It is well known that song lyrics and music have the power to transform our emotions. But did you know they also have changed the way we talk? We have put together a collection of well known song lyrics that have made their way into everyday language. You may hear them in conversation and not even remember that they originated in a song. Take a spin through our list of favorite song quotes and see how many you can come up with too. Once you start looking for them, you’ll find them everywhere!
The list: 31 song lyrics that changed how we talk
These popular song lyrics have a life beyond the song itself. You will hear these phrases used in everyday conversation, TV commercials and movie dialog. They have become part of popular culture and language.
1. “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want”
The British girl group Spice Girls released the song Wannabe in 1996 from their debut album Spice. The song was recorded in only thirty minutes time and became the world’s best-selling single by a girl group at the time.
Spice Girls Wannabe video:
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2. “I am a material girl”
Madonna’s second studio album Like a Virgin featured the song Material Girl. The song captured the materialistic spirit of the ’80s. It rose to the number 2 position on the Billboard Hot 100 list in 1985.
3. “Be my baby”
This song by The Ronettes is considered one of the best songs of the 1960s. It features Phil Spector’s famous Wall of Sound production technique, which involves layering musical tracks for a richer overall sound. The song entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
The Ronettes Be My Baby video:
4. “This is the end, my only friend, the end”
Doors frontman Jim Morrison wrote the dark and brooding lyrics about a breakup with his girlfriend. The 12-minute long song appeared on their self-titled debut album in 1967.
5. “Sippin on gin and juice”
Gin and Juice is the second hit single off Snoop Dogg’s debut album Doggystyle from 1994. The party song features another oft-quoted line, “with my mind on my money and my money on my mind.” VH1 listed the Dr. Dre-produced song number eight in their 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.
6. “Born to be wild”
1968’s Born to Be Wild is Steppenwolf’s most successful single. Rolling Stone named it the number 129 spot on the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list for 2004. Other great lines from the tune include “head out on the highway” and “get your motor runnin”. The lyric “heavy metal thunder” is thought to be the first reference to heavy metal as a term for rock music.
Steppenwolf Born To Be Wild video:
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7. “Come on baby light my fire”
In 1967 the Doors performed Light My Fire on the Ed Sullivan Show. The lyrics “girl, we couldn’t get much higher” were deemed too risqué for prime time because of their drug reference. The band agreed in rehersal to use the word “better” in place of “higher.” But in the live performance, lead singer Jim Morrison decided to sing the original lyrics in spite of the agreement. His defiance angered Sullivan and the Doors would never appear on the show again.
Doors Light My Fire video:
8. “Stayin’ alive”
The Bee Gees tune Stayin’ Alive has an interesting connection to keeping people alive. It turns out the beats-per-minute of the song sync up closely with the British Heart Foundation’s recommended chest compressions-per-minute for CPR. A study found that thinking about the song while delivering CPR may regulate the pace of chest compressions and improve the quality of the procedure.
9. “I did it my way”
Paul Anka wrote the iconic song My Way for Frank Sinatra’s 1969 album of the same name. The song has been covered by many artists including the Sex Pistols and Elvis Presley. It set a record of 75 weeks atop the charts in the UK.
10. “Bust a move”
Bust a Move is Rapper Young MC’s biggest hit. The catchy beat features samples from other songs, guest vocals from Crystal Blake and a performance by bassist Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It is noted as one of the best hip hop songs of the 1980s.
Young MC Bust a Move video:
11. “She’s a super freak”
The ‘80s are known for big hair and showy, sequined outfits. Rick James led the way. His single Super Freak described sexual promiscuity: “she’s a very kinky girl / the kind you don’t take home to mother.” The song ranked #477 of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
12. “Girls just want to have fun”
Cyndi Laupner’s first single as a solo artist was Girls Just Want to Have Fun from the album She’s So Unusual. The song served as a 1980s feminist anthem, reaching number 2 on Billboard magazine’s U.S. Hot 100.
Cyndi Laupner Girls Just Want to Have Fun video:
13. “Talk dirty to me”
Talk Dirty to Me was the glam-band Poison’s first big international hit. The single is from the album Look What the Cat Dragged In from 1987. VH1 named it the 40th greatest hard rock song of all time.
14. “On the road again”
Willie Nelson wrote On the Road Again for the soundtrack to the film Honeysuckle Rose. It is said that Nelson quickly jotted down the lyrics on an air sickness bag while flying. He won a Grammy for Best Country Song of 1981 for his efforts.
15. “Hard day’s night”
A Hard Day’s Night appeared on the Beatle’s third studio album and was part of the soundtrack to their first featured film, both of the same name. The song’s title came from an interview with Ringo Starr. After working a long day, he said “It’s been a hard day…” and then corrected himself: “…night!” after realizing it was dark out at the time. The song was a chart topper in both the United Kingdom and United States.
Beatles Hard Day’s Night video:
31 song lyrics that have become popular-culture references
16. “I am woman hear me roar”
Baby boomers will recognize Helen Reddy’s signature hit I Am Woman. The song appeared on her debut album I Don’t Know How to Love Him in 1971. The million-selling tune was an anthem of female empowerment in the era of an emerging women’s liberation movement.
17. “You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’”
Phil Spector produced and co-wrote You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ for The Righteous Brothers. Critics have called the song one of the best pop records ever recorded. Rolling Stone ranks the song number 34 amoung the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The Righteous Brothers You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ video:
18. “Whole lotta love”
Led Zeppelin kicked the rock ’n roll doors down with it’s opening track to the album Led Zeppelin II in 1969. The hit songs Whole Lotta Love, Thank You, The Lemon Song and Moby Dick helped the album become one of the greatest and most influential records of all time.
19. “I like big butts”
Sir Mix-a-Lot’s song Baby Got Back is a tongue-in-cheek expression of his preference for full-figured women. The song was controversial because some saw it as objectifying women. The tune was released in 1992 on his album Mack Daddy.
Sir Mix-a-Lot Baby Got Back video:
20. “I heard it through the grapevine”
I Heard It Through the Grapevine was recorded by Gladys Knight & the Pips and The Miracles before Marvin Gaye made it a soul classic. The song was written for Motown Records in 1966. Gaye’s version holds the 81st spot on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Willie Nelson composed Crazy for his 1962 debut album And Then I Wrote. Patsy Cline took it and made it a blockbuster hit. Her version became the number 2 hit on the country charts that year. The song has since been covered by many other artists, including Linda Ronstadt and LeAnn Rimes.
Patsy Cline Crazy video:
22. “We will rock you”
Go to any sporting event and you will probably hear Queen’s 1977 hit, We Will Rock You, blaring over the loudspeakers. The song has become the defacto stadium anthem. It was issued as a single along with We Are The Champions, gaining top 10 and certified platinum status.
23. “Play that funky music white boy”
The single Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry hit number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1976. The funk rock/soul hit was the group’s only top 40 song.
Wild Cherry Play That Funky Music video:
24. “I can’t get no satisfaction”
Satisfaction was the Rolling Stones first number one hit in the United States. Radio stations initially banned the song because of it’s sexually suggestive lyrics. Times were different in 1965. Rolling Stone placed the song on it’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in the second spot behind Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone.
25. “Hit the road jack”
Ray Charles made the song Hit the Road Jack famous in 1961. He recorded the song along with vocalist Margie Hendrix of The Raelettes. He won a Grammy award for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording. The song appears on The 500 Greatest Songs of All Tim (Rolling Stone magazine) at position 387.
Ray Charles Hit the Road Jack video:
26. “I will survive”
Gloria Gaynor sang the disco anthem I Will Survive on her 1978 album Love Tracks. The song sold 14 million copies worldwide and is certified platinum. It is heralded as a unifying anthem for both feminist and gay rights activists.
Gloria Gaynor I Will Survive video:
27. “Que sera, sera (Whatever will be, will be)”
This song’s origins go back to 1956, when Doris Day performed it in the film The Man Who Knew Too Much. The Alfred Hitchcock film featured Day along with co-star James Stewart. Her recording made it to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 list.
28. “Singin’ in the rain”
The song Singin’ in the Rain gained popularity through the film of the same name, featuring Gene Kelly singing and dancing. The song was performed by many other artists before Kelly, but gained broad recognition after the 1952 movie. The American Film Institute ranks the song third on its 100 Years… 100 Songs list.
29. “Don’t stop believin’”
Journey hit it big with their 1981 song Don’t Stop Believin’. It reached number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. The tune is lauded for its opening keyboard riff as one of the best in rock. Fun fact: the signature line from the song is not actually heard until less than a minute to the end.
Journey Don’t Stop Believin’ video:
Ottis Redding originally released Respect in 1965. Aretha Franklin made it her own in 1967. Her powerful rendition is a declaration of strength and confidence, as she spells out “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” followed by the backup singers’ “sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me.” Franklin won two Grammy Awards for the song in 1968.
Aretha Franklin Respect video:
31. “What’s going on”
What’s Going On is one of Motown artist Marvin Gaye’s signature songs. The song’s inspiration was an incident of police brutality and social injustice. The song departed from the traditional Motown Sound, towards a more personal sound with a political message. It is the fourth greatest song of all time, according to Rolling Stone.
We hope you have enjoyed this list of song lyrics that have changed the way we talk.
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