If you go through the music of the past, you will notice that every year has one distinct song that stands out as a summer hit. This particular song is often the most popular of that year and may even break a few records along the way.
In this article, we will be discussing the top summer songs of the past 25 years. More so, we will talk a little bit about why these songs became so popular. Even though you will be sure to recognize most of the names on the list, some of the choices may surprise you.
1996 – Macarena
Many people think of Macarena as one of the most iconic summer songs of all time.
This 1996 Los Del Rio hit is distinctive because of its unique lyrics and funky beat. More so, the song is often associated with the Macarena dance, making it a fun tune to play at parties.
Macarena broke a number of records after being released. The artists even won ‘Song of The Year’ at the 1997 World Music Awards.
1997 – I’ll Be Missing You
I’ll Be Missing You was one of the biggest songs released in 1997.
This hit might not stand out as an overly upbeat song – with that being said, it is still incredibly catchy and has a great rhythm to it.
Puff Daddy and Faith Evans achieved massive success after the release of I’ll Be Missing You. In fact, this song is seen as their greatest hit.
1998 – The Boy Is Mine
The Boy Is Mine was by far the greatest summer hit of 1999.
This RnB tune is known for its distinct lyrics and smooth vocals. Again, The Boy Is Mine does not stand out for being overly upbeat, like many of the other summer hits on this list.
Brandy and Monica never quite achieved such success with any of their other songs. This summer hit is still seen as one of the best RnB songs of all time.
1999 – Genie In A Bottle
Christina Aguilera is one of the most famous singers of her time. For this reason, it is no surprise that she features on our list.
Genie In A Bottle is a funky song that features an incredibly catchy beat. This hit was often played in bars and clubs, earning its title as a summer song.
To this day, Genie In A Bottle remains to be one of Christina’s biggest hits. It also happens to be one of the best summer songs of all time.
2000 – Bent
Bent is seen as one of Matchbox 20’s best songs of all time.
This hit features a catchy rhythm and has very distinctive lyrics. While it may not be your typical dance tune, it is still relatively upbeat and easy on the ears.
Bent received massive appraisals from critics and fans around the world.
2001 – U Remind Me
Usher is seen as one of the most prominent artists of the early 2000s. U Remind Me was one of his biggest hits, gaining him plenty of attention in 2001.
This song is easy to dance to and was played in clubs across the world. More so, Usher’s smooth vocals earned him plenty of appraisal from critics and fans.
This hit played a massive role in the development of RnB music. After its release, Usher went on to write even more popular summer songs.
2002 – Hot In Herre
Hot In Herre became a hit for a number of reasons.
For starters, the song features unique (and somewhat comical) lyrics that make it fun to listen to. More so, the funky beat is easy to dance to, making it a very popular club song.
Hot In Herre was by far the biggest summer song of 2002. In fact, many still crank up the volume when this hit comes on today.
2003 – Crazy In Love
Beyoncé started taking the world by storm as an individual artist during the early 2000s.
Crazy In Love quickly became the artist’s first number one solo hit. To this day, this song is played throughout the summer months, as it features an upbeat tempo and great lyrics.
While Crazy In Love may not be Beyoncé’s best-selling song, many critics believe that it is one of her most memorable hits.
2004 – Confessions Part 2
Confessions Part 2 is yet another incredibly popular Usher hit.
This RnB tune reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks. Again, it is not as upbeat as a few of the other songs mentioned on our list – however, this does not take away from the great songwriting.
Confessions Part 2 is a more personal song that features detailed lyrics. With that being said, it was still the most popular song of summer ’04.
2005 – We Belong Together
Mariah Carey dominated the summer of 2005.
Her number one hit, We Belong Together, reached immense success after its initial release. The song features intricate lyrics and incredibly smooth vocals, making it one of her best hits ever.
This summer song won a Grammy for being the best RnB tune of 2005. It was also nominated for a number of other accolades.
2006 – Promiscuous
RnB dominated the music scene during the early to mid-2000s. For this reason, it is no surprise that Promiscuous was one of the biggest hits of 2006.
This incredibly catchy song features steamy lyrics and an upbeat rhythm. The tune sounds as though it was written for a club, making it the perfect summer song.
More so, with famous names, such as Nelly Furtado and Timbaland, working together, this song was destined for success.
2007 – Umbrella
Umbrella is still seen as one of Rihanna’s biggest hits.
This song includes everything that you could ask for in a summer hit. It is upbeat, features unique lyrics, is catchy, and highly memorable.
Umbrella could easily pass for a dance song. More so, the hit earned Rihanna a number of awards and nominations, making it one of her best-selling songs.
2008 – I Kissed A Girl
Many music critics would tell you that Katy Perry is the queen of summer. This is for a good reason, as the artist has released a number of songs that dominate during the summer months.
I Kissed A Girl was one of her most popular and controversial songs. The hit includes very unique lyrics that gained it plenty of attention.
With that being said, this song was by far the best-selling summer song of 2008. It is upbeat, catchy, and very easy on the ears.
2009 – I Gotta Feeling
I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas is arguably one of the best summer hits of all time. To this day, the song is still played in clubs and bars all over the world.
I Gotta Feeling is upbeat and incredibly catchy. More so, it features carefree lyrics that make it stand out as a summer song.
This tune is by far one of the Black Eyed Peas biggest hits.
2010 – California Gurls
California Gurls is another song that should be mentioned when discussing the most popular summer hits of all time.
Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg teamed up to create this carefree, fun, and incredibly catchy tune. Thanks to the unique lyrics and upbeat tempo, California Gurls is extremely memorable.
The music video of this song will also make you long for those summer months.
2011 – Party Rock Anthem
Party Rock Anthem is another controversial song that many had mixed opinions on.
While some found the repetitive beat catchy and memorable, others found it slightly annoying. Either way, this song was the biggest summer hit of 2011.
It is impossible to discuss this song without at least mentioning the crazy dance that comes with it.
2012 – Call Me Maybe
Call Me Maybe was the breakout song for Carly Rae Jepsen.
It was almost impossible to go anywhere in 2012 without hearing Call Me Maybe. This summer hit was absolutely the biggest tune of that year.
Thanks to the upbeat tempo and fun lyrics, this song is often referred to as the perfect summer hit.
2013 – Blurred Lines
Blurred Lines received mixed reactions from fans and critics after its release.
Even though the song is incredibly catchy, it does feature some questionable lyrics that many found inappropriate. Either way, it was the biggest summer song of 2013.
Robin Thicke has released a number of songs in his time – however, none of them ever achieved such immense success as this one.
2014 – Fancy
Iggy Azalea dominated the music world during the mid-2010s.
Fancy was by far one of her most popular hits. This song is incredibly catchy and fun to sing along to.
Though she doesn’t feature on the charts as often anymore, she will always be known as the music queen of 2014.
2015 – Cheerleader
Cheerleader was the breakout song for OMI.
This hit was played just about everywhere in 2015. Thanks to the upbeat nature, you will instantly feel happier after listening to this song.
Many recent summer songs have been inspired by this hit.
2016 – One Dance
One Dance is Drake’s biggest and most successful song.
Even though the hit is simple, it is very easy to listen to and has a catchy beat.
One Dance is often referred to as one of the best summer songs of all time, making it a massive hit for the rapper.
2017 – Despacito
Spanish made its way into the mainstream music world after the release of this hit.
Despacito is the ultimate summer song. With a catchy beat, fun lyrics, and upbeat tempo, it can instantly put you in a better mood.
Despacito is currently the most viewed video on YouTube, making it truly iconic.
2018 – In My Feelings
In My Feelings is another incredibly popular Drake song.
This hit became incredibly successful after the music video was released. Even after a few years, it is hard to listen to this song without doing the little dance that comes with it.
In My Feelings was by far the most popular song of 2018.
2019 – Old Town Road
Old Town Road is extremely unique when compared to other hits on this list.
This country song features elements of pop, a combination that we rarely see in the music world.
With an upbeat tempo, catchy lyrics, and a great beat, it is hard to listen to this song without dancing.
2020 – Rockstar
Rockstar was the biggest summer hit of 2020.
This rap song went up against a number of iconic hits – however, thanks to the deep lyrics and catchy beat, it prevailed as number one.
Rockstar is by far the most successful song released by DaBaby.
2021 – Peaches
Even though Summer has not yet ended, it is safe to say that Justin Bieber dominated this year.
Peaches is an upbeat song that is incredibly easy to dance to. More so, it has quickly become one of his most successful songs released in the past few years.
Bieber has been nominated for a number of awards since the release of this summer hit.
There is always one stand-out summer song for every year. These hits are usually upbeat, catchy, and easy to dance to.
However, there are a few exceptions, including Rockstar by DaBaby and Confessions Part 2 by Usher.