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There are a lot of things to like about summer. Beach days, more hours of sunlight, an excuse to eat popsicles and gelato multiple times throughout the week. These things are all wonderful and relaxing, but I posit that one of the greatest things about summer is The Summer Jam™.
Yes, every year a song comes along that will become the soundtrack to the season. Each time you hear it from there on out, you're transported to the hot backseat of a car, windows rolled down, radio blasting.
While summer jams have consistently been churned out over time, the ones that give me the strongest nostalgia are from my childhood in the '90s. Hearing Will Smith's "Wild, Wild West" transports me to a Burger King in the summer of 1999. Aqua's "Barbie Girl" has me in the basement of a friend's house eating pizza before jumping into a pool.
But the most potent of these nostalgic summer jams is a song I still enjoy today. Whether I hear it in a bar, at work, coming from a car radio zipping by me on the street, I instantly smile, feel relaxed, and am reminded of the calming effects of summers past and present. That song is Len's "Steal My Sunshine".
I'm sure there are plenty of people who will say this song is "not good," but let me assure you, these people are wrong. I survived the summer of 1999 hearing this song over and over again on a daily basis (I'm Canadian, we have laws for that), and the tune still brings me pure joy.
It's the mix of pre-pubescent nostalgia combined with A-plus production that I can appreciate today (hello, Andrea True Connection sample!) that makes this one a treat. There's a camaraderie that seems to occur whenever this track comes on anywhere.
Last summer, on a Toronto patio with my friend Millie a few weeks before she moved to New York, it started playing, and slowly everyone around us started singing along. The sunshine, the slight cider buzz, the company of an old friend and the silly, giddy, nostalgic song all came together to make me feel completely contented, and I'll always enjoy that memory that came out of an otherwise pretty crappy summer.
And so I ask you, what is your most cherished summer jam, the track tied to your happiest summertime memories? The cheesier, the better. Fess up!