I have always believed that one of the most beautiful aspects of music is its uncanny ability to suspend disbelief, whether it is temporary or it is permanent. For example, let’s take a look at personification, which is when we employ a type of figurative language that gives human qualities to something that wouldn’t otherwise have these qualities.
Personification gives our favorite artists the ability to paint a much more vivid picture with their lyrics. They can transport us to places we may never get to go, to show us sights we may never get to see. Here is a list of great songs with personification used in their lyrics. I hope you enjoy them. We also have all the songs covered here on a Spotify playlist at the bottom of the list.
Table of Contents
1. Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles
|Genre||Pop, Alternative Rock, Classic Rock|
Personification Lyrics: “Little darlin’, the smile’s returning to their faces. Little darlin’, it seems like years since it’s been here.”
How They’re Used: I know that this is an expression that is commonly used, but smiles cannot physically return to anybody’s face, as the lyrics indicate. People are the ones who choose to smile; smiles are not the ones who get to choose. It’s just one example of wordplay used by the world’s most popular and top-selling band of all time.
2. (Theme From) New York, New York by Frank Sinatra
|Genre||Jazz, Big Band|
|Album||New York, New York (Original Soundtrack)|
Personification Lyrics: “These vagabond shoes, they are longing to stray” and “I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep.”
How They’re Used: Frank Sinatra’s use of personification in this song occurs when he tells us that his shoes are longing to stay. We all know that shoes don’t have any emotion, nor do they want to do anything. He also says that he wants to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep when the city does not need sleep, nor does it sleep as humans sleep.
3. Good Riddance by Green Day
Personification Lyrics: “Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go.”
How They’re Used: Green Day lead vocalist and guitar player Billie Joe Armstrong is known for using figurative language in his music, and this track is no exception. He uses personification by saying that” time grabs you by the wrist and directs you where to go.” This is just a phrase that means that you will eventually get where you’re going, and there will be things in life that guide you. However, time cannot grab your wrist. If you’re looking for songs with personification in the lyrics then this is one I definitely recommend listening to. If you enjoy this song, we highly recommend listening to our playlist of songs with lots of figurative language in them.
4. Rooster by Alice In Chains
Personification Lyrics: “The bullets scream to me from somewhere.”
How They’re Used: Alice in Chains lead guitarist and backup vocalist Jerry Cantrell wrote this song about his father, who served in the United States Army during the Vietnam war. The song tries to depict what it was like for Cantrell’s father during the war. He uses the phrase”the bullets screamed to me from somewhere” to indicate that he hears the sound of gunfire that’s close to his location. Bullets have no mouths or vocal cords, so they can’t physically scream.
5. Thriller by Michael Jackson
Personification Lyrics: “You try to scream, but terror takes the sound before you make it. You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes.”
How They’re Used: in this track from “Thriller,” which is the second-best-selling album of all time, Michael Jackson says that terror “takes the sound before you make it” when you attempt to scream, however, terror can’t physically stop you from making any sounds. He also says that horror “looks you right between the eyes,” but horror is not a physical manifestation, and can’t look anybody in the eyes.
6. The Sun by Ghostface Killah (Featuring Raekwon, Slick Rick & RZA)
Personification Lyrics: “He always come out. He’ll sit right there, even if you pull your gun out. He can never run out when the lights go out.”
How They’re Used: In this track, Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah is using personification when talking about the sun. He’s talking about how the Sun is always there, and always will be there. He’s saying that the sun will be there” even if you pull your gun out,” but the sun has no fear of guns or anything else. It never runs out. It’s just there.
7. Holy Wars… The Punishment Due by Megadeth
|Album||Rust In Peace|
Personification Lyrics: “Ask the sheep for their beliefs, ‘Do you kill on God’s command?'”
How They’re Used: Dave Mustaine, lead vocalist, and guitarist of the thrash metal band Megadeth, is known for using confrontational and controversial lyrics in this song, like the ones in” Holy Wars… The Punishment Due.” Dave Mustaine uses personification in that song when he says he asks the sheep if they kill on God’s command, but the sheep won’t be able to answer him. He’s also using the metaphor of sheep to refer to people who just blindly follow a leader.
8. Careless Whisper by George Michael
Personification Lyrics: “I’m never gonna dance again. Guilty feet have got no rhythm” and “Time can never mend the careless whispers of a good friend.”
How They’re Used: George Michael left Wham and created this song, but gave a writing credit to Andrew John Ridgely. uses personification when he says guilty feet have no rhythm because heat cannot feel guilt. They also say “time can never end the careless whisper of a good friend,” but hairless whispers are not anything physical that could be mended. Besides, time cannot physically mend anything.
9. A Whole New World (End Title) by Zayn and Zhavia Ward
|Album||Aladdin (Original Soundtrack)|
Personification Lyrics: “Tell me, princess, now when did you last let your heart decide?”
How They’re Used: with a budget of $183 million, the live-action version of Aladdin is one of the more expensive Disney projects. That movie included a new version of the tune “A Whole New World.” In the song, Aladdin asks Jasmine when was the last time she let her heart decide. This is a turn of phrase that means that you let your emotions guide you because all decisions are made by the brain.
10. Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack
|Album||Killing Me Softly|
Personification Lyrics: “Strumming my pain with his fingers. Singing my life with his words. Killing me softly with his song.”
How They’re Used: in this song, the singer is taken aback by a performer that she hears at a club. She uses personification when describing how this person made her feel. She says” strumming her pain with his fingers,” “singing her life with his words” and “killing her softly with his song” she describes the way that hearing the singer made her feel, but there’s we know that the song can’t kill her.
11. Sad Songs (Say So Much) by Elton John
Personification 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: Although Elton John doesn’t write his own lyrics, he is quite the performer, and has been for six decades. The song Sad Songs say so much is filled with personification, including the title. Songs are not capable of saying anything, nor can they reach into your room and touch you. Still, the song gets its point across magnificently by letting you know how sad songs make you feel.
12. My Favorite Ladies by MF Doom
Personification Lyrics: “Met her at Central Park this one time. Had the God mentally sparked, reflectin’ sunshine.”
How They’re Used: this song, much like many other rap songs, is filled with figurative language. In this song, MF Doom is trying to win the affection of a certain young lady. In this line, he meets her at Central park. He uses personification when he says that he is reflecting sunshine because he is indicating that he is in a good mood when he sees her. He can’t reflect on the sunshine. This is one of my personal favorite songs with personification used in it of all time.
13. Highway Don’t Care by Tim McGraw (Featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban)
|Album||Two Lanes of Freedom|
Personification Lyrics: “The highway won’t hold you tonight. The highway don’t know you’re alive. The highway don’t care if you’re all alone.” and “The highway won’t dry your tears. The highway don’t need you here. The highway don’t care if you’re coming home.”
How They’re Used: In Tim McGraw’s song” Highway Don’t Care,” he uses personification in the title. Throughout the song he says things like the highway won’t hold you, it doesn’t know you’re alive, it doesn’t care if you’re all alone, it won’t draw your tears, doesn’t need you here, and it doesn’t care if you’re going home. These are all things that the highway isn’t capable of doing.
14. The Wind Cries Mary by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
|Genre||Rock, Classic Rock|
|Album||Are You Experienced?|
Personification Lyrics: And the wind whispers, ‘Mary,”‘” And the wind, it cries, ‘Mary,'” and “And the wind screams, ‘Mary'”
How They’re Used: In this song from Hendrix’s top five album, “Are You Experienced?,” Jimi uses personification when he says that the wind whispers, cries, and screams the name, Mary. He’s so infatuated with this girl Mary that he hears her name everywhere, including in the wind. Everything around him reminds him of her, but the wind cannot speak her name.
15. Firework by Katy Perry
|Genre||Pop, Dance, Electronic|
Personification Lyrics: “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?”
How They’re Used: in the first line from her hit firework, Katy Perry gives us a two-for-one special on figurative language. She uses a simile in the song when she asks if we ever feel like a plastic bag, but then turns to personification when she includes the line “wanting to start again.” I get that she wants to feel carefree, but plastic bags aren’t capable of feeling emotions, physical sensations, or anything at all. If you like this song, definitely check out our playlist of songs with metaphors.
16. La Isla Bonita by Madonna
Personification Lyrics: “Warm wind carried on the sea, he called to me.”
How They’re Used: Madonna shook up the world of pop when she released this top-five hit from her number-one album “True Blue.” This Latin-flavored song uses personification when Madonna is describing the tropical breeze on the island, but the sea cannot physically carry anything. The way the song is worded, it almost sounds like she is saying that the sea is calling to her, which would be another example of personification. However, she is talking about a guy named Pedro in this line.
17. Thank You by Led Zeppelin
|Genre||Rock, Classic Rock|
|Album||Led Zeppelin II|
Personification Lyrics: “If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you. When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.”
How They’re Used: In my humble opinion, this is the greatest love song of all time. I love Robert Plant’s use of personification when he says that if the sun refused to shine he would still be loving this person. He is saying that no matter what, you will always love this person, no matter what’s going on around him, but we all know that the sun cannot refuse to do anything.
Related Article: Hit Songs About Gratitude We Know You’ll Love
18. Let It Go by Idina Menzel
|Album||Frozen (Original Soundtrack)|
Personification Lyrics: “It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small, and the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all.”
How They’re Used: This has got to be one of Walt Disney’s most popular songs. After all, the soundtrack to the movie Frozen was the only million-selling album in 2014. In this song, Elsa is singing about how fears used to control her, but they aren’t physically capable of controlling her, nor can they “get to her.” She may have let her fears prevent her from doing things in the past.
19. I Gave you Power by Nas
|Album||It Was Written|
Personification Lyrics: “They use me wrong so I sing this song ’til this day,” “When I’m empty I’m quiet, finding myself fiendin to be fired,” and “Under beds, so I beg for my next owner to be a thoroughbred.”
How They’re Used: Nas is known for being a masterful lyricist, and he certainly delivers on this track. The entire song employs personification, told from the perspective of a gun. The song is full of things that a gun cannot physically do, like when he says that the gun wants to be fired. He also says that he wants his next owner to be a thoroughbred, meaning he’ll get fired a lot.
20. I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift
Personification Lyrics: “And the saddest fear comes creeping in, that you never loved me or her, or anyone, or anything.”
How They’re Used: Love her or hate her, Taylor Swift is here to stay. The singer has 11 number-one albums, including 2012’s “Red.” Right, Swift uses personification when she talks about fear coming to creep in. We know that she’s talking about emotions that she’s having, but this is the way she chooses to paint her lyrics, and it certainly is an effective way for Taylor to illustrate her feelings.
21. Drink Away the Pain (Situations) by Mobb Deep (Featuring Q-Tip)
Personification Lyrics: “I used to be in love with this bitch named E&J. Don’t f*ck with her no more now I f*ck with Tanqueray. Tanqueray introduced me to her first cousin Gold. Last name was English and the first name Olde.”
How They’re Used: this song from the rap group Mobb Deep is all about their affinity for drinking alcoholic beverages in the track, uses personification when he talks about how he was once in love with certain brands of alcohol and then he talks about how another brand of alcohol introduced him to his favorite beer.
22. Master Of Puppets by Metallica
|Album||Master Of Puppets|
Personification Lyrics: “Master of puppets, I’m pulling your strings. Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams. Blinded by me, you can’t see a thing. Just call my name ’cause I’ll hear you scream.”
How They’re Used: Metallica’s music has certainly seen a Resurgence of late, thanks to the television show Stranger Things. This song is about lead vocalist and rhythm guitar player James Hetfield’s battle with narcotics. In the song, he uses personification to give human characteristics to the drugs like saying that they are pulling strings, twisting minds, and smashing dreams. He says the drugs call his name, but he wants them.
23. 25 to Life by Eminem
Personification Lyrics: “Bitch, you took me for granted. Took my heart and ran it straight into the planet. Into the dirt, I can no longer stand it. Now my respect, I demand it.”
How They’re Used: this song is Eminem’s love letter to hip-hop, in which he uses the characteristics of a woman to describe it. The use of personification comes when he says that it took him for granted, and took his heart and ran it straight into the planet and into the dirt. That’s just his way of saying that he is giving his all to hip hop, and it has taken everything that he has had to give. If you like this song, check out our other playlist of songs about murder and songs about prison.
24. Concrete Jungle by Bob Marley and the Wailers
|Album||Catch a Fire|
Personification Lyrics: “No sun will shine in my day today. The high yellow moon won’t come out to play. Darkness has covered my light. (And the stage) and the stage my day into night.”
How They’re Used: Bob Marley uses personification in this song in the line “no sun will shine today”, meaning that he will not be in a good mood. Regardless of what he thinks, the sun cannot just refuse to shine based on his mood. He also says that the moon won’t come out to play, which we know doesn’t play. He gives human characteristics to both the sun and moon to match his mood.
25. Second Chance by Shinedown
|Album||The Sound Of Madness|
Personification Lyrics: “I just saw Hayley’s comet, she waved, said ‘why you always running in place?'”
How They’re Used: Shinedown’s “Second Chance” uses personification twice when lead vocalist Brett Smith sees Haley’s Comet both wave to him and ask him why he is always running in place. That is the singer’s way of saying that he has been stuck in a rut, with his life going nowhere. He is using those lines to try to motivate himself to get his life out of that rut. Songs about second chances can be extremely powerful and I personally believe “Second Chance” is truly an epic song
26. The Sound Of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel
|Album||Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.|
Personification Lyrics: “Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again. Because a vision softly creeping left its seeds while I was sleeping.”
How They’re Used: This is perhaps one of the most famous opening lines in music. Paul Simon opens the song by speaking to the darkness as if it was another human being. He says that he’s come to talk with the darkness and that it is an old friend. He is personifying Darkness by saying that he has been down for quite some time. He also says that his Visions are softly creeping and leaving seeds, which we know they can’t do.
27. I Used To Love H.E.R by Common
Personification Lyrics: “I might’ve failed to mention that this chick was creative. Once the man got to her, he altered her native. Told her if she got an image and a gimmick that she could make money, and she did it like a dummy.”
How They’re Used: Much like Eminem, Common was using personification in this track, giving hip-hop the physical characteristics of a woman to describe his love of the genre. In this line, he’s talking about how people started altering the purity of pop. He’s saying that people are treating his lady like a prostitute, with the only goal being to use her to make money. When he says that she did it like a dummy, he’s saying that she did exactly what the man wanted.
28. Under the Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers
|Genre||Funk Rock, Alternative Rock|
|Album||Blood Sugar Sex Magik|
Personification 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. I drive on her streets ’cause she’s my companion. I walk through her hills ’cause she knows who I am. She sees my good deeds and she kisses me windy. ”
How They’re Used: It’s well-documented that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have a love for the city of Los Angeles. In under the bridge, which is about lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis’ battle with drug addiction, he uses personification when he talks about the city of Los Angeles. He calls the city of his friends and states that they cry together. He also calls for His companion and talks about how she kisses him. These are all things the city can’t do.
29. Your Love Is King by Sade
Personification Lyrics: “Your kisses ring round and round and round my head, touching the very part of me, it’s making my soul sing.”
How They’re Used: Sade is known for using figurative language in some of the world’s best love songs. For instance, let’s take this track, in which the lead vocalist says that her love interest’s kisses ring around her head, touching her and making her soul sing. She’s saying that she thinks about his kisses all the time, and the thought of him makes her happy. Kisses can’t physically do these things.
30. The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert
|Album||Revolution – 2011 Limited Edition Australian Tour Pack|
Personification Lyrics: “I thought if I could touch this place or feel it this brokenness inside me might start healing. Out here, it’s like I’m someone else. I thought that maybe I could find myself.”
How They’re Used: Miranda Lambert starts by using reverse personification in the title of this song, as the house is incapable of actually building her. She then talks about the house as if it’s a person, saying that she wants to touch it and feel its brokenness inside. She goes on to talk about trying to find herself in the house, which is a figure of speech, and we know is impossible.
Here is a Spotify playlist that includes all of the songs covered above.
That does it for this article; let us know if there are any great songs that include personification in the comments section below. We always love hearing your feedback and opinions.
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.