15 Of The Best Songs About Seattle: Emerald City Playlist

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Written by Laura Macmillan
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Did you know that Seattle went through multiple names during its founding, including New York and Duwamps? The name that would eventually stick was inspired by Chief Noah Sealth, with Seattle an anglicized version of his surname. But no matter what name we call it, Seattle has been the focus of dozens of art pieces over the years.

Music is especially prevalent in the Evergreen State. If you’ve been looking for music focused on Seattle, we’re here to help. Read on as we take a look at 15 of the best songs about Seattle, Washington!

Related: Read our list of the best songs about Washington State here.

1. “The Shadow of Seattle” by Marcy Playground

Starting off the list is a hit song by Marcy Playground, “The Shadow of Seattle.” Though it’s not the most positive song related to the state, it’s certainly one of the most popular and blunt with its subject matter.

Through the song, Marcy Playground paints a picture of Seattle as a haven for liars. There are hints of thievery as the band accuses the town of stealing artifacts and protecting the thieves that have taken them.

Taking a side in the “War of Art,” as they call it, Marcy Playground gives a stark condemnation of some elements of art culture in Seattle.

The album would move on to peak at 21st on the Billboard 200, making it a rather notable album. Despite its harsh words, the song remains a favorite even in Seattle.

2. “This Place Is a Prison” by The Postal Service

The Postal Service was one of the biggest bands of the early and mid-2000s, and “This Place Is a Prison” is one of their most prominent songs.

As you can likely guess from the name, it’s not a song filled with praises. However, the name doesn’t refer directly to Seattle but to the world itself.

In “This Place Is a Prison,” the band discusses nightly parties and substance abuse. Mentioning Puget Sounds, a famous geological feature of Washington, the narrator highlights faux glamor and relying on alcohol as a coping mechanism.

From the dreamy instrumental to the sobering lyrics, it’s another strong critique of how art can mask many problems, such as addiction.

3. “Welcome to Seattle” by Boom Bap Project

The hip-hop and rap scenes are both alive and well in Seattle as well. In 2005, the Boom Bap project released a mixtape effectively welcoming all listeners to the state, using the bars as a chance to bring the Seattle culture to bear.

With the trademark boom-bap snares of the genre, the Boom Bap Project comes with an aggressive bass track and an addictive drum loop.

The song has become somewhat more popular today as the genre sees a slight resurgence, though it’s still a bit of an “underground” track.

Some were surprised to see this song on its release, as boom-bap was especially popular on the East Coast. It’s a fantastic example of bridging styles and still making a banger tune for the Emerald City.

4. “Hello Seattle” by Owl City

Even if you don’t know where Seattle is, there’s a good chance you’ve heard Owl City’s song about the city.

Like The Postal Service, Owl City makes direct reference to the famous Puget Sound through a dreamy and surreal song.

Throughout, the narrator takes the form of the moon, an albatross, a lighthouse, and a mountaineer, each greeting the city in turn.

Owl City has stated that this is the most representative song of his music. Having created it during a sleepless night, the track would grow into one of his most popular by far.

In contrast to some on this list, it’s a happy and celebratory song about the city, albeit an esoteric celebration.

5. “Seattle” by Perry Como

Next up we have “Seattle” by Perry Como which has plenty of nice things to say about the city. Although his wasn’t the original version, it is undoubtedly the most popular, charting well on the Billboard Hot 100.

The lyrics to “Seattle,” primarily highlight the gorgeous nature of the city and the sights that you can find throughout discussing the beautiful skies, rolling hillsides, and hopes and dreams of children born in the city.

“Seattle” is about as close to a theme song for the city as you can find. Originally, the song was used as the theme for the ABC-TV television show “Here Come the Brides,” set in Seattle.

Even today, the song remains a theme for the city. The Seattle Sounders FC, the local MLS team for the city, uses the song during matches. Supporter groups can be found singing along to the track at the kickoff of each half especially.

6. “My Oh My” by Macklemore

Around the turn of the 2010s, Macklemore was one of the biggest names in music.

Though not as popular as tracks like “Thrift Shop,” “My Oh My” is easily one of Macklemore’s most emotional tracks, especially for baseball fans.

The track was written as a tribute to the late Dave Niehaus, a broadcaster for the Seattle Mariners. Macklemore talks about his days as a kid listening to Niehaus and the 1995 Series against the New York Yankees.

Whether you like baseball or not, the raw emotion and admiration in the track make this one of the best songs about Seattle without a doubt.

7. “Sunny in Seattle” by Blake Shelton

Seattle is known for its beautiful nature, but one of the characteristics you’ll never be able to forget is the constant clouds. Shelton uses these clouds as his version of Hell freezing over in “Sunny in Seattle.”

In the song, Blake Shelton writes an adorable love song to the woman that keeps his heart. He insists his love will remain until it’s sunny in Seattle and snowing in New Orleans.

Given the typical forecast, one can safely assume it’ll be a long while until the sun shines down on the lovers.

8. “Slick Watts” by Blue Scholars

“Slick Watts” lyrically serves more like a list than anything else. With an addictive electronic instrumental you can’t help but groove to, Blue Scholars list off the geographical and athletic notes you’ll be familiar with in the city.

Named after Donald Earl Watts, a popular Seattle SuperSonics player, the track highlights some of the many names you should know.

From Beacon Hill to Northgate, Vinny Askew to Gary Payton, you’ve got a good deal of flash cards to make if you want to memorize them all. Or just listen to this song on repeat until you can recite every name.

9. “Seattle Was a Riot” by Anti-Flag

Seattle’s history isn’t spotless. In 1999, the Seattle WTO Protests (nicknamed the Battle of Seattle) got national attention. The event would lead to multiple deaths, a major fire, and eventually a declaration of civil emergency.

Anti-Flag uses this event as a moment of activism, asking why they needed to riot to be heard.

It’s a high-octane punk track calling for an end not just to violence, but for people’s need to resort to violence.

10. “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle” by Nirvana

We couldn’t make such a list without bringing the legendary Nirvana’s “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle” track to bear.

Written by Dave Grohl, the song focuses on Seattle actress Frances Farmer, who was accused of atheism and communism.

The accusations would lead to time in a mental institution and the plummetting of a promising career until the actress eventually died of cancer.

11. “I Love Seattle” by Tacocat

Accepting something for its flaws is one thing, but wanting to be in Seattle at the end of the world is a whole other thing. Tacocat uses this track as a lovesong for Seattle despite the many flaws.

Discussing the many doomsday proclamations the last few decades have seen, Tacocat declares that they’d happily spend the end of the world in the city.

Despite shapeshifters, lizard people, and programming, they still want to be in the Evergreen State when the fault line inevitably goes off.

12. “Summer in Seattle” by The Laurie Lewis Quintet

Next, we have “Summer in Seattle” by The Laurie Lewis Quintet which is one of the most relaxing songs on the list without a doubt.

The calm jazz song lulls listeners with quiet brass, gentle drums, and an angelic voice to float you across the clouds of Seattle.

Even if you aren’t a fan of jazz, we can’t suggest this track enough for a song that truly captures the feeling of a Seattle summertime. 

13. “Moving to Seattle” by The Material

“Moving to Seattle” by The Material is an interesting track, as there’s no mention of the city in the lyrics.

Likely, the name focuses instead on moving to the Evergreen State to get away from one’s problems.

Talking about smelling an incoming rainstorm and self-actualization, it’s an emotional and raw declaration about following one’s dreams.

14. “Seattle Police is Communist” by Super Adventure Club

“Seattle Police is Communist” is about as blunt of a song title as you can find, but the comedy group’s song is a little more esoteric than that.

With a reggae beat and a synth lead in the background, the song’s easy to dance along to, even if the lyrics are a bit strange.

Focusing on the Seattle police’s plan for the people, the track highlights hippies on mountain bikes and police avoiding protests via coffee.

Flying dissenters out to China and making subtle attempts on life, the Super Adventure Club makes their conspiracy theory in the zany track.

15. “Talkin’ Seattle Grunge Rock Blues” by Todd Snider

And finally, but by no means least, “Talkin’ Seattle Grunge Rock Blues” isn’t strictly a comedy, serving more as a satire of Seattle music culture.

The narrator tells the story of making a band that played no music whatsoever as to the ultimate alternative to music.

Becoming famous and seen as paragons of art because of the band’s Seattle roots, it’s a comedic parody of the music scene the state seems to harbor.

Summing Up Our List Of Seattle Songs

As you can see from the music above, Seattle has inspired everything from riots to grunge to the most beautiful scenery you can imagine.

Whether you’re finding a new track for the culture or nature, there’s something for everyone in the countless songs about the Emerald City.

Did we leave your favorite song about Seattle off our list? Let us know what your favorite track is in the comments below!

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Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.