With the advent of the iPod, taking music to the beach is much easier these days. Here are few downloads, old and recent songs, perfect for chilling under the sun.
Sean Paul, "Temperature": No beach playlist would be complete without some reggae. This No.1 thumper from the corn-rowed reggae-pop star is perfect music suggestive of fun times in the sun. It may be better to play this on the way to the beach, a little something to get you hyped.
Kelis featuring Too Short, "Bossy": You can always depend on this New York native to come up with something quirky. She rode the pop charts three summers ago with the delicious "Milkshake." Now she's back with something equally infectious (and a bit kitschy): "Bossy," a stripped-down, keyboard-driven tune that sticks in your head.
Bubba Sparxxx featuring the Ying Yang Twins and Mr. Collipark, "Ms. New Booty": This banger has been heating up clubs and urban and pop airwaves for a few months, reaching Billboard's Top 10. Although The Charm, the new album from which the single comes, is a bit spotty, this is still an ideal song for mindless dancing in the sand. Besides, it seems appropriate, given that so many at the beach like to show off their derrieres (toned and otherwise) in revealing swimsuits.
Van Hunt, "Ride, Ride, Ride" and "Hole in My Heart": I'd recommend downloading all of Hunt's new album, On the Jungle Floor. His sophomore release is more assured and varied than his classy but subdued self-titled debut from 2004. The former song is a propulsive dance-rock groove that Lenny Kravitz probably wishes he'd done, and the latter is a midtempo floater nicely cushioned with strings and doo-wop-style background vocals. The blend beautifully recalls vintage Curtis Mayfield.
The Brand New Heavies, "Spend Some Time": This slick cut appeared on the retro soul band's 1994 album, Brother Sister. The pulsing disco rhythm overlaid with breezy orchestration, sweeping strings and fluttering flutes recalls the sounds that emanated from Philadelphia International during the '70s. Although the track is tight, it's N'dea Davenport's fiery vocal that drives it all. The Brand New Heavies are staging a comeback this year, kicking off their return with an appearance at the Essence Music Festival in July. A new album is in the works.
Joni Mitchell, "Help Me": This is perhaps the legend's best-known song, often heard on oldies stations and in department stores. Recently covered by pop singer Mandy Moore and jazz crooner Karrin Allyson, "Help Me" feels sunny despite the lyrics, which poetically detail the shadier side of falling in love too fast.