10 Prime Hits: Summer Songs

Zac Brown Band, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney Among Favorites

Who’s ready for a vacation? Yeah, so are we. But first, we’re grabbing the essentials — swimsuit, sunscreen, salty snacks, some cold beverages and these 10 country hits that are perfect for a long hot summer.

“All Summer Long,” Kid Rock
Since I’m originally from there, any use of “Sweet Home Alabama” automatically grabs my attention. But more than that, Kid Rock’s description of a summer love from his teens is difficult to ignore. Every time I hear “All Summer Long” I have flashbacks of my late teens-early 20s. We’ve all had that summer you can’t quite forget. Whether you fell in love, had a memorable vacation or just enjoyed your first taste of freedom, summertime memories can last even after the tan’s gone. Kid Rock captures that feeling in his 2008 hit and reminds me sometimes you need to slow down and drink whiskey out of the bottle. — Stephanie Pendergrass

“Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” Jake Owen
“Whoa-oh!” Owen’s signature beach-bum style and sandy vocals are perfect for this tune written by Dylan Altman, Eric Paslay and Terry Sawchuk. It can be hard to get to a real beach from much of the nation, but with Owen’s help, you can make any old hangout spot feel like the Redneck Riviera. Just grab a few friends, some ice cold beer and ditch those socks. The song became Owen’s first No. 1 hit in 2011, and its video features him busting tricks on his wakeboard. — Chris Parton

“Cruise,” Florida Georgia Line
This inescapable song seemed destined to take the fast lane to the land of summertime classics from the moment Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line delivered its opening lyric: “Baby, you a song, you make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise.” Who cares about bad grammar when you’ve got one of the most natural-sounding pairings of hip-hop and country music to date? The breakout duo is poised to make 2013 the summer of “Cruise.” — CP

“Drunk on You,” Luke Bryan
The hooks in Bryan’s “Drunk on You” could not be any more inviting for carefree fun in the sun. Watch the guys fist pump when Bryan’s speakers go boom boom. And you can bet the girls will move a little closer to make their men go mmm hmmm. The lighthearted tune by Rodney Clawson, Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear hit No. 1 on Billboard’s country airplay chart to become the buzz-inducing jam of 2012. — CP

“It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett
No stranger to relaxing at the shore, Jackson clocks out at half past 12 in this irresistible summer smash from 2003. You know it’s a big song when you start seeing T-shirts with the song title on it. A decade after it spent eight weeks at No. 1, I still get a kick out of hearing Buffett offer his cheerful wisdom. This is the ultimate spontaneous vacation song and ridiculously fun in concert when everybody’s singing along. — Craig Shelburne

“Jump Right In,” Zac Brown Band
Southern winds and island lullabies beckon the Zac Brown Band to sandy shores in their latest hit, “Jump Right In.” However, they took liberties with the word “jump” in the amusing music video. Who wouldn’t want to get catapulted in the ocean? Well, OK, if that doesn’t appeal to you, let the music pull you in. — CS

“Pontoon,” Little Big Town
With its slippery rhythm and “motorboatin'” melody, Little Big Town’s “Pontoon” made a big splash for the veteran vocal group in 2012. Karen Fairchild captains the track and sings about the many virtues of a sunny day on the water. Full of fun and slow-jam swagger, you can hitch a party to this “Pontoon” and float all day. It crested at No. 1 on Billboard’s country songs chart and has been certified double platinum. — CP

“Summertime,” Kenny Chesney
If someone complained about the heat outside, my grandpa used to say, “It’s summertime. The hotter the better.” I’d venture to say Chesney has the same philosophy. In fact, if summertime were a sub-genre of country, he would be atop the seasonal niche. With a catalog of tunes name-checking sun and sand, no summertime playlist would be complete without him. “Summertime” revisits the younger, carefree days of no school and no shoes. Whether it’s a familiar song on the radio, a favorite swimming hole, cut-off shorts, a special kiss, a sip of wine or an old Yoo-Hoo thrown on the floorboard, Chesney manages to freeze these scorching hot moments — just briefly — so we can all relive those oh-so-sweet midsummer memories. — Whitney Self

“’Til Summer Comes Around,” Keith Urban
Warmer weather often brings with it an optimistic sense of brighter days ahead. Urban can relate in this 2010 tune about lost love and being haunted by the past: “’Baby, I’ll be back again’/You whispered in my ear/But now the winter wind is the only sound/And everything is closin’ down/’Til summer comes around.” While he realizes his lost love will likely never return, the promise of summer keeps him hanging on. — SP

“Water,” Brad Paisley
There is so much country-song fodder I cannot personally relate to, like cane poles, pickup trucks and Skoal rings. But “Water”? This is my song. When Paisley starts singing about inflatable pools and riverbanks, it’s like he’s taking me back to my youth. I’ve been swinging from a rope tied to a limb a few times. And wet T-shirt contests on spring break? Done that, too. Skinny dipping? Yes, sir. And so began my love affair with “Water,” a No. 1 hit from the summer of 2010. And that line about “drive until the map turns blue” makes me want to do just that every single time I hear it. — Alison Bonaguro