40 Songs About Identity, Belonging, and Having an Identity Crisis

Songs About Identity

Sometimes, it can seem that you are all alone in the world. Everything can look hopeless, from having no sense of who you are to having no place you belong to. Who can you talk to when you are feeling this detached from reality? Many musicians have been in the same place as you, singing about identity and belonging for as long as there has been music.Some go as far as to depict actual identity crises.

There are an infinite number of songs discussing identity, belonging, and identity crises, but here is our list of top modern songs that unmistakably have these themes.


“Between the Bars” by Elliott Smith

Song Year: 1997

The late Elliott Smith was a master at capturing existential thoughts people, especially young ones, have about identity and belonging.

“Between the Bars” is a song about the more negative aspects of identity. The song’s subject drinks to forget that they could’ve been somebody until they destroyed that chance and instead now loses their identity to the bottle.

“Going to Georgia” by The Mountain Goats

Song Year: 1994

From their very first album, “Going to Georgia” by the Mountain Goats, captures a sense of belonging to someone that you truly love and care about. Belonging to someone completes you as a person, and therefore completes your identity.

“Bedroom Community” by Glass Beach

Song Year: 2019

Glass Beach is a relatively new band, but they have already defined themselves by their music's eclectic mixture of genres.

“Bedroom Community” is one such song that explores a girl struggling with her sense of identity, standing out like a sore thumb in her suburban town for being emo. Whether she is comfortable with her identity or going through a crisis is up to debate, but it paints a perfect picture of being individualistic in identity.

“Existentialism on Prom Night” by Straylight Run

Song Year: 2004

Much like “Going to Georgia,” “Existentialism on Prom Night” explores a sense of belonging to someone. Because the couple described in the song feel as though they belong to each other, they can be themselves in their own company.

“Existentialism on Prom Night” also deals with coming to terms with your identity as you come of age and be your own self no matter what.

“Malfunction” by Steam Powered Giraffe

Song Year: 2016

“Malfunction” is a more straightforward song about identity than the rest on this list. It discusses how there is no one “correct” or “incorrect” sense of identity and that everyone has their own quirks that make their identity unique.

It should not be a surprise, as a result, that the song was written after one of the Steam Powered Giraffe members came to terms with her gender identity.

“Gender is Boring” by She/Her/Hers

Song Year: 2018

“Gender is Boring” challenges the traditional notions of identity, much like “Malfunction.” It challenges the idea of there only being one “correct” kind of identity, and that traditional gender roles are too restrictive to use as a sense of self.

“All the Things She Said” by t.A.T.u.

Song Year: 2002

A classic 2000s hit by Russian pop duo t.A.T.u., “All the Things She Said” details a girl going through her own identity crisis with her romantic attraction, especially as the people around her believe that her feelings are wrong.

“Rise Like a Phoenix” by Conchita Wurst

Song Year: 2014

The 2014 Eurovision Song Contest's winning song, “Rise Like a Phoenix,” is about someone coming to terms with who they really are, ascending past their insecure self and truly being confident in their identity.

“The Villain of This Story” by Machinae Supremacy

Song Year: 2014

“The Villain of This Story,” by Swedish metal/chiptune fusion band Machinae Supremacy, details someone coming to terms with their identity after waking up from a coma, realizing that she has no motives when all she does is murder.

“The Queen and the Soldier” by Suzanne Vega

Song Year: 1985

A ballad by alternative rock singer Suzanne Vega, “The Queen and the Soldier” is about a soldier visiting a queen.

On the surface, it seems to only be about the soldier trying to quit his job, but when you look deeper into the lyrics, you can see that it is really about a man trying to make sense of who a woman is, as she hides her true self.

“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

Song Year: 1975

“Landslide” is one of the most essential existentialist songs about identity. In it, a woman is singing about her loss of identity after someone important in her life left her and how she is unsure if she could change it, as everything she sees reminds her of them.

“The Trial” by Pink Floyd

Song Year: 1979

The penultimate song on Pink Floyd’s iconic album The Wall, “The Trial” is when the album’s protagonist is forced to come to terms with his true self and the reasons why he shielded himself from the world.

“Day Drunk” by Racoma

Song Year: 2020

Indie rock band, Racoma, is relatively new to the scene, but their song, “Day Drunk,” is a perfect example of a song that captures the idea of identity crises. It is very similar in theme to “The Queen and the Soldier,” but through the perspective of one facing those insecurities rather than a bystander.

“All by Myself” by Eric Carmen

Song Year: 1975

“All By Myself” is a powerful ballad that deals with a man coming to terms with who he is as he grows more detached from his friends. It is one of the quintessential classic songs about identity and has been covered by numerous artists in the 20th century.

“Starboy” by The Weeknd and Daft Punk

Song Year: 2016

Unlike the past few entries, “Starboy” is about someone coming to terms with how their identity has changed since they gained stardom, based on the artist’s real feelings on the subject.

The song described his new public identity as a mixed bag. He had come a long way from being a mostly unknown act, but that came at the cost of people making assumptions about him.

“Moviestar” by Harpo

Song Year: 1975

This 70s pop song details a man who thinks he is sure of himself and what he is but is actually projecting an image of what he wants to be. He eventually goes into denial about his actual identity, going as far as to leave the country to try and meet a famous director to prove himself as an actual “movie star.”

“I Never Told You What I Do for a Living” by My Chemical Romance

Song Year: 2004

From the iconic 2000s band, My Chemical Romance, this popular song is all about someone coming to terms that they can’t bring a loved one back, thus facing a kind of identity crisis. The song’s subject realizes that everything he did was for nothing, furthering his deep descent into his sense of self.

“Bad Wine and Lemon Cake” by The Jane Austen Argument

Song Year: 2011

Written in collaboration with singer, Amanda Palmer, “Bad Wine and Lemon Cake” presents a more laissez-faire view of identity. It paints an idealized picture of normal life and how fulfilling it can be to someone and their sense of self even after they die.

“Waitin’ for a Superman (Is It Gettin’ Heavy?)” by The Flaming Lips

Song Year: 1999

This mournful song by the American rock band, The Flaming Lips, is all about the differences between how people perceive your identity and what your identity actually is—seeming like a hero to others but knowing that you are weak on the inside.

This contrast is most notable in the song's chorus, detailing how people are “waitin’ for a superman,” thinking he is confident in himself, but that superman is dealing with his own issues that are weighing him down—his true self that no one sees.

“Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel

“Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel

Song Year: 1983

“Uptown Girl” is another classic song about identity, and it is rather self-explanatory. It is about a boy from a low-class life falling in love with a rich girl, thus showing the differences in how their livelihoods formed their identities.

“Waltz #2 (XO)” by Elliott Smith

Song Year: 1998

“Waltz #2 (XO)” is another good example of the late Elliott Smith’s existential views on identity.

It showcases a girl singing at a karaoke night but showing no degree of excitement or any other emotion. She seems to be forced to sing for people instead of doing it for herself, thus forcing her to present an identity that she doesn’t have.

“Genesis 3:23” by The Mountain Goats

Song Year: 2009

Named after the Bible verse of the same name, “Genesis 3:23” is yet another existentialist song about identity.

It details a man facing his inner ghosts as he explores an abandoned building. This causes him to face a crisis of identity as he realizes that his perceptions of his traumatic childhood were wrong.

“Carmen” by Lana Del Rey

Song Year: 2012

Much like “The Queen and the Soldier,” “Carmen” is a bystander’s view on someone in conflict with their own identity and sense of self as they cope with substance abuse.

The subject, Carmen, is described as a seemingly perfect, well-loved person, but that identity is a mask hiding her true self.

“Nobody’s Home” by Avril Lavigne

Song Year: 2004

“Nobody’s Home” also shows a girl struggling with her identity, but this time through her own mental illness rather than outside forces, and without a mask hiding her true sense of self.

“Am I a Girl?” by Poppy

Song Year: 2018

Based on the author’s own conflict with her gender identity, “Am I a Girl?” is a straightforward song about how a girl questions her gender and tries to understand why she has to fit in a “boy” or “girl” box.

“Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day, A Song About Belonging

Song Year: 2004

This Green Day hit is usually roped in with “Holiday,” but “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” stands out on its own by being about a man going through his own identity crisis, as he realizes that he belongs to no one and has no purpose in his life.

“The Raven” by The Alan Parsons Project

Song Year: 1976

Based on the Edgar Allen Poe poem of the same name, “The Raven” details a man having to come to terms with the negative aspects of his identity through confronting a mysterious raven that refuses to leave his study.

“Cancer” by My Chemical Romance

Song Year: 2006

The eighth track on my Chemical Romance’s magnum opus, “Cancer,” is about a man coming to terms with his impending death, and thus his identity, by singing about how he wants to be buried and what he wants to happen after he dies.

“The Hero’s Return” by Pink Floyd

Song Year: 1994

“The Hero’s Return” is another good Pink Floyd song about an identity crisis, as a man comes home from war only to realize he has trauma from the war and the death of his friends, as not all of them survived.

“Goodbye to Love” by Carpenters

Song Year: 1983

One of the sadder songs by brother-sister duo, the Carpenters, “Goodbye to Love” details someone coming to terms with the fact that they’ll never feel belonged, thus dealing with a crisis of belonging.

“London Beckoned Songs About Money Written by Machines” by Panic! At The Disco

Song Year: 2005

This song from Panic! At The Disco’s debut album can be considered a “middle finger” to people who disapprove of their music, with lyrics going on about how they’re comfortable with who they are and how they won’t change to fit some kind of mold of identity.

“Simple and Clean” by Hikaru Utada

Song Year: 2002

“Simple and Clean” is about a crisis regarding someone the singer “belongs to,” as she starts to feel distant from her lover. However, she feels optimistic about the future with him, thus singing positively about her sense of belonging to him despite the crisis.

“Two-Headed Boy” by Neutral Milk Hotel

Song Year: 1998

“Two-Headed Boy” can best be interpreted as a crisis of identity, based on the creator meltdown of Neutral Milk Hotel’s songwriter, Jeff Mangum. It details a boy living a double life, performing for others but at the cost of his freedom.

“Dust in the Wind” by Kansas

Song Year: 1977

“Dust in the Wind” is often regarded as one of the most existential rock songs from the 70s. It is about how no matter how you see yourselves, whether positive or negative, nothing really matters in the bigger picture.

“Hummingbird” by Tut Child ft. Augustus Ghost

Song Year: 2013

Much like “Simple and Clean” above, “Hummingbird” deals with a crisis of belonging as the singer feels that they are losing someone special to them. However, this song is about someone coming to terms with the fact that they have to let go of the feeling of belonging.

“Don’t Be So Serious” by Low Roar

Song Year: 2017

The opening song to Low Roar’s third album, this song discusses the importance of vulnerability in terms of shaping your identity. It’s rather tongue-in-cheek, but it still showcases an important message about not taking yourself too seriously regarding your identity.

“Raw Meat” by Fish

Song Year: 1994

The 10th song in Fish’s 1994 album Suits, “Raw Meat” details a performer having a creative breakdown as his reputation goes down the drain, thus facing a kind of identity crisis even when people recognize him in a positive manner.

However, it ends on an optimistic note, with the performer deciding to keep on going regardless of what the critics say.

“Going Under” by Evanescence

Song Year: 2003

“Going Under” is about a woman trying to retain her identity after finally leaving a toxic relationship, shedding her broken identity in the process regardless of what her ex-lover said.

“Broken” by Sonata Arctica

Song Year: 2003

From their album Winterheart’s Guild, “Broken” is about a man losing his identity and sense of self after facing a breakup, forcing him to reevaluate his life and to try and conjure up a new sense of self to start over.

“Eye in the Sky” by The Alan Parsons Project

Song Year: 1983

“Eye in the Sky” details a man realizing the real identity of his lover after a breakup, initially viewing them as nothing but perfect. It goes through how he initially thought he knew everything about them but realizing that it was nothing but an illusion that he conjured up out of thin air.

Best Songs About Identity, Final Thoughts

And there you have it; 40 songs about identity, belonging, and having an identity crisis from various music genres, so anyone can find a song to relate to.

Some of these song’s themes are vaguer than others, and you might not initially perceive one of them as being about identity or belonging, but that’s okay. The best thing about creative works is that you can interpret them the way you want to.

Regardless, these forty songs should be a good starting point for music about identity. Happy listening!

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