Table of Contents
- 1. “Cities” by Talking Heads
- 2. “Havana” by Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug
- 2. “L.A. Woman” by The Doors
- 4. “The Only Living Boy in New York” by Paul Simon
- 5. “Streets of London” by Ralph McTell
- 6. “Katmandu” by Bob Seger
- 7. “Santa Monica” by Everclear
- 8. “Malibu” by Hole
- 9. “Paris” by Friendly Fires
- 10. “Hong Kong Garden” by Siouxsie and the Banshees
- 11. “Marrakesh Express” by Crosby, Stills & Nash
- 12. “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis Presley
- 13. “Going Down to Liverpool” by The Bangles
- 14. “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra
- 15. “El Paso” by Marty Robbins
- 16. “Budapest” by George Ezra
- 17. “Woman from Tokyo” by Deep Purple
- 18. “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn
- 19. “Barcelona” by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe
- 20. “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” by Bob Dylan
- 21. “Albuquerque” by Neil Young
- 22. “Last Train To Clarksville” by The Monkees
- 23. “Istanbul” by Morrissey
- 24. “Galway Girl” by Ed Sheeran
- 25. “Belfast Child” by Simple Minds
- 26. “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen
- 27. “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie
- 28. “Houston” by R.E.M.
- 29. “Kansas City” by The Beatles
- 30. “Hamburg Song” by Keane
- 31. “Jackson” by June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash
- 32. “Beverly Hills” by Weezer
- 33. “Somewhere in Stockholm” by Avicii
- 34. “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys
- 35. “Calgary” by Bon Iver
- 36. “Bagpipes From Baghdad” by Eminem
- 37. “When in Rome” by Billy Joel
- 38. “Night Boat to Cairo” by Madness
- 39. “Vienna” by Ultravox
Cities are fascinating places that inspire creativity and provide a sense of community. For centuries, cities have been the backdrop for many great works of art, including music. From New York to Tokyo, cities have been the subject of countless songs across various genres. These songs capture the unique energy and spirit of each city, reflecting its people, landmarks, and culture. They serve as a tribute to the beauty and complexity of urban life and the emotions that cities evoke.
In this article, we will explore some of the best songs about cities around the world. We will take you on a musical journey across the globe, visiting iconic cities such as London, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro. We will also highlight some lesser-known destinations, including the vibrant metropolis of Lagos in Nigeria and the historic city of Havana in Cuba.
Whether you’re a city dweller or simply fascinated by urban culture, this article will introduce you to some of the best songs that capture the essence of these incredible places. From anthems that celebrate the hustle and bustle of city life to ballads that capture the melancholy of urban solitude, these songs offer a unique and powerful perspective on some of the world’s most fascinating cities. So sit back, turn up the volume, and let’s explore the best songs about cities around the world.
1. “Cities” by Talking Heads
“Cities” by Talking Heads is an upbeat, energetic song that celebrates the excitement and diversity of urban life. The song features David Byrne’s distinctive vocals, backed by a funky bassline and a driving beat. The lyrics explore the sounds, sights, and experiences of different cities around the world, from the neon lights of Tokyo to the skyscrapers of New York. The song captures the restless energy and constant motion of city life, while also acknowledging the isolation and anonymity that can come with living in a crowded urban environment. “Cities” is a classic example of Talking Heads’ unique blend of art rock, funk, and world music influences.
2. “Havana” by Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug
“Havana” is a lively, sultry song by Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello, featuring rapper Young Thug. The song is an homage to the city of Havana, Cuba, and captures its vibrant energy and Latin American rhythms. The track features a catchy, piano-driven melody and a tropical beat that make it impossible not to dance along to. Cabello’s smooth vocals are complemented by Young Thug’s playful rap verse, creating a seamless blend of hip-hop and pop. With its catchy chorus and infectious melody, “Havana” has become a global hit and a tribute to the city that inspired it.
2. “L.A. Woman” by The Doors
“L.A. Woman” by The Doors is a classic rock song that celebrates the city of Los Angeles. The song’s driving beat, bluesy guitar riffs, and Jim Morrison’s powerful vocals create a sense of urgency and excitement that captures the spirit of the city. The lyrics evoke images of the city’s streets, cars, and nightlife, painting a picture of a glamorous and dangerous place. The song’s iconic chorus, “Mr. Mojo Risin’,” is an anagram of Jim Morrison’s name and adds to the song’s enigmatic, almost mystical quality. “L.A. Woman” is a tribute to the city of Los Angeles and the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle it embodies.
4. “The Only Living Boy in New York” by Paul Simon
“The Only Living Boy in New York” is a folk rock song by Paul Simon, originally released in 1970. The song’s gentle acoustic guitar, soothing harmonies, and poetic lyrics create a melancholic and introspective mood. The song is a tribute to Simon’s former musical partner, Art Garfunkel, who had temporarily left the duo to pursue an acting career. The lyrics are a heartfelt message to Garfunkel, reflecting on their friendship and the sense of loneliness that Simon feels without him. “The Only Living Boy in New York” is a bittersweet and introspective song that captures the feelings of isolation and nostalgia that can come with living in a big city.
5. “Streets of London” by Ralph McTell
“Streets of London” is a classic folk song by Ralph McTell, originally released in 1969. The song’s simple acoustic guitar and McTell’s sincere vocals create a poignant and empathetic mood. The song is a tribute to the homeless and marginalized people who McTell observed on the streets of London, and the lyrics paint a vivid picture of their struggles and hardships. The song’s timeless message of compassion and solidarity has made it a beloved anthem for social justice movements around the world. “Streets of London” is a powerful and moving song that has touched the hearts of generations of listeners.
6. “Katmandu” by Bob Seger
“Katmandu” is a classic rock song by Bob Seger, originally released in 1975. The song’s driving beat, catchy melody, and bluesy guitar riffs create a sense of adventure and excitement. The lyrics tell the story of a restless traveler who is drawn to the exotic allure of the city of Kathmandu, Nepal. Seger’s powerful vocals and the song’s anthemic chorus capture the thrill of embarking on a journey to an unknown destination. “Katmandu” is a timeless rock anthem that has inspired countless listeners to embrace their wanderlust and explore the world.
7. “Santa Monica” by Everclear
“Santa Monica” is a post-grunge song by the American rock band Everclear, released in 1995. The song’s distorted guitar riffs, catchy chorus, and energetic rhythm create a sense of rebellion and youthful angst. The lyrics tell the story of a young man who leaves his hometown of Santa Monica, California, to start a new life, but can’t escape the memories of his past. The song’s raw emotion and relatable message of coming of age have made it a beloved anthem for a generation of listeners. “Santa Monica” is a powerful and honest rock song that captures the essence of 1990s alternative rock.
8. “Malibu” by Hole
“Malibu” is an alternative rock song by the American band Hole, released in 1998. The song’s haunting guitar riffs, melodic chorus, and emotional vocals create a sense of vulnerability and introspection. The lyrics are a reflection on the personal struggles of the band’s frontwoman, Courtney Love, who lived in Malibu at the time. The song’s poignant message of resilience and determination has made it a fan favorite and a beloved classic of the alternative rock genre. “Malibu” is a powerful and honest song that captures the raw emotion and depth of feeling that has made Hole an enduring influence on rock music.
9. “Paris” by Friendly Fires
“Paris” is a dance-rock song by the British band Friendly Fires, released in 2008. The song’s pulsing beat, catchy melody, and funky guitar riffs create a sense of euphoria and celebration. The lyrics describe the excitement and sensory overload of being in the city of Paris, with its bright lights, fashion, and culture. The song’s infectious energy and upbeat message have made it a beloved anthem for a generation of club-goers and festival crowds. “Paris” is a fun and danceable song that captures the spirit of the vibrant and cosmopolitan city it celebrates.
10. “Hong Kong Garden” by Siouxsie and the Banshees
“Hong Kong Garden” is a post-punk song by the British band Siouxsie and the Banshees, released in 1978. The song’s driving bassline, discordant guitar riffs, and Siouxsie Sioux’s distinctive vocals create a sense of intensity and urgency. The lyrics describe the exotic atmosphere of a Chinese restaurant in London’s Chinatown, with its colorful decorations, food, and culture. The song’s powerful energy and subversive message of cultural appropriation and exploitation have made it a landmark of the post-punk movement. “Hong Kong Garden” is a groundbreaking song that challenged conventions and inspired a new generation of artists and musicians.
11. “Marrakesh Express” by Crosby, Stills & Nash
“Marrakesh Express” is a folk-rock song by the American supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash, released in 1969. The song’s acoustic guitar, harmonica, and layered harmonies create a sense of wanderlust and adventure. The lyrics describe the experience of taking a train ride from Casablanca to Marrakesh, with its exotic sights, sounds, and people. The song’s joyful and carefree message of travel and exploration has made it a beloved classic of the folk-rock genre. “Marrakesh Express” is a timeless and uplifting song that captures the spirit of the 1960s counterculture and the hippie movement.
12. “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis Presley
“Viva Las Vegas” is a rock and roll song by the American singer Elvis Presley, released in 1964. The song’s driving rhythm, catchy melody, and Presley’s dynamic vocals create a sense of excitement and energy. The lyrics describe the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, with its bright lights, casinos, and showgirls. The song’s upbeat and positive message of living life to the fullest and enjoying the thrill of the moment has made it a beloved classic of the rock and roll genre. “Viva Las Vegas” is an iconic song that captures the spirit of the entertainment capital of the world and Elvis Presley’s enduring legacy.
13. “Going Down to Liverpool” by The Bangles
“Going Down to Liverpool” is a power pop song by the American band The Bangles, released in 1984. The song’s catchy guitar riff, tight harmonies, and upbeat tempo create a sense of fun and excitement. The lyrics describe a girl from Birmingham who goes to Liverpool to find love and adventure, with references to The Beatles and other pop culture icons of the time. The song’s joyful and optimistic message of chasing your dreams and taking risks has made it a fan favorite of the 1980s pop scene. “Going Down to Liverpool” is a timeless song that captures the spirit of youth and the thrill of new experiences.
14. “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra
“New York, New York” is a classic song by the legendary American singer Frank Sinatra, released in 1980. The song’s brassy orchestration, swinging rhythm, and Sinatra’s impeccable vocals create a sense of grandeur and style. The lyrics describe the vibrancy and allure of New York City, with its bright lights, skyscrapers, and busy streets. The song’s message of ambition and opportunity has made it an iconic anthem of the Big Apple, a city that embodies the American Dream. “New York, New York” is a timeless masterpiece that captures the spirit of New York and Sinatra’s enduring legacy.
15. “El Paso” by Marty Robbins
“El Paso” is a classic country and western song by American singer-songwriter Marty Robbins, released in 1959. The song tells the story of a cowboy who falls in love with a beautiful Mexican woman named Felina in the border town of El Paso. Despite their love, the cowboy kills a rival and has to flee for his life. The song’s catchy melody, twangy guitar, and Robbins’ emotive vocals create a sense of urgency and drama. “El Paso” is a timeless classic that captures the romanticism and tragedy of the Old West, and remains a fan favorite of the country and western genre.
16. “Budapest” by George Ezra
“Budapest” is a folk-pop song by English singer-songwriter George Ezra, released in 2013. The song’s upbeat melody, catchy chorus, and Ezra’s distinctive voice make it an instant hit with listeners. The lyrics describe a dreamy escape to the romantic and exotic city of Budapest, where the singer plans to leave his troubles behind and live a carefree life. “Budapest” is a cheerful and whimsical song that captures the youthful spirit of wanderlust and adventure. It’s no wonder that the song has become a beloved anthem for travelers and dreamers all over the world.
17. “Woman from Tokyo” by Deep Purple
“Woman from Tokyo” is a hard rock song by British band Deep Purple, released in 1973. The song’s infectious guitar riff, powerful vocals, and memorable chorus create an electrifying sound that captures the essence of classic rock. The lyrics describe a man’s infatuation with a woman from Tokyo, whom he sees as exotic and mysterious. The song’s catchy melody and driving rhythm make it a classic of the rock genre, and a fan favorite of Deep Purple’s discography. “Woman from Tokyo” is a timeless rock anthem that continues to inspire and energize generations of rock fans to this day.
18. “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn
“Walking in Memphis” is a soulful and uplifting song by American singer-songwriter Marc Cohn, released in 1991. The song features a powerful piano melody, emotive vocals, and poignant lyrics that celebrate the rich history of music and culture in Memphis, Tennessee. The song’s chorus invites listeners to share in the experience of walking in Memphis, highlighting the city’s musical landmarks and cultural significance. The song has become an enduring classic, widely regarded as one of the greatest songs about Memphis and a staple of Cohn’s discography. “Walking in Memphis” is a moving and heartfelt tribute to the city and its musical legacy.
19. “Barcelona” by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe
“Barcelona” is a stunning duet by legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury and operatic soprano Montserrat Caballé, released in 1987. The song, written by Mercury himself, is an ode to the Spanish city of Barcelona and its rich cultural heritage. The soaring vocals and sweeping orchestration create a grand, theatrical atmosphere that perfectly captures the spirit of the city. The song was performed at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, becoming an iconic moment in both the games and Mercury’s legacy. “Barcelona” is a beautiful and inspiring tribute to the city and its people, showcasing the power and beauty of music.
20. “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” by Bob Dylan
“Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” is a classic song by Bob Dylan, featured on his 1966 album, “Blonde on Blonde.” The song, with its catchy rhythm and clever lyrics, is a perfect example of Dylan’s songwriting style at its best. It tells the story of a man who is stuck in a surreal world in the city of Mobile, Alabama, and the various strange characters he encounters along the way. The song is a masterpiece of imagery and storytelling, and it has become one of Dylan’s most beloved and enduring works.
21. “Albuquerque” by Neil Young
“Albuquerque” is a ten-minute epic song by Neil Young, which was released in 1975 on his album “Tonight’s the Night.” The song tells the story of a man who leaves his old life behind in Los Angeles to start a new one in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The lyrics are poetic and introspective, touching on themes of isolation, loneliness, and the search for meaning in life. The song’s slow and atmospheric instrumentation creates a dreamy and meditative atmosphere that adds to the contemplative mood of the lyrics. “Albuquerque” is a poignant and memorable track that captures the essence of Neil Young’s unique style and songwriting talent.
22. “Last Train To Clarksville” by The Monkees
“Last Train To Clarksville” is a classic song from the 1960s, and it was a hit for the American rock band, The Monkees. The song is an upbeat, jangly guitar-driven pop tune with a catchy, memorable melody. The lyrics tell the story of a soldier who has to leave his girlfriend behind to go fight in the Vietnam War, and they plan to meet at the train station before he leaves. The song’s upbeat tempo and melody, paired with the bittersweet lyrics, make for a poignant and emotional listening experience that captures the zeitgeist of the era.
23. “Istanbul” by Morrissey
“Istanbul” is a song by Morrissey, released in 2004 as a single from his album “You Are the Quarry”. The song is about a person who feels a sense of belonging in Istanbul, a city where the East and West come together. Morrissey describes his love for the city, with its people and architecture, and his feelings of safety and peace there. The song has a Middle Eastern and Turkish influence in the instrumentation and the vocal delivery, which adds to the feeling of being transported to a different place. Overall, “Istanbul” is a passionate tribute to a city that Morrissey clearly loves.
24. “Galway Girl” by Ed Sheeran
“Galway Girl” is a joyful folk-pop song by Ed Sheeran that celebrates the beauty of Ireland and the spirit of its people. Sheeran sings of a chance encounter with a lively girl from Galway, and the two spend the night drinking and dancing in the vibrant city. The upbeat rhythm and catchy melody of the song are accompanied by traditional Irish instruments such as the fiddle and the bodhrán, creating a warm and lively atmosphere. The song’s infectious energy and optimistic lyrics have made it a popular hit, both in Ireland and around the world.
25. “Belfast Child” by Simple Minds
“Belfast Child” is a powerful and emotional song by Scottish rock band Simple Minds. The song tells the story of a young man growing up in Belfast during the Troubles, a time of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. The lyrics are haunting and heartfelt, with a chorus that repeats the phrase “When will you ever learn?” The melody is based on an Irish folk song called “She Moved Through the Fair,” and the arrangement is lush and sweeping, with bagpipes and strings adding to the sense of drama. “Belfast Child” is a poignant and memorable tribute to the people affected by the conflict in Northern Ireland.
26. “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen
“Streets of Philadelphia” is a poignant and introspective song by Bruce Springsteen, featured in the film “Philadelphia” about a man struggling with AIDS. The song conveys the isolation and despair that the protagonist feels as he navigates the streets of the city. The sparse and haunting music, coupled with Springsteen’s soulful vocals, captures the stark reality of a life in turmoil. The lyrics are an introspective and raw portrayal of the protagonist’s struggles, making the song a powerful reminder of the challenges and struggles of those affected by AIDS, and the importance of compassion and understanding.
27. “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie
Released in 1967, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” is a song that became an anthem for the counterculture movement and the Summer of Love in San Francisco. Written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas and sung by Scott McKenzie, the song encourages listeners to come to San Francisco, join the counterculture and be part of a peaceful and loving movement. With its gentle melody and memorable lyrics, the song remains an iconic representation of the spirit of the 1960s and continues to inspire those who believe in the power of unity, love and freedom.
28. “Houston” by R.E.M.
“Houston” is a somber yet reflective song by the American rock band R.E.M. The track is featured on their 1996 album “New Adventures in Hi-Fi” and serves as a contemplative tribute to late River Phoenix. The lyrics of the song draw inspiration from the city of Houston and the warm Texas landscape as the narrator navigates through an emotional journey. The slow and methodical pacing of the track, coupled with lead singer Michael Stipe’s distinctive vocals, help to convey a sense of introspection and longing. The result is a haunting and affecting track that captures the listener’s attention and emotions.
29. “Kansas City” by The Beatles
“Kansas City” is a rock and roll song originally written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1952, which The Beatles covered in 1964. The song features a rollicking piano-driven rhythm and blues style, with a call-and-response vocal performance from John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The Beatles version of “Kansas City” features a stripped-down arrangement with a strong emphasis on the rhythm section, showcasing the band’s raw energy and musicianship. The song has become a staple in The Beatles’ live shows and remains a fan favorite. Its upbeat, lively sound and catchy melody make it a classic rock and roll hit.
30. “Hamburg Song” by Keane
“Hamburg Song” is a melancholic yet beautiful ballad by the British rock band Keane. The song is driven by the soulful and emotive vocals of lead singer Tom Chaplin, who sings about a past relationship and the heartache that comes with it. The music is sparse yet powerful, with piano and strings providing a subtle but effective backdrop to Chaplin’s vocals. The song builds towards a haunting climax, with Chaplin’s soaring vocals accompanied by a swelling orchestral arrangement. “Hamburg Song” is a testament to the band’s ability to create deeply emotional and affecting music.
31. “Jackson” by June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash
“Jackson” is a playful duet between country music legends June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash. Released in 1967, the song tells the story of a couple, both named Jackson, who argue about moving to a new city. June’s upbeat vocals and Johnny’s distinctive deep voice combine to create a charming and fun-loving tune, filled with flirtatious banter and catchy guitar riffs. “Jackson” became a hit for the couple and remains a beloved classic, with its memorable chorus and infectious energy making it a popular choice for live performances and cover versions.
32. “Beverly Hills” by Weezer
“Beverly Hills” is a 2005 song by American rock band Weezer. It is a catchy and upbeat power-pop tune that celebrates the glamorous and luxurious lifestyle of the Beverly Hills neighborhood in Los Angeles. The song features a memorable guitar riff, sing-along chorus, and witty lyrics that poke fun at the rockstar lifestyle while also celebrating it. The music video, which features the band interacting with the Beverly Hills elite, further highlights the song’s playful, satirical take on celebrity culture. “Beverly Hills” became a commercial success for Weezer and is now considered one of their most popular and iconic songs.
33. “Somewhere in Stockholm” by Avicii
“Somewhere in Stockholm” is a song by the late Swedish DJ and producer, Avicii, featured on his second studio album, “Stories.” It’s an upbeat and uplifting track, with catchy electronic beats and a cheerful melody. The song describes the journey of a young musician from a small town in Sweden who dreams of making it big in the music industry. The lyrics touch on themes of perseverance, the importance of following one’s dreams, and finding a sense of belonging. “Somewhere in Stockholm” is a tribute to Avicii’s home country and his own personal journey to success in the music industry.
34. “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys
“I’m Shipping Up to Boston” is a high-energy punk rock song by American band Dropkick Murphys. The song features pounding drums, a driving bass line, and distorted electric guitars, all of which come together to create an intense and memorable musical experience. The lyrics, which are inspired by a sailor’s lament, tell the story of a man who is heading to Boston with a clear purpose and determination. The song has become a staple of sports events and has been featured in numerous films and TV shows, making it one of the band’s most popular and enduring hits.
35. “Calgary” by Bon Iver
“Calgary” is a soulful and haunting song by Bon Iver from their critically acclaimed album “Bon Iver, Bon Iver”. The track begins with a gentle piano melody that builds to a crescendo with layered harmonies and Justin Vernon’s impassioned vocals. The lyrics evoke a sense of longing and distance, as the narrator tries to escape from a difficult past and find a new beginning in Calgary. The song showcases Bon Iver’s signature blend of folk, indie rock, and experimental sounds, and the complex textures and emotions make it a standout track on the album.
36. “Bagpipes From Baghdad” by Eminem
“Bagpipes from Baghdad” is a controversial rap song by Eminem from his 2009 album “Relapse”. The song tells a story of a dysfunctional relationship with a former lover, who he addresses as Mariah. The song includes many pop-culture references and comical wordplays, as well as an aggressive tone and sexually explicit lyrics. It stirred up controversy as it was interpreted as a diss track aimed at Mariah Carey and her then-husband Nick Cannon, who retaliated by releasing a response song. Despite the controversy, the song’s beat and catchy chorus have made it popular among Eminem’s fans.
37. “When in Rome” by Billy Joel
“When in Rome” is a lively and upbeat pop rock song by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released in 1989. The song tells a story about a man who is in Rome and is feeling carefree and romantic, letting himself be swept away by the magic of the city. Joel’s distinctive piano playing and the catchy melody create an optimistic and joyful atmosphere that fits perfectly with the song’s theme of enjoying life’s simple pleasures. With its upbeat tempo and sing-along chorus, “When in Rome” is a fun and memorable tune that has become a fan favorite.
38. “Night Boat to Cairo” by Madness
“Night Boat to Cairo” is a catchy and upbeat ska-pop song by British band Madness, released in 1980. It tells the story of a wild night on a boat trip to Cairo, full of misadventures and chaos. The song’s lively brass section, strong drumbeat, and cheerful vocals create an irresistible rhythm that makes you want to dance along. With clever lyrics, such as “Toujours l’amour, bananas and camembert”, the song mixes humor, surrealism, and satire, providing an insight into the quirky, mischievous, and playful spirit of Madness, which made them one of the most iconic bands of the ska revival era.
39. “Vienna” by Ultravox
“Vienna” by Ultravox is a synth-pop classic and one of the most iconic songs of the 1980s. Released in 1980, the song tells the story of a man who has lost his lover, as he wanders the streets of Vienna in a state of melancholic reflection. The memorable piano riff, soaring synths, and Midge Ure’s emotive vocals create a dreamy, atmospheric soundscape that captures the mood of the lyrics perfectly. With its haunting melody and poignant lyrics, “Vienna” remains one of the most beloved and enduring songs of the new wave era, and a quintessential example of the synth-pop genre.