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The Dog Days of Summer Are Over – 8 ‘Dog’ Songs to Kill a Killer Summer

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Who let the dogs out?

August did, because it’s slipping away faster than that gelato you’re holding. This month has been kind of brutal. The dog days arrived way too soon, then outstayed their welcome, and now we’re scrambling to enjoy the last remaining bits before falling leaves and pumpkin-spiced everything start to take over. 

So to get you through the last few dog day afternoons, we compiled our favorite artists named after “man’s best friend.” This list won’t help you say goodbye to summer, but it will definitely be waiting by the door wagging its tail when you return. (Sorry Steppenwolf, we kept you off on a technicality.)

Snoop Dogg

Sure, Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. strayed from the title Snoop Dogg a few years back in favor of his feline Reggae alter-ego Snoop Lion, but let’s not hold that against the man. He’ll always be Snoop Dogg to us, and any list of famous musicians named for our four-legged friends has to start with “The Doggfather.”

Named after the Peanuts character (his mom thought he looked like the famous beagle growing up), Snoop has been at the top of the hip-hip and pop culture game since Dr. Dre delivered him into this world in 1993. His debut Doggystyle is considered a masterpiece, and for good reason, thanks to classics like “Gin & Juice” and “What’s My Name?” But he’s also made a lasting career by dabbling in just about every form of pop culture: acting in films and TV, starting a clothing line, wrestling in the WWE, even cooking with Martha Stewart.

Temple of the Dog

In the days of plaid and parachute pants, this Seattle supergroup was formed to pay homage to a fallen brother. The brainchild of the late great Chris Cornell, Temple of the Dog was a tribute to his friend Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone fame. Temple consisted of Cornell from Soundgarden and Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Mike McCready. It also featured future Pearl Jammer Matt Cameron on drums, and on their breakout hit “Hunger Strike,” an emerging Eddie Vedder. The band released a self-titled album in 1991, spawning another hit “Say Hello 2 Heaven.”

But one and done was all for the Dog Temple, a shining light that faded quickly, yet is as embedded into Seattle culture as the Space Needle. 

Pitbull

Armando Christian Pérez, a.k.a., “Mr. Worldwide,” a.k.a., Pitbull is a Miami native who has been ferociously scoring hits with his trademark intense delivery, transparent lyrics, and aviator sunglasses. Apparently Pitbull chose his stage name because of the fight that the dogs have in them — and because they’re “too stupid to lose.”

He debuted on Lil Jon’s 2002 album Kings of Crunk and went on to release his first album two years later with M.I.A.M.I. But it wasn’t instant success for the eventual Cuban missile. It wasn’t truly until 2009’s Rebelution where Pitbull took a gnarly bite out of the industry. After releasing his breakthrough massive single, “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho),” he would never look back. Pitbull also quickly became the go-to feature artist to add some club-friendly punch to a pop record, ensuring platinum status to almost anything he touched. 2011’s “Give Me Everything,” a collaboration with Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Nayer, went to number one. “Timber” with Kesha was another smash. And we could go on and on. But, we don’t want to. 

Snarky Puppy

Genre-bending fusionists Snarky Puppy are some of the best improvisers on the scene right now. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when it came to naming the band, bassist and producer Michael League sort of winged it. His brother was going to use it for his group, but didn’t, and the dog lover decided to pounce on it. Who doesn’t love puppies, right? And who doesn’t love this Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn jazz-, rock-, and funk-infused band?

True DIYers, these pups are the epitome of doing things their way. They released their debut album Live at Uncommon Ground as well as their first four albums on their own. And in 2014, their cover of Brenda Russell’s “Something” (with Lalah Hathaway) scored them a Grammy. Two years after that, they won Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for Sylva. And in 2017, Culcha Vulcha won them another Grammy in that same category. But awards don’t make a band. The music does. So just listen and start bobbing your head along with the rest of us, please. 

Dr. Dog

It’s not exactly clear how they got their name, but similar to Dr. Dre, this Pennsylvania band doesn’t actually practice medicine. What the musicians of Dr. Dog (Toby Leaman, Frank McElroy, Scott McMicken, Zach Miller, and Eric Slick) do practice, however, is the ability to make scruffy yet breezy songs that sometimes sound as if you mixed The Beatles in a blender with a college radio mixtape from 1998. Some songs simply float, others are a bit loaded, but overall, lyrically, they’re saying always something worth hearing.

Take “Good Grief:”

You could throw dreams to the wind
Fall and get some rest
Swim in shark infested waters
Just hoping for the best

It’s a nice prescription for sure. 

Three Dog Night

“A dingo ate my baby.” These Australian canines served as the source of this great American band’s namesake. As the story goes, Three Dog Night got its name courtesy of singer Danny Hutton’s girlfriend who read an article about indigenous Aussies who slept underground with dingos to keep warm. The colder it got, the more dogs they’d add, so if it was absolutely freezing, they’d be sleeping with three. And there you have it.

Now that that’s out of the way, the band originally formed with Hutton, Cory Wells, and Chuck Negron. Other members eventually joined, and in all, the band had 21 hits on the Billboard’s Top 40 charts. Arguably, the band is best known for their cover of Hoyt Axton’s “Joy to the World,” but one of their clear standouts was another cover, Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come.” It was memorably featured in both Boogie Nights and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Skinny Puppy

The second puppy act on this list, multi-instrumentalist and producer Kevin Crompton’s band, Skinny Puppy was legendary. Crompton (a.k.a., cEvin Key) started the group while he was also in the new wave act Images in Vogue. It wasn’t supposed to be anything, but it soon turned into everything. The band derived their name from the basic concept of seeing the world “through a dog’s eyes” when he and singer Nivek Ogre first jammed. The first songs they wrote, including “K-9,” were based on that mindset, and the name just stuck. Known for their signature sound and their theatrical, performance-art-heavy live shows, their sound went on to influence “industrial” electronic artists through the ages. 

The Bloodhound Gang

Masters of hilarity, heavy beats, and catchy lyrics (“Hello my name is Jimmy Pop and I’m a dumb white guy…”), this Pennsylvania rock group took their name from a part of the PBS show 3-2-1 Contact, and fittingly many of their songs dealt with “contact” (mostly of the sexual kind) in some way. Somehow songs like “Fire Water Burn,” “Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo,” and of course, the super-hit “The Bad Touch,” took the band, who blended punk, Euro-electro, alternate rock, and hip-hop to mainstream success. Their knack for making great music videos and never taking themselves too seriously helped.

Peace out, dawgs.

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Jon Chattman
Jon Chattman

Jon Chattman has shared a Reuben sandwich with Randy “Macho Man” Savage, somehow ignited Snoop Dogg to sing Dean Martin, and questioned Meryl Streep on what she’d do during a zombie apocalypse. He has written for a variety of outlets including Huffington Post, Inked Magazine, and USA Today, and runs his own music series (“A-Sides”), which has drawn such acts as Gary Clark, Jr., Imagine Dragons, Sleigh Bells, Joe Perry, and Alice Cooper, to name just a few.