27 Best Songs About Philadelphia

“Summertime” by Will Smith & DJ Jazzy Jazz

Song Year: 1991

Philadelphia has long been a popular subject in music and song, but few people brought it mainstream in quite the same way as Will Smith. While his references are most apparent in the opening to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Summertime won Smith and DJ Jazzy Jazz a Grammy for best rap performance.

The lyrics focus on summer in Philadelphia, including various activities people can enjoy. While rap is known for its fast-paced style, “Summertime” focuses on a far more relaxing experience and enjoying the season.

“Punk Rock Girl” by The Dead Milkmen

Song Year: 1988

While you might not expect it from the title, “Punk Rock Girl” heavily emphasizes Philadelphia as its location of choice. The lyrics tell the story of a boy meeting a girl within the city. The two of them go on to have a range of dates and experiences throughout the city as they learn more about each other.

This song remains one of the band’s most popular singles and helped them achieve widespread recognition on MTV and get halfway up the Billboard charts. The band separated around 1995, but would later reunite and produce more work as an active group.

“Motownphilly” by Boyz II Men

Song Year: 1991

Motownphilly is a song that genuinely exemplifies the Boyz II Men band, focusing on their lives and experiences in the area. Throughout the lyrics, they discuss their dreams, experiences, and the local culture in Philadelphia that props up their music.

The genre of songs about Philadelphia ranges widely, but this R&B tune won the Kids’ Choice Award for its focus on youth and kids just finding success could experience. In that regard, it’s a timeless song, and Philadelphia hasn’t changed much since they released it.

(For more about boy bands and their influence, especially in pop, check out our thoughts on them.)

“Dancing In The Streets” by Martha & The Vandellas

Song Year: 1964

This classic, upbeat R&B song name-drops a range of cities, from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, as it encourages dancing and music in society. Its groovy tune brought it to #2 on the Billboard charts, while its emphasis on summer makes it an almost aggressively seasonal song.

One less obvious thing is that this song was so popular in its time that multiple other artists, including Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones, ended up alluding to it in their songs.

They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, so if you’re looking for an upbeat song that mentions Philly, this is it.

“Bandstand Boogie” by Barry Manilow

Song Year: 1975

Barry Manilow’s hit pop song focuses on song and dance, with its boogie elements making it a favorite at clubs and dance floors. Philadelphia comes in as a center point of the song, with Manilow specifically referencing the city’s style while encouraging people to get up and move.

Philadelphia always has a certain amount of energy in songs that feature it. Something about the city is inherently energetic, possibly due to its unique role in American history. This comes across as the power of its ideas works with almost every genre.

“The Sound of Philadelphia” by MSFB and The Three Degrees

Song Year: 1973

“The Sound of Philadelphia” is one of the most-recognized songs about the city. Though it’s mainly an instrumental track, the lyrics are simple. As a disco hit, it wound up winning a Grammy for the best R&B instrumental work, and it remains a popular song on the playlist in areas where disco isn’t dead.

More than that, T.S.O.P. and the other instrumental-focused songs on this list showcase that Philadelphia isn’t just a name; it’s a feeling. Something about the city inspires positivity in artists, and that comes through loud and clear.

“Philadelphia Freedom” by Elton John

Song Year: 1975

Elton John is one of the most-recognized pop singers in history, with his 1997 “Candle in the Wind” placing as the second-highest-selling physical single of all time. He recorded “Philadelphia Freedom” in 1974 as a break from work on his ninth studio album. At the time, the only song John and Bernie Taupin had intentionally written as a single.

Penned initially as an homage to tennis player Billie Jean King (one of John’s partners in philanthropy), the tune’s uplifting sound resonated with the country and the excitement for the upcoming bicentennial celebration in 1976. It hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and eventually got certified platinum.

Top Songs About Philadelphia, Final Thoughts

Songs about Philadelphia cover a wide range, from uplifting instrumentals and marches to love songs and rap. The city embraces everyone who comes to it, and they return that love in countless forms through music.

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