23 Summer Songs That Defined Your High School Years & Will Make You Instantly Nostalgic

If you were born in 1986 (*raises hand*) or around that time, then you probably can't help but be taken back to your teenage days anytime you hear a song from the early 2000s. I started high school in 2001 and graduated in 2005. There were so many great songs that came out between those years and made the summer vacation that much better. Believe me when I say not only do the following summer songs define your high school years, but they will also take you for a much-needed walk down memory lane.

Do you remember when Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" was released? What about Beyoncé and Jay-Z's "Crazy in Love"? Oh, and who can forget about Christina Aguilera's "Dirrty." These are just a few of the many summer hits that bring me back to my high school days.

Admittedly, high school wasn't my favorite experience, but a lot of these songs definitely made the days more enjoyable. Music has a strong impact and can immediately transport you to the past or help you remember a memory. That's what the following list of songs do for me. With that, let's continue the reminiscing by discussing these handful of summer songs that made the early 2000s days of high school at least somewhat tolerable and just might even put a smile on your face.


Avril Lavigne — "Complicated"

Anyone else get excited whenever they heard the lyrics, "Uh-huh, life's like this"? This was Lavigne's first major hit that made many teenagers, especially girls, want to wear dark eyeliner and neckties.


Lifehouse — "Hanging By A Moment"

Lifehouse never failed in making fans feel all kinds of emotions with their songs. And, yes, "Hanging By a Moment," was one of them.


Aaliyah — "Try Again"

"Try Again" was the lead single for Romeo Must Die's soundtrack that starred the late singer and Jet Li. Aayliah made the song even better with the video's choreography that pretty much everyone wanted to learn. Her unexpected death in a 2001 plane crash also made fans appreciate the track and Aayliah's talent even more than they did before she sadly died.


Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z — "Crazy In Love"

"Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh, no, no." Back in the day, there was no celebrating summer without Queen Bey's "Crazy In Love" featuring her now husband Jay-Z. Who else still can't help but bust out the dance moves from the music video?


Michelle Branch — "Everywhere"

"Everything" put Michelle Branch on the map — and for good reason. She oozed girl power and made young women feel inspired along the way.


Shakira — "Whenever, Wherever"

If Shakira's "Whenever, Wherever" didn't make you want to dance and move your hips, then you clearly weren't enjoying summer the right way.


Destiny's Child — "Bootylicious"

Destiny's Child has so many hits that made summer even better, including "Bootylicious." Also, you're welcome for now having "I don't think you're ready for this jelly" stuck in your head.


Justin Timberlake — "Like I Love You"

It was a huge deal when Justin Timberlake released his first solo single after *NSYNC. Who else remembers "Like I Love You" being played nonstop on the radio — and loving every single minute of it?


Christina Aguilera — "Dirrty"

When Christina Aguilera's Stripped came out in 2002 it was like the world was meeting a whole new Xtina, who was embracing her true self in the process. And "Dirrty"? Well, it was dirty all right and made the perfect summer jam.


Maroon 5 — "She Will Be Loved"

Remember when Kelly Preston starred in Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved" video? It was a like a four-minute drama that fans couldn't help but watch over and over again.


Nelly — "Hot In Herre"

How can you not yell, "It's gettin' hot in herre," every time Nelly's "Hot in Herre" comes on? This song was definitely appropriate for summer and, of course, a top request at high school dances.


Blu Cantrell — "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)"

So much yes to Blu Cantrell and her song "Hit 'Em Up Style." It's such a catchy song and one that most girls played after a guy treated them wrong.


Ashlee Simpson — "Pieces of Me"

Ashlee Simpson's debut album, Autobiography, was her best work. And her first single, "Pieces of Me"? So. Good. It was a teenage girl's dream back in the summer of the early-mid aughts.


Tim McGraw — "Live Like You Were Dying"

Only Tim McGraw could get away with singing the lyrics, "I went skydiving / I went Rocky Mountain climbing / I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu." But, really, don't act like you didn't belt out this song every time you heard it on the radio.


Rihanna — "Pon de Replay"

"Pon de Replay" was Rihanna's debut single. The jam was truly catchy and seems like a lifetime ago. Just look at Rihanna now.


Fall Out Boy — "Sugar, We're Going Down"

This song really put Fall Out Boy on the map. If you didn't shout, "We're going down, down in an earlier round / And Sugar, we're going down swinging," were you really living your best summer life?


The Pussycat Dolls feat. Busta Rhymes — "Don't Cha"

This was probably the catchiest of all Pussycat Dolls songs. Who didn't say at least once to someone they were crushing on, "Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me? Don't cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me? Don't cha? Don't cha?" Or, you know, pretended to.


Jennifer Lopez feat. Ja Rule — "I'm Real"

Jennifer Lopez's "I'm Real" was top notch, but when she and Ja-Rule released the remix, the song became even realer. This will forever be a classic J. Lo jam.


Jimmy Eat World — "The Middle"

Oh, Jimmy Eat World. The band made summer so much better with "The Middle." You're welcome for now having this song stuck in your head.


Sean Paul — "Get Busy"

You couldn't not dance to "Get Busy" by Sean Paul. It was one of the ultimate party songs of the summer.


Usher feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris — "Yeah!"

Usher had so many hits back in the day, but "Yeah!" is one of the most popular. If you didn't do your best Lil Jon impression when yelling, "Yeah!" what was even the point?


Outkast — "Hey Ya!"

Not only did "Hey Ya!" encourage listeners to "shake it like a polaroid picture," but it was the one OutKast song that constantly got stuck in your head.


50 Cent — "In Da Club"

And, finally, there is 50 Cent. As the lead single from his debut album, "In Da Club" became the song everyone wanted played on their birthday.

Who else feels like they were just transported back in time? Throwback songs can definitely uplift if your spirits and bring back all kinds of memories.