LISTEN: Fatboy Slim’s 10 Best Summer Songs!
LISTEN TO MUSIC: The venerable Brit DJ picks his top summer tunes for this season, and his all-time faves!
Nobody throws a beach party like Norman Cook, better known as legendary British DJ Fatboy Slim. As documented in the 2002 film Big Beach Boutique II, Cook drew 250,000 people to his hometown of Brighton, on the southern coast of England, for a massive bash which he’s duplicated around the world, from Japan to Ibiza to Australia. Now he’s bringing the Big Beach Boutique party to America for the first time, beginning Saturday at NYC’s Water Taxi Beach on Governors Island for the Dance.Here.Now. festival.
“We’ve got a big LED screen that becomes a massive light source, and then I send digital cues to the light guy, and we’ve got lasers,” Cook tells SPIN. “If we get FAA approval, we’re going to try to project lasers onto the Statue of Liberty.” (That last part is a joke.)
Since he’s the king of the beach, we asked Fatboy to reveal the songs that are killing it in his seaside sets this year, and also his favorite summer tracks of all time. Enjoy his picks below, with audio and video for each.
- Martin Solveig feat. Dragonette
- “Hello” (Sidney Samson Acid House Remix)
- About the summer song: You’ve heard it in loads of commercials, most prominently the ads for Trident’s Vitality chewing gum, and now it’s poised to be as big a commercial smash in the U.S. as it is abroad.
Fatboy says: “It’s the European anthem of the summer — from festivals to TV breaks, it is everywhere right now. Sounds like a housed up version of M.I.A.’s ‘Paper Planes,’ as played by U2, and we all love that guitar breakdown. I tend to play Sidney Samson’s Acid House Mix.”
- The 2 Bears
- “Bear Hug”
About the summer song: Hot Chip’s Cosby-sweater-wearing co-frontman Joe Goddard collabs with DJ pal Raf Rundell under this new moniker, with Goddard’s divine, gooey coo complementing Rundell’s rough rapping.
Fatboy says: “It embodies the friendly side of club music and launched spontaneous hug attacks throughout the upper fields of [Britain’s massive festival] Glastonbury this year. Sounds great in a club, even better in a field, and direct non-violent hug action is a universal given. I played it twice at Glastonbury, and the 2 Bears played it four times!”
- Crookers vs. Lazy Ants
- “Bust ‘Em Up”/”Na Ciphra” (Fatboy Slim Mashup)
About the summer song: “Bust ‘Em Up” is a skittish, dancehall-inflected cut, with two repetitive lyrics that’ll be embedded in your head for days. In his DJ set, Fatboy mixes it with Italian duo Lazy Ants’ explosive, bassy “Na Ciphra.” You can hear how he does it in the player below — click on the SPIN comment to go straight to it. Hear Crookers’ original here, and Lazy Ants’ here.
Fatboy says: “A mash-up on [Fatboy’s record label] Southern Fried — its hook [from ‘Bust ‘Em Up’] is impossible to sing along to, but it’s impossible not to dance to, and will be in my crate all summer long. The mash-up was done by me and has proved so popular we are releasing it officially.”
- “2 Million Ways” (Richard Gray Mix)
- About the summer song: Already a massive club hit, “2 Million Ways” is reworked with monumental strings and sexy Latin percussion by up-and-coming French house producer Richard Gray.
Fatboy says: “It’s got soaring strings for a warm summer night. Remixed for summer 2011 it’s a real pool party, hands-in-the-air romp. This works in the same way that Chamonix’s ’77 Strings’ worked on Brighton Beach [during Fatboy’s 2002 concert film].”
- Alex Metric & Steve Angello
- “Open Your Eyes (feat. Ian Brown of the Stone Roses)”
- About the summer song: London producer/DJs Alex Metric and Steve Angello employ one of England’s most treasured singers, Ian Brown of Stone Roses, for this epic, ’90s-sounding dancefloor filler.
Fatboy says: “This sounds like the Chemical Brothers at their euphoric best, a la ‘Private Psychedelic Reel.’ Programmed to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention on cue. I mix it out of ‘Sunset (Bird of Prey)’ [from Fatboy’s own 2000 album Halfway Between the Gutter & the Stars].”
- The Isley Brothers
- “Summer Breeze”
- About the summer song: American listeners are more familiar with the folk version of this song by Seals & Croft. But the Isley Brothers’ funky, Fender Rhodes-led cover hit the top 10 in the U.K. in the ’70s.
Fatboy says: “This tune has been the soundtrack to every barbeque I’ve ever hosted or DJed at. Wistful yet uplifting, it blows through the jasmines of my mind. The full seven-minute album version (with psychedelic guitar solo) takes you to another place where the cares of tomorrow must wait until this day is done.”
- “Music Sounds Better With You”
About the summer song: One of the biggest dance hits of all time, this tune took the throbbing, Detroit-influenced French house sound of Daft Punk and made it mass-market, with its catchy Chaka Khan sample and kitschy Michel Gondry-directed video (see below).
Fatboy says: “A track that defines Ibiza and was played roughly every 15 minutes somewhere on the island the summer I met my wife. It sounds as good on a beach as it does in a club, and whenever me and Zoe hear it, we take one of our shoes and dance with it in the air, singing, ‘Music sounds better with shoe.’ You had to be there…”
- Bob Marley
- “Could You Be Loved”
About the summer song: Off Uprising, it’s one of Marley’s sweetest songs, bringing smiles to lovers and friends the world over.
Fatboy says: “Another BBQ favourite, I suppose it’s the Caribbean flavor that makes it work so well in the sunshine. It’s the beer that makes us hug each other when we hear it! As soon as the guitar riff kicks in, you know you are amongst friends, and by the time it goes ‘Could you be, could you be, could you be,’ everyone is singing along,”
- The Chemical Brothers
- “Private Psychedelic Reel”
About the summer song: With its Middle Eastern instrumentation and classic Chems breakbeat, this was the epic closing number from the duo’s breakthrough 1997 album, Dig Your Own Hole.
Fatboy says: “Me and my wife played this constantly on our honeymoon, a road trip around California. It sounded best driving down the hill towards San Francisco in the middle of the night with the top down. It’s a trip in every sense of the word, and each reprise at the end takes you further from reality.”
- Van Morrison
- “Brown Eyed Girl”
About the summer song: Beloved in the late ’60s when it was released, then revitalized by nostalgia-leaning ’80s soundtracks like Born on the Fourth of July, few songs better epitomize summer lovin’.
Fatboy says: “Another road trip favorite but more effective at a summer wedding. Provokes much singing along whilst hugging old friends or alternatively dancing with drunk aging relatives of the bride that you’ve never met before. You know, I’ve never actually sung ‘Sha la la la,’ except when I sing this song: ‘Do you remember when we used to sing, ‘Sha la la la.'”