language is new and interesting. He’s just fun!

This sweltering summer jam makes you want to dance no matter what the temperature. Even Nelly’s rampant misogyny can’t keep me away from this song. It’s undeniably fun, and it’s incomprehensibly exciting; I present you Nelly, ladies and gentlemen.

1. (Love is Like a) Heat Wave” - Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (1962)
How could I have picked any other song for the number one spot? “Heat Wave” is one of the best Motown singles ever and the perfect title for my topic.

Martha Reeves belts out this song about sweltering summer love, while the other two girls in the group at the time, Rosalind Ashford and Annette Beard, joyously back her up, singing “go ahead, girl.”

When this song comes on, you want a love just like Martha Reeve’s, but, more importantly, you want to dance. Embrace the summer sweat and groove to your heart’s content, my friends.

More Articles By Cara Cerino



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