Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Vintage-Inspired Swingin’ Summery Songs Playlist

Summer is in the air...just add music!
This past week in Southern California has been unreal, with brilliant sunshine and temps of 100 degrees! It got me (Lara) wanting to hear uptempo songs that make my heart take flight, and I hope that these tunes make you feel the same way as you look forward to some bright and wonderful days, whether you’re headed to the beach right now with your suntan lotion and a copy of Us Weekly, or still wearing UGG boots and earmuffs in a chilly part of the planet. 

And btw…these songs are timeless (whether they are vintage or simply vintage inspired), so they won’t go out of style, unlike the monokini. Enjoy!

1. “Ain't That A Kick In The Head”—Dean Martin
You may have seen/heard Dino performing this in Ocean’s Eleven (the original with Sinatra, not the Clooney version), and been charmed by his effortless swagger. Not to mention his perfect head of thick, dark hair. “Like a sailor said, quote, Ain’t that a hole in a boat?” After watching this on YouTube, google his Vegas medley and hear one of my favorite Dino moments: After performing for about nine seconds, he says, “How long have I been on?”

2. “The Lady Is A Tramp”—Cast of Glee
Originally introduced in the 1937 Rogers and Hart musical Babes in Arms, the cast of Glee updated it for a new generation and made us fall in love with the song all over again. I love how this version features a guy and girl singing together, and even though the lyrics have never quite made sense to me (“I love the theatre, but never come late”—if you love the theatre, WOULDN’T you arrive on time?!), we swoon all the same when we hear it.

3. “So Nice (Summer Samba)”—Astrud Gilberto
Cool ocean breezes, salty air, lazy afternoons, and balmy nights…those are all right here in Astrud’s sultry vocals, much like in another one of her hits, “The Girl From Ipanema.” The Brazilian Bossa Nova legend’s version of “So Nice” is one of the most well-known, although it’s been covered by something like 180 artists over the years, including Baby Spice (Emma Bunton) of the Spice Girls!

Swinging with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
4. “Go Daddy-O”—Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
They stole our hearts in 1996’s Swingers, and I think they were hugely responsible for all the big bands that have popped up and the general swing revival. Plus, how do you not love a band of 55 men (I might be exaggerating a teensy bit) that play while wearing sharp suits and hats? They were even decked out like this when I saw them rock a huge crowd in the parking lot at Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles before a Los Angeles Lakers game on a sweltering afternoon. Plan your life around catching one of their live shows.

5. “Take The A Train”—Nikki Yanofsky
You may have heard Nikki (who is beautiful and looks a bit like Selena Gomez, I think) singing the Canadian National Anthem at the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C. If you listen to one of my stations,, you know we have been fans of hers for years now. Nikki is all of 19, but has the voice and soul of someone much older. She absolutely tears up this song, which was the signature tune of the Duke Ellington orchestra.

 6. “Come Fly With Me”—Frank Sinatra
Remember the days when flying was something glamorous that people got really excited about and dressed up for? Me, neither, but I hear that really did used to happen, and in this song (with music by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Sammy Cahn) Frank makes me want to pack a bag and brave LAX en route to a cuckoo weekend in Acapulco. Or Bombay. Or wherever the jet is headed. Wheels up! 

Brigitte Zarie
7. “I Love Las Vegas”—Brigitte Zarie
Brigitte says she was inspired to do this song after hearing her sister tell tales of her trip to Sin City, and when we listen we are ready to book a room at the Bellagio, stat. Giving shout outs to lights, blackjack tables, glamour, Elvis, the Strip, private jets, and more, it’s a joyous celebration of one of my favorite cities. Although it makes me want to celebrate in the pool, because Vegas in the summer is fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot.

8. “Haven’t Met You Yet”—Michael Buble
 This song is so hopeful (love when the horns start blaring) and happy, and even though in the song Michael is singing about how he has not met that special someone yet…he met his real-life wife, Luisana Lopilato, when she appeared in the video for the song. And this summer, they will welcome a Baby Buble! 

9. “Swing Swing Swing”—Keely Smith
I didn’t know that much about Keely Smith, and then I was invited to a musical at the Geffen Playhouse called Louis & Keely Live At The Sahara, which fabulously detailed the careers and tumultuous relationship of Louis Prima (“Just A Gigolo”) and Keely Smith. Plus, I realized that Keely rocked an amazing Louise Brooks-style bob. To me, this song still sounds so fresh and modern and full of life. When you hear it, you will understand why Louis Armstrong once said, “If you can’t feel swing, you’ll never know it.” I feel it, Louis…everywhere!

 10. “Zoot Suit Riot”—Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
This song was such a huge hit when it came out in 1997 that Top 40 radio started playing it. The station I was working for at the time invited the band to be part of a show that included dance acts and Def Leppard, so you can imaging the audience going, “What is this?” when the Daddies strutted out in their high-waisted, wide-legged, tight-cuffed, pegged trousers, and long coats with the wide lapels and wide padded shoulders (otherwise knows as “zoot suits.”) However, they won the crowd over pretty much the moment the lead singer started riffing the, “ZaZu Za Zazu” gibberish part of the song. This is a great one to put on when you need to find some energy for a night out!

And a bonus song…

11. “Summer Wind”—Frank Sinatra
This is not an uptempo tune; in fact, Frank is singing about losing his love after a fleeting romance. But Johnny Mercer’s lyrics so beautifully capture the feeling of a seasonal affair that makes the sky look bluer and the world so much brighter that it is required listening as we head into summer. The passion and longing I hear about to burst forth in Frank’s voice is enough to make you want to run hand in hand across the warm sand with someone who makes your head spin, even though you know they will only be a memory by the time the leaves start to fall from the trees in the autumn wind.


  1. I have been listening to the above songs for a few weeks now. Thanks so much for putting this together. A few of my all time favorites are in this collection. I love Sinatra and Buble, but have listened to "So Nice" over and over again. What a perfect summer song. Thanks again.
    C R Kennedy

    1. Thanks so much for those kind words! We're so glad to hear that you're enjoying these wonderful songs. And let us know if you have any ideas for future playlist themes. Have a fabulous weekend!

  2. Wow thank you so much for making this playlist! I was thinking of hosting a 20's themed party and I will definitely include these songs! You have been such a big help. :)