Figurative language has been used since the beginning of time. That was an example of hyperbole. However, there are several other types of figurative language that artists use to illustrate their points. Some choose to let metaphors accompany them on their journey, while similes work like a charm for others.
Synecdoches can be found in a handful of genres, while others may lean more toward personification. Yet another example of figurative language often used in music is onomatopoeia, which can add some pop to their songs. Every one of these can be used to make any type of music more interesting. Below, we’ll be sharing many popular songs with figurative language used in them for your listening enjoyment. We also have the full Spotify playlist with all of the songs covered below at the bottom of the page.
Table of Contents
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
Lyrics: “And I forget just why I taste. Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile.”
How They’re Used: Kurt Cobain was known to suffer from depression, which led to rampant drug abuse and addiction. This line is a metaphor for his “extracurricular activities.” Even the title of this song from Nirvana’s Billboard number-one album” Nevermind” is a simile. It stemmed from when two young ladies told Kurt that he smelled like the popular brand of deodorant. He misunderstood the comment, thinking that they were calling him a legend and a punk icon.
2. Under The Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers
|Genre||Funk Rock, Alternative Rock|
|Album||Blood Sugar Sex Magik|
Lyrics: “Sometimes I feel like my only friend is the city I live in, the city of angels. Lonely as I am, together we cry.”
How They’re Used: This classic from the multi-platinum album “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” highlights lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis’s poetry. Kiedis uses personification, referring to the city of Los Angeles as his friend and saying that they are lonely and that they cry together. This highlights how lonely the singer was feeling at the lowest point of his life. When he sings “together we cry,” he acknowledges that there are others like him.
3. Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden
Lyrics: “Black hole sun, won’t you come and wash away the rain? Black hole sun, won’t you come?”
How They’re Used: Unfortunately, Soundgarden lead vocalist Chris Cornell is no longer with us, ask the singer committed suicide in 2017 after losing a long battle with depression. Many people see this track as his cry for help. In this track from 1994’s “Superunknown,” Cornell uses personification to describe how he wants happiness and warmth to help overcome the darkness he was trapped in, because the sun isn’t capable of washing away anything, nor can it appear on command. If you enjoy this song, head over to our playlist of songs with personification because there are many similar songs.
4. Cry Me a River by Justin Timberlake
Lyrics: “You were my sun. You were my earth. But you didn’t know all the ways I loved you, no.” and “Cry me a river.”
How They’re Used: Justin Timberlake has a lot to say in this song, which is rumored to be about Britney Spears. Timberlake opens this song with a metaphor, saying that his ex-lover meant everything to him by comparing her to the Earth in the Sun. Secondly, in the chorus, he uses an idiom by telling her to cry him a river, because it’s practically impossible for anybody to cry that much.
5. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
|Genre||Hard Rock, Classic Rock|
|Album||A Night at the Opera|
Lyrics: “Caught in a landslide. No escape from reality.”
How They’re Used: Bohemian Rhapsody is possibly Queen’s most popular song ever, Freddie Mercury is the most iconic frontman of all time. Rumors existed for a long time that this song was a metaphor for Mercury, a gay man, coming out to the world. Those rumors were substantiated by bassist John Deacon. However, I want to examine the “caught in a landslide” lyric, in particular. This is a metaphor for being trapped in your current situation with too many things happening at once.
6. God’s Plan by Drake
Lyrics: “She say, “Do you love me?” I tell her, “Only partly. I only love my bed and my momma, I’m sorry.”‘
How They’re Used: In this Billboard Hot 100 number-one track from his hit album “Scorpion,” the rapper Drake is trying to say that he can’t be tied down romantically by using an idiom to tell his admirer that he doesn’t love her without coming out and directly telling her “no.” I’m sure that he loves more than just his mother, not to mention the fact that a bed is an inanimate object.
7. Firework by Katy Perry
Lyrics: “Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin? Like a house of cards, one blow from cavin’ in?”
How They’re Used: Although this tune has a snappy beat and the lyrics are positive, the story behind it is disturbing. Katy Perry once said in an interview that she wanted to be put in a firework display when she died. However, in this song, she uses the metaphor of feeling “so paper thin” and the simile of feeling “like a house of cards” to explain that the narrator feels like she feels insignificant, and she could fall apart.
8. A Thousand Years by Christina Perri
|Album||The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1: The Score|
Lyrics: “Time has brought your heart to me. I have loved you for a thousand years. I’ll love you for a thousand more.”
How They’re Used: The “Twilight” movies were massively successful, with the franchise taking in well over $1.36 billion at the box office. The movies weren’t Alsop well-known for their soundtracks, which featured this track from pop star Christina Perri. In this song, Perri uses personification when she says that time physically brought her lover’s heart to her. She also uses hyperbole to greatly exaggerate how long she has loved him.
9. Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day
Lyrics: “I walk a lonely road, the only one that I have ever known.”
How They’re Used: While it was not Green Day’s best-selling album, the punk trio caught everyone’s attention when they released their critically-acclaimed concept album “American Idiot.” In the first line of this track, Billie Joe Armstrong uses hyperbole in this line when he says it’s the only road he’s ever known. I’m not certain that the singer and guitarist have known of more than one road. The song also uses the road as a metaphor for the way that his life is going.
10. Fireflies by Owl City
|Genre||Alternative, Indie, Electronic, Pop|
Lyrics: “‘Cause I’d get a thousand hugs from ten thousand lightning bugs as they tried to teach me how to dance.”
How They’re Used: Adam Young, performing under Owl City, has said that this song pertains to several of the images he sees in his head during his bouts with sleeplessness. He uses hyperbole in this line when he claims to see 10,000 lightning bugs in his head, which is certainly exaggerated. He also uses personification when he says that they taught him how to dance, as bugs are not capable of dancing or teaching.
11. Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor
|Album||Eye Of the Tiger|
Lyrics: “And the last known Survivor stalks his prey in the night. And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger.”
How They’re Used: this hit song from Survivor was the title track to their biggest-selling album, and was also the theme for the Sylvester Stallone movie” Rocky III.”Having the” eye of the tiger ” is an idiom for saying that the fighter is hungry for a win, and won’t give up until the fight is over. Saying that the fighter is stalking his prey is another idiom for describing his tenacity to win.
12. Killing Me Softly With His Song by The Fugees
Lyrics: “Strumming my pain with his fingers. Singing my life with his words. Killing me softly with his song.”
How They’re Used: Let me start by saying that this is my favorite cover of all time. I have nothing against the original version from Roberta Flack, but this is phenomenal. In this track from The Fugees’ Grammy Award-winning album “The Score,” Lauryn Hill uses backward personification to illustrate how her abusive ex was manipulating her emotions. She also uses an idiom when she says that she was flush with a fever to illustrate how angry she was.
13. War Pigs by Black Sabbath
Lyrics: “Generals gathered in their masses, just like witches at black masses. Evil minds that plot destruction. Sorcerer of death’s construction.”
How They’re Used: Despite conjuring images of darkness and the occult, Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath have always been environmental advocates and have stood firmly against war, as depicted in this eight-minute opus from their classic album “Paranoid.” Bassist Geezer Butler, who was the band’s primary lyricist, wrote the first verse of the song using this simile to portray military generals as evil beings who intentionally cause wars for power and financial gain. This is one of my personal favorite songs that use similies in a powerful way.
14. Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
|Genre||Southern Rock, Classic Rock|
|Album||(Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)|
Lyrics: “But if I stay here with you, girl, things just couldn’t be the same. ‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now, and this bird you cannot change.”
How They’re Used: Although “Free Bird” was not as successful as some of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s other tracks, barely cracking the top 20, this ode to a failed relationship has become one of their most beloved songs. Lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant uses a simile that compares himself to a bird, saying that he can’t be tied to one person or place, and needs to be free.
15. Heroes by David Bowie
|Genre||Alternative Rock, Classic Rock|
Lyrics: “Though nothing will keep us together, we could steal time just for one day. We can be heroes forever and ever. What d’you say?”
How They’re Used: David Bowie is a musical chameleon who was able to adapt and change his style with almost every album. In 1972, the Thin White Duke gifted us with this track, which has been used in countless television shows and movies. Bowie uses idioms in these lines to make his point. As we all know, time is not physically tangible, so it can’t be stolen.
16. Holy Wars (The Punishment Due) by Megadeth
|Album||Rust In Peace|
Lyrics: “Fools like me who cross the sea and come to foreign lands. Ask the sheep for their beliefs, ‘Do you kill on God’s command?'”
How They’re Used: In the first verse from the opening track of Megadeth’s critically-praised thrash masterpiece “Rust In Peace,” lead vocalist and guitarist Dave Mustaine uses reverse personification when referring to religious zealots as sheep. As we all know, sheep are not capable of speaking, so it would be pointless to ask one a question. Even if they could, I doubt that they would be able to kill on command.
17. Sympathy For The Devil by The Rolling Stones
|Genre||Rock, Classic Rock|
Lyrics: “Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners, saints. As heads is tails, just call me Lucifer ’cause I’m in need of some restraint.”
How They’re Used: Formed in England in 1962, the Rolling Stones are currently celebrating six decades together, releasing 30 studio albums, 35 live albums, and 29 compilation albums in that time. On “Beggar’s Banquet,” they release the infamous track “Sympathy For The Devil.” This song uses hyperbole to exaggerate the presence of Lucifer, as every top is not a criminal and every sinner is not a saint.
18. Heart of Gold by Neil Young
Lyrics: “Keep me searching for a heart of gold. I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.”
How They’re Used: Over his highly successful award-winning career, Neil Young has established himself as a brilliant songwriter. On “Heart of Gold,” from the classic album “Harvest,” Young uses an idiom when using the words “heart of gold” to refer to the level of kindness in the partner he’s looking for. He also uses a metaphor in the last verse when referring to himself as a miner, which means that he has been diligently searching for this person. This is easily one of the most popular songs with lots of figurative language used in it of all time.
19. Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers
|Album||Ain’t No Sunshine|
Lyrics: “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone, only darkness every day. Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.”
How They’re Used: This Grammy Award-winning track has got to be amongst the saddest songs ever written. From the lyrics to the overall tone of the song, Bill Withers doesn’t hesitate to let us know how much he misses his wife. Withers uses hyperbole to describe the darkness he feels inside without his lover, saying that there’s no sunshine when she’s gone. He goes on to say that he only sees darkness every day, which is a fallacy. If you’re looking for songs with imagrey then this is one that I highly recommend.
20. Dirt by Alice In Chains
Lyrics: “You have the talent to make me feel like dirt. And you, you use your talent to dig me under and cover me with dirt.”
How They’re Used: Before his death in 2002, Lane Staley’s battles with heroin were highly publicized. This is allegedly why his fiancé left him. Staley wrote this track about wanting to commit suicide after she left, using the simile “feel like dirt” to express how lowly his ex-fiance made him feel. The metaphor “cover me with dirt” is an expression regarding all of the lies she is spreading about him. If you enjoy songs with lots of metaphors, this is one that you’ll certainly enjoy listening to.
21. Sad Songs (Say So Much) by Elton John
Lyrics: “They reach into your room. Just feel their gentle touch. When all hope is gone, sad songs say so much.”
How They’re Used: We all know what it feels like to be down and depressed, including Elton John. Sometimes, all you can do is put on some music and hope that the sadness eventually passes. That’s the point behind this song from 1984’s “Breaking Hearts.” In this track, the Rocket Man uses personification to give songs not only the ability to speak but also to physically reach into your room and touch you.
22. Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd
|Genre||Rock, Progressive Rock, Classic Rock|
Lyrics: “All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall.”
How They’re Used: In 1979, Roger Waters was slowly distancing himself from Pink Floyd, which was reflected in the double album “The Wall.” This record tells the story of a rockstar named Pink, who slowly distances himself from the world around him as he becomes more famous. Waters uses the metaphor of using bricks to build a wall as a representation of the wall that Pink eventually surrounded himself with. Each time a person wronged him, Pink envisioned them as another brick in his wall.
23. Hungry Like the Wolf by Duran Duran
|Genre||Pop, New Wave|
Lyrics: “I’m on the hunt, I’m after you. Mouth is alive, with juices like wine and I’m hungry like the wolf.”
How They’re Used: Duran Duran was one of the most popular bands of the 1980s, and that popularity was at its peak when they released their album “Carnival,” featuring the top-five track “Hungry Like the Wolf.” The song is about attraction, and lead vocalist Simon Le Bon uses the simile of being hungry like the wolf to showcase the attraction that he has for them, and he’s not giving up until he gets them.
24. TiK ToK by Kesha
Lyrics: “Now, the party don’t start ’til I walk in. Don’t stop, make it pop. DJ, blow my speakers up.”
How They’re Used: The title track from the Keaha’s 2009 release is all about partying and having a good time out on the town. In this song, Kesha uses idioms and hyperbole to illustrate that she is the life of the party. She’s saying that the party is at its best once she arrives. When she tells the DJ to blow her speakers up, she’s saying that she wants the music to be played as loudly as possible.
25. Such Great Heights by The Postal Service
|Genre||Alternative, Electronic, Dance, Indie|
Lyrics: “And I have to speculate that God Himself did make us into corresponding shapes, like puzzle pieces from the clay.”
How They’re Used: The Postal Service has had a cultural following in the indie music world for a while now. During that time, “Such Great Heights” has become a fan favorite. This is the story of someone who is deeply in love with his partner and misses them deeply when they are away. In this track, they use the metaphor of puzzle pieces to emphasize how well the two people in the song fit together.
26. (Theme From) New York, New York by Frank Sinatra
|Genre||Easy Listening, Big Band|
|Album||Trilogy: Past Present Future|
Lyrics: “I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps” and “These small town blues, they are melting away.”
How They’re Used: In 1977, Frank Sinatra immortalized himself with the city of New York when he brilliantly performed this tune composed by John Kander and written by Fred Ebb during historical concerts at Radio City Music Hall. Fred Ebb uses personification when he associates the city with the act of sleeping. He also uses hyperbole when he says that his small-town Blues are melting away, as emotions don’t have physical properties.
27. Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
Lyrics: “Maybe there’s a God above. As for me, all I ever seemed to learn from love is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.”
How They’re Used: “Hallelujah” was not only Leonard Cohen’s most popular song, but it was also his only song that charted on the Billboard Hot 100. The track is a semi-autobiographical account of Cohen’s marriage. He uses the metaphor of a gunfight to describe the tense situation his relationship had become. Shooting at someone who outdrew you refers to having a good comeback for the other person.
28. Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish
|Album||Don’t Smile at Me EP|
Lyrics: “Can’t stop starin’ at those ocean eyes. Burning cities and napalm skies, fifteen flares inside those ocean eyes.”
How They’re Used: Billie Eilish is known for her quirky, alternative style of music. In this song, what I can best describe as an electro-pop ballad, she uses the metaphor “ocean eyes” to compare her partner’s eyes to the ocean’s depth and color. “Burning cities and napalm skies” likely refers to the heat of their passion. She also says that they have fifteen flares inside” their eyes, which means that they brighten when they see her.
Also Listen to: Popular Songs About the Ocean
29. American Pie by Don McLean
Lyrics: “Bad news on the doorstep. I couldn’t take one more step.”
How They’re Used: When Don McLean wrote this song in 1971, nobody could have envisioned this epic eight-and-a-half-minute folk tale would achieve the classic status it has. “The Day the Music Died” uses personification, referring to when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash. It’s also about growing up and losing your childhood innocence. McLean uses the idiom of not being able to take another step to describe the state of shock he was in upon hearing the news.
30. I’m Like a Bird by Nelly Furtado
Lyrics: “I’m like a bird, I only fly away. I don’t know where my soul is. I don’t know where my home is.”
How They’re Used: Let’s start by saying that the entire song that appears on this Grammy Award-winning singer’s debut album “Whoa, Nelly!” is a simile, including the title. She uses the simile “like a bird” to elaborate on how she needs her freedom. By saying that she doesn’t know where her home or her soul is, she is also saying that she doesn’t like to settle in one place for long.
31. Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 (Featuring Christina Aguilera)
|Album||Hands All Over|
Lyrics: “I don’t need to try to control you. Look into my eyes, and I’ll own you with them the moves like Jagger. I’ve got the moves like Jagger.”
How They’re Used: Maroon 5’s popularity skyrocketed when they released this catchy tune. Lead vocalist Adam Levine uses an idiom in the first part of this line when he says that he will own his love interest with his eyes. He also uses the simile” moves like Jagger” to compare his moves to the dance moves of Mick Jagger, lead vocalist of the Rolling Stones. This is easily one of all time favorite songs with figurative language used in it.
32. Like a Virgin by Madonna
|Album||Like a Virgin|
Lyrics: “I made it through the wilderness. Somehow I made it through” and “Like a virgin, touched for the very first time.”
How They’re Used: Although Madonna saw some success with her first album and single, “Like a Virgin” launched her career into the stratosphere. The pop superstar uses the simile “Iike a virgin” in the title and throughout this song to describe the way that her new lover makes her feel, because when something is described as “virgin,” the expression is usually used to indicate that it is brand new or untouched.
33. Halo by Beyoncé
|Album||I Am… Sasha Fierce|
Lyrics: “Remember those walls I built? Well, baby, they’re tumbling down” and “Standin’ in the light of your halo. I got my angel now.”
How They’re Used: Beyoncé is one of the highest-selling female artists of all time. The Queen Bee has sold 28.4 million albums and 114 million singles as a solo artist. In “Halo,” she uses the metaphor of building walls to describe a defense for keeping people emotionally distant from her. She also uses the metaphor “angel” as a term of endearment for an individual whom she trusts and who has saved her.
34. Like a Stone by Audioslave
|Genre||Alternative Rock, Hard Rock|
Lyrics: “In your house, I long to be. Room by room, patiently I’ll wait for you there, like a stone. I’ll wait for you there alone.”
How They’re Used: When the grunge band Soundgarden parted ways in 1997, lead vocalist Chris Cornell teamed up with three of the members of Rage Against the Machine to form the supergroup Audioslave. This track from their self-titled debut album is about loving someone enough to be patient and wait for them. Cornell uses the simile “like a stone” to illustrate how stoic and patient he will be. By saying that he wants to be in her house, Cornell is also saying that he wants to be with this woman.
35. Thunder by Imagine Dragons
Lyrics: “Just a young gun with a quick fuse” and “I was lightning before the thunder.”
How They’re Used: On the Billboard Hot 100 top-five single “Thunder” from their number-two album “Evolve,” Imagine Dragons lead vocalist Dan Reynolds is using a metaphor to say that he is young with a bad temper when he sings the “young gun with a quick fuse” line. When he says that he was “lightning before the thunder,” he is using a metaphor to say that he was present, but didn’t make a lot of noise. Now, he is the thunder. Reynolds has said that this song is about how nobody paid attention to him until he became a star.
36. All I Need by Radiohead
Lyrics: “I am a moth who just wants to share your light. I’m just an insect, trying to get out of the night. I only stick with you because there are no others.”
How They’re Used: With four albums in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, Radiohead is one of the most critically-praised bands ever. Featured on 2007’s” In Rainbows,” this track has Thompson Yorke referring to himself as a moth and an insect in these two metaphors. In both cases, he is only interested in his option because it’s the only thing available to him at the time. The title of the song may be “All I Need,” but the narrator wants more than what he has.
37. Rain on Me by Lady Gaga (Featuring Ariana Grande)
|Genre||Pop, Dance, House Music|
Lyrics: “It’s coming down on me, water like misery” and “Livin’ in a world where no one’s innocent. Oh, but at least we try.”
How They’re Used: Lady Gaga and Arianna Grande wrote this song together about overcoming some of the hardships they encountered over the last decade. They use the metaphor of rain to stand for all the tears they’ve cried during these hardships, which explains the “water like misery” simile. They also use the idiom “where no one’s innocent” to illustrate how it seems like everybody shares some of the guilt in this situation.
38. Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys
|Album||Girl on Fire|
Lyrics: “She’s just a girl and she’s on fire. Hotter than a fantasy, lonely like a Highway” and “She got her head in the clouds and she’s not backing down.”
How They’re Used: Although Alicia Keys was certainly a hot commodity in 2012, when she released the title track from her Grammy Award-winning album “Girl On Fire,” I can assure you that she was not literally “on fire.” She just uses hyperbole to say that everything is going extremely well for her. Saying that her head is in the clouds is hyperbole for having high self-expectations. In summary, Alicia Keys has high expectations for herself, and she’s meeting all of them.
39. Stereo Hearts by Gym Class Heroes (Featuring Adam Levine)
|Genre||Pop, Dance, Electronic, Rock|
|Album||The Papercut Chronicles II|
Lyrics: “My heart’s a stereo. It beats for you, so listen close. Hear my thoughts in every note” and “If I was just another dusty record on the shelf, would you blow me off and play me like everybody else?”
How They’re Used: Gym Class Heroes use the metaphor of their heart being a stereo and the idiom of hearing thoughts in every note to say that their love interest should listen to him. They also compare themselves to a dusty record on a shelf, asking if they would blow him off, to inquire if he has a chance with them. Dusty records are normally kept aside, and only blown off when it’s time to use them.
40. Levitating by Dua Lipa (Featuring DaBaby)
|Genre||Nu-Disco, Electronic, Pop|
Lyrics: “Glitter in the sky, glitter in my eyes. Shining just the way I like” and “I got you, moonlight, you’re my starlight.”
How They’re Used: Pop star Dua Lipa has had an amazing year, to say the least. In this song, which won the iHeartRadio Music Award for Song of the Year, Dua Lipa is using the idioms of glitter being in the sky and in her eyes to express to us how her love interest makes her happy and excited. By calling her significant other her moonlight and her starlight, she is saying that this person makes her life brighter. They mean a great deal to her.
41. Chandelier by Sia
Lyrics: “I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist” and “I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night.”
How They’re Used: When people say that they are going to live like there is no tomorrow, they mean that they are going to live each day to the fullest. They don’t want to die with any regrets. Anytime you hear the phrases fly like a bird, it usually connotes a carefree existence with no worries. Those are the similes that Sia uses in “Chandelier,” which is a song about living life on her own terms, and she does it with one of the most amazing voices in pop music today.
42. Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus
Lyrics: “I came in like a wrecking ball” and “I put you high up in the sky and now, you’re not coming down.”
How They’re Used: Miley Cyrus sure has come a long way from her “Hannah Montana” days on the Disney Channel, with 10 top-ten hit singles under her belt. In “Wrecking Ball,” she uses the simile of the being like a wrecking ball to emphasize how she’s breaking through her lover’s defenses. Putting him high in the sky and he’s never coming down is an idiom for saying that she holds him in high regard.
43. Love Shack by The B-52’s
Lyrics: “I got me a car, it’s as big as a whale” and “I got me a Chrysler, it seats about twenty.”
How They’re Used: In 1989, you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing “Love Shack.” This song was everywhere. In the song, lead singer Fred Schneider uses the simile as big as a whale to describe the size of his car, as whales are the largest mammals on Earth. He also uses hyperbole when he says that the car seats about 20 people, as no Chrysler will not seat that many people, although Chryslers are known for being particularly large vehicles.
44. Genie in a Bottle by Christina Aguilera
|Genre||Poo, R&B, Soul, Dance|
Lyrics: “I feel like I’ve been locked up tight for a century of lonely nights” and “I’m a genie in a bottle.”
How They’re Used: “Genie In a Bottle,” helped Christina Aguilera’s self-titled debut album enter the Billboard charts at the top spot, selling over 14 million copies worldwide. At the beginning of the song, she uses hyperbole by saying she has been locked up for a century, but she is not 100 years old. Using the metaphor of calling herself a genie is saying that she is at the command of her love interest. When she says that he has to rub her the right way, she is saying that he has to make a good impression on her.
45. Bridge Over Troubled Water By Simon and Garfunkel
|Album||Bridge Over Troubled Water|
Lyrics: “Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.”
How They’re Used: We all have those friends that we would do anything to help. Anytime, day or night, we would be there for them. In this song from 1974, the folk duo Simon and Garfunkel use the simile of being like a bridge to tell their friend that they will be there to calm them and ease their mind when they are going through troubled times. Later on in the song, they specifically say that they will ease this person’s mind. We could all use friends like Simon and Garfunkel.
46. Grenade by Bruno Mars
|Album||Doo‑Wops and Hooligans|
Lyrics: “I’d catch a grenade for ya. Throw my hand on a blade for ya. I’d jump in front of a train for ya.”
How They’re Used: Whoever Bruno Mars is singing about in this hit from his debut album, which has remained on the Billboard 200 charts for a full decade, must feel very special. The singer uses idioms like saying that he would hop on a grenade; put his hand on a blade, or jump in front of a train. He wouldn’t be able to do these things because most of them would kill him.
47. Let It Go by Idina Menzel
|Album||Frozen (Original Soundtrack)|
Lyrics: “A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I’m the queen” and “One thought crystallizes like an icy blast.”
How They’re Used: “Frozen” was one of Disney’s most successful animated films, thanks in no small part to its fantastic soundtrack. That soundtrack, featuring the enormously popular theme song “Let It Go,” is perfectly performed by Idina Menzel. When she uses the metaphor of saying that she is the queen of an isolated kingdom, she’s saying that Elsa is alone. Thoughts crystallizing like an icy blast is a simile for saying they arrived quickly.
Read Next: Popular Songs About Letting Go
48. Love Story by Taylor Swift
Lyrics: “‘Cause you were Romeo, I was a scarlet letter and my daddy said, ‘Stay away from Juliet!'”
How They’re Used: When Taylor Swift employs the metaphor of calling her boyfriend Romeo and her father referring to her as Julie in this hit from “Fearless,” she is saying that she believes they are the perfect couple. Using the metaphor of calling herself a Scarlet Letter is saying that she was being chastised or cast out for being herself. She can also be saying that her overbearing father forbids her to date her Romeo.
49. Easy on Me by Adele
|Genre||R&B, Soul, Pop|
|Album||Easy On Me|
Lyrics: “I know there is hope in these waters, but I can’t bring myself to swim. When I am drowning in this silence, baby, let me in.”
How They’re Used: On the title track of her latest album, Adele uses a metaphor to compare her current situation to water. Since fluid changes shape constantly, she is saying that the situation can change. However, by saying that she can’t swim how much she’s saying that she isn’t willing to put forth any effort. The idiom “drowning in silence” refers to her lover’s refusal to communicate.
50. Come Sail Away by Styx
|Genre||Rock, Classic Rock|
|Album||The Grand Illusion|
Lyrics: “We lived happily forever, so the story goes. But somehow we missed out on the pot of gold.”
How They’re Used: From the mid-70s to the mid-80s, Styx had a successful run of eight top-10 hits. One of those hits was the song “Come Sail Away,” in which Dennis DeYoung uses an idiom by saying that they will live happily forever because no one can live forever. They also use a pot of gold as a metaphor for the reward they hope to find at the end of their journey.
51. Tonight I Climbed the Wall by Alan Jackson
|Album||A Lot About Livin’ (And a Little ’bout Love)|
Lyrics: “Our room was filled with silence” and “So I swallowed all my pride,
and tonight I climbed the wall.”
How They’re Used: When Alan Jackson says that the room was filled with silence, he is using an idiom to express how quiet everything had become. Silence doesn’t have any physical properties, so it cannot fill a room. Swallowing his pride is yet another idiom. This means that he put his pride aside. Finally, climbing a wall is another idiom, saying that he wants to overcome the problems between him and his wife.
52. Hips Don’t Lie by Shakira (Featuring Wyclef Jean)
|Album||Oral Fixation Vol. 2|
Lyrics: “I’m on tonight. You know my hips don’t lie” and “Hey, girl, I can see your body moving and it’s driving me crazy.”
How They’re Used: In this hit song, Shakira is trying to let Wyclef Jean know that she is attracted to him. She uses an idiom when she says that her hips don’t lie because she’s making her attraction quite obvious. When Wyclef Jean says her body is driving him crazy, that’s another idiom. He’s not going insane. He’s just trying to emphatically convey his excitement and attraction to her.
53. Waterfalls by TLC
Lyrics: “Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.”
How They’re Used: This hit from TLC gives us three scenarios in which someone didn’t heed the advice they were given, and it ended up costing them dearly. The group uses the metaphors of waterfalls, rivers, and lakes to describe the magnitude of the issues The Listener may be trying to resolve. They are telling us that we shouldn’t try to tackle big problems on our own, nor should we go head first into situations we know are dangerous.
54. Better Together by Luke Combs
|Album||What You See Is What You Get|
Lyrics: “Some things just go better together and probably always will, like a cup of coffee and a sunrise, Sunday drives, and time to kill.”
How They’re Used: Country musicians superstar Luke Combs uses several comparisons in this song to illustrate how well he and his significant other are together. In this line, he uses the similes like a cup of coffee and sunshine, and Sunday drives with time to kill to drive those points home to the listener about how great his relationship is, as these are things that traditionally go well together.
55. Shape of You by Ed Sheeran
Lyrics: “I’m in love with the shape of You. We push and pull like a magnet do.”
How They’re Used: If you take into consideration the properties of magnets, you will certainly understand the simile that Ed Sheeran uses in his Billboard number-one hit “Shape Of You.” When he says that they push and pull like magnets, he is referring to the north and south poles that are found in magnets. The opposite poles attract, while the identical poles repel each other. Sheeran is saying that their differences are what attracts them to each other.
56. Thinking Bout You by Frank Ocean
Lyrics: “A tornado flew around my room before you came. Excuse the mess it made, it usually doesn’t rain in Southern California, much like Arizona.”
How They’re Used: Relationships are difficult, especially breakups. Particularly messy ones can leave your life in a state of upheaval. This is why Frank Ocean’s metaphor of a tornado makes perfect sense for this song from his head album” Channel Orange.” By saying that he existed in a tornado, Frank is saying that his previous relationship was dangerous, unpredictable, and possibly violent. He’s also saying that it left him damaged.
57. She’s Everything by Brad Paisley
|Album||Time Well Wasted|
Lyrics: “She’s a soft place to land and a good feeling knowing. She’s a warm conversation that I wouldn’t miss for nothing.”
How They’re Used: Being with the right partner can evoke plenty of feelings, especially warmth and comfort. Brady Paisley must have found that person, judging by the lyrics of his single” She’s Everything.” By saying that this lady is a warm place to land, he is using a metaphor to say that he finds comfort and safety in their relationship. Calling her a warm conversation speaks volumes for their ability to communicate.
58. Waiting for Superman by Daughtry
|Album||Baptized (Deluxe Version)|
Lyrics: “She’s just watchin’ the clouds roll by, and they spell her name like Lois Lane.”
How They’re Used: Chris Daughtry has had a successful career, with five top-ten albums, including 2013’s “Baptized,” which featured the single “Waiting for Superman.” In this song, Daughtry uses personification by saying that the clouds spell her name, and then he uses a simile to compare the woman in the song to Lois Lane, who is a character from the Superman comics and movies. Superman’s alter-ego Clark Kent has a crush on Lois Lane, while she is interested in Superman.
59. Like a Rock by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
|Album||Like a Rock|
Lyrics: “Like a rock, I was strong as I could be. Like a rock, nothin’ ever got to me. Like a rock, I was something to see.”
How They’re Used: While rocks may change over millennia, they are usually unfazed by their surroundings. So, when someone like Bob Seger uses the simile” like a rock,” they are indicating that they are strong, silent, steady, and unchanged. That’s the message that Bob Seger conveys in the title track from his 1986 release,” Like a Rock.” He’s saying that no matter what happens, he will be the same.
60. Toxic by Britney Spears
|Genre||Pop, Dance, Electronic|
|Album||In the Zone|
Lyrics: “With a taste of your lips, I’m on a ride. You’re toxic, I’m slippin’ under.”
How They’re Used: Britney Spears released her first album in 1999, and has since had eight platinum-selling albums, including 2003’s “In the Zone.” One of the biggest singles featured on that album was “Toxic,” in which Britney uses hyperbole to call her romantic interest toxic to explain how dangerous and unhealthy her attraction to this person is. They are not toxic in the literal sense of the word, but she is trying to emphasize how unhealthy the attraction is.
61. Just Like Honey by Jesus and Mary Chain
|Genre||Alternative, Indie Rock|
Lyrics: “Listen to the girl as she takes on half the world” and “I’ll be your plastic toy.”
How They’re Used: on the title of this track, the simile “like honey” is used to say that something or someone is sweet. Saying that the girl takes on half the world is hyperbole used to exaggerate how confrontational she may be, or it might refer to her tenacity. Lead vocalist Jim Reid also refers to himself as a plastic toy, which is a metaphor for saying that this woman can do anything she pleases with him.
62. Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
|Genre||Rock, Classic Rock|
|Album||Life Becoming A Landslide (Live)|
Lyrics: “I took my love, I took it down. I climbed a mountain and I turned around. And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills ’til the landslide brought me down.”
How They’re Used: Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks had a tumultuous relationship with Lindsey Buckingham, for whom this song was written. By saying that she climbed a mountain, Nicks is using an idiom describing her difficult relationship with Buckingham. When she speaks of seeing her reflection being taken down by a landslide, she is saying that she is trying to find herself after the breakup.
63. Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler
|Album||Total Eclipse Of The Heart|
Lyrics: “Every now and then I get a little bit helpless and I’m lying like a child in your arms.”
How They’re Used: Usually, when we think of safety, we think of a parent protecting their child. That’s why the simile of lying like a child in a protector’s arms makes so much sense in this song. Throughout the track, Bonnie Tyler is continually saying that falls apart now and then. She is looking for comfort from someone with whom she can feel safe enough to allow herself to break down in front of them.
64. Ghost by Justin Bieber
Lyrics: “I miss your touch on nights when I’m hollow. I know you crossed a bridge that I can’t follow.”
How They’re Used: Although I will admit that I am not the world’s biggest Justin Bieber fan, I will say with full transparency that this is a touching song about love that was lost to tragedy. In this song, he loses the love of his life and he is left feeling alone. He uses the metaphor of crossing a bridge to say that his partner has moved on from this life, which is a commonly used expression.
65. A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton
|Album||Be Not Nobody|
Lyrics: “‘Cause you know I’d walk a thousand miles if I could just see you, If I could just hold you tonight.”
How They’re Used: I can’t imagine anybody besides The Proclaimers walking this many miles to see someone. Vanessa Carlton uses hyperbole by saying that she would walk a thousand miles to get the chance to hold this person who she misses so much. However, we also have an issue with time. Walking a thousand miles would take much longer than a day, so she still wouldn’t be able to hold this person that night. The song lyrics include a lot of figurative language and overall it’s just a very enjoyable song to listen to.
66. You Sent Me Flying by Amy Winehouse
Lyrics: “You sent me flying when you kicked me to the curb.”
How They’re Used: Amy Winehouse was a rising star in the world of R&B android soul music before her tragic death from alcohol abuse in 2011 at the age of 27. On the talented vocalist’s debut album “Frank,” she included the sweet and soulful “You Sent Me Flying.” The expression “you sent me flying” is an idiom that means someone took you by surprise. “Kicking someone to the curb” is another idiom that means that you unceremoniously broke up with them.
67. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
|Album||What a Wonderful World|
Lyrics: “The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people going by.”
How They’re Used: Can you imagine how wonderful the world would truly be if it took a cue from this classic track from Louis Armstrong? This song touches on several topics, such as racial equality. The jazz legend uses the metaphor of a rainbow to describe people of all colors getting along in harmony with each other. This song would go on to define Louis Armstrong’s career, and would also be his biggest hit.
68. Sound Of Silence by Disturbed
Lyrics: “Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.”
How They’re Used: Disturbed shocked the world when they released their amazing cover of the 1964 Simon and Garfunkel classic, “Sound Of Silence.” You say that they did this song Justice would be an understatement. The opening line of the song uses personification to refer to darkness, which is either the absence of light or the presence of evil, as an “old friend.” The narrator also says that he has come to talk with it again, although we know that darkness cannot speak.
69. Life Is a Highway by Rascal Flatts
|Album||Me and My Gang|
Lyrics: “Life’s like a road that you travel on, when there’s one day here, and the next day gone.”
How They’re Used: As long as I can remember, I have heard songs that use metaphors describing life as a road or a path. This track, which was featured on Rascal Flatts’ album “Me And My Gang” and the soundtrack to the Pixar film “Cars,” refers to life as both a road and a highway. By using this metaphor, they are saying that life is a journey that you ride as far as you can.
70. Master Of Puppets by Metallica
|Album||Master Of Puppets|
Lyrics: “Blinded by me, you can’t see a thing. Just call my name ’cause I’ll hear you scream.”
How They’re Used: This track is an eight-minute metaphor for the band’s well-documented drug use in the 1980s. In this track, the drugs are the master and you are the puppet. Metallica has been known to partake in their fair share of substance, whether or not they were of the legal variety. However, these particular lines highlight the band’s use of personification, because the substances cannot physically blind you or vocally call out to you.
71. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall by Coldplay
|Genre||Pop Rock, Alternative Pop|
Lyrics: “As we soar walls, every siren is a symphony and every tear’s a waterfall.”
How They’re Used: Coldplay’s lead vocalist Chris Martin is known for writing poetic lyrics and including thematic elements in his songs. For example, let’s look at the song “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall.” This track uses the idiom of soaring walls to describe their level of positivity. They also incorporate idioms by saying that every siren is a symphony and every teardrop is a waterfall, they are saying that you need to try to find the positive in every situation.
Read Next: Songs With Alliteration Used in Their Lyrics
72. Bam Bam by Camila Cabello (Featuring Ed Sheeran)
Lyrics: “I’ve been a breaker and broken. Every mistake turns to moments.”
How They’re Used: Let’s start by looking at the name of this track, which uses onomatopoeia to describe the sounds being made on the dance floor between the narrator and her partner. Secondly, the expression “every mistake turns to moments” is an idiom that expresses Camila Cabello’s willingness to find opportunity in everything. By saying that she’s been a breaker and that she’s been broken, she’s saying that she knows what it’s like to be on the giving and the receiving end of a breakup.
73. Diamonds by Rihanna
|Genre||R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop, Dance|
Lyrics: “So shine bright, tonight, you and I. We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky.”
How They’re Used: With sales of roughly 4.4 million copies, Rihanna’s album “Unapologetic” was one of the best-selling albums of the singer’s illustrious career. Featured on that album was the number-one hit “Diamonds,” in which Rihanna uses the simile “beautiful like diamonds in the sky” to emphasize how rare, wonderful, and beautiful the couple is together. This is one of the most commonly used similes in music, particularly in the hip-hop, soul, rock, and R&B genres.
74. Stuck Like Glue by Sugarland
|Album||The Incredible Machine|
Lyrics: “And just when I start to think they’re right, that love has died, there you go making my heart beat again.”
How They’re Used: The title of this quirky hit from the country group Sugarland is a simile, indicating that the two are together forever. However, lead singer Jennifer Nettles also uses personification when she gives human qualities to love by saying that she thinks that it has died. In the same line, she also uses it as an idiom, saying that someone has made her heart beat again. This simply means that their love is being rekindled.
75. Dynamite by BTS
|Genre||Boy Band, Korean Pop|
Lyrics: “Shining through the city with a little funk and soul. so I’ma light it up like dynamite.”
How They’re Used: Also known as the Bangtan Boys, BTS was formed in 2010 in South Korea. They have been the recipient of the iHeartRadio Music Award for Best Fan Army thanks to massive hits like “Dynamite.” The song uses the simile “light it up like dynamite” to describe how their presence will make any scenario or situation better. Wherever they go and whatever they do, the group will stand out and be the life of the party.
Let us know if there are any great songs that we missed in the comments section below.
Hi, my name is Kevin and I’m from Butler, Pennsylvania. I’ve been obsessed with music and audio gear for as long as I can remember. I started this website to help people find professional advice related to a wide range of audio topics. We have a number of Audio Engineers on our team who have been designing and fixing audio gear for decades.