Music sets the tone for every occasion. Jam-packed with Southern artists, this mix of classic and contemporary, roots and rock, sunny and sultry tunes is the perfect soundtrack for your next backyard BBQ. Scroll down to the bottom for a ready-to-play list of each of the songs below.
1. Otis Redding - “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”
This quintessential summer song from the Georgia-born crooner is perfect for sitting by the dock, the front porch, or wherever you choose to entertain this summer.
2. Beyoncé and André 3000 - “Party”
The Grammy-winning Texan who gave us Lemonade last year previously collaborated with André 3000 of ATL-based hip-hop duo OutKast to make this perennial party favorite.
3. OutKast - “Hey Ya!’”
Speaking of OutKast, this infectious early-2000s anthem is sure to get your guests shakin’ it “like a Polaroid picture.” Hey, might as well take a few.
4. Great Peacock - “Gulf Dreams”
This Tennessee-based folk band sings about getting away from it with “boat drinks” and “drifting down to New Orleans.” Sign us up.
5. Allman Brothers - “Blue Sky”
This tender love song is the Southern rock version of Shakespeare’s “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”: simple, heartfelt and brilliant.
6. Nikki Lane - “Jackpot”
This track from the Nashville-based musician’s third album, Highway Queen, is a rollicking, twangy ode to falling hopelessly and recklessly in love.
7. Leon Bridges - “Twistin’ and Groovin’”
Honestly, every song from Bridges' soulful and effortlessly cool album Coming Home deserves a spot on this list.
8. Justin Timberlake - “Summer Love”
Obvious? Yes. But we’re still partial to this sexy, sultry summer song more than a decade after its initial release.
9. Johnnyswim - “Summertime Romance”
Lush vocals, tight harmonies, and a sexy husband and wife duo singing about summer and romance... What’s not to love?
10. Shovels & Rope - “Birmingham”
Penned by yet another married musical team (Charleston’s Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent), this rollicking semi-autobiographical tale, which covers the trials and tribulations of trying to "make it" in the music business, is steeped in the sunny optimism of the season.
11. Deana Carter - “Strawberry Wine”
Don’t even pretend you don’t know every word to this '90s country classic about a girl’s first love and the “hot July moon” that “saw everything.”
12. Rhett Miller - “Most in the Summertime”
The Old 97s frontman receives all-star backing from Portland’s Black Prairie (which includes four members of indie darlings The Decemberists), as well as two members of Athens heroes R.E.M., in this joyous and breezy alt-country tune about pickup trucks, picnics and falling in love.
13. Justin Townes Earle - “Champagne Corrola”
Cars, open windows and a pretty girl? Yep, those are all ingredients of a perfect summer song, found on Earle’s newest release, Kids in the Street.
14. Childish Gambino - “Have Some Love”
We love this funky, feel-good and slightly psychedelic track from Atlanta star Donald Glover’s musical alter ego.
15. Alabama Shakes - “Gimme All Your Love”
Brittany’s Howard’s raw and earnest pleading totally sells this standout single from the Shakes’ acclaimed LP Sound and Color. Guess where they're from?
16. Margo Price - “Hurtin’ on the Bottle”
While she’s technically from Illinois, this Midwestern Farmer’s Daughter knows how to write a persuasive country tune. Who can’t relate to drowning your sorrows in a bottle of the hard stuff?
17. The Lone Bellow - “Heaven Don’t Call Me Home”
Lead singer and Georgia native Zach Williams sings with a religious-like fervor in this fast-paced, frenzied homage to his home state.
18. Valerie June - “Astral Plane”
Send your guests home with the sweet, ethereal sound of June’s plaintive and distinctive voice, which shines through in this standout track from the Memphis-raised singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist's latest EP.
To listen to the playlist now, click the playlist image below.
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Laura Scholz is a freelance writer with a passion for food and fitness. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Magazine, Atlanta Now, Eater Atlanta, The Love List, Simply Buckhead, and Tales of the Cocktail. Laura is also a certified Pilates and TRX instructor who loves running, yoga, live music, traveling, hiking with her dog, and playing the piano and ukulele. She lives on the Westside with her husband Tim and freely admits she does more singing, dancing, and drinking than cooking in her kitchen.