If you seek out the best examples of songs with figurative language, we’ve compiled a great playlist for you. Explore the vivid world of music where lyrics transcend literal meaning. Songs with figurative language elevate storytelling through metaphors, similes, and poetic devices, painting emotional landscapes and offering depth beyond words.
Join this melodic journey where every note carries a hidden story waiting to be deciphered!
Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande – Rain On Me
We can start to explore songs with figurative language by remembering Rain On Me. The first track is a collaborative track by two powerhouse artists, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. It’s a part of Lady Gaga’s sixth studio album, Chromatica, released in 2020. The song encapsulates themes of resilience and empowerment in the face of adversity. Its lyrics delve into the metaphorical concept of rain symbolizing struggles and challenges in life.
Through this metaphor, Gaga and Grande express the idea of embracing hardship and using it as a source of strength, rather than allowing it to defeat them.
Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall
Here is a real example of songs with figurative language. Another Brick In The Wall is a timeless anthem by Pink Floyd from their iconic album The Wall, released in 1979. This song serves as a powerful critique of the education system and societal norms. It reflects themes of rebellion, individuality, and the suppression of creativity within institutional settings.
The lyrics, particularly the lines Hey! Teachers! Leave the kids alone! highlight the band’s discontent with the rigid structures of schooling that stifle the individuality and expression of students.
The B-52’s – Love Shack
Love Shack is a lively, feel-good track by The B-52’s, featured on their album Cosmic Thing, released in 1989. The song exudes a carefree vibe, celebrating a quirky, imaginary place known as the Love Shack, where people come together to have a good time. Its upbeat tempo, catchy hooks, and playful lyrics make it an infectious party anthem.
The song’s themes revolve around escapism, joy, and the freedom to let loose and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Love Shack has been a staple in pop culture, known for its fun-loving nature and the band’s unique style that blends rock, new wave, and dance elements.
Louis Armstrong – What A Wonderful World
We cannot skip the master on our list. Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World is a timeless classic from his album of the same name, released in 1967. The song’s themes center around appreciation, optimism, and finding beauty in the simplest aspects of life. Its gentle melody and Armstrong’s soulful voice deliver a poignant message about embracing the beauty of the world despite its challenges.
The lyrics paint a vivid picture of nature’s wonders and human kindness, encouraging listeners to look beyond the turmoil and cherish the inherent goodness in the world.
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
Here is the most original song among songs with figurative language. Bohemian Rhapsody stands as one of Queen’s most iconic and innovative tracks, featured on their album A Night at the Opera, released in 1975. The song is a genre-defying masterpiece, blending rock, opera, and progressive elements into a multi-sectional, operatic epic. Its themes encompass introspection, inner turmoil, and the complexities of life and death.
The enigmatic lyrics, ranging from personal reflections to fantastical imagery, create a surreal narrative that leaves room for interpretation.
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
Among songs with figurative language, this track should be considered. Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran is a defining track from their album Rio, released in 1982. The song encapsulates themes of desire, pursuit, and adventure. Its lyrics tell the story of a relentless pursuit, drawing parallels between the hunt of a predator (a wolf) and the pursuit of a romantic interest. The track’s energetic rhythm, combined with its innovative use of synthesizers and guitar riffs, contributed to its immense success.
Hungry Like The Wolf became an anthem of the ’80s, symbolizing a quest for passion and intensity in life and relationships. Its infectious beat and memorable hooks solidified its place as one of Duran Duran’s most iconic and enduring hits.
Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire
Girl On Fire is a powerful anthem by Alicia Keys, featured on her album of the same name released in 2012. The song radiates themes of empowerment, strength, and resilience. With its catchy melody and uplifting lyrics, Keys celebrates the inner fire and strength of women.
Alicia Keys’ soulful vocals and the song’s empowering message have resonated with audiences, making Girl On Fire an inspirational anthem that empowers individuals to embrace their unique strengths and capabilities.
Don McLean – American Pie
American Pie is an iconic folk-rock ballad by Don McLean, released as a single in 1971 and also appearing on his album of the same name. Its enigmatic lyrics reflect McLean’s reflections on significant events in American history, especially focusing on the plane crash that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson (The Day the Music Died).
The song serves as a symbolic representation of the changing landscape of American culture and music. Its poetic storytelling, intricate metaphors, and poignant melodies have solidified American Pie as an enduring classic in music history.
Elton John – Sad Songs (Say So Much)
Elton, who is a legendary artist, should be listed now. Sad Songs (Say So Much) by Elton John is a track from his album Breaking Hearts, released in 1984. The song revolves around the theme of music’s ability to express emotions and provide solace during difficult times. It acknowledges the cathartic nature of sad songs, highlighting their significance in connecting people and comforting them in their moments of despair.
Elton John’s signature piano-driven melody, coupled with heartfelt lyrics, emphasizes the healing power of music, demonstrating how sad songs can resonate deeply and offer a sense of camaraderie during challenging moments.
Styx – Come Sail Away
We should check our Styx now. Come Sail Away is an epic rock ballad by Styx from their album The Grand Illusion, released in 1977. The song explores themes of escapism, imagination, and the pursuit of dreams. Its lyrics narrate a story of departure and a quest for something greater, utilizing nautical imagery to symbolize a journey toward self-discovery and fulfillment.
With its progressive rock elements, soaring vocals, and intricate instrumental sections, Come Sail Away captivates listeners, taking them on a metaphorical voyage filled with hope and aspirations. The track remains a hallmark of Styx’s artistry, celebrated for its anthemic nature and evocative storytelling.
Frank Sinatra – New York, New York
Here is a great classical song. New York, New York by Frank Sinatra is an iconic anthem released in 1980. This song reflects the vibrancy and allure of the city of New York. It’s a track synonymous with the city itself, celebrating its energy, ambition, and the dream of making it big. Sinatra’s powerful vocals coupled with the song’s big band sound capture the essence of the city’s spirit and its endless possibilities.
With its anthemic chorus and timeless charm, New York, New York has become an anthem played at events celebrating New York City and its triumphs, making it an enduring classic.
Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone
Let’s continue to explore songs with figurative language by remembering this classical song. Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone by Bill Withers is a soulful classic released in 1971. The song revolves around themes of heartache, longing, and the emptiness felt when separated from a loved one. Withers’ emotive vocals and the minimalist arrangement create a haunting atmosphere that resonates deeply with listeners.
The repetitive lyrics of I know, I know, I know emphasize the despair and the void left behind when someone special is absent. The song’s raw emotion and Withers’ soulful delivery have made it an enduring ballad that captures the pain of missing someone dearly.
Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart
We can remember this classical track now. Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler is a power ballad released in 1983. The song embodies themes of love, longing, and intense emotions. Its dramatic melody and Tyler’s powerful vocals evoke a sense of passionate yearning and vulnerability.
The lyrics paint a vivid picture of a tumultuous relationship, capturing the struggle between desire and uncertainty.
Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger
Another example of songs with figurative language is an electrifying rock anthem released in 1982. This song is best known as the theme from the movie Rocky III. It embodies themes of determination, resilience, and the spirit of triumph. The track’s powerful guitar riffs, energetic rhythm, and motivational lyrics became synonymous with perseverance and overcoming challenges.
Eye Of The Tiger captured the essence of training and pushing through obstacles to achieve victory, making it a timeless anthem that continues to inspire and motivate listeners.
Roberta Flack – Killing Me Softly With His Song
The last song of our list of songs with figurative language is a soulful ballad released in 1973. The song delves into themes of emotional impact, vulnerability, and the power of music. Flack’s mesmerizing vocals and the evocative storytelling within the lyrics convey the profound impact of a song that speaks directly to one’s emotions.
The narrative describes the experience of being deeply moved by a song that feels personal and relatable, resonating with the listener’s emotions on a profound level. Flack’s emotive rendition and the song’s captivating storytelling made it an instant classic that captures the emotive power of music.
Katy Perry – Firework
“Firework” is an empowering pop anthem by American singer-songwriter Katy Perry. Released in 2010 as part of her third studio album “Teenage Dream,” the song became a global sensation, topping charts worldwide.
With its uplifting lyrics and catchy melody, “Firework” encourages listeners to embrace their inner strength and uniqueness, likening them to fireworks destined to shine brightly. Perry’s powerful vocals combined with the song’s anthemic production make it a timeless favorite, often used to inspire and uplift audiences across different generations.
It starts with these lyrics:
“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from cavin’ in?”
Maren Morris – The Bones
“The Bones” is a heartfelt country-pop song by Grammy-winning artist Maren Morris. Featured on her second studio album, “Girl” (2019), the track resonates with its poignant lyrics and soulful melody. “The Bones” metaphorically explores the strength of a relationship, emphasizing that its foundation remains unbreakable even in the face of challenges.
Morris’s emotive delivery coupled with the song’s intimate production creates a stirring narrative that speaks to the resilience and depth of love. The song’s universal themes and heartfelt execution have garnered widespread acclaim, solidifying its place as a standout track in Morris’s discography.