Pop songs that aren't about romance

It seems like every song on the radio is about love, or lack thereof. Which is fine up to a point, but it can get a little boring after a while. At least to me, anyway. (Of course, I appear to be missing some key hormones, so all love stories sound boring to me). Anyway, what are some pop songs, past or present, that have nothing to do with love?

One fairly recent one I like is Rihanna’s Disturbia, a creepy tune about someone who’s going insane. I’ve been going through some mental health issues myself, so it really speaks to me. (Not that I hear pictures on the wall talking to me or anything, but I identify with the hopelessness and dread the narrator feels). Certaintly not a love song of any sort.

Hurt - I like the Cash version
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - Gordon Lightfoot
Guitar Town - Steve Earle
Born in the USA - Bruce Springsteen (he had a lot of hits that didn’t have romantic love or loss/lack thereof as the theme)
Piano Man - Billy Joel (see Springsteen note)

Any number of country songs, especially the ballads, although I don’t know if you are counting those among the pop.

Eminem’s Crack a Bottle, Mosh, Like Toy Soldiers, My Name Is, The Real Slim Shady, and quite a few of his other singles
Pink’s Sober
Michael Jackson’s Beat It
Greenday- American Idiot, Holiday, Jesus of Suburbia
White Stripes Icky Thump
Linkin Park’s Bleed it out, Crawling, and a few others
Fall out boy’s This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race
Gnarls Barkley’s crazy
Gorillaz- Feel Good Inc, Dare
Weird Al’s White and Nerdy
Weezer’s Beverly Hills
System of a Down- BYOB, Cigaro, Hypnotize

Are some of the songs I reconized when going back through to top 100 song lists randomly from now until 2006. There’s plenty more, but do you have any specific criteria in mind other than popular released singles?

There are thousands - tens of thousands. Most of the best ones from the past aren’t.
**Like A Rollin’ Stone
Tax Man
Hey Jude
Sympathy for the Devil
and lots of others.

I dunno, I was just trying to reassure myself that there really were some out there.

Songs you like, I guess?

You need to consider more songs about food, it’ll take your mind off romance. A sampling:

The Cramps “Shortnin’ Bread’”
NRBQ “Howard Johnson’s Got His Ho-Jo Workin’”, “RC Cola And A Moon Pie”
Southern Culture on the Skids “Eight Piece Box”, “Fried Chicken and Gasoline”
Squeeze “Pulling Mussels From The Shell”
Booker T & the MGs “Green Onions”, “My Sweet Potato”
The B-52s “Quiche Lorraine”
Fats Waller “All That Meat And No Potatoes”

Jeremy, Even Flow, Alive

By “pop” we mean radio hits, not just bubblegum pop, right?

Here are the first few that come to mind:
Weezer “Say it Ain’t So”
Red Hot Chili Peppers “Higher Ground,” “Aeroplane,” “My Friends”
Feeder “High”
Jimmy Eat World “Bleed American”
Garbage “Stupid Girl”
Dave Matthews “Grave Digger”
Geggy Tah “Whoever You Are”
Temple of The Dog “Hunger Strike”
etc etc etc

“My Friends” (me and my me and my me and my me and my FRIENDS!) was a radio hit? The other two RHCP songs, yeah, but I’ll be damned if I’ve ever heard that one on the radio.

Paperback Writer
Come Together
Nowhere Man
Lady Madonna
Get Back
Let It Be
Hey Jude
Sgt. Pepper
Eleanor Rigby
Penny Lane
Strawberry Fields Forever
Yellow Submarine
I Am The Walrus
Baby You’re a Rich Man

All by the Rutles, of course.

REM’s It’s The End of the World As We Know It
Every Beach Boys song that deals with cars.
Cadillac Ranch
Many, many, many folk songs that became hits in the sixties and seventies
Hurricane by Bob Dylan
Plenty of country songs as well
Actually, several of Kanye West’s hit songs aren’t about love. Jesus Walks, Diamonds from Sierra Leone, and The Good Life are not.

Depends on the bands you choose, I’d wager

The Spirit of Radio
Free Will
Tom Sawyer

Bohemian Rhapsody
We Will Rock You/We are the Champions
Another One Bites the Dust
Radio Ga Ga

Highway to Hell

I Write the Songs

Everything Zen


Dire Straits
Sultans of Swing
Walk of Life

Don Henley
Dirty Laundry

And that’s just a cursory look. While I’d agree that a plurality of pop song hits are about relationships, whether romantic or physical, I think a strong minority would not be.

During the 1920s and '30s, that “strong minority” were invariably about a) the South or b) artificially manufactured dance crazes such The Varsity Drag.

Songs that come to mind immediately…

“Lip Gloss,” Lil Mama
“Circus,” Britney Spears
“Paper Planes,” M.I.A.
“Rehab,” Amy Winehouse

Wow this topic is something I’ve been thinking about lately. I’ve been listening to an 80s station on Jango and it plays a lot of Genesis – and I’ve been astonished by two things: 1) realizing/recalling how much I like their music (I’d forgotten a lot of their songs), and 2) how many of their songs are political/social rather than romantic.


In the Air Tonight
Illegal Alien
Land of Confusion
Tonight, Tonight, Tonight
No Son of Mine
Jesus He Knows Me

Solo Genesisites:

Another Day in Paradise (Collins)
Silent Running (Mike & the Mechanics – a group I really liked)
The Living Years (Mike & the Mechanics)
Solsbury Hill (Peter Gabriel)
Games Without Frontiers (Gabriel)
Red Rain (Gabriel)
Big Time (Gabriel)


Demolition Man (I think this was a popular song? At least the remake by Manfred Mann?)
Synchronicity II
Invisible Sun
Message in a Bottle (well, it’s ambiguous – could be loneliness in general)
King of Pain (ditto)
Spirits in the Material World


Englishman in New York
All This Time

Other songs off the top of my head:

New York, New York
My Way
Swing on a Star
It Was a Very Good Year
I Believe
Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime
Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
Mack the Knife
Sounds of Silence
Bridge Over Troubled Water
She Works Hard for the Money
Ebony & Ivory

And there’s a lot of songs about music / dancing that aren’t necessarily romantic:

Sir Duke
The Hustle (heh … well, it does have lyrics kinda)
I Love Rock & Roll
Disco Duck
King Tut

There are almost too many to list. As others have said, it’s really not that rare.

I can relate to that. Hell, that song is my ringtone right now. Another song with a similar theme that is popular right now is “Day 'n Nite” by Kid Cudi. The protagonist is described as a “lonely stoner,” but you don’t have to have ever touched controlled substances to relate to his feelings of loneliness and alienation.

I also would recommend the music of Sheryl Crow. Not all her songs are about romance. One I particularly enjoy is “Soak Up the Sun,” from a few years ago.

Off the top of my head, “Allentown” and “Nantucket Bound” also aren’t romantic.

Quoth choie:

I dunno; I think that Sinatra singing about how he got laid a lot isn’t really in the spirit of the thing.

It made it to #25 on US charts in 1995.

Bruce Cockburn’s “If I Had A Rocket Launcher”.

Quite the opposite of love.

It isn’t 1963 anymore. There are countless pop songs that are not about romance.