This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, and with it, the start of grilling season! So for our Friday Five, we are highlighting our favorite songs to crank up while manning the barbecue. If you're looking to put together a playlist for this weekend, you're in the right place. This list could've been a Friday Fifty, but we did our best to narrow it down to the five best grilling jams.
John Mellencamp - “Jack & Diane”
Any good grilling playlist has to include a little John Mellencamp, and that’s where we’ll kick things off. While we gave careful consideration to other JCM hits like “Hurts So Good” and “Cherry Bomb,” there could only be one entry for the Friday Five. The big, power chord intro on “Jack & Diane” is instantly recognizable, and immediately invokes long summer days and hot summer nights. Plus, who can resist strumming along on the air guitar with the little riff that follows? It doesn’t take a ton of effort to sing along with this one, so you can pretty comfortably jam out while manning the grill. So fire up the charcoal, crack a beer, and listen to this little ditty about the heartland.
Nappy Roots - “Good Day”
If we ever need a morning boost after a rough day, we turn to Nappy Roots. So if we’re trying to bring the good vibes to a summer cookout, “Good Day,” feels like it belongs on the list. The piano at the beginning is upbeat and bright, and really sets the tone for the rest of the song. Lyrically, it’s a positive song about how nothing could go wrong, and the children's choir provides a unique touch that drives the message home. It also helps that you can practically hear the smiles behind the voices on the track. The line “orange Kool-Aid goes good with Patron” will randomly pop into our head from time to time, which just attests to how catchy the song is -- and it always makes us happy! While it’s definitely a change of pace from all of the classic rock that will be on this list, we couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to shout out Nappy Roots.
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Bad Moon Rising"
If we had to stop and think about which Mellencamp song to include, we were genuinely stressed out choosing a single Creedence Clearwater Revival track to put on this list. You could have a pretty great day of grilling listening to only CCR - Cosmo’s Factory and Willy and the Poor Boys are both packed with hits. But narrowing it down to one, we chose “Bad Moon Rising,” which is fast enough to get the feet tapping, but not too high-energy for a relaxing summer day. It gives us a little bit of a change from some of the more anthemic stadium rock, and brings the twang of southern rock that always hits harder on a nice sunny day. John Fogerty’s voice and guitar playing perfectly match the vibe we’re going for, and he can make pretty much any lyrics sound peppy and upbeat. If you feel like you need to shake people up out of a mid-afternoon nap, get them on their feet with a little CCR.
Scarface - "On My Block"
We’re changing up the pace again with another laid back, summery hip-hop track. Like “Good Day,” “On My Block” kicks off with a piano part that sets the mood for the whole song. It’s got the perfect pace for a day of grilling, and you don’t need to know the lyrics, you can just nod your head along and groove. It’s rhythmically pretty relaxing, and the drums and bassline underneath the song can just lull you into a sense of ease. The groove goes great with a nice buzz after a couple of drinks, so this one might be more for the people that don’t have to cook. But that’s an important part of a playlist, and this Scarface track should be a crowd-pleaser.
Bryan Adams - "Summer of ‘69"
We saved the most iconic guitar riff for last, with Bryan Adams’ killer hook to “Summer of ‘69.” We had to have a representative of true, cheesy 80’s rock on this list, and this fits the bill. Not to mention, the song is supposed to be about the best summer ever -- so how could we leave it off? It’s always good to throw on a song that everyone knows, regardless of age, and it’s super easy to join in and sing along with the chorus. While maybe “Summer of ‘69” is a little louder and faster paced than some of our other selections, it’s definitely not too aggressive for a day of grilling. You’re definitely going to want to use the spatula as a microphone while you’re working the grill, and who could blame you?
Bruce Springsteen, Glory Days - Bruce’s whole discography is pure Americana, and it killed us to not fit him in, but we had trouble pinpointing a song perfect for grilling. That said, “Glory Days” won’t leave anyone disappointed.
Kygo, Sexual Healing - Get the phenomenal vocals of Marvin Gaye (which would’ve been fine on their own) with the tropical house vibes of Kygo? This brings grilling music into the 21st Century.
Bob Marley, Is This Love - Another tough omission, because pretty much anything by Bob Marley is guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face at a hot, sunny barbecue.