25 Of The Best Songs That Start With The Letter R

Written by Dan Farrant

“Roar,” “rude,” “red,” “royals” — what do these words have in common? They all begin with the letter “R.” They also happen to be song titles. So what does this have to do with our post? Everything!

In the vast library of musical compositions, some songs stand out for their harmonious arrangements or poignant lyrics. We’re here to explore the “R”-starting ones.

From the soul-stirring ballads that tug at our heartstrings to the upbeat numbers that compel us to dance, we’ve compiled 25 of the best songs that start with the letter “R” for you to enjoy. Now let’s get started!

1. “Roar” By Katy Perry

We’re starting this list strong with Katy Perry‘s 2013 hit, “Roar.” From her album Prism, the song ascended to the pinnacle of global music charts.

The story of “Roar” is one of transformation and strength. It captures the journey of overcoming obstacles and emerging stronger on the other side.

This narrative is skillfully woven into the lyrics, which celebrate personal growth and the discovery of one’s voice. This is addressed in the lines “I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire / ’cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar.”

Upon its release, “Roar” received widespread acclaim from both fans and critics. It soared to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Perry’s eighth #1 single in the United States.

2. “Rockabye” By Clean Bandit Ft. Sean Paul And Anne-Marie

Released in 2016 as part of Clean Bandit‘s What Is Love? album, “Rockabye” features Jamaican rapper Sean Paul and English singer Anne-Marie. With its blend of electronic music, reggae, and pop, the dance-pop hit shot to the top of several charts across the globe.

The lyrics of “Rockabye” tell a compelling story of a single mother’s determination and strength. She works to provide for her child, facing life’s challenges head-on.

Its chorus, “Rockabye baby, don’t you cry / somebody’s got you,” serves as both a lullaby and an anthem of reassurance to her child that he’ll “grow and have a good life.”

3. “Rolling In The Deep” By Adele

Up next is a smash hit track from Adele. “Rolling in the Deep,” released in 2010 from her album 21, quickly climbed the charts and received widespread acclaim.

The lyrics explore themes of heartbreak and betrayal, with Adele’s soulful voice conveying raw emotion. The title refers to the expression “roll deep,” which implies having someone’s back in difficult times. But in this context, it’s about the depth of one’s betrayal and loss.

Chart-wise, “Rolling in the Deep” was a huge success. It topped the charts in multiple countries and the Billboard Hot 100. At the 2012 Grammy Awards, it won three Grammys, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

4. “Rude” By MAGIC!

Our next song, “Rude” by MAGIC!, has carved its niche in modern pop and reggae fusion. Released in 2013, the track quickly gained popularity and became a defining piece for the Canadian band.

The song’s narrative is both straightforward and engaging. It tells the story of a young man who asks his girlfriend’s father for his blessing to marry her, only to be flatly refused. Despite the rejection, the protagonist remains undeterred, vowing to marry her anyway.

This storyline — coupled with the song’s infectious chorus, “Why you gotta be so rude? / Don’t you know I’m human too?” — captured listeners’ hearts, helping it to top the Billboard Hot 100 and Canada’s Hot AC charts.

5. “Radioactive” By Imagine Dragons

The pop rock band Imagine Dragons debuted in 2012. Since then, they’ve released many hard-hitting hits, “Radioactive” being one of them from their album Night Visions.

It features heavy percussion, electronic beats, and distorted guitar riffs, creating a dark and anthemic sound. Its lyrics evoke imagery of a post-apocalyptic world or a desolate landscape. The protagonist reflects on their inner strength and determination to overcome challenges.

Upon its release, “Radioactive” quickly climbed the charts, reaching impressive positions globally. In the United States, it peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Additionally, it received a Grammy for Best Rock Performance in 2014.

6. “Ride” By Twenty One Pilots

We continue with upbeat songs on this list with “Ride” by the duo Twenty One Pilots. This standout track was released in 2016 from their album Blurryface.

Combining reggae, rock, and hip-hop, “Ride” explores profound themes as the narrator ponders the value of living and the ease of dying. The chorus repeats the lines “Oh, oh, I’m falling, so I’m taking my time on my ride.” It suggests a desire to savor life’s journey despite its inherent challenges and uncertainties.

The official music video for “Ride” features Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun performing in various settings, including a lush forest and atop a dark, dimly lit stage. The contrast between light and dark scenes metaphorically represents the song’s exploration of life’s dualities — joy and sorrow, life and death.

7. “Royals” By Lorde

A Grammy Award-winning track is next. Lorde’s “Royals,” featured in her The Love Club EP and Pure Heroine album, catapulted the singer to international fame. It distinguished her as one of the most unique voices of her generation.

The song’s lyrics critique the opulent lifestyle often glorified by contemporary pop and hip-hop artists, with Lorde expressing disinterest in materialism and the celebrity culture: “And we’ll never be royals … / It don’t run in our blood / That kind of luxe just ain’t for us.”

Upon its release, “Royals” received widespread acclaim. It topped charts worldwide, including the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for nine consecutive weeks. This achievement made Lorde, at the age of 16, the youngest solo artist to achieve a #1 single in the US since 1987.

8. “Right Now (Na Na Na)” By Akon

Heartbreak and sorrow are common themes in the music world. Our “R”-starting songs list has no shortage of these. One track, though upbeat and quite danceable despite its sad message, is Akon‘s “Right Now (Na Na Na).”

From his third studio album, Freedom, released in 2008, the song’s lyrics focus on the emotions tied to wanting to reverse time and correct mistakes made in a relationship. From the opening lines, the narrator expresses how the absence of his loved one has left him feeling weakened, despite attempts to stay strong.

9. “Runaway” By AURORA

Now be captivated with a song by the Norwegian singer-songwriter AURORA. “Runaway” showcases the singer’s ethereal voice and makes listeners reflect the longing and desire to return to one’s roots or a simpler existence.

AURORA sings about “listening to the ocean” and seeing “a face in the sand,” which disappears when she tries to grasp it. These poetic images evoke nostalgia and the transient nature of life and memories.

This track is part of AURORA’s debut extended play (EP), Running with the Wolves, released in 2015. It also appears on her debut studio album, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend. The song has gained widespread acclaim for its haunting melody, emotional depth, and AURORA’s distinctive vocal delivery.

10. “Run The World (Girls)” By Beyoncé

An anthem of female empowerment and independence can certainly capture the heart. That’s why Beyoncé‘s “Run the World (Girls),” released in 2011, took the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart by storm.

The song celebrates women’s strength, intelligence, and capability to lead. It challenges traditional gender norms and encourages women to embrace their power.

Though the song was nominated for several awards, its cultural significance extends beyond trophies. The song’s visually stunning music video was particularly lauded for its creativity and message, earning nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards, among others.

11. “Rain On Me” By Lady Gaga And Ariana Grande

Another dance hit, “Rain On Me,” stands as a powerful anthem of resilience and hope. This collaboration between Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande was released as part of Gaga’s album Chromatica, in 2020.

Written by Gaga, Grande, and a team of talented writers, the lyrics talk about perseverance through adversity and the transformative power of letting go of one’s troubles. The lines “I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive, rain on me” capture this essence.

Upon its release, “Rain On Me” received critical acclaim and commercial success, charting prominently across the globe. It also won a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, among many other accolades.

12. “Radio Ga Ga” By Queen

Released in 1984, Queen‘s “Radio Ga Ga” was crafted by the band’s drummer, Roger Taylor. It is a commentary on the shifting dynamics between radio and television’s influence on society.

The song opens with a distinctive electronic drum beat, setting a modern tone that contrasts with its nostalgic message. This is complemented by a memorable synth line and powerful guitar riffs emblematic of the 1980s while remaining timeless in its appeal.

The song reflects on the connection listeners had with radio. This medium has brought music, news, and stories into homes across the globe. Yet it also acknowledges the allure of visual media, speaking to the growing fascination with television and music videos.

Despite this, “Radio Ga Ga” ultimately expresses hope for radio’s continued relevance, suggesting that its finest hour may still lie ahead.

13. “Right Round” By Flo Rida Ft. Ke$ha

Featuring singer-songwriter Ke$ha, “Right Round” by Flo Rida quickly became a hallmark of late 2000s pop and hip-hop. Lyrically, it’s about attraction and the head-spinning sensations of a nightclub encounter.

The chorus, “You spin my head right round, right round / when you go down, when you go down down,” is memorable for its repetitive, catchy rhythm. This song has been widely circulated across various media platforms since its release.

The song became a staple on radio stations and dance floors. It was further cemented by its popular music video that features both Flo Rida and Ke$ha amidst a visually stimulating backdrop reminiscent of the song’s club theme.

14. “Raise Your Glass” By P!nk

A true party anthem, P!nk’s “Raise Your Glass” celebrates individuality, nonconformity, and the spirit of rebellion. With its infectious energy and empowering message, it became an instant hit after its release in 2010.

Its unapologetic lyrics are a call to arms for the underdogs, the misfits, and anyone who has ever felt marginalized or overlooked. It invites listeners to find joy and pride in their differences: “We will never be … anything but loud … / Just come on and … raise your glass.”

This message of self-acceptance and defiance against societal norms struck a chord with audiences worldwide, helping it chart at the top of Billboard Hot 100.

15. “Really Don’t Care” By Demi Lovato Ft. Cher Lloyd

Up next, we have another song of empowerment and self-assurance. Featuring Cher Lloyd, Demi Lovato released “Really Don’t Care” in 2014 from her album Demi.

The song speaks to the importance of staying true to oneself, regardless of others’ opinions or negativity. The title and its chorus, “I really don’t care,” is a bold statement of indifference towards haters and naysayers. This serves as an anthem for anyone facing criticism or judgment.

The music video for “Really Don’t Care” is nothing to scoff at too. Featuring Lovato performing amid a celebration of love and diversity, it further amplifies the song’s themes of freedom and inclusivity.

16. “Rock With You” By Michael Jackson

Our next song was written by British songwriter Rod Temperton and masterfully produced by Quincy Jones. “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson is a standout track from the singer’s fifth studio album, Off the Wall (1979).

This collaboration between Jackson, Temperton, and Jones marked a significant moment in music history. They blended pop and R&B elements to create a fresh and universally appealing sound.

The song itself is characterized by its smooth, groovy baseline. Jackson’s impeccable vocals glide effortlessly over the melody. The lyrics invite listeners to dance and lose themselves in the music, embodying the carefree and infectious spirit of the disco era.

Upon its release, the song quickly climbed the charts, eventually reaching #1 in the United States. Its success helped propel Off the Wall to critical and commercial acclaim. It became one of the defining albums of Jackson’s career and a milestone in the evolution of pop music.

17. “Red” By Taylor Swift

Country pop singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has dropped several charting hits since her debut in 2004. The “R”-starting song “Red,” the title track of her fourth album, is one of them.

In the song, Swift contrasts the fiery, passionate red with the cool, comforting blue, and the lonely, desolate gray. She uses these colors to illustrate the spectrum of feelings she experiences.

The chorus is particularly striking. Here, Swift sings about loving and losing someone being as “red” as the fiercest emotions. It captures the essence of the song’s exploration of love’s dual nature.

18. “Red Red Wine” By UB40

Diving into the world of reggae music, we have “Red Red Wine.” Originally penned and performed by Neil Diamond in 1967, UB40 covered “Red Red Wine” in 1983 and shot it to fame.

Their rendition transformed Diamond’s melancholic ballad into a reggae anthem. It’s complete with a laid-back rhythm, smooth vocals, and an infectious melody that captured the hearts of listeners worldwide.

At its core, the lyrics speak of heartache and the desire to drown one’s sorrows in red wine, hoping to forget a lost love. UB40’s interpretation retains the poignant narrative but envelops it in a warm, reggae embrace that adds an element of upliftment to the otherwise somber message.

“Red Red Wine” became a massive hit for UB40. It reached the top of the charts in the UK in 1983. It also achieved even greater success in the United States in 1988, when a re-release climbed to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

19. “Roxanne” By The Police

From the extensive discography of The Police comes “Roxanne.” This iconic song was written by the band’s lead vocalist and bassist, Sting. It was released as a single in 1978 and later featured on their debut album, Outlandos d’Amour.

The genesis of “Roxanne” occurred when Sting found inspiration during a visit to the red-light district of Paris. The song narrates the story of a man who falls in love with a prostitute named Roxanne. He urges her to relinquish her profession.

Despite its controversial subject matter, “Roxanne” is celebrated for its compelling lyrics and memorable melody. Its initial release did not achieve significant commercial success. Its re-release in 1979, however, helped it gain traction on international charts.

20. “Rocket Man” By Elton John

Our next song, Elton John‘s “Rocket Man,” is a seminal piece in the vast catalog of the singer’s music. It was released in 1972 as part of his fifth studio album, Honky Château. The song quickly ascended to become one of his most beloved and enduring tracks.

The narrative follows an astronaut who feels disconnected from the world below him. This was somewhat inspired by David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” which also tells the tale of an astronaut. John’s interpretation, however, leans more into the aspect of daily routine and personal disconnection.

The legacy of “Rocket Man” was further cemented with the release of the biographical film Rocketman in 2019. The movie explores John’s life and career. “Rocket Man” serves as a thematic cornerstone for the film’s exploration of fame, identity, and personal transformation.

21. “Rainy Days And Mondays” By The Carpenters

Who else here feels down when it’s a rainy day or a Monday? The Carpenters certainly do in their song “Rainy Days and Mondays,” featured on their self-titled album (1971). The song quickly became one of the duo’s most enduring hits.

Its lyrics speak to the common human experience of feeling down or blue, particularly at the start of the week when facing the prospect of mundane routines. Karen Carpenter’s voice perfectly captures this sentiment. She delivers the song’s poignant message with a depth of emotion that has touched listeners for decades.

Upon its release, “Rainy Days and Mondays” received critical acclaim and commercial success. It was the highest new entry of the week on the Hot 100 chart in May 1971, solidifying its place as a significant hit for The Carpenters.

22. “Rocky Mountain High” By John Denver

In 1972, John Denver‘s “Rocky Mountain High” was released as part of the album of the same name. This marked a pivotal moment in his career as it propelled him into the national spotlight.

The song paints a vivid picture of Colorado’s breathtaking landscapes. It highlights the profound sense of peace and belonging they can instill.

The inspiration behind it is deeply rooted in Denver’s experiences in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The song reflects his admiration for the natural beauty of the state and his spiritual connection to the land.

In celebration of its enduring legacy, PBS aired a special feature commemorating the 50th anniversary of “Rocky Mountain High.” It showcased Denver’s performance at an outdoor venue. The song also became one of Colorado’s official state songs.

23. “Rhinestone Cowboy” By Glen Campbell

Up next we have another country classic, “Rhinestone Cowboy.” This landmark song was originally written and recorded by Larry Weiss in 1974. The song found its true voice with Glen Campbell‘s rendition in 1975.

The song’s narrative reflects the aspirations and struggles of a performer. It draws parallels to the experiences of many in the entertainment industry. The lyrics speak of the dreams of fame and fortune, alongside the realities of perseverance through tough times.

Upon its release, “Rhinestone Cowboy” soared to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and Country charts. The song’s success was also a pivotal moment in Campbell’s career, elevating him to international stardom.

24. “Rhythm Nation” By Janet Jackson

Penultimate on our list is Janet Jackson‘s “Rhythm Nation.” It’s a powerful anthem of social justice and unity. It transcended its 1989 release to remain relevant in contemporary discussions around race, equality, and societal change.

The song is a masterful blend of pop, R&B, funk, and industrial sounds, a mix that was revolutionary for its time. At its heart, “Rhythm Nation” is a clarion call for social justice, unity, and racial harmony.

The lyrics advocate for breaking down barriers and coming together as a society to combat inequality and prejudice. This message was particularly resonant in the late 1980s, a period marked by significant social and political changes worldwide.

“Rhythm Nation” reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and garnered international acclaim. It won numerous awards and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song.

25. “Rhythm Of The Rain” By The Cascades

Closing this list is a classic by The Cascades, “Rhythm of the Rain.” This melodious track has stood the test of time since its release in November 1962.

The song encapsulates the essence of early 1960s pop music with its gentle melodies and reflective lyrics. Its narrative, centered on the sound of rain as a metaphor for the pain of lost love, resonates with listeners even decades after its release.

“Rhythm of the Rain” quickly became a significant hit. By the first week of January 1963, the song had made its way onto Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart, later peaking at #3.

Summing Up Our List Of “R”-Starting Songs

And that’s a wrap with our songs beginning with “R”! From across genres and eras, each one has brought a different story to enthrall listeners, leaving lasting impressions.

While we’ve covered some memorable tracks, the world of music is vast. There are surely gems we haven’t mentioned.

So if you know a song with a title beginning with “R” that deserves a shoutout, please share it with us in the comments. Your recommendations can help us and other readers discover new music and appreciate the diversity of “R”-starting tracks.

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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.