Top 10 Summertime Van Halen Songs

There’s no time like the Summertime, and there’s no music like Van Halen. The two go together like an ice cold Corona and a slice of lime.

We think of Van Halen as kind of an America’s Led Zeppelin, but with more humor and attitude. One of their unique attributes which sets them apart from other rock bands is their almost Beach Boys backing vocals, which helped them redefine the classic Southern California sound of Summer.

With Summer 2011 in full swing, we’ll roll out the best Van Halen songs for the hottest months of the year! One could argue that Van Halen has entire albums that are great for summertime listening, such as Diver Down or Van Halen II. One could also say that the band’s entire catalog is perfect for enjoying in the summertime, and we agree! Keep in mind, this isn’t a list of our favorite VH songs. It is, however, a list of songs with a “summertime” vibe.

So whether you’re looking for some rockin’ tunes to hit the beach with, a speedy drive with the top down, a backyard barbeque or kickin’ back on a hot summer night, here’s the Van Halen News Desk’s list of the Top 10 Summertime Van Halen Songs (in order of their release):

“Feel Your Love Tonight”

This is the ultimate weekend song about hittin’ the town with your honey and messing around in the back of your car and trying to score – “even beggin’ on your bended knee” if you have to. What’s more summertime than hanging out with your buddies out behind the bar and anticipating what it will be like to be with the prettiest girl you know later that night? It’s a still-fresh-after-30-years rocker that you can shake your ass to, with amazing feel-good vocal harmonies. This song puts a more racy sexual thrust into the good vibrations of the Beach Boys.

Did you know? When Van Halen played this song live on their first headlining tour in 1979, the entire band would play drums! Alex would start up a drum solo and then Ed, Mike & Dave would all climb up around the drumkit, grab some sticks, and beat the hell out of Alex’s skins. The intense drumming would get faster and faster, building up until the climax, when Roth would throw his sticks in the air and do his amazing flying leap off the drumriser – as the band would launch back into the song.

“Ice Cream Man”

“Summertime’s here babe, need somethin’ to keep you cool!” As soon as Roth’s sultry voice and his bluesy guitar hits your ears you can practically smell the dizzying aroma of suntan lotion, and, of course, ice cream.

Did you know? “Ice Cream Man” was a staple of David Lee Roth’s prior to his teaming forces with the Van Halen brothers. He used to perform it alone on an acoustic guitar at the Pasadena, California Ice House. On Van Halen tours he would play the acoustic first verse on the “Davesickle” – his steel-stringed electric/acoustic that was shaped and painted like a popsickle.

“Dance The Night Away”

Music doesn’t get much better than this timeless pop single about love in the third degree, which was the band’s first Top 20 hit. Words can’t describe how fun this song is, so we won’t even try.

Did you know? David Lee Roth originally wanted to name this song “Dance, Lolita, Dance.” It was Edward’s idea to call it “Dance the Night Away.”

“Beautiful Girls”

Don’t tell the Redheads, but Diamond Dave was the first Van Halen frontman to sing about being a bum in the sun and having fun with a drink in your hand and your toes in the sand! This is the song where Van Halen would hit the beach with a sword in one hand and a sun umbrella in the other, seducing Southern California – one bikini at a time.

It is impossible to hear this song and not be instantly transported to a much better place, where you are “seaside sittin’, just a smokin’ and a drinkin’ on ringside, on top of the world, oh, yeah…”

Did you know? Originally this song’s title and chorus was “Bring On The Girls” instead of “Beautiful Girls.”

“Could This Be Magic?”

“Out upon the islands on a cool summer night…” “Lonely ships upon the water…Sail away with someones daughter…” Hell, this song is so fun, we wish we could somehow transport ourselves INTO this song and live there for the rest of our lives!

Did you know?

  • Producer Ted Templeman suggested that Eddie use a guitar slide, creating the old-timey bottleneck sound that made this original sound like a traditional sea shanty.
  • David Lee Roth joined on second guitar.
  • This song also featured harmony vocals by former Linda Ronstadt session vocalist Nicolette Larson – the first time an outside artist had appeared on a Van Halen recording. She was repaying a favor, as at the end of 1978 Ed made a guest appearance on her album Nicolette and is listed as “?” in the album’s credits.

“Secrets”

This cool, breezy little slice of heaven from Diver Down is both a musical and lyrical masterpiece, conjuring up surreal imagery about a girl that Roth once knew – or did she only exist in his imagination?

“She comes like the secret wind
Shes as strong as the mountains,walks tall as a tree.
She been there before,she’ll never give in,
She’ll be gone tomorrow like the silent breeze.”

Did you know?

  • This song was originally written for Fair Warning.
  • Upon release of Diver Down, it was Eddie’s favorite song on the album.
  • Dave reportedly wrote the lyrics using taglines from postcards and greeting cards he found at a truck stop in New Mexico. The cards were written in the style of American Indian poetry, with lines like “May your moccasins leave happy tracks in the winter snows.”
  • The original title for this track was “Lookin’ Good.”

“Dancing in the Street”

Fans who dismiss this song because it’s a remake of a Motown song or because of it’s silly lyrics are missing out big-time! This isn’t just another cover from Diver Down, this is an absolutely amazing piece of original music that Ed initially wanted for an original song, but Dave and Donn Landee talked him into using it for this cover tune. Ed used a Minimoog synthesizer in conjunction with his echoed guitar to make some truly outta-this-world music, straight from Planet Van Halen. Throw in David Lee Roth’s vocal take on this Motown classic, along with those priceless Michael Anthony fun-in-the-sun, summertime harmonies. Another slice of heaven.

Did you know? What makes this is a cover song is only the vocals. The music itself, done on synthesizer and guitar, is all original Van Halen music, nothing at all like the original.

“Panama”

The singer’s sexy ode to his 1951 Mercury lowrider, “Panama” has it all – big hooks, terrific sing-along chorus, lots of rippin’ guitar, a short but sweet solo and a very sexy breakdown section in the middle of the song.

The song’s video just might be the greatest rock ‘n’ roll video ever made – showing the world’s most kick ass band looking like they’re having more fun than humans are allowed to have! You can almost feel the wind in your hair when you watch the guys drive that awesome car, and you can almost feel the energy of the band and the crowd during the live segments. A true scorcher that never gets old.

Did you know? Most of the lyrics on 1984 were written in the back of Dave’s 1951 Mercury lowrider. As the music was recorded, Roadie Larry Hostler would show up at Dave’s house after lunch and the pair would drive through the Hollywood Hills, up the coast highway, and throughout the San Fernando Valley with the songs blaring. As Dave would come up with lyrics, he would show them to Larry and get his opinion.

“Summer Nights”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWsx9wjTH2I

One of the best songs ever from the Sammy era, the kick-ass guitar intro leads to Sammy singing about partying it up in the summertime, and some of Michael’s most sunny background vocals. Even when you hear it for the thousandth time, you want to crack open some ice cold beers with some friends and kick back and enjoy the warm weather. Instant party!

Did you know? The band worked on this song with Roth before Sammy joined, and they still have demos with Roth singing on it.

“Cabo Wabo”

This ode to that famous little town south of the border fits paradise to a “T”. The lyrics are about Pretty girls, white sand, crashing on the beach, and making love in the sea. It’s alright by me!

Did you know? This song was the seed that led to the Cantina that led to the Tequila that led to the breakup of Van Halen that led to Sammy somewhat reinventing himself into kind of a hard rock Jimmy Buffett. It’s not only a great song, but it changed Sammy’s life, and also changed the lives of thousands of his fans, who now make the pilgrimage to Cabo San Lucas every October to celebrate his annual Birthday Bash.

“California Girls” (Honorable Mention #1)

Fresh off the 1984 tour and while still a member of Van Halen, David Lee Roth covered this timeless Beach Boys original and, along with fellow “Picasso Bother” Pete Angeles, directed one of the most classic videos of all time, which went on to influence the look of subsequent music videos by many other artists.

Did you know? Both the song and video for “California Girls” were insanely popular in 1985. In fact, other than “Jump”, Roth’s “California Girls” charted higher than any other Van Halen, Roth, or Hagar song ever written. The song reaching #3 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 (“Jump” reached #1 a year earlier, and “Why Can’t This Be Love” would also reach #3 a year later). The song’s video was one of the most popular MTV videos of the year.

“Summertime Blues” (Honorable Mention #2)

The band covered this Eddie Cochran song (performed like The Who’s Live at Leeds cover) occasionally throughout the ’70′s and ’80′s. Written from a teen’s perspective, it took aim at those hard-hearted authority figures — bosses and parents — out to quash a kid’s right to have fun.

What Are Your Favorite Van Halen Songs for Summertime?

Do you like one particular tune on this list the best? Are there another great summer songs that we missed? Let us know which songs you like to blast during the summertime in the comments section below.

  • http://None Dave Vincent

    “Goin’ Crazy!” definitely up there, too no doubt. Not to mention “A Lil Ain’t Enough.”

  • Halen High

    freddiegirl says:
    “See Halen High? See??? “Dancin’ in the Streets” isn’t so bad! Listen to the music again, it’s fun, like much of Van Halen’s stuff.”

    Can you imagine my reaction, scrolling down the screen and ……what’s this? Am I hallucinating? Dancin in the Streets? I promise, I will give it another listen today but it’s cold in South Oz, maybe I should wait til spring?

    And I agree with you about “Little Guitars”. Had to be on this list. One of my favourites and a great summertime song.

    Good list – thanks VHND.

  • JACK N SAM

    Good List. No matter what time of year I bought those albums, it was summertime when I listened to them. Diver Down is the most summertime album for me. I was a senior in high school in Texas and saw them in the fall after I started college, which in Texas, is still summer. It was an awesome show. All the best vidoes on YouTube are from that tour. Love =VH= Love Summer. Can’t wait for the new album.

  • Lee

    How about we just all agree that all Van Halen songs are perfect for summer!

  • spaceman

    Isn’t this Band Great, to have this many great songs, for the summertime, we are blessed as Van Halen Fans to have a band like this that given us great memories, great songs, great concerts, great Partys, that is What Van Halen is all about,Damm Good times, and the same with Sammy, great songs, great times now we have the best of both worlds as Van halen Fans, Chickenfoot with their great songs and the Mighty Van Halen, What A World!

  • MasVH

    Ok, this is really making me wish the new album was going to be released in the summer. Nothing complements the summertime better than Van Halen!! :-)

    @Diver Down
    I’m in Calabasas & I know exactly what you mean about the PCH…been there done that!! ;-)

  • Diver Down

    @Mas VH and @freddiegirl:

    Thank you- Great to know other Van Halen fans understand how magical the PCH w/Diver Down experience is. Van Halen is the soundtrack for So. CA! Glad the rest of the nation
    loves them just as much.

    I plan to play the new Van Halen album at full volume for the first time as I drive on PCH once again. That’s how you play a VH album.

  • Fair Warning

    “So This is Love” should definantly be in there!

  • Rob Newell

    5150 for me. Man I love that song. Hot day. Windows down. Crank it up.

  • Halen High

    Love the Dance The Night Away clip – hilarious! Already watched it three times this morning.

  • Halen High

    Diver Down, MasVH and freddigirl – I love the Diver Down album. Gonna play it in the car from start to finish today, and pretend its summer here. I hope they play Little Guitars when they tour Oz :)

  • spinblastr

    Thanks for the hour I just spent listening to these gems again. I love summer, but as soon as this one’s over, IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME!!!

  • jim

    Whenever I watch any live performances of VH with Dave or Sammy, it is a reminder of how much better they were than with Cherone. Cherone ruled the stage about as much as Wolfy’s big toe did on the last tour.

    All the VH songs less Cherone songs fit the whole summer time chill out theme.

  • gubgub109

    Show me your BRIGHT LIGHTS, and your CITY LIGHT! I’m talking about the YANKEE ROSE!

    I know it’s a Dave solo tune, but it fits.

  • Mark S.

    I absolutely loved all the song choices! Summertime simply isn´t complete without Van Halen songs playing all throughout June, July, August and even September´s Labor Day weekend, which technically is still Summer! I am going to play as many of these Van Halen Summer song treats tomorrow at work.

  • http://www.vhnd.com Simon from Switzerland

    Van Halen :
    Take Me Back (Déjà Vu) !
    Why Can’t This Be Love !

    David Lee Roth :
    Sunburn

  • BubbaCo

    I’m hoping that when this list is compiled next summer, we’ll include a song or two that we haven’t heard yet.

    I can’t wait to hear the new stuff!!!

  • dan slaughter

    Yo…Dirty Duck…..white SS with the 350in it. Had Thrush glass packs and EVERYONE knew when I was home. It was my first car. I am a MOPAR guy, but always loved that Monte…

  • Bluesbro

    I love that 6/12 string guitar combo Ed was playing on the Secrets video. I don’t believe I had ever seen that one before (the video or guitar).

    I love Ice Cream Man but that video sucked. Dave had taken a couple of shots too much of JD I think.

    Someone said ‘Jump’ changed their life? Really?

  • DreamIsOver

    5150, Summer Nights, Cabo Wabo, Poundcake, Top Of The World.

  • SCAR

    You got to admit the “Summer Time Blues” 83 clip – fucking priceless!!!!

  • SuperStratMike

    Beautiful Girls and Panama!! Ah, Panama brings back memories of annual spring break road trips to the Florida panhandle. The 1984 CD was the soundtrack for our spring breaks from ’84 thru ’87. Can’t forget Beautiful Girls blasting on the jambox while hanging poolside or on the beach with a 9 a.m. beer buzz too. :)

    ….got my ear to the ground, waiting to hear the rumble of the VH train!! C’mon new VH music, where y’at?

  • Truth

    the entire 5150 CD

    Feel So Good

    Little Guitars

    Deja Vu(Take Me Back)

    Dream Another Dream

    316

    Finish What Ya Started

    Black and Blue

    Sucker in a 3 Piece

    Mine All Mine (Surfs Up Eddie!!!)

  • Jei Essar

    Gotta give props to Diver Down, it doesn’t seem to get the credit it deserves. For me there is just something about that whole album that reminds me of the summertime, from the music to the packaging (especially the record). Little Guitars, Cathedral, Secrets, Dancing in the Streets, Full Bug. I gotta bootleg DVD of the US Festival (as I’m sure everyone else here has) and when Ed starts playing the beginning of Dancing in the Streets I get goose bumps, it’s EPIC. No better summertime band. How about Hear about it later and In a Simple rhyme.

  • http://www.ballistickarma.com Derek

    The entire Diver Down cd reminds me of summer. I remember when MTV showed the “Viva Van Halen” grand opening of the Cabo Wabo Cantina in 89 or 90. The best summer of my life.

  • Roth_Leaps_83

    Many of you find “Diver Down” the ultimate VH summer record. Interesting. There seems to be better choices in the catalog for the title of “best summer album” dont you think?

    “1984″ seems like an album custom-made for summer. I cant think of any songs you’d rather crank louder than fuck with the windows down and the heat and wind blasting your face than killer anthems like “Panama” or “Jump” or “Drop Dead Legs”. Those tunes were sent by God himself to accompany you while cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway or any other highway of fun in the sun.

    “Feel Your Love Tonight” alone makes the debut album a worthy summer record. “Van Halen II” is a close 2nd to “1984″ with awesome summer driving tunes like “Dance the Night Away” and “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” and “Beautiful Girls”.

    So again — what’s the deal with Diver Down?

  • Dooley

    Didn’t know VH did Summertime Blues. Nice tribute to the Who’s Live at Leeds treatment of Eddie Cochran’s hit from the 1950′s. Impressed how Ed made his guitar sound like John Entwistle’s bass at the mid-point of the song. Dave’s vocals were good on this one. A big thumbs up.

    Summer Nights is my all time favorite summer tune. VH at their best. The high point of the Hagar years.

    Dave’s California Girls never worked for me.

  • http://None Dirty Duck

    Leaps….

    I think its just personal preference man. I’ve always liked Diver Down…”hang em high” alone is worth it! Dave’s vocal fade out at the end of the song always gives me goosebumps..

    Personally, I think VHII and 1984 will forever be THE BEST VH summer albums in my mind…

  • http://None Dirty Duck

    dan slaugter:

    Sounds killer brother! :)

    What a ride!

  • freddiegirl

    Roth_Leaps…if you can’t understand why Diver Down is so cool, I can’t help you. You either like it or you don’t. Or like you yourself say all the damn time; you either get it you don’t. I love Diver Down; that whole album is custom made for summer IMO, just as much as most of the VH catalog.

    Halen High…Listen to the music in Dancing in the Streets…beautiful backing vocals by Mad Mike and the music is, like the article says, straight out of Planet Van Halen.

    Dirty Duck…Hang ‘Em High rules!

  • Roth_Leaps_83

    @ Dirty Duck —-

    Agree with you 100%….”1984″ and “VH 2″ will always be my summertime crank-fests! The Pasadena party dudes had to be cruising down PCH with some hot girls and a couple cases of cold beer in the back when they got inspired to write those two epic summer albums.

  • Roth_Leaps_83

    @ Freddiegirl —-

    I guess I’m just not seeing how Diver Down can out-compete “1984″ and “VH 2″ for title of “Ultimate VH Summer Album”. For some reason, it’s that damn “her feet are making tracks in the winter snows” that is tripping me up. Quirky and weird, but that’s the reason why DD isnt my favorite VH summer album.

    See y’all later —- I’m off to cruising in this unbearable heat and blasting some “Panama” and “Drop Dead Legs” until my speakers explode!

    I CAN BARELY SEE THE ROAD FROM THE HEAT COMIN’ OFF IT…..

  • http://vhnd chuckie lee

    where have all the good times gone, big troube, ladies night in buffalo…. those to me should be somewhere here in the mix…

  • santiago

    5150, dance the night away, poundcake, amsterdam

  • Diver Down

    VHII and 1984 are classic Van Halen albums. The mood on VHII is pure youth and power
    and 1984 is all party and orchestrated chaos. Diver Down, though, has such a sophisticated
    sound that is more elegant to a pensive afternoon cruising by the coast. Songs like
    Secrets, Cathedral, Hang ‘Em High and Little Guitars just take you to that place where
    life is great and you have the soundtrack to a perfect sunset, breeze in your face and
    mother nature working her painted canvas.

  • Johnh

    Diver Down album for me will always be associated with the Summer.. I played that record til the grooves wore through

  • Halen High

    freddiegirl says:
    “Halen High…Listen to the music in Dancing in the Streets…beautiful backing vocals by Mad Mike and the music is, like the article says, straight out of Planet Van Halen.”

    I listened to it yesterday as promised – and yes it has grown on me (just a little) – it is definately a summer song and Eddie’s solo is very cool.

    Roth_Leaps_83 says:
    “So again — what’s the deal with Diver Down?”

    Where Have All The Good Times Gone, Hang Em High, Little Guitars, Cathedral, Intruder, Full Bug – pure brilliance. Diver Down does have a summer vibe to it and as someone else said, the images on the album add to this. But yeah, 1984 is probably the ultimate Van Halen album for summer.

  • Dawn

    I wish so bad I could go back in time and see them in 83 or 84 however I would be in present time and know everything I do today about them. Never got to see them back then but back in high school I listened to 1984 for the whole summer so that album always reminds me of summer.

  • http://brj5150@aol.com brantgoose

    sparks in 11- I also had a cassette of that show. I played it sooo much the tape broke! Then when live without a net came out those two tunes weren’t on it!! I was pissed!I taped it off the radio, a westwood 1 production. I can’t single out any VH record that doesn’t remind me of summer,spring, winter, or fall!!!!

  • Sparks in ’11

    Oddly enough, for the album with the most cover tunes, the accompanying tour feature our guys slamming out atleast 4 others. Aside from Summertime Blues, they also did Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers by ZZ Top, Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis and Lucille by Little Richard. That would’ve been way ahead of their time back in ’82 to do an album of all covers the way so many bands do today. Plus, their cover song selection was unpredictable and ecclectic.

    This summer in the States is zippin’ by. But I don’t want it to… But I do… Aaahh come on VH. Don’t make us wait ’til the fall for the new goods. You guys are synonomous with the sand and the sun, not the leaves and the rain. Let’s go!!

  • jeff adams

    VH2 is BAD ASS

    My top 10 summertime VH style:

    1. Beautiful Girls
    2. Ice Cream Man
    3. Bottoms Up
    4. On Fire (summer / winter, that song just flat out gets after it)
    5. Feel your Love
    6. Little Guitars
    7. Little Dreamer
    8. Light Up the Sky
    9. You Really Got Me
    10. Women in Love

  • Hillbilly Jim

    @ Roth_Leaps_83:

    what’s the deal with Diver Down?

    Not sure exactly, but for me summer of ’82 is when i first really started to get into VH, with Diver Down.
    Also later, after seeing the US fest video, they were still playing much of the album, basically an extension of the DD tour.
    Watching them play you could just feel the heat & sweat & fun coming off the stage.
    Always seemed the best way to kick off summer was to crank Diver Down, starting with Memorial Day and throughout the summer!

  • WDFA

    Dawn, I hear ya but I would turn the donkey wheel further back to ’81 and ’82.

  • Adam Douglas

    Totally awesome list but…… ya just gotta add these 2

    HEAR ABOUT IT LATER

    UNCHAINED

    Lookin forward to the future Van Halen concerts here in Canada

  • mikeyD

    When it’s summertime I just throw in 5150 and drive around in my jeep with the top off.

  • Halen High

    Dawn says:
    “I listened to 1984 for the whole summer so that album always reminds me of summer.”

    Same here – what a smokin’ hot album of timeless songs! A couple of summers ago, I was walking down by my local beach in the evening and a ute (pick-up) packed with teenagers cruised past, and guess what they there singing along to……Jump! Cranked to the max.

  • dan slaughter

    Here is my wife’s top ten Van Halen tunes……rock on…rock on 1.WHEN ITS LOVE 2.RIGHT NOW 3.PANAMA 4.NOT ENOUGH 5.DON’T TELL ME(WHAT LOVE CAN DO) 6.JUMP 7.WHY CAN’T THIS BE LOVE? 8.RUNNIN’ WITH THE DEVIL 9. BEST OF BOTH WORLDS 10.HUMANS BEING…………..right on babydoll!! Play them L O U D!!!!!

  • Mike c

    Every CVH song reminds me of summer!!

    Here is a question for everyone, what is your fab van halen song that BIG AL just lays it down and just lights up the drum kit? ( other then “Hot for Teacher”)

    1.outta love again ( enough said.)

    2.Light up the sky ( that little bit after the solo when he is playing his heart out is great. I feel like this whole song is very under rated drum wise.)

    3.Everybody wants some ( great tune love the opening pattern on the toms overall the beat of that song really fits

    4.little guitars (The way the song starts off is pretty awesome! The whole song is just kick ass)

    5.finish what ya started ( yes, I know, not the hardest rocking drum smashing song it’s just different playing style for Al but he really lays it down.)

    that’s mine lemmie hear you fav van halen songs drum wise!!

  • GREG

    We need a VH boxset to hold us over until the new album. And NO a VH boxset would not make them wear out their welcome like someone commented on another post i did awhile back. 15 different greatest hits albums (like a lot of bands have) Daves own dating show, Being on American Idol, reality shows, making duets with hip hop guys (country stars are doin this now it seems, WTF???????) and basicly ANYTHING KISS does (i like KISS)….THEN VH MIGHT wear out their welcome. And besides, seein how they haven’t made an album since 98, a good album since 95, or a great album since 84, i dont think too many fans would mind a boxset. We are WAYYYY overdue and i think that would be a nice lil prelude to the new album…

  • GREG

    Wearing out their welcome IS: not communicating with the fans, leavin us hangin’, constant bickering with each other over the years. Who is singin’, who isn’t? Oh Dave is back? GREAT! oh, wait a minute, he just got kicked out again. Hey, sammy is back. GREAT. oh, wait a minute, he only came back for the new greatest hits album. Dave’s back again, workin’ on a new album, but not gonna ever give any details about it. THAT IS A RECIPE FOR WEARING OUT YOUR WELCOME MY FRIENDS…and we’ve put up with it for years…but guess what? We are still here because we are dedicated and loyal fans who just want to crank some kick ass music from the greatest band of all time! Bring it on guys! tick tock, tick tock……