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Top 10: Beach songs that are better than 'Margaritaville'

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Jimmy Buffett AP 2011 Key West

Jimmy Buffett performs before on Duval Street in Key West. Attendees at the 20th Parrot Heads Convention were surprised when Buffett made a rare appearance, playing with his Coral Reefer Band for more than an hour. Buffett performs his popular beach songs Saturday in Tampa. (AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Rob O'Neal/2011)

It’s the title most responsible for making Jimmy Buffett one of the richest entertainers in the world and you better bet he performs “Margaritaville” on Saturday during his concert at the MidFlorida Amphitheatre in Tampa – or risk being bum-rushed by 20,000 booze-fueled Parrot Heads. When it comes to beach songs, the ode to “that frozen concoction” currently ranks as the most famous, lucrative and, looking at the current crop of “gulf and western” country stars, one of the most influential. But is it the best? Nah, man. Here are 10 beach songs that are better than “Margaritaville.”

“California Girls,” David Lee Roth (1985): A perfectly playful cover of The Beach Boys hit benefitting from a sexy (some would argue sexist) music video that remains permanently locked into the memory banks of basically every male who ever watched MTV in the 1980s.

Blondie_-_The_Tide_Is_High"The Tide Is High," Blondie (1980): Debbie Harry and her band mates took an old rocksteady song that nobody had heard outside Jamaica and reworked it into a sensual, breezy reggae number that easily evokes images of romance while gentle waves break on the shore – even if the lyrics, on close inspection, might suggest drowning.

"Toes," Zac Brown Band (2008): This song about drinking with your toes in the water and “ass in the sand” has rightfully become one of the great beach anthems of the past decade.

"Back To the Island," Leon Russell (1975): While not as famous as the other songs on this list, it has always been a personal favorite, forever making me think of watching gorgeous sunsets on Anna Maria Island.

"Under The Boardwalk," The Drifters (1964): While oceanfront boardwalks filled with all manners of fun are largely a foreign concept here in Florida, they are an essential part of the beach experience for Northeasterners. Nearly 50 years since its release, "Under The Boardwalk" remains the quintessential song about love and happiness on (and under) the Jersey Shore’s most iconic structures.

NoShoesNoShirtNoProblems"No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems," Kenny Chesney (2003): A laid-back ditty clearly inspired by the Jimmy Buffett songbook, Chesney does an outstanding job of delivering an instant sing along about losing the working man’s blues with the sun, sand and drink in hand.

"(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay," Otis Redding (1968): A beautiful, poignant song that judiciously incorporates the sound of the sea into the recording, it’s the soul giant from Georgia reflecting on life’s ups and downs as he watches the waves of San Francisco Bay, giving a performance that puts the listener right next to him.

"A Pirate Looks at Forty," Jimmy Buffett (1974): OK, so, maybe like me you can’t stand to hear “Margaritaville” again. But let’s not discount all the other Buffett gems featuring boats, beaches and bars. This one remains my favorite among his many great songs about life at sea.

"Good Vibrations," The Beach Boys (1966): Pretty much any Beach Boys song belongs on this list, at least any from the dud-free compilation “Endless Summer,” so why not go with composer Brian Wilson’s psychedelic pop masterpiece? The song continually fascinates me, takes me away to a place that is permanently sunny and carefree every time I hear it.

"Stir It Up," Bob Marley & The Wailers (1972): Like the Beach Boys’ “Endless Summer,” Marley’s “Legend” compilation is a flawless classic full of songs that enhance any beach experience, capable of even making a weekday afternoon stuck in the cubicle easier to handle. But “Stir It Up,” a love song supreme that pulsates with the rhythm of the ocean, gets my pick for top beach song – at least for today.

Listen to Top 10 Beach Songs by Wade Tatangelo on Spotify

JIMMY BUFFETT & THE CORAL REEFER BAND
8 p.m. Saturday; MidFlorida Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. Hwy. 301, Tampa; $46-$158; (800) 745-3000; livenation.com

JIMMY BUFFETT & THE CORAL REEFER BAND 8 p.m. Saturday; MidFlorida Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. Hwy. 301, Tampa; $46-$158; (800) 745-3000; livenation.com

Wade_Tatangelo_by_Mike_Lang_HT_06212013
WADE TATANGELO is the editor of TICKET + and a contributor at TicketSarasota.com. He has been an entertainment editor, reporter, columnist and reviewer for more than a decade at publications nationwide. He is a Hershey, Pa., native who grew up in Tampa and graduated from the University of South Florida. Wade joined the Herald-Tribune in 2013 and writes the weekly Bar Tab column. He can be reached by email or call (941) 361-4955.
Last modified: April 25, 2014
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