Teena Marie: Square Biz
From It Must Be Magic (Motown, 1981)

The Go Team!: Ladyflash
From Thunder, Lightning, Strike (Memphis Industries, 2004)

Journey: Don’t Stop Believing
From Escape (Sony, 1981)

Editor’s Note: The latest in the Soul Sides Summer Songs series is from the my mellow, my man (and fellow new dad), Todd Inoue, music editor for the SJ Metro.

      I think summer songs should be utilitarian – easy to sing, vibe to. Put it on in the car and everyone flips out. During my day, that meant dinosaur rock like the Scorpions, Foghat, Rush, AC/DC or KSOL’s regular rotation of Kool and the Gang, Commodores and Manhattans. Not quite cutting edge, but they jog the memory, like the way suntan lotion smells.


      I remember when visiting relatives in Hawaii, my favorite stoner cousin took me out for a night time cruise of early ’80s Honolulu with his VW Bug posse. He had huge tower speakers on his backseat. I sat on the speakers as we drove to the meeting spot. We met up with his homeys – all driving tricked out VW bugs. They smoked bud and drank beers, looking at girls and comparing engines. For some reason, the hottest jam at the time was the Motels‚ “Only The Lonely.” Whenever I hear that song today, I flash back to that evening and seeing my cousin in his element, and in a whole new light. The summer song has that same effect of freezing a treasured moment in time forever.


      Junichi, come over my house sometime. I have that

New Radicals joint

      on karaoke!


      A song like Teena Marie’s “Square Biz” epitomizes choice summer singalongs. Right from the jump, “Everybody get up!” Vanilla Child sells the top-down, breeze everflowing love hard. I pop this in whenever I need a pickup. Honorable mentions also go to Jade’s “Don’t Walk Away” with its cascading harmonies, cowbell and the “this is what it sounds like when we make love” break with the ‘gasmic moans, sums up the ideal song to crush out to. And SWV’s “Right Here” remix makes me want to buy a convertible just so I can bump it.


      As for “Ladyflash,” everything about this joint reminds me of transitional scenes in uplifting old school kid movies like My Bodyguard. The underdog gets the girl, they run through an amber wheat field and embrace as the song swirls them up where they belong. The drum breaks drive me crazy. This is my jam, relocates my mental state to places I’d rather be.


    Journey takes me back to sitting on a hot vinyl car seat in the 7-11 parking lot, waiting for my older brother to return with cola Slurpees and sunflower seeds before our weekly trip to the record store. Same goes for Foghat’s “Slow Ride” (the live version) and the Scorpions’ “Only a Man.”