What do pineapple, corn and burgers have in common? They all are popular choices for grilling. Seeing as July is National Grilling Month, it’s time to get creative and experiment with some grilled fruits, veggies and meats. But grilling can get a little tedious without a good playlist.
Slather on the sunscreen and get transported back to times of corduroy, bell bottoms and mullets. Here are 10 pre-2000s summer songs to grill out to.
1. ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ — Electric Light Orchestra
What says summer more than a blue sky? Whatever weather you’re currently experiencing, ELO will bring you back to the days of clear skies. Even if you weren’t around to witness the release of “Mr. Blue Sky” in the summer of 1977, you’ll probably recognize the distinct clanging sound and piano-led chord progressions.
2. ‘In the Summertime’ — Mungo Jerry
“In the Summertime” is Mungo Jerry’s debut single, released in 1970 — a song easily recognized by its carefree piano melody and overall skiffle-style sound. In fact, the track turned out to be this British band’s biggest hit.
3. ‘I Feel the Earth Move’ — Carole King
This Carole King track became one of the most popular mainstream pop hits of ’71. The groovy keyboard melody and complementary guitar licks will keep you upbeat, no matter how long you’re outside grilling.
4. ‘Butterbean’ — B-52s
Whether or not you enjoy eating lima beans, the B-52s’ bouncy tune and indisputable groove will keep you begging for more — especially when Fred Schneider says, “Come here, you little butter bean, you.” It’s pretty much impossible to be in a bad mood while listening to this ’80s jam.
5. ‘Rich Girl’ — Daryl Hall & John Oates
The Daryl Hall & John Oates song “Rich Girl” was one of the biggest songs of 1977. Although the song was rumored to be about Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, Daryl Hall said in an interview the song was inspired by his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend.
6. ‘Bad, Bad Leroy Brown’ — Jim Croce
This song earned Jim Croce two Grammy nominations in 1973. Despite the tune being about a man losing a fight, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” is a lively and wholly upbeat song, propelled by both the melody and the constant percussion.
7. ‘Three Little Birds’ — Bob Marley & The Wailers
If you’re having trouble relaxing this summer, let Bob Marley ease you into the day. “Three Little Birds” is by far one of Marley’s more well-known songs and for good reason. The easy tempo and mellow lyrics are sure to improve even the worst of moods.
8. ‘Shiny Happy People’ — R.E.M.
It’s hard to avoid nodding your head to the catchy rhythm of “Shiny Happy People.” Although Michael Stipe described the song as “a fruity pop song written for children” to the BBC in 2016, all ages can appreciate “Shiny Happy People.” In fact, publications such as the Toronto Sun refer to R.E.M.’s hit as a 1991 “song of the summer.”
9. ‘Piece of My Heart’ — Janis Joplin
If funk or soul is more your style, Janis Joplin’s rendition of “Piece of My Heart” is perfect for your summer barbecue. It’s one of Joplin’s most well-known songs and was released in the summer of 1968.
10. ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ — Joni Mitchell
This pop-folk fusion is known for Joni Michell’s beautiful vocals, the stripped back, acoustic melody and environmental themes. Although Mitchell was inspired to write the tune thanks to a trip to Hawaii, you don’t have to be on a tropical island to appreciate “Big Yellow Taxi.”