Billy Joel said, “I think music itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” He forgot to add that everyone likes examining lyrics and are constantly trying to figure out what a singer meant when they wrote a song. More often than not, musicians use words that have multiple means to evoke numerous senses. One of those words is heat, a word that can be about balmy summer days, a bad argument, or even an inspiration that ignites your mind. However, the term is used; it works across multiple music genres. These are the top ten songs about heat.
10. Steam Heat – Doris Day
This song is from the 1954 musical, The Pajama Game. According to mtishows, in 1955, it won the Tony for Best Musical. Fifty years later, it won another Tony for Best Revival of a Musical. It’s a song that is a throwback to a simpler time when it was about fun lyrics and a swinging beat. The chorus is infectious and lends itself to singing and not just on stage.
9. The Heat Is On – Glenn Frey
Beverly Hills Cop was one of the hottest movies in the 80s. Glenn Frey’s addition to the soundtrack contributed to the success. One of the things producers started to do in the 80s was to focus more on the soundtracks in movies because MTV was starting to peak in popularity. Several sports teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Jets also play this song during games.
8. Mirage – Mary J. Blige
This song is from the 2016 movie Hidden Figures, about three African American women who smashed glass ceilings working as mathematicians at Nasa. The lyrics are about a woman who gives herself over to the heat of the moment, but she begins to think the feelings aren’t real as she falls harder in love.
7. Sun is Shining – Bob Marley and The Wailers
When the heat index is off the charts, Bob Marley is always a great choice. His slow reggae vibe is so laid back it makes you forget it’s 120 degrees in the shade. This song is also about a new day and all its potential in the next 24 hours. This song contemplates happiness and encourages people to enjoy every moment. Marley’s voice and style will cool down the hottest days of summer. If the heat index is off the charts, sit in a backyard with any one of his songs, and an ice-cold drink will drop the temperature.
6. Heat of The Moment – Asia
A different kind of heat is when we are in the middle of a fight and need to be the bigger person and apologize before it’s too late. This song was the first single by the British band and peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982. The electric guitars at the beginning of the song are a great segue into a mellower apology. John Payne’s voice lends itself well to the lyrics about a man who understands that the unkind words he said were misspoken.
5. The Rythm of The Heat – Peter Gabriel
According to Peter Gabriel’s website, this song is about Carl Jung’s journey to Africa. While there, he became so enchanted by the drums he felt like a new part of his consciousness opened up. When Gabriel recorded this song, he wanted to take the same type of instrumentation into the music.
4. Canned Heat – Jamiroquai
This song was an oddity, released at the end of the 90s when the airwaves favored artists like Kid Rock and Blink 182. However, this song was the second number-one single for the group, peaking on the US Dance Club Songs. The electric jazz sound was a standout because it sounded different than other club music with a techno beat.
3. Heatwave – Marilyn Monroe
It’s undeniable Marylin Monroe is a pop culture icon. In 1954, she starred with Ethel Merman and Donald O’Connor in the movie. There’s No Business Like Show Business. Her trademark sultry sass was on full display during this song. Even though other singers performed this song, it’s Monroe’s performance that made it iconic.
2. Hot Blooded – Foreigner
This song was featured several times in the long-running TV show Bones. Lou Gramm wrote this song about a man running a high fever but isn’t sick unless it’s lovesick. The opening of the song is a stunning combination of drums and rock guitars. Much like other Foreigner songs, it’s a highly male-focused song. Despite this, the lyrics are so familiar it’s impossible not to sing along with the chorus. This song was from the group’s second album Double Vision, and was released in June 1978, reaching number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
1. (Love Is Like a) Heat Wave – Bruce Springsteen
Martha and the Vandella’s were the first to make this song popular in the 1960s. Springsteen sang this song in two different concerts. During the Adelaide Australia recording, he took the song’s original Motown feel and added his spin, relying more on guitars and his voice that soared above the music. The addition of background singers gave it a different sound from many of his other songs because it sounded gospel-influenced. Moreover, he added some swing jazz with trombones and other brass instruments. Even though the original version is impressive, it may sound dated to younger listeners. Springsteen’s performance reinvents a classic pitch perfectly.
The songs on this list span over half a century because the analogy of heat is universal and timeless. When a singer pens lyrics, besides writing for themselves they want their listeners to understand how they feel in only a few minutes. Even though a picture paints a thousand words, a singer with a well-placed word can make us feel many different emotions in a short time.