It's hard to think of a more quintessentially summertime subgenre than '80s hard rock.

Colloquially known as glam metal (or, more derisively, the dreaded "hair metal"), these songs celebrate life's simple-but-universal pleasures: soaking up the sun, throwing a blowout party and congregating around the nearest radio to blast your favorite tunes.

The '80s are long gone, but these sentiments are eternal — and that's why you need The 20 Best '80s Hard Rock Summer Songs on your next playlist.

20. Motley Crue, "Kickstart My Heart"

The connection between getting a shot of adrenaline to the heart after a heroin overdose and pounding beers by the pool with your buddies is tenuous at best — still, nothing screams "summer" like the supersized gang vocals and thundering riffs of this Dr. Feelgood classic. You're all but guaranteed to encounter it at any summertime sporting event or tailgate as well.

 

19. Cinderella, "Gypsy Road"

Despite the title of Cinderella's sophomore album Long Cold Winter, the bluesy, jaunty "Gypsy Road" is a readymade summer anthem. "And who's to care if I grow my hair to the sky?" Tom Keifer asks. Nobody! It's the season of long hair and all-night drives, where you're in charge of your own destiny. At least until morning comes and you have to clock back into work.

 

18. Van Halen, "Panama"

Legend has it that after being criticized for only writing songs about women, partying and fast cars, David Lee Roth had the revelation that he'd never actually written a song about a car. He promptly wrote "Panama" about a car of disputable origin, with plenty of lyrical innuendos about a woman who liked to party. Roth ambiguously described "Panama" as "the farthest south that you could possibly go and still have a really corrupt good time" — but this hard-charging anthem sounds like the halcyon days of summer no matter where you're listening.

 

17. Kiss, "Crazy Crazy Nights"

Crazy Nights was the name of Kiss' much-maligned, keyboard-heavy 1987 album. The title track was called "Crazy Crazy Nights." In the chorus, Paul Stanley marvels, "These are crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy nights!" That's four times the crazy for those keeping score at home. Despite the album's failure on the whole, "Crazy Crazy Nights" cements its summertime banger status through sheer force of will and a Bon Jovi-style key change. Stanley sums it up best: "If life is a radio, turn up to 10."

 

16. Whitesnake, "Here I Go Again"

Fast cars and beautiful women: long regarded as the bare necessities for a great summer. Thankfully, the music video for Whitesnake's chart-topping power ballad has both — two cars, even, with Tawny Kitaen doing somersaults across both hoods! Best to leave the stunts to the pros and focus on cruising with the top down to the soothing sounds of David Coverdale.

 

15. Warrant, "Down Boys"

Warrant's debut single is a thinly veiled reference to oral sex, but Jani Lane sings it with the youthful exuberance of a kid playing in the woods on a Saturday morning. Pining after a woman to the tune of catchy riffs and soaring choruses is not exclusively a summer activity, but it somehow feels more appropriate at that time of year.

 

14. Y&T, "Summertime Girls"

Y&T's only Billboard Hot 100 entry peaked at No. 55, but it's the kind of minor-league classic that lives on in the hearts and playlists of rock-loving bums in the sun. And for good reason: It's frothy pop-rock fun with a silly, charmingly irreverent video to boot. When Dave Meniketti sings, "When you lift me up, I never come down," one assumes he's talking about practicing a cheer routine on the beach.

 

13. Def Leppard, "Pour Some Sugar on Me"

Def Leppard didn't write the quintessential stripper anthem for you to not blast it at every cookout, beach bash and backyard rager from June through September. Summertime got you feeling hot and sticky sweet (from your head to your feet)? Then take a bottle and shake it up — and crank the tunes while you're at it.

 

12. David Lee Roth, "Goin' Crazy"

A word of caution: This summertime slammer from Diamond Dave may cause reckless behavior, such as quitting your job, telling your boss to go to hell, drunkenly stumbling off the pier and canoodling with the mayor's daughter. (Apparently, "crazy from the heat" is not a legitimate defense in a court of law.) Listeners are encouraged to make a contingency plan before indulging.

 

11. Guns N' Roses, "Paradise City"

The chorus to "Paradise City" — "Take me down to the Paradise City / where the grass is green and the girls are pretty" — is perhaps the most uncharacteristically optimistic sentiment on Guns N' Roses' meteoric debut album, Appetite for Destruction. The verses, meanwhile, tell a winding tale of a piss-broke street urchin fighting to make ends meet. It's this duality that gives "Paradise City" such thematic heft, and it makes the chorus payoff that much sweeter. If GN'R could fight for their slice of paradise, then you, too, can fight for your rock 'n' roll summer.

 

10. Bon Jovi, "99 in the Shade"

The Bon Jovi multiverse gets another wrinkle on this New Jersey B-side, with Sahara Jack and Suntan Sally joining "Livin' on a Prayer" protagonists Tommy and Gina for a little fun in the sun. Senoritas and margaritas abound as Jon Bon Jovi sings about hitting the sun and surf and blasting the radio in his old man's Chevrolet. That sonuvabeach sure knows how to party.

 

9. Ratt, "Round and Round"

Where are we meeting? Out on the streets! What are we doing? Tightening our belts and ... abusing ourselves? The motivations of Ratt's breakthrough single are unclear, but as one of the definitive songs of the glam-metal era, it demands to be blasted at every summertime hang. Dig!

 

8. Skid Row, "Youth Gone Wild"

Rachel Bolan and Dave Sabo probably had more severe misdeeds in mind than sneaking a few beers or staying on the beach past curfew when they wrote "Youth Gone Wild." Nevertheless, this bare-knuckle rebel anthem has come to epitomize personal freedom and the pursuit of a good time at all costs. Ironically, it now probably appeals to many of the three-piece Wall Street types that the band initially decried. Time comes for everyone.

 

7. Autograph, "Turn Up the Radio"

Autograph singer Steve Plunkett taps into a universal truth on Autograph's signature song and lone Top 40 hit: "Daytime, nighttime, anytime, things go better with rock." Amen, brother. "Turn Up the Radio" is an essential party-rock anthem for anybody who's ever slogged through a miserable workweek in pursuit of a fun-in-the-sun weekend. Plunkett also reminds listeners what they're entitled to: "For every minute I have to work, I need a minute of play."

 

6. Aerosmith, "Permanent Vacation"

On the surface, the title track to Aerosmith's career-reviving Permanent Vacation expresses the desire to hitch a ride to the tropics for a change of scenery. But underneath the steel drums and name-checking of exotic locales, the song bristles with unease. "My nose is clean and lordie don't need no sedation," Steven Tyler sings in reference to the band's newfound sobriety. His struggle to keep the demons at bay while soaking up the sun is relatable. Mostly, though, it's just infectious fun.

 

5. David Lee Roth, "Just Like Paradise"

The Top 10 lead single off Roth's sophomore solo album Skyscraper sounds like a spiritual successor to "Goin' Crazy," with bouncy keyboards and soaring hooks the sonic equivalent of the stomach-churning climb the frontman completed for the album cover. "This must be just like livin' in paradise," Roth marvels before adding with just a twinge of anxiety, "And I don't wanna go home." Who among us hasn't felt that way on vacation?

 

4. Quiet Riot, "Cum on Feel the Noize"

Metal Health producer Spencer Proffer knew a cover of Slade's "Cum on Feel the Noize" would be a smash hit in the right hands. "This was anthem participatory rock," he recalled. "It invited people to participate: 'Come on feel the noise, girls rock your boys.'" The song was so infectious that Quiet Riot couldn't help but turn it into a party-metal anthem, even though they had planned to sabotage it in the studio. Decades later, the opening drum beat can still turn the most mundane hangout into a rager in seconds flat.

 

3. Def Leppard, "High 'n' Dry (Saturday Night)"

Summer nights (spoiler) are historically known as the best time to get raving drunk, but on the title track to their sophomore album, Def Leppard makes a convincing case for getting blotto during the day and riding the buzz into the wee small hours. The meaning of "dry" in this context presumably doesn't mean alcohol-free.

 

2. Van Halen, "Summer Nights"

David Lee Roth purists will often argue that Van Halen's first frontman was more effortlessly cool and fun than his successor, Sammy Hagar. The Red Rocker handily squashes that assertion on this 5150 highlight, one of the most indomitable tracks in Van Halen's catalog. Hagar offers a short-but-definitive checklist for the perfect summer bash: uh, summer nights, and the radio! That's it! Factor in Michael Anthony's contact high-inducing harmonies and one of Eddie Van Halen's wildest solos, and you've got a perennial summer playlist staple.

 

1. Poison, "Nothin' but a Good Time"

Allow us to set the scene: You just wrapped a grueling shift bussing tables at the busiest restaurant in town, your boss barking in your ear about who-knows-what. You kick open the door, cue up your favorite song and get ready to savor your slice of freedom. This is essentially the "plot" of Poison's "Nothin' but a Good Time" video, but the pop-metal pretty boys sold this rock 'n' roll escapism so effectively that it's impossible not to feel the same way when you hear the song. To paraphrase Bret Michaels: How can you resist?

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There was more to the Summer of Love than, well, love.

Gallery Credit: Dave Swanson

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