The Ultimate Summer Setlist

Summer. A time of freedom, excitement, and adventures. No one’s telling you what to do – your time is your own. You can do anything you want!

…Well, unless you’re like me and you’re working a full-time job. In that case, you still have some responsibilities.

Even if you’re working a 9-to-5 though, there’s still something to be said about the free feeling of summer. Things are a little more laid back, maybe you take a vacation or pick up a new hobby. Summer is a time for adventures and doing things you wouldn’t normally be able to.

Of course, every summer adventure needs an awesome soundtrack. Whether you’re taking a trip to the beach or playing basketball with your friends, you’ll want some background music, something that just screams “Summer.” Well my friend, you’re in luck today, because I’ve compiled a Summer Setlist, just for you!

1) “Bummin’” by Relient K

Relient K has been around for a while, and their musical style has certainly varied over time. Whether it’s a song from 2007 or 2017, however, there’s one thing that’s true: they know how to write a good, fun song. “Bummin’” is no exception, but on top of that, the song also calls to mind the laid-back attitude we associate with summer. The speaker doesn’t really seem to have a plan, they’re just going with the flow and seeing where the takes them.

2) “California” by Hawk Nelson

Whether or not you’re going to the west coast, “California” is the perfect summer road trip song. The speaker is looking for an adventure, something different from the boring life they’ve been living. It feels spontaneous and spur of the moment, like many summer trips can be – have you ever just thought, “Hey, let’s go to the amusement park for a day”? That’s the same sort of attitude that “California” has. Plus, the lyrics say, “Let’s let the sunshine take us there.” I don’t know about you, but that feels like summer to me.

3) “Love Is for the Middle Class” by House of Heroes

Suburba, according to the band, is “a record about growing up in the suburbs of middle class America, and having big dreams.” “Love is for the Middle Class” in particular seems to speak to being a young adult trying to figure out who you are and what’s worthwhile to you. Is it worth it to pursue a relationship with this person, or are they just looking for security? I often associate feelings of summer with being younger, and this song definitely channels the inner teenager.

4) “We’ll Never Say Goodbye” by Children 18:3

I’ll admit that I was partially influenced by the music video for this song, since it features clips of summery activities – biking, swimming, amusement parks, etc. – in between shots of the band. The lyrics are also related, however: the chorus goes “Summer is almost over / we’ll never say goodbye.” The way I see it, it’s saying, “Yeah, this season is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean these good feelings are gone for forever. We’re gonna get a little older, but we can always come back to these fun times.”

5) “More Than A Feeling” by Boston

I blame personal nostalgia for this one a little, since I remember hearing this song a lot as I was growing up (no, I’m not “old enough”, but my dad just played it a lot). More than that though, old-school rock & roll music is a little rebellious and free, feelings I often associate with the summer. It’s a genre that breaks the rules of what came before it, and this song is just really fun to listen to. Try driving down the highway with your windows rolled down and listening to this song – that’s an awesome feeling.

6) “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon

“Shut Up and Dance” is spontaneous, crazy, and just plain fun. To be honest, I don’t think there’s much to say about any “deeper meaning” behind the lyrics, but they do seem to say, “Hey, don’t worry about anything, just have some fun, okay?” That carefree attitude really reminds me of summer, where you’re free from responsibilities and have nothing to worry about (well, when you were younger, at least).

7) “Younglife” by Anberlin

I don’t know about you, but when I get nostalgic, I always seem to think of summery memories, so I tend to associate the two ideas with each other. “Younglife” is a look back at happy memories, wishing you could go back to them. The lyrics themselves also have some good summer images, like staying out all night because why not. And finally, the last part of the song feels like just hanging out with friends – one of them brought their guitar, and now you’re just sitting around your campfire, eating s’mores and singing obnoxiously without a care in the world.

8) “Souvenirs” by Switchfoot

I don’t normally listen to Switchfoot very much, but their music as a whole has a “free spirit” attitude, making it perfect for the summer. I dunno, maybe it’s because they’re from California.

“Souvenirs” is one of their softer songs, but I picked it because of the nostalgia. This song is a look back on the past, especially of being younger. The speaker is reliving their memories, and they’re thankful for them. As you grow up, you’re thankful for the opportunities you have – like having jobs – but you miss the times when you could just run around barefoot in your backyard. As the song says, “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

9) “Nostalgiatopia” by Eleventyseven

In the same vein as “Souvenirs,” this song also speaks to nostalgia, but in a different way. It’s definitely a road trip song – it starts out by saying, “We could take this road to nowhere / In my ’89 / and floor it through state lines.” Like other songs on this list, “Nostalgiatopia” is also about adventure, but in a different way. It almost feels like a last hurrah for the speaker, a way of looking back and looking forward. Their life is on the brink of change, but they just want this one last time to spend with the people they love.

10) “Nightfall” by Anchor & Braille

This song is from the album Songs for the Late Night Drive Home, which I find very fitting. “Nightfall” is mellow and relaxed, and it really does feel like the song you listen to when you’re coming back home after a long day at the beach. When I listen to it, I get mental images of an empty highway with only the headlights lighting the way, your friend is asleep in the backseat, and everyone’s just quiet and content. It’s the song you listen to at the end of a good day.

Honorable Mentions

There just isn’t enough space or time to talk about every one of these, but here are a few more songs that also remind me of summer:

  • “Summertime” by My Chemical Romance
  • “Good Time” by Owl City
  • “Cinnamon & Lipstick” by FM Static
  • “The Last Song I Sing” by Philmont
  • “Tear in My Heart” by Twenty One Pilots

Readers, what’s on your summer setlist? What songs did I neglect to mention? Let me know in the comments!

Have a great week!

5 thoughts on “The Ultimate Summer Setlist

  1. Here’s a few from my generation, some of which aren’t that well known —

    “The Boys of Summer” – Don Henley — actually looks forward to the END of summer, making it somewhat sad, but still has plenty of sunny, summery imagery

    “Summer Can’t Last Too Long” – Asia

    “Hard Rockin’ Summer” – the Hooters

    “Everymoment” – DeGarmo & Key — thanking God for the good times

    “Convertibles” – White Heart

    Liked by 1 person

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