You know how any popular track that comes out when the weather's warm is deemed the "song of the summer"? That title goes back a long way. For decades now, the most blazing hits to spark the airwaves between Memorial Day and Labor Day have been given that label. For instance, if you remember anything about what it was like to be alive in the summer of 1999, you'll recall that you couldn't walk into a public establishment or turn on the radio without hearing Christina Aguilera's "Genie In A Bottle," That song, like any good summer anthem, just seemed to be everywhere that season, and same goes for Beyonce's "Crazy In Love" during summer 2003; if you somehow managed to be one of the 10 people in the country who went that entire summer without hearing that track, you were probably still in your Y2K bunker.
But in the spirit of summer jams still worth breaking out your old boombox for, look no further than this list. Below are some of the best songs from the mid-'90s to the late-2000s that are sure to remind every millennial of summer, and believe me — you're gonna want to give many of these a re-listen ASAP.
1. "I Gotta Feeling" — The Black Eyed Peas
You're right, Black Eyed Peas. Tonight will be a good night.
2. "Best I Ever Had" — Drake
Circa the era when people were still like, "Hey, did you know that guy was on Degrassi?"
3. "You Belong With Me" — Taylor Swift
The signs-in-the-window gag is still an internet gift that keeps on giving.
4. "Fire Burning" — Sean Kingston
Catchy, to be sure, but did Kingston consider how irresponsible it was to encourage people to dial 911 in non-emergencies?
5. "Lovegame" — Lady Gaga
I still have no idea what half the lyrics are talking about to this day, but it's hard not to love Gaga in this iteration.
6. "Umbrella" — Rihanna feat. Jay-Z
How did this not result in outerwear sponsorships for young RiRi?
7. "Pocketful Of Sunshine" — Natasha Bedingfield
A seasonally-appropriate choice, made even more famous thanks to the Emma Stone film Easy A.
8. "Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin')" — T-Pain Feat. Yung Joc
Included because there's almost a 100% chance that some guy in cargo shorts sang this to you at a party 10 years ago.
9. "Hips Don't Lie" — Shakira
This is another song where I have no idea what's going on lyrically, but I still love nonetheless.
10. "Crazy" — Gnarls Barkley
The commercial peak of Cee Lo Green and Danger Mouse's musical collab.
11. "Over My Head (Cable Car)" — The Fray
This song was the saddest, catchiest song that summer.
12. "Snap Yo Fingers" — Lil Jon Feat. E-40 & Sean Paul Of The YoungBloodZ
Very into any song with hand motions.
13. "Hollaback Girl" — Gwen Stefani
Circa the era when Gwen couldn't seem to go anywhere without her costumed backup dancers.
14. "Lose Control" — Missy Elliott Feat. Ciara & Fat Man Scoop
I have no idea who this Fat Man Scoop character is, but I'd like to shake his hand.
15. "Confessions Part II" — Usher
A contender for song of the decade, IMHO.
16. "The Reason" — Hoobastank
Too bad this band hasn't stuck around. I miss hearing the name.
17. "Lean Back" — Terror Squad
Again, my affinity for song choreography rightfully places "Lean Back" on this list and I don't feel the need to explain myself further, but I still sort of feel weird about it.
18. "Dip It Low" — Christina Milian
I'm hoping Milian has another "Dip It Low" on her hands that'll be released one of these days.
19. "Crazy In Love" — Beyonce Feat. Jay-Z
Truly an icon, this one.
20. "It's Gonna Be Me" — 'N Sync
To be revived every year come April 30.
21. "Try Again" — Aaliyah
22. "Jumpin', Jumpin'" — Destiny's Child
Almost enough to break out your pleather halter top.
23. "Absolutely (Story Of A Girl)" — Nine Days
This is still the saddest song to me ever, and even though I know Adele and Sam Smith exist now and that shouldn't be the case, it is.
24. "Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me)" — Train
But tell me: what does this mean?!
25. "Hot In Herre" — Nelly
Get out your Band-Aids. The king of the south means business.
26. "Complicated" — Avril Lavigne
...Or, alternatively, your tank top-and-tie ensemble.
27. "Without Me" — Eminem
Note the phone used to call Dr. Dre.
28. "Dilemma" — Nelly Feat. Kelly Rowland
...Same with the Excel document Kelly used to text Nelly.
29. "Foolish" — Ashanti
Awww, remember Ashanti?
30. "The Middle" — Jimmy Eat World
This to me feels sort of timeless. Maybe I'm just a hopeless millennial.
31. "A Thousand Miles" — Vanessa Carlton
This song was classic.
32. "Get Busy" — Sean Paul
This is what I hear when I hear this song: Shake. That. Thing. Miss. [Inaudible].
Mid To Late 1990s:
33. "Genie In A Bottle" — Christina Aguilera
Isn't it weird to think that there was a time when Britney and Christina were rivals?
34. "The Boy Is Mine" — Brandy & Monica
Love everything about this music video, including but not limited to the unexpected Jerry Springer appearance on Brandy's TV.
35. "Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)" — Los Del Rio
So how did this song work? Did people just do their homework while listening to this song or was it always reserved for sporting events?
36. "Waterfalls" — TLC
Even Scream Queens knows what's up.
37. "Don't Turn Around" — Ace Of Base
Mostly because this reminds me of the summer I spent listening to AOB on repeat in college.
38. "MMMBop" — Hanson
Serious inquiry: How many times do you think the Hanson brothers have gotten asked to define the word "mmmbop"?
39. "Baby Got Back" — Sir Mix-A-Lot
Another very serious inquiry: Do you think Sir Mix-A-Lot sent Nicki Minaj flowers after her sample in "Anaconda"?
Now that there's no longer a need for mix tapes, what will our kids will do when they want to give someone a collection of music? Send it via hologram? Listening to these great songs inspires so many questions.