London is England’s capital city and is one of the most famous places in the entire world. It welcomes thousands of visitors every year and as a result, there have been hundreds of songs written about the big city. Of those hundreds, narrowing it down to 10 great ones was a difficult task, but below are 10 of the best.
1. ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’
You can’t have 10 great songs about London without mentioning the famous nursery rhyme. It is quite an educational ditty, in that it is probably based on numerous true occurrences, although this cannot be proven. Although it may have been used before, the first official record of this nursery rhyme is in the seventeenth century.
2. ‘LDN’ – Lilly Allen
‘LDN’ short for ‘London’ was released in September 2006 and hit number 6 in the UK charts. This catchy song is all about the wonderful city of London, and the chorus even says ‘sun is in the sky oh why, oh why, would I want to be anywhere else?’ It’s a very popular and down to earth song that even mentions specific supermarkets by name!
3. ‘Streets of London’ – Ralph McTell
Released in 1974, ‘Streets of London’ was inspired by McTell’s experiences of busking and hitchhiking throughout London. It focuses in on different people’s stories, touching on big issues such as homelessness, loneliness, being ignored, forgotten and even growing old.
4. ‘London Calling’ – The Clash
‘London Calling’ is by the British punk rock band, The Clash, and was released in 1979. The line ‘London calling…’ is repeated numerous times throughout the entire song, which is definitely worth a listen should you get the chance.
5. ‘Warwick Avenue’ – Duffy
Peaking at number 3 on the UK singles chart, ‘Warwick Avenue’ was released in 2008 by singer Duffy. It has since been used on numerous TV shows including ‘Waterloo Road’ which is on BBC 1. This fantastic song focuses on Warwick Avenue, a street in the heart of London.
6. ‘The City’ – Ed Sheeran
‘The City’ by Ed Sheeran is a brilliantly catchy tune that will have you singing along in no time. It talks about the business of London, opening with the line ‘this city never sleeps…’ It is the most newly released song on this guide, and sounds great played acoustically.
7. ‘Waterloo Sunset’ – The Kinks
‘Waterloo Sunset’ was released in 1967 and was written by Ray Davis, one of ‘The Kinks’. He is said to have written it because he walked past Waterloo station everyday as a student on his way to and from art school.
8. ‘Down in the Tube Station at Midnight’ – The Jam
Commonly referred to simply as ‘Tube Station’ for ease, this song is a protest song that was actually banned by the BBC. It does leave you with unanswered questions – but you’ll just have to listen yourself to understand this reference!
9. ‘London’ – The Smiths
Released in 1987 by ‘The Smiths’ this brilliant tune is all about moving to London. It questions ‘do you think you’ve made the right decision this time?’ and talks about life in ‘the big smoke’.
10. ‘London Dungeon’ – The Misfits
In 1979 The Misfits came to London from New Jersey hoping to join up with The Damned, but that didn’t work out. They decided to stick it out and try and make a way for themselves in London anyway. After their arrival, two of the band members ended up getting into a fight while waiting to see The Jam, which resulted in them being arrested and spending two nights in jail in Brixton. It is thought that this experience is what inspired ‘London Dungeon’.
There are so many great songs about London out there that it’s hard to choose just a few, but there we are. These brilliant songs are an eclectic mix that are all musically diverse and cover many different aspects of the marvellous city.
Image credits: Advait Supnekar and TJ Morris