21 Of The Best Songs About Animals

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

There wouldn’t be enough space to discuss how important animals are to humans. Suffice it to say that for a lot of people, life won’t be complete without the company of their favorite animals.

Pets or not, animals have drawn the interest of songwriters and become the subjects of countless songs. They possess certain characteristics that would benefit humans if the latter would emulate them.

And we still have a lot to learn from these creatures. But for now, let’s go over 21 of the best songs about animals. Enjoy reading!

1. “Karma Chameleon” By Culture Club

Let’s start with one of the most iconic pop songs from the ’80s. “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club serves as an anthem for shifting relationship dynamics. The lyrics present a metaphor for adaptation since a chameleon can change its color to adjust to its surroundings.

This metaphor references the complex and varied ways chameleons respond to their environment. Also, lead vocalist Boy George himself was often glittering in animal prints and patterns on stage. This further connected the language of the song with actual wildlife.

“Karma Chameleon” is a celebration of human and animal resilience. This is an example of how we can find strength in embracing and growing with change.

2. “White Rabbit” By Jefferson Airplane

Looking for a song that captures the imagination? Give Jefferson Airplane‘s “White Rabbit” a try. The song was released in 1967 and was included in the album Surrealistic Pillow.

The lyrics reference several animals in the song. There’s the white rabbit, “a hookah-smoking caterpillar,” and a talking dormouse. These animals provide insight into the whimsical and mysterious tone of the song. As a result, it plays out like a storybook coming to life.

Notably, the lyrics reference Alice in Wonderland as well. As such, it might be interpreted as a symbolic narrative about following one’s dreams.

3. “I Am The Walrus” By The Beatles

The classic hit “I Am the Walrus” by The Beatles includes wordplay and clever references to animals. Amusingly, the chorus contains nonsense words. According to John Lennon, these come from the book Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce.

Some samples of nonsense lines include “sitting on a corn flake” and “elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna.” In addition, the lyrics hint at being conscious of some animal spirit and aware of the social system.

This combination of allusions to animals and humorous quips surrounding them make this track an exciting look into what creatures can stand for symbolically.

4. “A Horse With No Name” By America

Charming listeners since its release in 1972, we’ve got “A Horse With No Name” by America. This classic rock piece became America’s first and most commercially successful single.

Lyrics-wise, the song compares the vastness of the desert to an equally vast hopefulness. It tells the idea of giving up our conventional names and identities so that we can become something new.

Just like a nameless horse wandering the desert for refuge. In the song, the horse is a metaphor for something we can use to escape a chaotic life toward a place of peace.

5. “Eye Of The Tiger” By Survivor

Thanks to the Rocky III film, Survivor‘s “Eye of the Tiger” became a classic ’80s anthem. It gained commercial success after peaking at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for six straight weeks.

The song describes a boxer who has a boxing fight to train for. It’s not simply a matter of training his body, but his mind as well, to be able to win that fight. It’s about finding that inner strength to fight for what matters.

The chorus starts with, “It’s the eye of the tiger,” with the tiger here referring to a human being. Tigers are known as fearsome predators who never back down from a fight. The boxer wants to adopt this characteristic to survive the fight and emerge the victor.

6. “Crocodile Rock” By Elton John

Up next is a song that mentions “crocodile” as a type of animal in the title. Elton John‘s “Crocodile Rock” is truly a classic in the music world, heard at karaoke bars across the globe.

The song speaks to all generations with its simple lyrics about enjoying rock ‘n roll. The slightly goofy, irresistibly catchy chorus has become an icon from the ’70s. The singer is basically saying that when you hear a rock ‘n roll song, you can’t help moving your feet.

However, the singer observes that the years witness the quality of rock music fading out. Despite that, he appreciates that the rock genre during his younger years is the best.

7. “Dog Days Are Over” By Florence + The Machine

When you hear “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + The Machine, you know it’s about something good. After all, the phrase means that the days of inactivity are done.

The song opens with, “Happiness hit her like a train on a track.” This tells us that happiness comes to the singer unexpectedly. The first verse tells us that she does everything to avoid it, perhaps due to disbelief or fear of disappointment.

But “dog days are over,” as repeated in the chorus. Dog days refer to the hot days between July and August. This weather makes dogs sleep or lie around all day. In any case, it’s about stagnation or inactivity. The song says that these days are over and good days are ahead.

Related: Next up, check out our list of songs about dogs here.

8. “Blackbird” By The Beatles

Our next song, The Beatles‘ “Blackbird,” has taken on a deeper meaning over the years. On the surface, the song is about a blackbird that must learn to fly to freedom despite its broken wings.

Yet many music experts interpret the lyrics as an analogy for civil rights activists fighting for equality in the United States at that time. The listener can relate it to the struggles of animals fighting for survival.

Yet another interpretation involves the blackbird being a metaphor for a black girl during the civil rights movement. The song urges her to fight despite her “broken wings.”

9. “Free Bird” By Lynyrd Skynyrd

Another song with an animal in the lyrics is “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. While its lyrical content has nothing to do with birds, the title itself implies freedom.

The song reminds us of a life without boundaries and the notion of living courageously. In the lyrics, the singer is consoling his lover for his decision to leave. He is a “free bird,” and there’s nothing she can do to change that.

The singer longs to see and go to a lot of places, and being with her keeps him from doing that. Though he is apologetic for hurting her, he knows he’s got to pursue his dreams and take risks.

10. “She Wolf” By Shakira

2009 hit single “She Wolf” by Shakira is a full-fledged musical adventure for any listener’s ears. The song takes its listeners on an intriguing journey, inviting them to explore their wild side.

Shakira’s iconic voice gives the song a perfect blend of power and finesse. She sings about how a certain man wants her to be a “domesticated girl.” But she has a wild side that wants to come out tonight.

And so she’s on the lookout for a lover who will indulge that wild side. Someone who would love to see the she-wolf in her come out.

Related: For more songs about wolves, read our post here.

11. “Who Let the Dogs Out” By Baha Men

Released in June 2000, “Who Let the Dogs Out” by Baha Men has become an iconic classic, particularly among animal lovers. Its catchy tune and lively beats make it enjoyable to listen to, but there’s more to the song than great vibes.

In its entirety, “Who Let the Dogs Out” is a man-bashing song. We find the singer describing a party in full swing, with everyone having a good time. Just when things are going great, “fellas start the name callin’… and the girls respond to the call.”

How do they respond? A woman shouts, “who let the dogs out?” The dogs, in this case, are men. This actually shows a reversal of roles, seeing as how women can name-call just as much as men can.

12. “The Fox (What Does The Fox Say)” By Ylvis

Our next entry is probably just one of a few songs that mention several animals. “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say)” by Ylvis is a comical and catchy song mainly focusing on the sounds of various animals.

While it focuses on the fox, Ylvis also includes other animals for comedic effect. The song includes a dog, cat, bird, and mouse, just to name a few. But the sound of a fox is what catches the attention here.

Apparently, or at least according to Ylvis, the fox makes a lot of sounds. These range from “ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!” to “wa-wa-way-do, wub-wid-bid-dum-way-do, wa-wa-way-do.”

The premise of the song makes it entertaining for audiences of all ages. It’s an innovation in modern music, combining humorous lyrics with captivating instrumentals.

13. “Baby Shark” By Pinkfong

First of all, “Baby Shark” by Pinkfong is not a song that requires deep analysis. It’s simply an enjoyable sing-along that celebrates our favorite aquatic creatures and captivates kids when it’s played. Parents play the song more for their kids’ entertainment.

But indulge us in telling you what the song is about. Apparently, “Baby Shark” was created as a campfire song and inspired by the movie Jaws.

The song introduces the members of a shark family, starting with the baby shark until the grandpa shark. To make it more entertaining, the kids can use their hands to imitate a shark’s jaws while singing.

14. “Hound Dog” By Elvis Presley

Released in 1956, Elvis Presley‘s “Hound Dog” quickly became a classic rock and roll anthem. He copied Big Mama Thornton’s version of the song, which was released three years earlier. In his own version, Presley entranced the audience with his infectious energy.

In the lyrics, “hound dog” refers to a person whom the singer finds annoying. It’s not clear who this person is or what exactly they did to bring about the singer’s ire.

But what the song tells us is that this person pretends to be high class. The singer sees them for who they are and declares they are not his friend.

15. “Little Lion Man” By Mumford & Sons

Up next is “Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons. This 2009 song was the folk-rock band’s debut single from their debut album, Sigh No More.

In the lyrics, we find the singer talking to his younger self about all that he has done in life. The first verse has the singer reminding himself that he wasn’t as strong as he should be in the beginning.

As the song progresses, it becomes clear that two forces are fighting within him. He wants to be independent, but at the same time, he feels like a child. Perhaps this confusion over his identity is what the title refers to.

16. “Bulls On Parade” By Rage Against The Machine

Up next is “Bulls on Parade” by American rock band Rage Against the Machine. The song is a commentary on the US military’s activities, particularly where spending is concerned.

In North American slang, “bulls on parade” means there’s a police or military presence around. Rage Against the Machine uses the metaphor as a warning to citizens.

The line “weapons not food, not homes, not shoes” shows the reality of how the military prioritizes spending on war over more pressing needs. Worse, arms manufacturers encourage war, as proven by the line “just feed the war cannibal animal.”

17. “Wild Horses” By The Rolling Stones

There’s something special about the Rolling Stones‘ classic track, “Wild Horses.” An anthem of devotion and love, this song has captivated listeners since its release in 1971.

Sonically, it’s a stunningly beautiful song that elicits a feeling of longing and passion for that special someone. Its dreamy quality has even caused some people to believe it’s about a romantic relationship gone wrong.

But if you listen to the song’s first verse, you’ll find a relationship that’s easy in the beginning. Even in hardships, the couple is inseparable. Not even “wild horses” can drag him away from her.

18. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” By The Tokens

The 1961 tune “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” shows us the power of nature and its creatures. When first released in 1961 by The Tokens, the song captivated listeners with its doo-wop style lyrics and catchy beat. These allow them to feel aligned with animals in a way melodies can only reach.

The song has since been used in various media over the decades, including TV shows and movies. And let’s face it, how many other songs about lions get that kind of treatment?

Up to this day, a lot of people are familiar with this song. Perhaps not with the entire lyrics, but the beat and that “weeheeheehee dee heeheeheehee weeoh aweem away” in the beginning are unmistakable.

19. “Bat Out Of Hell” By Meat Loaf

Running at almost 10 minutes, “Bat Out of Hell” by Meat Loaf is another song about an animal. This time, it’s a creature of the night and the title means “to move very quickly.”

With vivid imagery from beginning to end, the song revolves around tragedy and forbidden love. We find the singer enjoying one night with a lover. He considers her the only thing that’s “pure and good and right.” But come morning, he has to be gone “like a bat out of hell.”

Notably, the tune was intended as a motorcycle crash song based on several lines, such as, “And the last thing I see is my heart… still beating, Breaking out of my body and flying away.”

20. “I Love My Dog” By Cat Stevens

Since its release in 1966, “I Love My Dog” by Cat Stevens has been pleasing pet lovers. There’s something special about the mellow sound of Stevens’ tribute to animal companionship, and it’s easy to hear why it calls to so many.

We can all relate to the sentiments expressed in the lyrics. Here, the singer expresses his love for both his dog and his love interest. But our furry friend seems to weigh more for the singer.

First, the dog only asks for food and needs love from him. In return, his dog has its undying love and loyalty for him. And whatever happens, “my dog will always come through.” No doubt the singer loves his pet very much.

21. “Slow Cheetah” By Red Hot Chili Peppers

The American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers is known for its music that blurs genre lines and constantly delights listeners. “Slow Cheetah” from 2006’s Stadium Arcadium is no exception.

The lyrics further this musical theme by harmoniously weaving animal-inspired references. Far from simply being an ode to an animal, the song paints a picture of someone living in the fast lane. In the process, he lives life thoughtlessly and with reckless abandon.

In the song, the slow cheetah is a metaphor for life. We can appreciate life more if we slow down and really look around us. We can enjoy the moment as it happens and not wonder where time has gone.

Summing Up Our List Of Animal Songs

Now that we are at the end of our list, it’s clear that there are plenty of unique songs out there about animals. Whether they have deep meanings to dig into or are simply fun songs to listen to, we suggest you add these to your playlist.

So we hope you enjoyed our list today and feel more appreciation for animals. We may be smarter than them, but there’s nothing to lose if we learn from certain aspects that these animals have.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.