15 Perfect Songs for Backyard BBQing or Just Hanging in the Sun with Booze

The key here is crowd-pleasers.
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Publish date:
May 30, 2016
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music, playlists, BBQ, Classic Rock

Back when I had a yard, I was big into hosting BBQs, by which I mean I would make a bunch of alcoholic popsicles and suggest people bring things to throw on a the grill. Besides frozen ethanol, the only other thing really deserving of my scrutiny was the playlist.

The key here was crowd-pleasers, which took some effort because I'm actually not that good at picking "fun" music, and it turns out people don't want to hear a bunch of sad bastard songs while getting drunk and flailing around in a kiddie pool. Since I'm not super well-versed in current pop music, I tend to veer towards popular, mostly classic rock. Below you will find 15 fun songs for backyard BBQ times, or just hanging out in the sunshine while drinking a boozy slushy. Feel free to blast them on this glorious Memorial Day.

"Young Americans" by David Bowie

The message of this song is kind of cynical, but you can't deny that sweet, sweet sax and the killer back up vocals.

"With a Girl Like You" by The Troggs

"Wild Thing" may be the most popular Troggs tune, but this one is a bit better, and much dancier.

"You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon

This is the very definition of a crowd-pleaser. Put this baby on and watch the toe-tapping singalong begin. (I also find this music video to be uniquely entertaining, even though I'm not a huge Chevy Chase fan.)

"I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight" by Richard and Linda Thompson

This is my own personal hymn for the weekend, and will instantly give you cool kid cred with any rock snobs at the party.

"Wouldn't It Be Nice" by The Beach Boys

This might be a little expected, but it's a classic for a reason, and I have yet to meet a single person who doesn't like this song.

"Out of Time" by The Rolling Stones

When playing old Stones, the most important thing is that you don't play "Satisfaction," as everyone has heard "Satisfaction," and everyone is tired of "Satisfaction." This is a much better option.

"Alone Again Or" by Love

I think the band "Love" is criminally underrated, and this is one of those songs that you've probably heard, but couldn't quite name. After you finish enjoying this one, make sure to check out "Always See Your Face."

"Tangerine" by Led Zeppelin

This is just a really pretty, guitar strummy song that most people know the words to.

"Wild Horses" by The Flying Burrito Brothers

You guys know I feel about my Stones, but this version of "Wild Horses" is probably, maybe, perhaps the better one, but I may feel that way because I've heard the other one many, many times.

"Up On Cripple Creek" by The Band

This is feel-good Americana at its best, and anything sung by Levon Helm deserves to be listened to in the sun, whiskey in hand.

"California" by Joni Mitchell

Very few lyrics can give me the type of feels that the line "Oh, make me feel good rock 'n' roll band/I'm your biggest fan," does. Plus Joni Mitchell is hard to beat, vocally speaking.

"Caravan" by Van Morrison

I don't know why Van Morrison is so obsessed with gypsies, but I'm kind of thankful that he is, because "Caravan" is one of his best songs. (There's also like, 6 different versions of it, but I think the above and the one from The Last Waltz are the best.)

"Whole Wide World" by Wreckless Eric

This is quite possibly the most romantic song every written.

"This Time Tomorrow" by The Kinks

Yes, yes, I know this is on a Wes Anderson soundtrack, and is thus a bit "hip," but it's my favorite Kinks song, and I think it should be yours too.

"All The Young Dudes" by Mott the Hoople

You could actually just put on this album and call it a day, but this song will in particular will get you a lot of "Oh, I love this song. Who is it again?"

What are your go-to crowd-pleasing tunes for outdoor entertaining? Do you go classic, current, or somewhere in between?