23 Of The Best Songs About Respect Of All Time

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Imagine how chaotic it would be if people disregarded respect. Our world would be in more commotion than it already is.

Now imagine if everyone gets out of their way to respect people. We’ll probably be in a better place now because there will be harmony. We are thinking and taking action beyond selfish reasons.

You’re in the right place if you also believe that respect begets respect. Because today, we are presenting you a list of 23 of the best songs about respect of all time. Read on to find out more.

1. “Respect” By Aretha Franklin

Released in 1967, “Respect” is one of the most popular and recognizable songs about respect. It’s performed by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, as she touts confidence in knowing what the definition of respect means to her by spelling out the word in a spunky manner.

She sings about her man being gone from home and how she respects him even during his absence. Franklin asks that her man gives her the same respect when he arrives home from his long journey away from home.

The song became a feminist anthem, emboldening women in the ’70s to seek equal rights and respect in all aspects of life. It also earned Franklin two Grammy awards and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

2. “Money, Power, Respect” By The Lox Ft. DMX And Lil’ Kim

There are no holds barred in this rap single from 1998. “Money, Power, Respect” highlights that respect comes from the status of a high-profile celebrity in society. At least that’s what the Lox, DMX, and Lil’ Kim believe.

In the song, the Lox raps about how obtaining money and power maintains the respect that others have for the group. Lil’ Kim then comes in with the chorus highlighting how these key aspects are the name of the game of life.

Lastly, DMX quips with a quick verse asserting the thug mentality of the streets that maintains respect for a gangster.

The song reached #18 on Billboard Hot 100 and the top spot on the Hot Rap Singles chart.

3. “Freedom” By Various Female R&B And Soul Artists

Our next song, “Freedom,” is a 1995 star-studded cover of Joi Elaine Gilliam’s song. It features over 60 major as well as up-and-coming African-American female artists and groups, including Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Aaliyah, and many others.

Recorded as the theme song of the Panther movie, “Freedom” is a tribute to all the notable women from the previous decades. These women played an important role as social activists promoting freedom and women’s empowerment.

The song ranked among the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1995. Notably, it also peaked at #10 on R&B and #45 on the Pop singles chart.

4. “Boss” By Fifth Harmony

This 2015 single from Fifth Harmony shows that every woman is a boss in her own right. In “Boss,” the girl group touts that they work for their money the way their mothers taught them.

It might seem that Fifth Harmony prioritizes net worth as the main avenue for obtaining respect. However, “Boss” delves deeper into the definition of respect. It states that women working towards their career and personal goals in a man-driven world is a feat in itself.

Not only that. The song says confidence, independence, and uniqueness are enough for women to demand respect.

5. “I’m Gonna Give You Respect” By Marvin Gaye

You have to give it to Marvin Gaye, otherwise known as The Prince of Soul or The Prince of Motown, for showing respect for his woman in the 1973 R&B and Soul hit, “I’m Gonna Give You Respect.”

In the song with “respect” in the title, it highlights how friends and naysayers are warning him that his girl will do him wrong. But because of the tight-knit bond he has built with her, he will not give up what they have.

He respects his girl and tells her how she is everything he has been looking for in a woman. With her in his life, his search for love is over. And he is thankful to have found someone as astounding and distinct as her.

6. “Show Some Respect” By Bobby Wills

A little respect goes a long way. This is what Bobby Wills highlights in his 2012 country hit, “Show Some Respect.”

Wills states in the song that when you show respect to someone, they will respect you back. He highlights other scenarios where you should show respect to others. One such is for a young kid performing to a crowd with his beat-up guitar.

Another scenario is a farmer’s son borrowing his father’s vehicle. He doesn’t know what his father has to go through to buy the car. He should at least drive it carefully. With this, Wills concludes that respect is mutual. Everyone should have character traits so the world can be a better place.

7. “Respect” By Notorious B.I.G.

Coming in with another rap throwback jam from 1994, Notorious B.I.G. gives us “Respect.” He is on a mission to continue to receive respect from the music industry and his fans until the day he dies.

The song begins with a whole verse dedicated to his birth. The doctor even pronounces that “He’s gonna be a bad boy.” The singer further discusses his life in the streets at age 13 when he is doing things no 13-year-old should be doing at that age.

Fast forward to the year he released the song, and he is proud of how far he has come in his rap career. To the gangsters still running the street, Notorious B.I.G. tells them to live their best lives.

8. “Respect Yourself” By The Staple Singers

This 1972 hit single by Staple Singers touches on a very important topic. “Respect Yourself” highlights that if you do not have self-respect, no one is going to give you respect either.

The singer poses a question at the start of the first verse. He asks, “If you disrespect anybody that you run into/How in the world do you think anybody’s s’posed to respect you.” He says that if you see something you don’t agree with, such as a man holding a bible, then just get out of his way.

Another thing that people can show respect, according to the song, is to “put your hand on your mouth when you cough.” That’s better than thinking that the world owes you just “’cause you’re here.”

9. “Respect” By Pink

Catcalling, being rude to women. These are just some of the things that women experience on a regular basis, according to Pink‘s “Respect.”

This song is an empowering tune that calls for respect for women. The singer notes how some boys do things that they think are acceptable, such as being in your face or catcalling women for attention.

She reminds the guys that there is give and take in a relationship and that she is not a prize or object to be won.

The pop singer proclaims that this is her rap song in the first few verses of the song. She continues to encourage women around the world to make men work to earn respect from them.

10. “Respect The Game” By Meek Mill

In his 2021 rap “Respect the Game,” Meek Mill highlights how to respect the goings on in the streets. It can be a chaotic place where a lot of things happen.

He talks about rules to follow when you are embarking on obtaining status for yourself. These rules include not messing with people that are only after your money, spending your money wisely, and not letting having rich friends go to your head.

What he tries to do is to be “humble as ever” and stop chasing around women who only want what he can give. He tries to avoid all these, and instead, he focuses on being “with family and some bulls that I been knew.”

11. “Respect Yourself” By Joe Cocker

English singer Joe Cocker sang the cover of “Respect Yourself” 30 years after the Staple Singers released the original song. The single was featured on Cocker’s album of the same name.

Cocker opens the song by saying that you will not get the respect you desire if you go around disrespecting others. The chorus of this song with “respect” in the lyrics goes, “Respect yourself, ‘Cause if you don’t respect yourself, Ain’t nobody give a good, good hootenanny boy.”

Cocker’s rendition brings the same jazz feel as the original song. But his gritty voice makes it a more modern version to fit the sound of the early 2000s.

12. “Give The Lady Some Respect” By Sweet

Sometimes, you already got the perfect woman, but you don’t see her as such. That’s the message behind the British band Sweet‘s “Give the Lady Some Respect.”

In the song that mentions “respect,” the singer has a lot to say to this particular man who ignores his woman. He calls out, “Just give the lady some respect,” instead of neglecting her. He understands that the man might have gotten his heart broken before, so he’s “afraid that love will burn” him.

But if the man continues to do so, he’s going to lose his woman. The singer goes on to emphasize to the man the importance of giving his time and honesty to her.

13. “Show Some Respect” By Sting

To continue our list, we’re giving you Sting with his 2013 hit, “Show Some Respect.” This song takes a different approach as it is about the dying English shipyard industry.

In the first line of the lyrics, the singer implores, “Show some respect on this deck for the dear departed.” He further calls on his brothers in the shipyard to come together and continue the work they began.

The singer reminds everyone to always give their best. He says, “We work with pride, not as slaves, no one ever bought us.” Finally, he points out that in their line of work, “all trades and skills are respected.”

14. “A Little Respect” By Erasure

The English synth-pop duo Erasure‘s “A Little Respect” is a plea to one’s lover to show respect and love. This song was released in 1988 from their album The Innocents.

In the lyrics, the singer implores his love interest not to break his heart. It saddens him that she is making him work hard for no reason.

From another angle, “A Little Respect” may be about the singer asking for reconciliation from his lover. He proposes to “make love not war” and live in peace. For that to happen, she had to give him a little respect.

15. “Do You Really Want Me (Show Respect)” By Robyn

For men out there, better listen to Swedish singer-songwriter Robyn if you love a woman. Her “Do You Really Want Me (Show Respect)” has a lot to say when it comes to loving a woman.

Robyn makes a case about the proper ways to treat a woman. First, show her you love her and tell her you need her. Make her feel safe and protected. It’s the little things that really mean a lot to a woman. In return, she’ll “love you day and night.”

Respect is also an important aspect of a relationship. Otherwise, your woman will end up hating you. If you can’t serve respect on the table, better get out of her life.

16. “Can’t Hold Us Down” By Christina Aguilera And Lil’ Kim

In Christina Aguilera and Lil’ Kim‘s “Can’t Hold Us Down,” the lyrics talk about women’s empowerment and feminism. It peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated at the 2004 Grammys for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.

The singers slam those who judge women too easily, particularly when they voice out their opinion. Some people still believe that women should keep quiet and just sit and smile.

But the singers reach out to all women “who have come across a man that don’t respect your worth.” They call on them to shout louder and be heard. No woman should allow anyone to hold them down.

17. “Free Your Mind” By En Vogue

It’s unbelievable how disrespectful some people are in the way they destroy our happiness. En Vogue‘s “Free Your Mind” show how easily people judge us or form an opinion of us based on our appearance.

The song starts with the singers describing themselves and what they love to do. They make a case against people stereotyping them based on what they wear. So what if they wear hip-hop clothes and listen to rap music? It doesn’t mean they do bad things.

The chorus of the song leaves a lasting message of freeing your mind from things that are unpleasant or restricting. “Be color-blind” means not judging other people for the color of their skin. Doing these things will allow happiness and peace to reign.

18. “Respect” By Alliance Ethnik

The French hip-hop act Alliance Ethnik released “Respect” in 1995 from their album of the same name. Though the verses are in French, the message is clear: show respect, and good things will follow.

The song points out that respect is hard to come by these days. It’s a virtue that’s losing its value in society. In many places, respect is not as important as it was long ago.

But Alliance Ethnik wants to tell their listeners how important it is to respect ourselves first. Then respect the ladies and everything else.

19. “Show Some Respect” By Tina Turner

Respect and appreciation are two very important factors to make a relationship work. That’s what Tina Turner‘s “Show Some Respect” tells listeners.

The song begins with the singer deciding to commit to the relationship. However, she also makes it clear that her lover needs to “understand what’s on my mind.” Otherwise, their relationship may not work.

The chorus reflects the need for respect and protection for the relationship to flourish. These things must not be taken for granted. The singer suggests that they should work together and not be afraid to seek help when needed.

20. “Respect Yourself” By The Staple Singers

According to The Staple Singers‘ “Respect Yourself,” respect is a two-way street. You can’t expect others to respect you if you don’t know how to respect them in the first place.

But even before respecting others, you need to understand the importance of respecting yourself. The song says that others seeing you respecting yourself is a catalyst for respect to be returned.

So if you see people doing things you don’t agree with, just let them. Respect their opinion and their way of life. The song further suggests that we be a part of the solution, not the problem.

21. “A Well Respected Man” By The Kinks

One of the most popular songs by the British band The Kinks is “A Well Respected Man.” Released in 1965, the song is a satirical commentary on what makes a man respected.

Here, we follow the story of an upper-class gentleman who seems to live a perfect life. He goes to work at nine and goes home at five-thirty. He is always punctual, which is a big deal for him.

But what most people don’t know is that his life is far from perfect. He feels he’s above everyone else and thinks he deserves everything he has because of that.

22. “Respect Me” By Khia

In Khia‘s “Respect Me,” the singer declares power and demands respect from people around her. This song appeared in her 2006 album Gangstress.

From the lyrics, the singer conveys she is a woman of self-confidence and self-esteem. Shen calls herself the “Thug Misses” that must be respected at all times and anywhere.

The singer makes it clear that if a man wants to have a relationship with her, respect must be served. This is a non-negotiable part. And if he disrespects her, there will be consequences. She can demand respect because she has worked hard to deserve that.

23. “Mortal Man” By Kendrick Lamar

In 2015, rapper Kendrick Lamar released “Mortal Man,” a song featuring Nelson Mandela, enlightenment, power, and devotion. It also features an “interview” with the late rapper 2Pac.

Clocking in at 12 minutes, the song begins with the rapper referencing Mandela. He seems to tell us that he wants to continue the legacy that Mandela began. In the next verses, he poses questions to his fans about their loyalty to him.

In the song, Lamar also addresses respect, something he has learned from his experiences. He says we should respect others even when we’re different from each other. Respecting each other leads to unity.

Summing Up Our List Of Respect Songs

Oftentimes, musicians don’t mince words when reminding us of the importance of giving as well as receiving respect. It’s a vital subject present across all genres of music, so you’re bound to find a song that resonates with you.

The songs above are a reminder to always respect others. No matter the race, skin color, status in life, or circumstances. Respect begets respect, and that will take us further in life.

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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.