Top 10 Albums of Summer

With another Memorial Day behind us, the unofficial start to summer has begun. And with it comes backyard barbeques, pool parties, and days of summer fun lasting through Labor Day. Regardless of what your summer consists of, one thing for sure is each of us has a brain-full of musical memories burned into our summer archives. Each moment of our pasts likely linked to a classic song like those historic moments that are synched to where we were at that frozen moment in time.

So with summer here, how about 10 “got-to-have” albums and/or artists that must be on your iPod playlist? Though the following order isn’t based on radio-airplay, Billboard’s national ranking, or total sales, my ranking is simply based on how these albums and artists move me as sun comes out and the temperatures rise.

10. Katy Perry- Teenage Dream. Released in 2010 this album is full of contemporary pop hits including Perry’s smash hit ‘California Gurls’ which became a staple of any summer get together or County Fair.

9. Bananarama- Greatest Hits. Released in 1988 this album featured the girl-trio group’s best including ‘Venus’, ‘Hey hey Na Na’, and my favorite, ‘Cruel Summer’.

8. James Taylor- White Album (greatest hits). You know it’s summer when James Vernon Taylor plays at Tanglewood in Massachusetts, and you know it’s summer at my home when Taylor’s White Greatest Hits album is playing. Released in 1976, this album contains, ‘Your Smiling Face’, ‘Fire and Rain’, and summertime favorite ‘Mexico’.

7. Rolling Stones- Some Girls
. This classic rock n’ roll band released this album in June of 1978. With hits like ‘Some Girls’, ‘Beast of Burden’, and ‘Miss You’, this album was rocking all summer long then, and continues to this day.

6. The Go Go’s- Greatest Hits. With Belinda Carlisle at the lead vocal, this California all-girl band exploded onto the national scene in the early 80’s. Their Greatest Hits album was released in the mid-1980’s and posted such summer classics as ‘We Got the Beat’, ‘Our Lips are Sealed’, and ‘Vacation’.

5. Crosby, Stills, and Nash- Daylight Again. Released in 1982, this album featured a trio of hit singles like ‘Wasted Away’, ‘Too Much Love to Hide’, and one of my all-time favorite singles, ‘Southern Cross’.

4. Kenny Chesney- No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem. Though Chesney had experienced success before this 2002 release, this album solidified him as a true music superstar. The title track, along with ‘Young’, and ‘The Good Stuff’ all find their way to summertime fun at family gatherings or the local watering hole.

3. Bob Marley- Legend
. On May 8, 1984 Island Records released a compilation of hits from Bob Marley and the Wailers. The Legend album is the largest selling reggae album of all-time, with over 25 million copies sold, with such classics as ‘Stir it Up’, ‘The Redemption Song’, ‘I Shot the Sheriff’, and everyone’s favorite, ‘Jammin’.

2. Jimmy Buffett- Meet Me in Margaritaville. Released in 2003, this albums full title ends with ‘…The Ultimate Collection’. And it truly is. The double-album set is non-stop Buffett at his best. ‘Come Monday’, ‘Changes in Latitudes…’, and ‘Margaritaville’ are just three of the hits on disc one. While disc two boasts such classics as ‘Sail on Sailor’, ‘Volcano’, and ‘Son of a Son of a Sailor’. But when it comes to a summertime feel, Buffett’s single, ‘Creola’ has that special island vibe.

1. The Beach Boys- Endless Summer. Released in the summer of ’74, this album has to be listed on everyone’s all-time summer album list, and is #1 on mine. Through the 60’s and 70’s The Beach Boys pumped out hit after hit. Each was Mike Love and the Wilson brothers’ ode to their lifestyle along the coast of Southern California. The Endless Summer double-album contains hit after hit. Go ahead, name a Beach Boys hit—- yep, it’s here. Hits like ‘Surfin’ USA’, ‘Surfer Girl’, and ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ are all found on album one, while ‘Don’t Worry Baby’, ‘California Girls’, and ‘All Summer Long’ are found on album two. They even find a way to pack in ‘Good Vibrations’ as a bonus track on the album. While on the charts for an amazing 155 weeks, Endless Summer hit the #1 album spot in 1974.

Though the rankings of your all-time Summer albums may differ from this one, or even contain other classic releases, I hope you enjoy the music that makes up the memories your summer of 2011.


Jagger Steals 53rd Grammys

On Sunday night (Febraury 13, 2011) the best of the best in the music biz gathered in Los Angeles for the 53rd Grammy Awards. The night started with a diva-studded tribute to the “Queen of Soul”, Aretha Franklin, who was recovering from an illness back at home in Detroit. As the evening continued the show was filled with great performances. In fact, viewers often had to remind themselves that they were watching an awards show, and not a ‘Grammy-palooza’. Three cheers for this year’s producers of the show for giving us more ‘substance’ than ‘style’. However if you wanted style, there was Lady Gaga and CeeLo. We’ll get to them in a bit.

Acts such as Lady Antebellum, Muse, and Bruno Mars all performed their hits to near perfect form, while Usher and Justin Bieber got the crowd to their feet with an inspiring duet. Their performance began with a video clip of Bieber performing for Usher a few years ago, then moving into Bieber’s acoustic version of “Baby, Baby” .

Without a doubt the night was a celebration of Lady Antebellum winning for their smash hit “Need You Now” and the Grammy organizers turning the show into more performances and less ‘blah, blah talk’. Lady Gaga and Katy Perry turned in what would have been the performances of the evening on any other Grammy night, but it was first-time performer, Mick Jagger, (that’s right, I said, “FIRST-time performer”) that took the designer dresses and tuxes by storm. His tribute to the late “King of Rock ‘n Roll”, Solomon Burke, was a masterpiece! His rendition of Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” got the entire audience on their feet, and then at the end, with a 10-second pause, he and the band continued for another minute or two to the crowd’s delight!

Though the 53rd Grammy’s may go down as one of the most memorable in quite some time, the evening did have a few surprises and slip ups. In the surprise of the night, Justin Bieber did not win the New Artist of the Year award, That went to Esperanza Spalding. However, to all you ‘Bieber Fever-ites”, don’t worry too much about Justin. The opening weekend of his concert/movie, “Never Say Never”, raked in over $30 million! Lady Gaga and CeeLo had the most flamboyant performances of the night, with Gaga hatching from an egg, and CeeLo “G-rating” up his “R-rated” hit “Forget You” in an outfit that could only be described as a new millenium version of Sir Elton John. In the ‘Ooops” category the nominees were Bob Dylan and the low-mic volume during his performance (however after they turned it up, maybe there was a reason for it being down), Christina Aguilera’s near plunge off the stage after the show’s opening performance (she has Jennifer Hudson, and her smokin’ hot Weight Watchers body, to thank for catching her), and Glee stand-out, Lea Michele, who flubbed up her lines during her presentation with Super Bowl stand-out, Clay Matthews.

And though Katy Perry was outstanding in her six-minute performance of a Valentine’s Day themed “Teenage Dream”, there is no doubt that the buzz around Monday’s watercoolers will be Mick Jagger and the stellar performance he pulled off at this year’s 53rd Grammy’s.