What makes a summer jam? Is it the sunniest chorus, the hottest beat, the most weeks on the charts? Do the lyrics have to be about beaches and barbecues, or is it a question of vibe? What if it’s a song on your summer playlist and no one else’s?
We believe the answer is “all of the above.” This summer, Rolling Stone’s writers will celebrate the songs that are ruling each of their worlds – from huge hits to weirder, more personal choices. Check back soon for more summer songs, and hear all our picks in the Spotify playlist at the bottom of this post.
No one ever said that summer songs have to be upbeat. With “Let’s Take a Vacation,” country crooner Joshua Hedley delivers a warm-weather song for the brokenhearted, those poor souls among us for whom summer memories are inextricably linked to the one that got away.
And Hedley knows from heartache – his debut album, Mr. Jukebox, succeeds on the strength of his sad-sack ballads. In the devastating “Let’s Take a Vacation,” with its well-placed steel and plaintive piano, he’s lamenting his own lost love, daydreaming about reuniting for one last make-or-break getaway. “Let’s take a vacation and fall in love again,” he sings, giving no damn where they end up, be it somewhere in the country or the beaches of Hedley’s native Florida, where, with any luck, they’ll “get some sand in the bed.” (Which is one hot line, no matter if it only comes true in his dreams.)
Hedley even revives the classic-country tradition of recitation with some smoldering mid-song spoken word that’ll melt hearts like an ice cream cone on a hot boardwalk. Doing his best Conway Twitty – whose own “Don’t Take It Away” is required for any summer lovin’ playlist – he intones a few lines about old flames, unchanged feelings and future plans. Still, Ol’ Hed ain’t rushing things. “We can talk about that later,” he promises, “after our vacation ends.”