Never Ever, All Saints (1997) If you want to have a depressing summer as a ten-year-old, be alive when this song comes out in November and obliterate the airwaves for the foreseeable future. All the girls will love it and they’ll spend the holidays figuring out dance routines to this number along with every single Spice Girls song. You, meanwhile, will debate why it is that Shaznay Lewis says “A to Zee” and not “A to Zed” since she is clearly British and not American. This, along with the elusive definition of “zig-a-zig-ah” will throw you into a deep fugue from which you will not recover until puberty.
Smooth, Rob Thomas and Santana (1999) This song will come out the year all your friends start having bar mitzvahs and by the end of summer, if anyone dares to say “Man it’s a hot one ...” you will punch them in the nuts. You are wearing an open Hawaiian shirt, cargo pants and Royal Elastics to underage dance parties, which in no way helps your ability to pull girls that are suddenly twice your height. Though you spent an hour putting gel through it, your hair looks ridiculous. You’re not sure who you hate more during this endless summer of ‘99, Carlos Santana or Lou Bega. Both of them wear stupid hats, but at least you never hear Santana talk, unlike Bega, who will literally not shut up.
Baby I Got You On My Mind, Powderfinger (2004) Marijuana does many terrible things to your brain but the worst is that it makes you believe that every time you hear an amplified, electric guitar, you’re witnessing a real moment in rock history. The solo on this Powderfinger song is exceptionally pedestrian, especially considering how good Ian Haug actually is, but for five blazed-as days in Byron Bay, you will truly believe it is the greatest thing ever. Bonus fact for stoners: you need about one day of lessons from a shirtless Rastafarian on the beach to be able to effectively play this song on an acoustic. Take that, My Happiness.
Breathe, The Prodigy (1996) You’ll be at your holiday spot up the coast with your family when this blasts into your living room from the Saturday morning edition of rage. As the oldest, you have to pretend you’re not fazed by the video clip that will give both your younger brothers sweaty nightmares for the rest of the summer. There are cockroaches on the walls, alligators in the bath, Keith Flint’s fucking crazy hairdo and that beat that seems to be constructed from the sound of chains whipping steel. Someone a decade older is probably having the time of their life, snorting ecstasy and raving to this but to you, it’s utterly terrifying. Breathe is the number-one song in the country. Christmas is ruined for everyone. You ask mum if you can dye your hair like Keith Flint. She tells you to go to your room and shut up.
Get The Party Started, P!nk (2001) It’s clear that P!nk is a bad arse because she wears hoop earrings, cuts her hair like a boy and has an exclamation mark in her name. You’ll hear this song and pretend you are too cool to like it until about halfway through November, at which point the school bully hears you singing “Iiiiiii’m comin’ up so you better get this party stah-ted” and slams you into a locker. You look around for P!nk and her tough friends to come and save you but they are nowhere to be seen. This will not be the last time you are let down by pop music.
My Generation, Limp Bizkit (2000) This is the summer that you realise that you smell, which coincides neatly with the amount of dumb jumping around you’ll be doing to Limp Bizkit at any given opportunity. Nu-metal will conveniently isolate you from the kids you went to primary school with that now listen to rap, even though it largely cribs from rap anyway. Newly unpopular, you’ll spend most of December in your room blasting songs like this loudly from your $25 Logitech speakers. You will mull over plots to purchase baggy jeans, learn bass guitar and potentially murder everyone you know. Then you go to the fridge and get a Weis bar. By the end of summer, your Dad will ban you from listening to Limp Bizkit, on the grounds that they swear too much and sound terrible. You will cuss him out but start listening to rap instead.
Beautiful, Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell Williams (2003) Coming in hot at the tail end of the summer of Year 9, this song reminds you that you still cannot dance. It also teaches you a valuable lesson in intellectual property, whereby the guy who wrote the song, played in it and sings the hook is still considered less important than the stoner who makes no sense rapping about weed in Brazil. On the plus side, your voice hasn’t properly broken yet and Pharrell’s never will, so for a brief window, you can sing this song perfectly and are the life of the goddamn party.