Beach Boys Surfin' Safari Album cover.

Classics: The Beach Boys at their summer best.

John Legend's All Of Me may have hit No.1 near the end of last year but it's not going to be a classic summer song.

Why? As appealing as it is, it's too slow and too forlorn (its tempo suggests pain may be as close as happiness) and falls short of what we look for in our ultimate summer tunes.

We look each year for something to make a new memory or give us an excuse to relive a summer past 

While many songs refer to spring, winter and autumn (or ''fall''), summer is a season apart. You could put it down to its association with holidays or the way heat can be enervating and energising, or the appeal of fewer clothes and more cocktails.

Pharrell's <i>Happy</i> footage is uplifting, and acts as a giant clock that users can click between.

Pharrell's Happy footage is uplifting, and acts as a giant clock that users can click between.

You could also blame the way the music industry likes to give us particularly catchy songs — remember Sisqo's Thong Song? — when the temperature rises. Or you could just recognise that, in the words of English journalist Peter Robinson, ''pretending you don't like music with a very catchy tune is tiring, so people take the summer off''.

This summer's most likely anthem (so far) is Pharrell Williams' Happy, which reached the top of the ARIA singles chart on Saturday. It's bouncy, mixing R&B and pop, and the chorus (''clap along if you feel like a room without a roof/ clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth") is like biting into an iceblock.

There's no sex in it but there is happiness and catchiness. Not bad substitutes for any summer day.

Melbourne band TZU.

Melbourne band TZU. Photo: Supplied

EMI managing director John O'Donnell says: "The best summer songs evoke memories of long school holidays, time on our hands, time at the beach, young romance, hot sticky heat, life in bloom, rites of passage. They remind us of a better, more naive, innocent time in our lives."

Not that everything needs to be rose-coloured, says writer and musician Emma Swift. Her favourite summer songs suggest "uncertainty abounds while the sun shines, leaving us with a sense that love at its best is seasonal and at its worst is make-believe".

Whatever the reason, we find ourselves associating songs with happier times and consequently look each year for something to make a new memory or give us an excuse to relive a summer past. A summer when we were probably a bit more active than we are in our later years.

Ella Fitzgerald

Singer Ella Fitzgerald. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Imag

That's as true of Meat Loaf's tale of teenage passion, You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (''It was a hot summer night and the beach was burning'') and its Australian equivalent, Mondo Rock's Come Said The Boy (''Come said the boy, let's go down to the sand/Let's do what we wanna do, let me be a man for you'') as it was in Nelly's summer special a decade ago, Hot In Herre ("I am getting so hot, I wanna take my clothes off").

Mind you, trust Cole Porter to find a way to be smart and sexy even when he claims the heat diminishes desire in Too Darn Hot (''I'd like to sup with my baby tonight/Fill the cup with my baby tonight/But I ain't up to my baby tonight 'cause it's too darn hot").

Morrissey wasn't quite his equivalent but you have to laugh at The Smiths' version of summer in Ask ("Spending warm summer days indoors, writing frightening verse to a buck-toothed girl in Luxembourg") and maybe even nod in recognition of those leather-jacketed New York punks the Ramones who offered "Chewing out a rhythm on my bubble gum/The sun is out and I want some" (Rockaway Beach) before referring to two other great summer songs, Up On The Roof and Dancing In The Street, in the next verse, singing, "Up on the roof, out on the street/Down in the playground the hot concrete/Bus ride is too slow/They blast out the disco on the radio."

Swift says the best summer songs take us to "a world that's already gone, or that may never have existed but is eternally yearned for".

It's why her picks are Martha and the Muffins' Echo Beach (''It's a post-punk dance gem that packs longing, desire, restlessness and romance into three minutes and 24 seconds") and The Sundays' Summertime ("pleasantly sunny enough and brims with joyous horns and effervescent guitars but there's still a sense of despair in Harriet Wheeler's lovely, lonely voice").