When you think of a summer anthem, it elicits a very specific feeling. Warmth, freedom, relaxation, the desire to dance.
It can take you back to a special time. When school was long in the horizon and the only thing you had to worry about was being back in time for dinner. Perhaps it brings back feelings of romance or the times you got to spend with those close to you.
Every individual will have a different response when asked what the greatest songs of the summer are. After all, it’s a subjective question.
However, there is a way to quantify it and that is exactly what we’re aiming to do. In order to determine the “song of the summer” from the past 50 years, we looked at the Billboard Hot 100 Chart to see which song, or in some cases songs, had the longest continuous streak at number one. The time period we used for this exercise was June 1 to September 1. This provides a large enough sample size to mitigate randomness and inconsistencies.
The Billboard Hot One 100 chart is a standard in the music industry and while it’ll never account for personal opinion, it does represent how popular a song is.
Without further adieu, here are the songs of the summer from the past 50 years.
1970 The Carpenters - (They Long To Be) Close To You
The Carpenters covered the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song with great success as it spent four weeks at the top of the charts.
1971 Carole King - It’s Too Late/I Feel The Earth Move
Coming from King’s album Tapestry, the song spent five weeks on top of the charts.
1972 Gilbert O’Sullivan - Alone Again (Naturally)
The ballad was the hit of summer 1972 taking up the top spot on the charts for four weeks.
1973 Paul McCartney and Wings - My Love
This song was penned by Paul McCartney as a love song to his wife Linda and spent four weeks on top of the charts.
There was a four way tie this year with the following songs each spending two weeks on top of the charts. Paul Anka with Odia Coates - (You’re) Having My Baby, John Denver - Annie’s Song, George McCrae - Rock Your Baby, and Bo Donaldson And The Heywoods - Billy, Don’t Be A Hero
1975 Captain & Tennille - Love Will Keep Us Together
The song was released by Neil Sedaka in 1973, but Captain & Tenille’s version proved to be a hit as it spent four weeks on top of the Billboard charts.
The Wings track "Silly Love Songs" had a run of four weeks on top of the charts. A late run by Elton John & Kiki Dee saw their track “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” matched Wings’ early effort.
The Andy Gibb hit “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” and The Emotions “Best Of My Love” both ended the summer period recording three straight weeks at number one.
1978 Andy Gibb - Shadow Dancing
Gibb had his second straight summer with the season’s top song as “Shadow Dancing” spent a remarkable seven straight weeks on top of the chart.
1979 Donna Summer - Bad Girls
Summer was the artist of summer 1979 with “Bad Girls” spending five weeks on top and “Hot Stuff” spending three weeks on top earlier in the season.
1980 Olivia Newton John - Magic
Olivia Newton-John had great success with the film Xanadu as she was not only the lead actress, but recorded the lead single from the soundtrack, which spent four weeks at the top of the charts.
1981 Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes
The song spent six weeks on top of the charts. It preceded our timeline with a run of three straight weeks at the top spot as well.
1982 Survivor - Eye Of The Tiger
After a fantastic run by the Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder song “Ebony And Ivory,” the Survivor classic rapidly gained momentum spending six weeks on top of the charts in summer 1982.
1983 The Police - Every Breath You Take
The song from the band’s final album Synchronicity was a proper sendoff as it spent a remarkable eight weeks on top of the charts.
1984 Prince - When Doves Cry
The song from Prince’s landmark album Purple Rain defined summer 1984 and spent five weeks on top of the charts.
1985 Tears For Fears - Shout
Summer 1985 saw a wide variety of songs holding the top spot with the Tears For Fears track “Shout” having the longest stay at three weeks.
1986 Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald - On My Own
Another summer with the top song having a short stay at number one with the Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald classic spending three weeks.
1987 Heart - Alone
This track spent three weeks on top of the charts as it was another summer with a wide variety of hits.
1988 Steve Winwood - Roll With It
“Roll With It” had a run of four straight weeks at the number one spot.
1989 Richard Marx - Right Here Waiting
It was another summer with alternating songs at the top of the charts. “Right Here Waiting” took the crown, spending three weeks at number one.
1990 Mariah Carey - Vision Of Love
Mariah Carey’s debut was wildly successful as her single “Vision Of Love” spent four weeks on top of the charts.
1991 Bryan Adams - (Everything I Do) I do It For You
The song spent six weeks on the top of the charts beating out Paula Abdul’s “Rush Rush” for longest duration at number one.
1992 Sir Mix-A-Lot - Baby Got Back
One of the all time great summer jams spent five weeks on top of the charts in 1992.
1993 UB40 - Can’t Help Falling In Love
Within our time period the UB40 track spent seven weeks on the chart. If you expand the period back to May, it would take a backseat to Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes,” which spent a whopping eight weeks at the top spot.
1994 All-4-One - I Swear
The single spent a remarkable nine weeks on top of the charts and if you stretch it past our time period, it extends it an additional two weeks to eleven total weeks.
1995 TLC - Waterfalls
TLC’s hit song “Waterfalls” spent seven weeks on top of the charts during its incredible run in 1995.
Going by our time period, we have a tie. Both Los Del Rio’s “Macarena” and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s “Tha Crossroads” each spent five weeks on top of the charts.
1997 Puff Daddy & Faith Evans Featuring 112 - I’ll Be Missing You
The Puff Daddy & Faith Evans collaboration had a remarkable run debuting at number one and spending eleven total weeks there.
1998 Brandy & Monica - The Boy Is Mine
The smash hit accomplished something no other song has to this point. It spent the entire duration of the time period as the number one song. That’s 13 weeks in total.
The last year of the millennium saw a tie with both Christina Aguilera’s “Genie In A Bottle” and Jennifer Lopez’s “If You Had My Love” spending five weeks on top of the charts.
2000 Enrique Iglesias - Be With You
Summer 2000 saw frequent changes at the number one spot, but “Be With You” held it the longest at three weeks.
2001 Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya & Pink - Lady Marmalade
The song was originally recorded in 1974 by Labelle, but the Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Pink version held the top spot for five weeks.
2002 Nelly - Hot In Herre
It was the summer of Nelly as his hit “Hot In Herre” spent seven weeks at the top of the chart.
2003 Beyoncé Featuring Jay-Z - Crazy In Love
Beyoncé’s smash hit was the song of summer 2003 spending eight weeks at the top spot.
2004 Usher - Burn
Usher had a fantastic summer as “Burn” spent six weeks at the top spot and also saw his song “Confessions Part II” spend time at number one.
2005 Mariah Carey - We Belong Together
Mariah Carey ruled the summer as she spent nearly the entire summer up top. There was all but one week during our time period that “We Belong Together” didn’t sit at number one.
2006 Nelly Furtado Featuring Timbaland - Promiscuous
The song spent six weeks on the top of the chart and ultimately ended up with a platinum certification for selling over one million copies.
2007 Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z - Umbrella
The opening track from her third album Good Girl Gone Bad is one of Rihanna’s most impactful songs and spent time at the top spot for seven weeks.
2008 Katy Perry - I Kissed A Girl
Perry laid claim to the song of summer 2008 as “I Kissed A Girl” spent seven weeks at the top spot.
2009 Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feeling
It was the summer of the Black Eyed Peas as “I Gotta Feeling” spent nine weeks on top of the charts. It was preceded by their other hit “Boom Boom Pow,” which spent five weeks at number one.
2010 Katy Perry Featuring Snoop Dogg - California Gurls
Katy Perry once again laid claim to song of the summer as “California Gurls” spent six weeks at the number one spot.
2011 LMFAO Featuring Lauren Bennett & GoonRock - Party Rock Anthem
“Party Rock Anthem” was the big hit this summer spending a total of six weeks at number one.
2012 Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
This is crazy, but the Carley Rae Jepsen smash hit spent nine weeks on top of the charts in summer 2012.
2013 Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell - Blurred Lines
The lines weren’t blurred on what the song of summer 2013 was as the hit spent 11 weeks at number one.
2014 Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX - Fancy
Everyone was feeling fancy in summer 2014 as Iggy Azalea’s smash hit spent seven weeks on top of the charts.
2015 Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth - See You Again
The Wiz Khalifa/Charlie Puth collaboration takes the title and spent six weeks at number one.
2016 Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla - One Dance
Drake’s hit song “One Dance” was the summer 2016 anthem spending nine weeks on top of the charts.
2017 Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber - Despacito
The unanimous number one choice for song of summer 2017 as “Despacito” spent the entire time period as the number one song on the charts.
2018 Drake - In My Feelings
Summer 2018 was really the summer of Drake as he had two songs spend extensive time at number one. “In My Feelings” spent seven weeks up top while “Nice For What” spent four weeks.
2019 Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus - Old Town Road
Surprised? Probably not. “Old Town Road” nearly held the top spot for the entirety of the time period. It wasn’t until the second to last week that Billie Eilish’s “bad guy” surpassed it on the charts.