31 Of The Best Songs About Change: Transformation Playlist

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Music has always been part of movements toward change. Thus, it’s not surprising that musicians have been writing about change since time immemorial.

Change is the only thing that’s constant. And pop, rap, and country songwriters all recognize that. No wonder songs about it abound.

In fact, we have come up with a lot of songs that tackle this topic. We tried to narrow it down and came up with 31 of the best songs about change. Read on to find out more.

1. “Changes” By David Bowie

Who better to lead our list than the master of change, David “Ziggy Stardust, aka Aladdin Sane, aka The Thin White Duke, aka Jareth from Labyrinth” Bowie, who seemed to don a new personality every third album or so? The track “Changes” came from his 1971 album Hunky Dory.

Do you remember your parents scoffing at the music you listened to? And then you scoff at what your kids dig? And your dad reminisces about how your grandparents gave him guff about those long-haired Beatles he was listening to? That’s “Changes” in a nutshell.

Bowie sings that everything changes, and it’s the youth that drives progress. If we would all embrace the strange things in life and let them change us, we would evolve into better humans. Isn’t that what we’re all after?

2. “Change The World” By Eric Clapton

Did you know that “Change the World” was a cover? Yeah, nobody else did, either. Eric Clapton covered it for the 1996 John Travolta film Phenomenon soundtrack.

The idea behind this song with “change” in the title is a simple declaration of love. If it were up to him, the singer would pluck a star and give it to his lover. Or make himself king and her, his queen.

In other words, if he had the power to change everything, he would do it so that it’s perfect for her. But then he can’t, so he’d rather they enjoy what they have.

3. “Change” By Taylor Swift

These days, Taylor Swift is one of the world’s biggest stars. But there was a time when she was signed to a tiny label in Nashville, doing all she could to make a splash. Part of that was recording “Change” for a 2008 album geared toward raising money for that year’s Olympic athletes.

Like so many songs about changes, the song lays out that things are changing. But if we are to weather those changes, we have to be strong.

And when everything works out in the end, we’ll be able to celebrate our successes. We refused to give up who and what we are, and we came out stronger on the other side of it.

4. “A Change Is Gonna Come” By Sam Cooke

Not only is “A Change is Gonna Come” one of the most influential songs. It also shows the face of racism. This Sam Cooke song is a soulful ballad that bowed in 1964 at the height of the civil rights movement.

The lyrics speak to the struggles of African Americans during that time. They faced discrimination and violence. In the song, the singer is still hopeful that one day it will change. The song’s emotional message has made it an enduring anthem for social justice movements.

It was a significant departure from Cooke’s earlier upbeat pop hits. But it marked a significant moment in his career as he used his platform to address the racial injustices of his time.

5. “Don’t Change” By INXS

Australian rock band INXS wasn’t a band that qualified as the poster child of the New Wave. But they definitely had a post-punk vibe on display in “Don’t Change” from 1982’s album Shabooh Shoobah.

The song follows someone who has broken away from a bad relationship and moved on. The line “I’m standing here on the ground, The sky above won’t fall down” tells us he has finally found happiness.

The singer goes on to say that he has found a love that he once lost, and it’s safe to say he’s talking about self-love. He has decided to be happy no matter what she does.

6. “Seasons Change” By Exposé

A good chunk of girl-group repertoire is about love and boys and partying. “Seasons Change,” from the 1987 debut album from Exposé, went beyond that.

The song speaks to the theme of change and the cycles of life. The changing of the seasons serves as a metaphor for personal growth and transformation.

“Seasons Change” is not a breakup song, though, despite the line that says, “Seasons change, feelings change.” On the contrary, it talks about growing old with someone. You are willing to sacrifice tomorrow so that you can spend more time now with your loved one.

7. “We Never Change” By Coldplay

Up next is a song with “change” in the lyrics. British rock band Coldplay released “We Never Change” in 2000 from their album Parachutes.

This song is about the nature of change and how hard it can be to stay true to ourselves and who we are. Most of the time, we go back to old destructive habits, and we never really learn. Or change.

And so it becomes a challenge to live a simple existence. It becomes hard to focus on things that are truly important such as having good friends.

8. “The Times They Are A-Changin’” By Bob Dylan

Make all the jokes you want to about Bob Dylan’s vocal delivery. “The Times They Are A-Changin’” outlasts all of them.

The classic protest song was the title track of Dylan’s album The Times They Are A-Changin’. It became an anthem for the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s. And Dylan did it with that voice and one acoustic guitar.

There resides a strident message of resistance and defiance in the song. The singer encourages everyone – writers, critics, senators, congressmen, and mothers and fathers – to “gather ’round” and unite. There is no better to do it than now because things are changing.

9. “Wind Of Change” By Scorpions

Think of modern rock music from Germany, and you’ll likely think of the girl with the balloons and the Scorpions. The rockers, well, rocked, but they scored big with “Wind of Change.” This is a power ballad from their 1990 album Crazy World.

“Wind of Change” is a reflective and optimistic song. It speaks to the end of the Cold War and the changing political landscape of Europe in the early 1990s.

The singer poses one of the biggest questions when it comes to unity. Can’t we be close like brothers? He imagines what it would be like when we’re in that moment when children are free to dream and share their dreams with us.

10. “Changes” By 2pac

The late 2pac, or Tupac Shakur, did a lot of cool and unexpected things in his short life. “Changes” showed off at least one of them, and that was the innovative use of unexpected sampling.

With a sample from Bruce Hornsby and the Range’s “The Way It Is,” “Changes” addresses many of the same issues Hornsby’s song did in the 1980s. There’s racism, poverty, police brutality, and calls for societal change.

In the lyrics, the singer calls for everyone not to wait. We need to make changes from this moment on. Because, whether we like it or not, things don’t remain the same.

11. “I Am Changing” By Jennifer Hudson

Broadway’s Dreamgirls is one of those shows that needs somebody with a tremendous voice. A film version of the show? Meet Jennifer Hudson. She turns in a stellar performance in “I Am Changing.”

In the ballad, the singer goes through personal transformation and growth. She wants to put behind her the past and mistakes she made. She is set not only to change her life but to change for the better.

But to do that, she needs help. She implores her listeners to give her a helping hand so she can start improving her life.

12. “I Can Change” By LCD Soundsystem

Next, we have a number from an American rock band. LCD Soundsystem can be a bit of an acquired taste, but those who embrace the band do so heartily. “I Can Change” stands as a well-rounded intro to the band with its electro-pop and dance-punk leanings.

If we listen to the entire song, we’ll understand that this is about a relationship on the verge of a breakup. But he’s in denial and doesn’t want to break it off with her. He doesn’t want her to leave him, promising her that he would change.

The title and chorus both reflect his desire for redemption and transformation. He would go miles just to save their relationship.

13. “A Change Would Do You Good” By Sheryl Crow

In our next song, Sheryl Crow highlights the things that need to change in a person’s life. “A Change Would Do You Good” was featured on her self-titled 1996 album. It combines the rock, pop, and blues elements that Crow usually uses, along with her clever lyrics.

Notably, the first verse of the song is about the album’s producer, who walked out in the middle of production. The second verse is inspired by Madonna. And the last verse is about Crow.

The song’s title and lyrics suggest a willingness to take risks to improve things. The singer reiterates that change is what people really need.

14. “Change” By Blind Melon

Our next entry, “Change,” is one of those songs that hurt a little bit worse when looking back on it. It appeared on Blind Melon’s debut album in 1992 and contained lyrics about personal transformation and the search for meaning in life.

In the lyrics, the singer asks the listener to be brave in embracing change. Life is about taking risks to grow and evolve.

But it’s not always easy, as there are always challenges along the way. For that, the singer suggests not to give up and “look up way to the sky.” And when you’re at a point when it’s difficult, change.

15. “Changes” By Black Sabbath

Ballad and Black Sabbath don’t always go together. But they do on “Changes” from the band’s album Vol. 4.

The song immediately starts with sad lyrics as we find the singer lamenting the loss of his lover. The rest of the lyrics point out that he cheated on her when his “heart was blinded.” And now he’s got his karma.

His days are filled with loneliness, but regrets are always in the end. When she was gone, that’s only the time he could reflect on his actions. No amount of tears can bring her back now, prompting him to wish he could change the years.

16. “Changes” By Justin Bieber

There was a time when Justin Bieber was just that cute little kid. Since then, he’d been trying to convince the world that he was not that anymore. “Changes” is another entry in the I’m-not-a-kid-anymore oeuvre, this one from 2020.

The song reflects the changes each of us goes through each day. Some days you feel good. Other days you don’t. Some days you have full of energy. And then, one day, you can barely get out of bed.

But through all these changes, the singer wishes to be the best he can be not only for himself but also for those he loves.

17. “Courage To Change” By Sia

There are plenty of songs that mention “change” to mean empowerment. One of those is Sia‘s “Courage to Change.” Here, Sia encourages listeners to find the strength to create positive change in their lives and the world around them.

The most memorable part of this song is when the singer asks, “Have I the courage to change today?” Some of us might not have, as it seems daunting to leave our comfort zones. But the singer promises that we are not alone in this endeavor.

Together, we can stay strong and fight for what we believe in. When we unite, we can achieve anything. And if we want our lives to matter, then we must have the courage to change.

18. “Life Changes” By Thomas Rhett

The first country-music entry on this list comes from singer-songwriter Thomas Rhett. “Life Changes” chronicles his journey through life and the changes he experienced.

The lyrics reference his younger years, love, and family. The singer talks about how he was propelled from being a college student to a country music star.

The song also mentions several notable events in the singer’s life, such as getting married and adopting a daughter. Despite all the changes that took place, he wouldn’t have them any other way. After all, he can’t stop these changes.

19. “That’s How You Change The World” By The Newsboys

The Christian rock band Newsboys give us “That’s How You Change the World.” This energetic and upbeat pop song was featured on their 2013 album Restart. It features powerful lyrics about the transformative power of love, faith, and service.

The singer calls on listeners to show love to the world, be kind, and basically be good people. He believes that these actions are how we can make the world better.

The song also encourages listeners to embrace their unique gifts and talents and use them to spread love and positivity.

20. “Waiting On The World To Change” By John Mayer

While the other songs on our list talk about making changes now, John Mayer‘s song says the opposite. “Waiting on the World to Change” came out in 2006 at the height of the world’s love affair with this crooner.

The song’s lyrics reflect what many people feel about the world. Political leaders seem indifferent to issues that matter to young people.

The verses lament that the youth are misunderstood. And the chorus addresses feelings of helplessness in changing things. There’s hope, though, as Mayer suggests that if enough people come together and demand change, it can happen.

21. “You Can’t Change That” By Raydio

Four decades later and the message of Raydio‘s “You Can’t Change That” still rings true. The song combined funk and R&B and made its way to #9 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1979.

The “that” in the title that can’t be changed is how the singer feels about his love interest. His love is so true that no one can change it, even her, even her flaws.

And so even if she changes her appearance, or her address and telephone, she can’t stop him from loving her. She can try, though, but one thing remains the same. He’ll still love her no matter what.

22. “Change” By Christina Aguilera

Singer-songwriter Christina Aguilera helped pen the song “Change.” This was dedicated to the victims of the mass shooting at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando in 2016.

The powerful ballad is spreading a positive message, though. The lyrics ask people to come together to effect positive changes in the world. And the singer is hoping for the day when there is hope, when we can be ourselves, and when love rules.

We may be different in terms of skin color and our upbringing. But “we’re all the same when everybody’s breathing.” These things shouldn’t dictate how others should treat us.

23. “Change” By Tears For Fears

When we say “change,” it’s not positive all the time. In fact, Tears for Fears shows the dark side of changing in their 1983 single “Change.”

The song may not be a huge hit for the band. But it certainly leaves a lasting message for the listeners. At its core, “Changes” is about how difficult it is to maintain a relationship because people change.

Sometimes, when two people have been together for a long time, they fall into routines. They lose the spark and the life. They change, and that is inevitable.

24. “Change” By Tracy Chapman

Long after the limelight she found with “Fast Car,” Tracy Chapman wrote “Change” for her album Where You Live, a thoughtful release that critics adored.

The song addresses the need for social and political change in the world. It asks uncomfortable questions like, “If you knew you would die today… would you change?”

What the song imparts is that things happen for a reason. But if you were given the power to go back to that moment, would you do things differently? Would you go the other way even if you don’t know the outcome? Would you be willing to go out of your comfort zone to change your ways?

25. “Changes” By Ziggy Marley

In the 2011 song “Changes,” Ziggy Marley sings about changes amidst injustice and greed. And if we don’t change soon, there will come a point of no return.

In the lyrics, the singer declares that it’s time for changes “for ordinary people now.” He implores everyone to make positive changes, but this is easier said than done because there are challenges that stand in the way of changing for good.

For instance, the singer complains that it’s about money these days. People don’t seem to find contentment in what they have. If only they unite, then it’s possible to see the changes we need.

26. “Everybody’s Changing” By Keane

The English band Keane isn’t the most famous band in the world, but they’re pretty good at what they do. Just listen to “Everybody’s Changing” from their Hopes and Fears album.

Its lyrics describe growing up and the changes that come with that inevitability. You look around and you notice people – especially old friends – moving away or moving on with their lives. While they seem to have planned out their lives, you are stuck where you are, wondering why they suddenly change.

The song has an element of sadness that tugs at heartstrings. At one point, we have been where the singer stands. All around us are people who we thought we knew. And when they change, you don’t feel the same way.

27. “One Man Can Change The World” By Big Sean Ft. John Legend And Kanye West

Rapper Big Sean has something to prove in “One Man Can Change the World.” He collaborated with John Legend and Kanye West to tell the listeners about the power of individual action to make a positive impact on the world.

The title and the chorus do not refer to one giant action from one person. Rather, change is brought about by small everyday acts of kindness we can all perform on a daily basis.

That’s what we can do. We have the potential to change, creating a ripple effect that can encourage others to do the same.

28. “Some People Change” By Montgomery Gentry

The American country music duo Montgomery Gentry is right to say that “Some People Change.” And the rest of the song on this list would agree, given that change can’t be stopped.

What’s unspoken in the title makes the song one about conscious choices. Do we want to be better? Do better? Make the world better? Any change that’s headed our way needs to be initiated by us.

In fact, the two characters in the song show that. In the first verse, we find a man who inherited his racist beliefs from his father. Thankfully, “the grace of God got in the way” and he becomes a new man. The second verse follows an alcoholic woman who decides to kick her habit to have a better life.

29. “Yes I’m Changing” By Tame Impala

The dream pop of “Yes I’m Changing” might be one of Tame Impala’s stronger songs. It’s got the band’s usual hazy soundscape, ethereal vocals, and the band’s signature trippy instrumentation.

The song ends up as a meditation on personal growth. The singer’s statement, “Yes, I’m changing,” gives us a glimpse into the process of change. Here, he goes through personal growth and transformation. It’s something that he can’t stop.

Seeing the power of change, the singer implores the listeners to heed that call for change. One only needs to “arise and walk” and change for the better.

30. “Changing Of The Seasons” By Two Door Cinema Club

The seasons change every three months or so. And so they work as a great metaphor for the inevitability of change in our lives. Irish band Two Door Cinema Club dropped “Changing of the Seasons” in 2013, giving the world a driving beat and thoughtful lyrics.

The song’s message of embracing change and living in the present moment continues to resonate with audiences today. The lyrics find the singer realizing that he’s moved on from his ex. Not quite, but at least he’s getting there.

He plays with the idea that it’s because of the changing seasons. Or he just doesn’t love her anymore.

31. “Today I’m Gonna Try And Change The World” By Johnny Reid

In some ways, our next song has a “One Man Can Change the World” vibe to it. “Today I’m Gonna Try and Change the World” is a country pop song by Scottish-Canadian singer-songwriter Johnny Reid.

The song contains a message of optimism and the power of one person to make a difference in the world. The title itself is a declaration of intention. It emphasizes the idea that even small actions can have a big impact.

The song encourages listeners to embrace the present moment and take action to create positive change in their own lives and in the world around them.

Summing Up Our List Of Change Songs

As the songs above showed you, change is the one thing we all experience at every stage of life. It’s a universal, constant thing that no one can avoid.

Thankfully, songwriters were able to capture the essence of change in songs. These will serve as more than just a reminder for all of us.

In the meantime, we hope you were able to resonate with the messages of the songs on our list. Don’t be afraid to change. It’s inevitable, so we might as well embrace it.

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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.