Summer in Brooklyn Playlist

June 20, 2023

From wining and dining with neighbors beneath the stars at the Prospect Park Soiree, to seeing creative costumes at the legendary Coney Island Mermaid Parade, to attending a concert or event at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn, or sampling local favorites at an Open Streets, Brooklyn’s annual summer celebrations are a spectacular mix of excitement, food and community.

Crossing genres and dancing through decades, we created this eclectic Summer in Brooklyn Playlist with all those events in mind. Use it as the backdrop for your summer barbecue, on your walk to the train (or to meet your Brooklyn real estate agent), or just to add a little sunshine to your day.

Under the Boardwalk

The Drifters

NYC-based crooners The Drifters recorded this hit in 1964 and any Brooklyn residents who have spent a summer afternoon on Coney Island can appreciate the lyrics, which paint a delightful picture of a seaside beach memory:

From the park you hear the happy sound of the carousel
You can almost taste the hot dogs and french fries they sell, yes you can
Under the boardwalk, down by the sea, yeah
On a blanket with my baby is where I’ll be

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

Beastie Boys

Though the song might conjure images of a worn-out band on tour, excitedly awaiting their return to their Brooklyn home base, we can pretend it was written for all of us who call this borough home. No matter where we travel, we always find comfort in returning to our wonderful slice of urban paradise.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Cyndi Lauper

Though written by Robert Hazard, this song was made popular by Cyndi Lauper who altered the lyrics to be a bit more feminist. We added it to our summer playlist for its fun, upbeat vibe, because Lauper was born in Brooklyn and of course since the video features her dancing in city streets donning sunglasses.

Summer in the City

The Lovin’ Spoonful

From the opening lyrics (Hot town, summer in the city /  Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty) to the catchy chorus (Come on, come on, and dance all night / Despite the heat, it’ll be alright) this ’60s NYC rock band perfectly captures the love-hate relationship of the hottest city summer days that somehow still end up being thrilling and magical in their own unique ways.

Brooklyn’s in the House

Cutmaster D.C.

Raised in Brooklyn, oldschool hip-hop legend Cutmaster D.C. shows his love for music—and our borough—with this song where he mentions his three turntables, moving around various Brooklyn neighborhoods and his deep Brooklyn pride. It’s one of those Brooklyn anthems that really resonates with anyone who appreciates life here.

Rockaway Beach


Okay, so Rockaway Beach isn’t in Brooklyn, but many of us still visit it in the summer. And NYC punk rock legends the Ramones came up with a playfully repetitive song that encourages us to chant along, Rock-rock, Rockaway Beach while we daydream of sunshine, sand and beach waves crashing against the shore.

Dancing in the Street

Martha & the Vandellas

Written by Marvin Gaye, William “Mickey” Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter, but made popular by Martha & the Vandellas, this lighthearted Motown hit is one of those songs that makes anyone want to get up and dance—especially those of us in Chicago, New Orleans and New York City, as called out in the lyrics. And what better time to dance around NYC than at a summer picnic, concert, street festival or even when you’re touring a home with your Brooklyn real estate agent (we won’t judge!).

Tom’s Diner

Suzanne Vega, DNA

Singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega wrote Tom’s Diner about the iconic NYC restaurant (also made famous by Seinfeld). The popular DNA remix offers a slice-of-life account of diner patrons going about their days, simple but relatable for pretty much anyone who takes time to notice the small things and ponder someone’s everyday. This is a great one for brightening up a gloomy or rainy summer’s day.

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Sly & The Family Stone

No specific Brooklyn or NYC mentions in this one, but it’s so good that is just has to go on any summer playlist. Vivacious vocals layered with horns, strings, keys and drums—and the cheery chorus (Hot fun in the summertime)—what more could you ask for in a seasonal hit?

Treasure Island

Pearl & The Oysters

Again, not exactly a Brooklyn or NYC song, but you can’t go wrong with this dreamy ditty that sets the scene of being on an island beneath an indigo sky, hypnotized by ocean waves and enjoying the crystal clear water. It’s especially suited for anyone in Brooklyn dreaming of a tropical summer vacation.

Shilpa Ray on Broadway

Shilpa Ray

Opening with I’ve got a tap routine / Under the JMZ / With my top hat / My wooden cane / And the midnight marquee, this song by Brooklyn artist Shilpa Ray immediately grabs the attention of anyone who’s ridden a Brooklyn train. Ray’s powerful bluesy voice and moody lyrics accompanied by harmonium, pedal steel guitar, bass and drums culminate in a beautiful song that’s equally enjoyable when you’re happy, sad, mad or simply in the mood for some good music.

Sunny Afternoon

The Kinks

With mentions of sailing a yacht, a sunny afternoon and summertime, this song was a UK chart topper in the summer of 1966 and works for any feelgood playlist (even if the lyrics might actually be about high taxes and a lovers’ spat).

Liquor Store

Devil Doll

Remember when rockabilly got popular again around the early 2000s? Well, that’s when this gem came out by the then NYC-based band Devil Doll. It’s fast, with empowering lyrics punctuated by horns and keys, and it might just make you want to shop for creepers and get out on the dance floor at your next summer gathering.

You can get the rest of our Summer in Brooklyn playlist here:

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