songs about animals.

Songs About Animals: A Melodic Menagerie

Music is a universal language that connects us to emotions, memories, and sometimes, to the animal kingdom. Songs about animals have been a fascinating theme in music across genres, embodying metaphors, stories, and affection towards our non-human companions. This article delves into some iconic tracks that celebrate, mimic, or symbolize animals, creating a unique bridge between human expression and the natural world.

1. “Lion Sleeps Tonight” – Various Artists

Originally recorded by Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds in 1939, “Lion Sleeps Tonight” is a song that resonates across generations. Its catchy melody and the haunting “Wimoweh” chorus have made it a favorite. From its roots in South Africa to its widespread popularity in Western music, this song captures the essence of the majestic lion in slumber, echoing a peaceful imagery of the animal kingdom.

2. “Wild Horses” – Rolling Stones

“Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones taps into the raw emotions of love and freedom, much like the untamed spirit of the horses it references. This track, with its heartfelt lyrics and acoustic serenity, showcases the band’s softer side and remains a powerful ode to resilience and natural beauty.

3. “Diamond Dogs” – David Bowie

In “Diamond Dogs,” David Bowie paints a dystopian picture where hybrid creatures roam a post-apocalyptic city. The song serves as a commentary on decay and rebellion, with Bowie using the metaphor of dogs to explore themes of survival and grit in a forsaken urban landscape.

4. “When Doves Cry” – Prince & The Revolution

Prince’s “When Doves Cry” is a brilliant fusion of lyrical prowess and emotional intensity. The song metaphorically uses doves, symbols of peace and love, to highlight the turmoil and pain of a complex relationship. It’s a showcase of Prince’s genius in using animal imagery to delve deep into human feelings and conflicts.

5. “Rabbit Hole” – Various Artists

The term “Rabbit Hole” is widely used in music to describe a journey into the surreal or the chaotic, much like the adventure Alice takes in “Alice in Wonderland.” Songs titled “Rabbit Hole” often explore themes of exploration, confusion, and discovery, drawing listeners into a metaphorical burrow of psychological and emotional depth.

6. “Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor

“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor is the quintessential anthem of perseverance and determination. Popularized by the movie “Rocky III,” this track uses the tiger’s fierce and relentless nature as a metaphor for fighting through challenges. Its driving beat and rousing lyrics inspire a fighter’s spirit in the hearts of listeners.

7. “Itsy Bitsy Spider” – Various Artists

A nursery rhyme cherished across the globe, “Itsy Bitsy Spider” is more than just a children’s song. It teaches resilience and perseverance, as the tiny spider repeatedly attempts to climb up the water spout. Its simple yet profound message is encapsulated in a melody that even the youngest can appreciate and learn from.

8. “White Rabbit” – Jefferson Airplane

Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” draws heavily from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, using the rabbit as a guide into the psychedelic and often bewildering world of the 1960s counterculture. This song is an allegory for the quest for enlightenment and the exploration of altered states of consciousness.

9. “Crocodile Rock” – Elton John

Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock” taps into the nostalgia of 1950s rock and roll with a whimsical twist. The song reflects on youthful fun and the simple joys of dancing to records, all wrapped up in the imagery of a rock where crocodiles, symbolizing the rebels of the era, might have danced the night away.

10. “Disco Duck” – Rick Dees

“Disco Duck” by Rick Dees is a novelty song from the disco era that became an unexpected hit. This humorous track features a man who turns into a dancing duck in a discotheque, poking fun at the disco culture with a catchy beat and silly, memorable lyrics.

11. “Black Cat” – Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat” is a rock-infused anthem about an unpredictable and fierce woman. Jackson uses the black cat, often a symbol of bad luck and mystery, to craft a narrative about taking risks and owning one’s independence and power.

12. “Dog Days Are Over” – Florence and the Machine

In “Dog Days Are Over,” Florence and the Machine celebrate liberation and the end of hard times, much like the freeing of dogs from the days of burden and toil. This song is an uplifting track that encourages listeners to embrace relief and joy, running towards a brighter future.

13. “Bird Dog” – The Everly Brothers

The Everly Brothers’ “Bird Dog” humorously captures the story of a man who steals the girlfriends of his friends, likened to a bird dog that goes after birds. It’s a playful use of animal behavior to describe human social dynamics, all set to an infectious rock and roll rhythm.

14. “Rockin’ Robin” – Michael Jackson

“Rockin’ Robin,” performed by Michael Jackson when he was still a young star, is a lively and upbeat song about a joyous bird singing and dancing. Michael’s youthful voice adds a sparkling charm to the imagery of a robin that rocks its way through the treetops.

15. “Free as a Bird” – The Beatles

Originally a demo by John Lennon, “Free as a Bird” was later completed by the surviving Beatles. The song, filled with longing and reflection, metaphorically uses a bird’s flight to symbolize freedom and the spirit continuing beyond the confines of the world.

16. “Barracuda” – Heart

Heart’s “Barracuda” combines hard rock energy with the aggressive imagery of a barracuda to confront rumors and hostility. The song uses the fierce fish as a metaphor for the sharp and biting nature of the music industry, reflecting the band’s personal struggles with a powerful, driving beat.

17. “Roar” – Katy Perry

“Roar” by Katy Perry unleashes a vivacious energy characteristic of her pop anthems. The song serves as a metaphor for harnessing one’s inner strength and facing the world with fierce confidence. With pulsating beats and catchy hooks, Perry encourages listeners to embrace their power and tenacity, much like a tiger prowling in the wild. The vibrant, empowering lyrics are paired with an equally electrifying music video featuring bold visuals and dance sequences that capture the essence of unleashing one’s inner beast.

18. Hounds of Love” – Kate Bush

“Hounds of Love” by Kate Bush is a striking song that masterfully uses the imagery of animals—specifically hounds—to delve into themes of fear, love, and vulnerability. In this track, the hounds represent the terrifying yet exhilarating feeling of falling in love. Bush sings about being hunted by these hounds, symbolizing her own trepidations towards opening up and being consumed by emotional intimacy.

19. What’s New Pussycat? – Tom Jones

“What’s New Pussycat?” by Tom Jones is an energetic and playful song that utilizes the imagery of a cat to explore themes of playful mischief and romantic curiosity. The title itself, invoking the image of a cat, sets the tone for a lighthearted and whimsical inquiry into the antics and affairs of a lover. The lyrics, sung with Tom Jones’s characteristic charm and swagger, repeatedly question “What’s new pussycat?” suggesting a teasing, almost flirtatious interrogation of a partner’s recent endeavors or feelings.

20. “Fireflies” – Owl City

“Fireflies” by Owl City is a whimsical and serene song that transports listeners to a magical, luminescent garden. The track features Owl City’s signature synth-pop sound, creating a dreamy and ambient atmosphere. Lyrics describe a night spent in awe of nature’s quiet beauty, with glowworms lighting up the surroundings in a dance of light and color. It’s a piece that celebrates the wonder of the natural world, encouraging a moment of peace and contemplation amid our busy lives.

21. “Karma Chameleon” – Culture Club

Culture Club’s song “Karma Chameleon” is a notable track that uses animal imagery. In this song, the chameleon symbolizes change and adaptability, reflecting the themes of transformation and inconsistency in human relationships. The lyrics “I’m a man without conviction / I’m a man who doesn’t know how to sell a contradiction” align with the chameleon’s ability to change colors and adapt, highlighting the complexities and changes in personal identity and interaction.

22. “Horses” – Tori Amos

Tori Amos’s “Horses” from her 1996 album Boys for Pele delves into the themes of liberation and self-discovery. The song is rich with metaphorical language, with horses symbolizing a vehicle for escape and spiritual renewal. Amos’s evocative piano and haunting vocals underscore the emotional intensity of seeking freedom from personal and emotional confinement. The intricate arrangement and lyrical depth make “Horses” a poignant reflection on breaking away from past traumas and reclaiming one’s power and autonomy.

23. “She Wolf (Falling to Pieces)” – David Guetta feat. Sia

In “She Wolf (Falling to Pieces),” David Guetta pairs with Sia to explore the theme of transformation and resilience through the metaphor of a she-wolf. This dance track combines Sia’s powerful vocals with Guetta’s dynamic production to depict a narrative of survival and rebirth. The lyrics convey the pain of heartbreak and the strength required to heal, all while the she-wolf character embodies the fierce independence and wild spirit needed to overcome personal devastation.

24. “Hound Dog” – Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley’s rendition of “Hound Dog,” originally written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, is an energetic rebuke of a deceitful lover, likened to a lazy and nosy hound dog. Presley’s charismatic delivery and the song’s driving rhythm made it one of the most defining tracks of his career. Beyond its catchy beat, “Hound Dog” represents a cultural milestone in rock and roll, embodying the rebellious spirit of the 1950s and showcasing Elvis’s ability to captivate and energize an audience.

25. “Dogs” – Pink Floyd

“Dogs,” from Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals, serves as a critique of the cutthroat nature of business and politics. The song uses the metaphor of dogs to describe the backstabbing and predatory behavior in corporate life. Over 17 minutes long, this track features a blend of progressive rock elements, haunting lyrics, and innovative guitar solos. The song’s atmospheric build and philosophical lyrics delve deep into the psyche of ambition and moral decay, offering a stark meditation on human nature and societal corruption.

26. “Spiders & Snakes” – Jim Stafford

Jim Stafford’s “Spiders & Snakes” is a humorous country song that talks about a boy’s awkward encounters with a girl and his aversion to creepy crawlies. The catchy chorus and playful lyrics capture the innocence of childhood fears and the misunderstandings that can arise from them. Stafford’s engaging storytelling and the song’s lighthearted approach make it an enduring favorite for listeners who appreciate a blend of comedy with their music.

27. “Running Bear” – Johnny Preston

“Running Bear” by Johnny Preston is a song about a young Native American named Running Bear and his tragic love story with Little White Dove, a girl from a rival tribe. The song, written by J.P. Richardson, combines a catchy pop melody with a narrative that includes swimming across a river to unite with his love, only to meet a fatal end. This 1959 hit uses the dramatic story to evoke themes of forbidden love and destiny, wrapped in the rhythms of early rock and roll.

28. “Bird on the Wire” – Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on the Wire” is a reflective and poignant song that likens the singer’s struggle for freedom and redemption to a bird perched on a telephone wire. Inspired by Cohen’s own experiences of personal turmoil and longing for forgiveness, the song’s simple melody and honest lyrics offer a raw glimpse into his quest for peace and authenticity. “Bird on the Wire” stands as one of Cohen’s most beloved tracks, revered for its lyrical beauty and emotional depth.

29. “Iron Lion Zion” – Bob Marley

In “Iron Lion Zion,” Bob Marley uses the lion, a recurring symbol in Rastafarian culture, to represent strength, resilience, and the fight for freedom. The lion in the song is a powerful emblem of Marley’s own identity and aspirations. “I’m on the rock and then I check a stock, I have to run like a fugitive,” these lyrics depict the lion’s majestic and unyielding spirit, aligning it with Marley’s personal and political struggles. The imagery reinforces his message of empowerment and resistance against oppression.

30. “Moose ‘n’ Me” – Kenny Loggins

Kenny Loggins’ “Moose ‘n’ Me” is a light-hearted song that explores a whimsical friendship between the singer and a moose. This song uses the imagery of a moose to craft a narrative about companionship, adventure, and the joy of having an unconventional friend. Loggins shares tales of wandering the woods and enjoying the simple, carefree moments with his moose friend, highlighting themes of friendship and the appreciation of nature’s creatures in an endearing and playful manner.

31. “Butterfly” – Crazy Town

Crazy Town’s “Butterfly” uses the delicate imagery of a butterfly to describe a person’s significance to the singer, akin to how the beauty and grace of a butterfly captivates those who behold it. The lyrics, “Come my lady, come come my lady, you’re my butterfly, sugar baby,” liken the lover to a butterfly, emphasizing their allure and the transformative effect of love. The butterfly imagery is pivotal in portraying the relationship as something beautiful, fragile, and deeply cherished.

32. “Monkey” – George Michael

In “Monkey,” George Michael uses the metaphor of a monkey on one’s back to discuss themes of addiction and personal struggle. The song addresses the difficulty of shaking off deep-seated issues that cling like a monkey, creating an ongoing battle with one’s inner demons. The animal imagery effectively conveys the weight and persistence of these problems, emphasizing the struggle to regain control and find peace amidst internal chaos.

33. “Gorilla” – Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars’ “Gorilla” employs the imagery of a gorilla to signify primal, raw, and intense passion. The song is charged with sexual energy, likening the physical and emotional intensity of the relationship to the powerful, untamed nature of a gorilla. Mars uses this imagery to highlight the wild, animalistic aspects of desire, portraying a love that is fierce, passionate, and consuming.

34. “Puppy Love” – Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton’s “Puppy Love” charmingly uses the concept of young, innocent love, often referred to as puppy love, to describe the sweet and naive romantic feelings typical of youth. The song reminisces about early romantic encounters, evoking the playful and uncomplicated emotions associated with first loves. The use of “puppy” emphasizes the tenderness and simplicity of these feelings, capturing the heartfelt yet fleeting nature of young affection.


A dog listening to music on a pair of headphones.

In conclusion, the power of an animal song to evoke emotion, tell a story, or convey a message is undeniably profound. From the fierce independence of a she-wolf to the nostalgic simplicity of a childhood spent in Pooh’s Corner, these songs about animals span a wide range of themes and musical styles.

Whether using animals as metaphors to explore human behaviors and societal issues or simply celebrating the animal kingdom itself, these tracks resonate with listeners on many levels. They remind us of our primal instincts, our deepest emotions, and our universal connections to nature and each other.