Monday mixtape: Summer holiday edition

For the second installment of the Monday Mixtape series, one of my readers helpfully suggested the theme “summer vacation.” It turns out she meant vacation destinations, but I realized that way too late in the process to make it work for this week. So instead, this week’s “tape” will feature songs about summer or vacations, or occasionally both. Enjoy.

Side A

1. The Jessica Fletchers – Summer Holiday & Me: If there’s one lesson all power-pop bands should draw from the Beatles’ early catalogue, it’s that opening with the chorus is never a bad idea. The Jessica Fletchers took that lesson to heart, and their mod-ish rockers are all the better for it.
2. Craig Wedren – Wet Hot American Summer: The movie Wet Hot American Summer is a gen-X classic, piling “last day of summer camp” cliches until they become almost surreal (and featuring a great Paul Rudd performance). Not all the humour has aged particularly well, but this theme song is the right kind of cheesy to indulge in on those endless summer days.
3. Regina Spektor – Summer in the City: A sad song from the archetypal anti-folkie, reducing summer to a string of lonely encounters, glimpses of cleavage and rubbing up on people in crowds. Because sometimes you need to indulge in a pity party.
4. Mungo Jerry – In the Summertime: And picking things back up, one of the all-time great summer tunes, by a band with a ridiculous name and even more ridiculous hair.
5. Mayor McCA – I Love the Summer ‘Cause I Love the Women: The title (which doubles as the chorus) says it all. One-man-band singing sensation C.A. Smith may come off as a lovable doofus, but he’s also something of a pop genius, and this is one of his finer moments.
6. Sam Cooke – Summertime: Yes, the Gershwin standard. It’s probably a cliche to put this on a list of summer songs, and there are plenty of versions that hold equal claim to being definitive. Sam Cooke’s more upbeat take most definitely isn’t definitive, but it’s one of the most fun I’ve heard. And damn can that man sing.
7. Harry Nilsson – Just Wait Till Summer Comes: Not technically about the summer, but I’ll count it anyway, if only because young Harry Nilsson has one of the most gorgeous singing voices ever.
8. LFO – Summer Girls: It may seem like blasphemy to follow up Sam Cooke and Harry Nilsson with one of the most laughable one-hit-wonders of all time. This song is almost dadaist in its inanity, though. The rhymes are so wonderfully stream-of-consciousness that you can’t help but smile, even as you’re wincing at their godawfulness.

Side B:

1. Ice Cube – My Summer Vacation: A much less wholesome vacation tale, but hey — at least Cube and his friends managed to have a productive summer, selling drugs and spreading gang violence across middle America.
2. Dead Kennedys – Holiday in Cambodia: Another classic kiss-off to the concept of holidays abroad, thanks to San Francisco’s smarmiest punks.
3. Sex Pistols – Holidays in the Sun: Turns out punks don’t much care for vacations. Another kiss-off to the travel habits of the upper classes.
4. The Kinks – Holiday in Waikiki: Another British travelogue, this time from arguably the most British band of all time. The moral: Hawaii may seem exotic, but seeing it in person might be just as artificial as seeing it on TV.
5. The Pogues – Summer in Siam: Slowing things down a bit, this is one of the prettier songs from a band with a unique knack for blending the ugly with the beautiful.
6. Sly and the Family Stone – Hot Fun in the Summertime: Again, I couldn’t resist the cliche. This isn’t exactly a deep cut, but it’s one that deserves to be on any summer playlist. The epitome of breezy fun.
7. Connie Francis – Vacation: After starting with Ice Cube’s out-and-out aggression, I couldn’t resist ending with the most wholesome slab of ’50s pop I could dig up. It’ll be in your head for days.

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