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My Summer Playlist: Here Are My Favorite Windows-Down, Beach Drive Songs

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

As the semester ends and summer takes over, everyone craves the kind of music that feels like a movie montage. To me, windows-down-in-the-summer songs are a genre of their own. Here, I’ve compiled my favorites – from my summer playlist to yours. 

Sweet Disposition, by The Temper Trap

As soon as this song starts, I feel like I’m in a movie. I picture myself in a car with the top down, driving down a scenic road, eyes closed, and completely immersed in the song as I throw my head back and enjoy the breeze. Sometimes, I wish life moved as fast as it seems to in the movies. All the best parts thrown together in succession. This song makes you feel as if it does, if only for a few minutes.

Seventeen Going Under, by Sam Fender

Just like the first song, this one has a cinematic vibe to it. Though, the music is beachier, and maybe a little bit rustic. When I listen to this one, sometimes I’m in a car, but other times I’m dancing along the shore. I envision an abandoned beach on a cloudy day. This song will remind you of rough waters and tough sand beneath your feet. 

Peachy, by The Haunting

Recently, this song has been my go-to. It has that perfect beachy melody. This one takes me to the beach – either walking along the shore or driving on the coast. It has a vintage appeal – the album cover shows an old-fashioned portrait. The song title reminds me of the 50’s – like in Grease, when Rizzo says, “Peachy keen, jellybean.” 

Everybody Wants to Rule the World, by Tears for Fears

Does anyone else wish they could experience an 80’s summer? It’s something about the long shorts and permed hair – not to mention the music. This song is a summer staple. It pretty much originated the genre I’m attempting to create with these songs. It makes you want to dance around and sing at the top of your lungs.  

Human, by The Killers

The Killers may be known for Mr. Brightside, which plays in every college bar across the country, but this one’s underrated. To me, it sounds a little bit more like a summer night than the previous songs I’ve mentioned. This one’s perfect for a late-night beach visit – maybe for a backyard party with your closest friends. It has such an addictive beat that it’s almost difficult to listen to and not get up and jump around. 

Cough Syrup, by Young the Giant

This song has been in my favorites mix ever since I’ve had one. It’s the perfect mix of angst and abandon – like you’re ready to just let go and enjoy your life. It may sound silly, but this one reminds me of places that exceed normal – like skyscraper rooftops or cliffs that overlook the ocean. It makes me feel like spinning around somewhere higher than the rest of the world. 

1901, by Phoenix

I love this song – it’s fun, upbeat, and made of pure summer. It’s more fast-paced than the rest, which adds some contrast. It’ll make you feel like spending the day at a crowded beach with your best friends. It puts me in the mood for beach volleyball, boardwalk ice cream, and water games. 

All Eyes on You, by St. Lucia

I can’t remember where or when I discovered this song, but I think it was featured in a movie. Another beachy song with a movie-esque sound. There’s something about listening to this kind of music in the summer that makes me feel like romanticizing my life. And what better time to romanticize than the summer?

Swimming in The Moonlight, by Bad Suns

I just love the title of this one – it really adds to the summer aesthetic. This song is more alternative than the others – it feels more like modern-day summer. It’s perfect for sitting by the pool or tanning on the beach. It’s upbeat and catchy, but also chill and relaxing. 

Breaking Free, by Night Riots

It may not seem very fitting, but I remember vividly when I heard this song in 13 Reasons Why. I think it stood out to me because it felt like a direct contrast to such a heavy plot. If anything, it symbolized hope amidst bad times. I think it feels like that even now, disconnected from the show. The summer is the time to “break free” and let go of the tension that holds us back when the sun isn’t always shining.   

Sex on Fire, by Kings of Leon

Another summer playlist staple. A while ago, a friend of mine made a TikTok dancing to this song on the beach. She was all reckless abandon, flailing her arms everywhere and jumping in a circle. I just remember thinking how well she encapsulated the vibe of the song. That’s exactly what I want to do when I hear it. 

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, by U2

Last but definitely not least, I wanted to include another 80’s hit that more or less inspired the whole genre. U2 has that alt-band sound that makes many of these songs what they are. This is one of the most cinematic songs I’ve ever heard. It’s all standing in the middle of a meadow, contemplating life. It’s waving your arms out an open car window and singing to the cars that pass by. I love the feeling this song gives. 

Twelve songs later and you have the workings of a vibey summer playlist. I love sharing songs – it’s like giving you bits and pieces of me. Every one of these have shaped my experiences and remind me of different summers throughout my life. My hope is that they’ll serve the same purpose for you. 

Dayna Maloney is a fourth-year advertising major at the University of Florida. As an avid reader and writer, Dayna has an undying passion for storytelling. She thrives in any creative setting with a love for books, music, photography, film, and art. Dayna believes in spreading love and inspiring others to be their best and fullest selves.