“Sun is shining, the weather is sweet; makes you want to move your dancing feet.” Sound familiar? If you recognized the Marley lyric—or just assumed we were describing the perfect summer day—then you most likely have already caught the earliest whiff of the warm season. But if you’ve been restocking your seaside song lists only to find yourself sick of bopping to the same old Bob, don’t panic—positive vibrations are coming your way with our reggae-less take on a beach soundtrack. Read on, and listen up!
PURE SHORES – All Saints
Any song that brings to mind a glittering underwater kiss with Leonardo DiCaprio off a deserted, moonlit isle, coupled with the giveaway verse “Take me to the beach,” deserves to be on the top of our playlist. The girls of All Saints lend their voices to this runaway hit from the film soundtrack of The Beach, which will have you nodding in approval from the moment you intuit the echoes of the song’s iconic first notes.
THE FIRST TASTE – Fiona Apple
The usually angsty Ms. Apple turns a sweeter note in this light ode to seduction. The gentle, mixed-percussion beats and soulful, mesmerizing vocals will set the taste of piña coladas in your mouth—and the smell of saltwater in your nostrils—in no time.
WHEN I HOLD YOU (ORIGINAL MIX) – Zaab and State of Soul
UK record label Hed Kandi made a name for itself in remarkably re-mastered compilations of great sounds—including the notable Beach House series for every seaside outing. The Beach House 4.03 album houses an irresistible track called “When I Hold You (Original Mix),” which will have you feeling beachy-keen within seconds of pressing play. With a singer whose voice is akin to Seal’s, a tempo that’s upbeat yet relaxing, and a bona fide feel-good-forever vibe, this song has definitely gotten on our sunny side.
THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA – Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto
“Tall, and tan, and young, and lovely”—they’re singing about us, aren’t they? (Wink, wink.) Classic chanteuse Astrud Gilberto and frequent collaborator Stan Getz croon Portuguese-accented compliments about a girl from Ipanema, Brazil, whose beauty is enough to make an entire shoreline of spectators sigh. Put yourself in her shoes (or should we say, Havaianas?) and sway your hips to this samba standard.
AMBER – 311
The rom-com 50 First Dates was wildly successful not only because of the cuteness between Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, but also because it hosted a wonderful soundtrack that transported you right onto shores of Hawaii, where the movie was filmed. Acoustic guitars, hand-beaten drums, and earthy vocals rule the record from start to finish, making it difficult to pick a favorite track. But we still stick by 311’s “Amber,” which will make you reminisce about past Bora flings with groovy guys who praised your “aura.”
GET UP, STAND UP – Bossa N’ Marley
So it isn’t exactly possible to escape Bob Marley in the summertime (we knew that from the get-go). But it is possible to replace a dragged-out reggae tune with a refreshing bossa nova remake—and that’s exactly what we have here. Lend your ears to Bossa N’ Marley’s blissful, breathy cover of “Get Up, Stand Up,” and it’ll be as if you were hearing it under the palm trees for the very first time.
BY YOUR SIDE (NEPTUNES REMIX) – Sade
Remixes run rampant during the hot months, and this ballad by the reclusive Sade just couldn’t escape the heat. While “By Your Side” is lovely as an original recording, the Neptunes remix gives it a funky, fluid factor without sacrificing the tender undertones—rendering the song inseparable from idea of a summer romance.
SANTERIA – Sublime
If there ever was a song for a barkada beach trip, this is it. Ska punk band Sublime mellows out in this mood-setting track that has become an anthem for seaside drinking sessions. Bring on the beer!
IF IT'S LOVIN' THAT YOU WANT – Rihanna
Back when Rihanna was still Little Miss Sunshine (rather than the Good Girl Gone Bad), this Barbados-born beauty delivered a swimsuit-clad serenade called “If It’s Lovin’ That You Want.” RiRi fans will contest that this long-haired era was the songstress’ Golden Age—and while we did love us some “Umbrella,” we are likely to agree. Sit back and soak in the skin-baring, sand-stepping, hip-popping goodness that was Rihanna’s sophomore single. It’s spot-on for an hour or two of oiled-up tanning!
ELECTRIC FEEL – MGMT
Innovative and nostalgic at the same time, this electronica track by psychedelic indie group MGMT had all the kids singing about electric eels (metaphorically, of course). Whether or not you understand what the song is about, it’s a joy to listen to—with a catchy chorus, an irresistible synth pop melody, and a cadence that can only be described as “chillax,” there is probably no better song of recent fame to set on repeat at your coastal retreat.
(Flashbox photo courtesy of Def Jam Records)