13 Of The Best Songs About Fire, Flames And Burning

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

For years, musicians and songwriters have come up with songs written about fire. It’s the perfect element to talk about so many things… passion, desire, destruction, or drama.

You can see that from the list we have come up with about this topic. This is by no means an exhaustive compilation, but we tried to give you the ones that present fire in its blazing glory.

Almost all of the songs you’ll find here use fire as a symbol. Without further ado, we are bringing the heat with 13 of the best songs about fire, flames or burning!

1. “Girl On Fire” By Alicia Keys

The list of songs with fire in the title begins with Alicia Keys‘ “Girl on Fire.” You guess it, the song revolves around a girl that represents the female population. Her qualities, attitude, and strength are a statement to all women going through life’s ups and downs.

Keys begins the song with an introduction for the girl who’s “on fire.” The phrase suggests that she is someone passionate and does not easily give up.

The girl is definitely not perfect. She goes through challenges like everyone else. And the song says “she’s a lonely girl.” But that doesn’t put out the fire in her. She’s determined to be relentless, strong, and fearless.

2. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” By Billy Joel

Music superstar Billy Joel released “We Didn’t Start the Fire” in 1989. It has been burning up people’s playlists ever since. The song lists significant events between 1949 (his birth year) and 1989.

The song is a reminder that the world keeps spinning and things happen, whether we plan them or not. He insists “we didn’t start the fire.” This alludes to the idea that each generation inherits the good and bad effects of previous generations’ decisions.

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” highlights historically meaningful events and people such as Red China, the H Bomb, and Trouble in the Suez. Take note, though, that not all of them are bad. The song also mentions “Peter Pan, Elvis Presley and Disneyland.”

3. “Fire And Rain” By James Taylor

Continuing with our list of songs is James Taylor‘s “Fire and Rain.” This heartwarming ballad is from his Sweet Baby James album. The single peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The song examines Taylor’s emotions after the death of his close friend. It contains themes of regret, lost time, and painful goodbyes.

Also referenced in the song is the phrase “pieces of flying machines” lying around, leading some listeners to think that he’s talking about a crashed airplane. But Taylor is singing about his failed new band, the Flying Machine.

4. “Burning Down The House” By Talking Heads

Don’t take the title literally. New wave band Talking Heads‘ most significant hit in America was “Burning Down the House.”

Did you know that the title was inspired by the concert-goers at a Parliament-Funkadelic concert? They were chanting the phrase ‘burn down the house!’ The song explores the notion of fighting fire with fire as a way to destroy something that has trapped you.

The title itself is a metaphor for fleeing and freedom. Talking Heads embraced the idea that fire provides escape and sometimes cleansing for the heart and soul.

5. “Set Fire To The Rain” By Adele

Have you been in a relationship where red flags abound and yet you still loved that person? You can definitely relate to Adele‘s 2011 hit song, “Set Fire to the Rain” from her album 21.

The song begins with how this guy comes into her life and saves her. This could mean that the girl is at a point in her life when everything is a mess. We can’t blame her for falling hard, as told by the line, “but my knees were far too weak.”

Then reality sets in. He lies to her and plays games where he always wins. Despite these red flags, she still loves her, even after they separate.

6. “Cease Fire” By Christina Aguilera

Another song that uses fire metaphorically is Christina Aguilera‘s “Cease Fire.” It’s a reflection of the battlefield of love, where the singer begs her lover to “cease fire make it stop.”

Being in a relationship involves fights that feel like being on a battlefield. To get through it, the couple must work together and fight for each other. However, this is not what happens always. Sometimes fights put a gap between couples and they feel like they are fighting against each other.

And so the singer asks for a cease-fire because she’s tired of fighting. It’s too much because she feels alone. Their fights are pointless and they only end up hurting each other.

7. “Great Balls Of Fire” By Jerry Lee Lewis

Fire is definitely the right word to describe how you feel about someone. Just check out Jerry Lee Lewis‘s “Great Balls of Fire.” This was his most recognized song, selling over a million copies in 1957 in less than two weeks.

You’re probably wondering about the origin of the song title. This expression was popular in the southern states back in the day. It came from the biblical reference that fire symbolizes the presence of God.

The song suggests that when Lewis is around his sweetheart, it arouses the same feelings as being in the presence of God.

8. “Fight Fire With Fire” By Metallica

Here’s a song with “fire” in the lyrics. From the 1984 album Ride the Lightning by Metallica, “Fight Fire with Fire” has some really hair-raising words. The song depicts the world’s impending apocalypse that might result from nuclear warfare.

The lyrics mimic the tension and power of the music. “Fight Fire with Fire” starts with an acoustic melody. Then it ends with the sound effect of a deadly nuclear explosion.

The ending of the song repeats the following line over and over: “Fight fire with fire (fire).” It reflects the band’s feelings about nuclear war and society’s fear of it.

9. “Smoke On The Water” By Deep Purple

Where there is smoke, there is fire, right? Deep Purple fans would undoubtedly answer yes. “Smoke on the Water” was released in May 1973, inspired by an actual event that happened to the band.

When Deep Purple was in Switzerland, they saw a casino go up in flames. Apparently, somebody in the audience blasted a flare gun at the ceiling. There is a line in the song that actually says, “some stupid with a flare gun.”

The “smoke on the water” that evolved into the song’s title also came from that incident. It referred to the smoke outstretching over Lake Geneva from the burning building.

10. “Kerosene” By Miranda Lambert

A lot of people would definitely relate to the meaning behind country music superstar Miranda Lambert‘s “Kerosene.” The song came out in 2005 from her same-title debut album.

“Kerosene” is a snappy song featuring electric guitar riffs and harmonica rhythms. The lyrics talk about revenge and a scorned lover out to get the people who hurt her.

The singer finds out that her lover cheated on her and is now with a new fling. But she’s not gonna sit around and cry over it. She’s going to get her sweet revenge. Unfortunately, the experience makes her give up on love, noting that “love’s given up on me.”

11. “Setting The World On Fire” By Kenny Chesney

Recorded by country music artist Kenny Chesney as a duet with pop singer Pink, “Setting the World on Fire” describes the story of a developing relationship and the feelings and emotions that specific time carries. It’s about two people on the brink of falling in love.

The story behind the song was inspired by co-writer John Osborne’s experience. He won a Grammy and he and his wife were staying at a hotel. That night became a memorable experience as the couple drank champagne.

Some things that happened that night made their way into the lyrics. There is a line about how they sang in the hotel’s hallway. And then another line about shouting out the window. That night, for them, was an amazing moment. Now immortalized in “Setting the World on Fire.”

12. “Hot Like Fire” By Aaliyah

From Aaliyah‘s second album, One in a Million, “Hot Like Fire” is a song that mentions fire from a passionate perspective. It features a bouncing beat and snippets from the rapper Timbaland.

In the lyrics, fire is a metaphor for passion and power. Aaliyah expresses the intensity of her feelings and longing while waiting for the man to acknowledge she is the one for him.

There are lines in the song that talk about not rushing a relationship. The song is a reminder that couples should take the time to slow down.

13. “Through The Fire” By Chaka Khan

Rounding out our list is “Through the Fire” by the fabulous Chaka Khan. The song reached #60 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and #15 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts.

“Through the Fire” is a song guaranteed to draw the emotions out of you. It’s a romantic ballad about someone so convinced that she’s met the love of her life that she’s ready to go through anything for him. She can go “even through the fire” just to prove her love and be with him.

The song is a little saddening mainly due to the man’s doubts having come from heartbreak. We can’t blame him, though. People like him become wary of those who want to become a part of his life, even with the best of intentions.

Summing Up Our List Of Fire Songs

There you have it, our favorite songs to do with fire. What do you think of these songs? Surely you’ll agree that each one is able to show what fire stands for.

It could be a metaphor for something positive, such as passion in relationships. Or negative, such as destruction and revenge.

We hope you liked reading about the fire from the songs on this list and have found new favorites to add to your playlist.

Photo of author

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.