Top 15+ Song About New York Of All Time Update 2022

We’ve compiled a list of 15 of the greatest songs ever sung about New York City. Some of your favorites may have slipped our minds in the shuffle, but here are the songs about New York City that mean the most to our team and contributors. We hope they give you a taste of what it’s like to live in New York City.

1. Nas: “N.Y. State of Mind”

Nas’ Illmatic helped set the bar for East Coast hip hop before 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G. fought for their own coasts. “N.Y. State of Mind” is a perfect example of Nas’ poetic brilliance. Some of hip-most hop’s memorable phrases are delivered by him on this album. For hip hop to be seen as poetry, it had to include Q-Tip and Pete Rock’s modest production. In the words of Max Blau:

2. The Pogues: “Fairytale of New York”

The perfect antidote to Christmas carols and postcards of New York City’s skyline. Whether or whether you’re a fan of mistletoe and icy Fifth Avenue strolls, this time of year and place may be just right for you. In the drunk tank, you may be seeking for meaning after giving up your aspirations for a partner you now despise, while your family members are fighting and tearing each other apart in an alcohol-fueled frenzy.

When it comes to describing this song, “emotional turmoil” is an understatement. This bitter masterpiece is full of bitterness and desire, but it never fails to maintain its lovely feeling of longing. New York City and Ireland collide in a unique way. We wouldn’t change a thing. In the words of Allison Keene:

3. The Velvet Underground: “I’m Waiting For The Man”

As far as Velvet Underground classics go, this may be one of the greatest ever written. David Bowie, Beck, and Belle & Sebastian have all covered the thumping track about waiting for whatever $26 can get you, but no one does it quite like the original. In the words of Bonnie Stiernberg:

4. Leonard Cohen: “First We Take Manhattan”

We’ve never heard Cohen sing like this before, as a cosmopolitan thrill-seeker and provocateur, and it’s exciting. “Jazz Police” later in the album adds to the sense of intrigue, and Cohen’s booming baritone makes the listener feel like an accomplice. What precisely is the plot? The ultimate aim, according to the chorus’s speaker, is world dominance. Let’s get this done together, Leonard. In the words of Nate Logsdon:

5. Boogie Down Productions: “South Bronx”

The iconic hip-hop collective Boogie Down Productions paid respect to the city that gave birth to the genre with this 1987 composition. As the lead song from their debut album Criminal Minded, released the same year, “South Bronx” is famous for its involvement in “The Bridge Wars,” which pitted Queens rapper MC Shan against BDP when he released “The Bridge.” KRS-trailblazing One’s career as a poet and a proficient rapper was begun by the song’s memorable sampling of James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing.” As an important part of hip hop history, “South Bronx” has endured as one of the most instantly known songs of all time. In the words of Candace McDuffie:

6. ‘Autumn in New York’ by Billie Holiday (1952)

It was Billie Holiday and pianist Oscar Peterson that brought Vernon Duke’s 1934 jazz standard, “It’s Good to Live It Again,” to its fullest emotional expression in his wistful rendition with Billie Holiday. To fall in love with Duke’s melancholy music and beautiful lyrics (“Glistening people and shimmering clouds in canyons of steel”) is easy.

7. ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ by Lou Reed (1972)

In this haunting Lou Reed song, he depicts the disillusioned New Yorkers who are driven to the city like flies by the promise of a sliver of acceptance if not full salvation. In fact, even the track’s characteristic sound – tubby, fretless electric mixed with smooth, fretless acoustic bass – wasn’t without its challenges: An interview with Herbie Flowers (a session player who played both instruments) in 2005 stated that it was all about the money.

8. ‘N.Y. State of Mind’ by Nas (1994)

‘I never sleep ’cause sleep is the cousin of death’ is one of the rap legend’s most famous lines, and this sinister, piano-driven track introduced the world to the studied, Dickensian style of street reporting that would become Nas’s trademark, all but transporting listeners to the street corners of his native Queensbridge.

9. ‘New York State of Mind’ by Billy Joel (1976)

However, Billy Joel’s deep new standard exalts the benefits of living at home in New York City, no matter how melancholy he may be feeling at the time. A jazzy piano and a saxophone line are not careless so much as resolutely inured to caring. “It all boils down to reality, and everything’s alright with me because I let it pass,” he sings.

10. ‘Subway Train’ by New York Dolls (1973)

In this Stonesy glam classic, David Johansen translates the emotion of country bluesmen who couldn’t keep their minds off the train to filthy New York City in the early 1970s. As it turns out, the man is infatuated with a hooker who must return to Daddy’s side—and the conductor believes he’s ‘crazy’ because of his frequent and aimless subway travel. With Johnny Thunders’s lead guitar playing like a train whistle, “Big Apple Blues” is complete.

11. ‘Down and Out in New York City’ by James Brown (1973)

With a wounded yowl and one of his funkiest-ever rhythms, Brown sings, “I was born in New York City on a Monday,” in the timeless theme to Blaxploitation masterpiece Black Caesar. An harsh metropolis is shown in this section as the site where dreams develop and then fade.

12. ‘New York City Cops’ by The Strokes (2001)

Nina, the desire to leave New York City, and a lot of naive police officers are all included in Julian Casablancas’s tale of a night on the streets of American evenings. Despite the fact that it may not have been the most memorable flip-off from the Sonic Hipster Pageant winners of 2001, it is still one of our faves.

13. ‘NYC’ by Interpol (2002)

It was in 2002 when Interpol provided the music to New York’s gloomy side. Disaffected faces and fine clothes were Interpol’s counterpoint to the Strokes’ exuberant enthusiasm. As Paul Banks sighs phrases like, ‘The subway is a porno,’ the band plays gloomy hooks.’ Paul, we’ve all been there.

14. ‘New York, New York’ by Original studio cast (On the Town) (1960)

On the Town, a 1944 musical by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, featured a trio of sailors on shore leave in a ‘helluva town’ (the lyrics had to be changed to ‘beautiful town’ in the 1949 film version). They’re almost leaping at the chance to explore it, sparked by the fanfare of Leonard Bernstein’s brass.

15. ‘New York Groove’ by Ace Frehley (1978)

When it came out in 1978, this Ace Frehley song was the only breakout smash from the matched set of Kiss solo albums that were released. For good reason: He didn’t pen it. Hello, an English glam rock band, scored a small hit with Russ Ballard’s 1975 composition “New York Groove.” The crunching-footsteps beat of drummer Anton Fig may have had its start as a result of Frehley’s supposed inspiration from Times Square hookers.

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