29 Songs Starting With R

Rap, reggae, R&B, and good old-fashioned rock and roll. There are many styles of music that begin with the letter “R.”

But how many songs start with the letter? The list is almost endless. When we explore the various genres of music and songs beginning with the letter “R,” it is easy to get lost. Here are our favorite songs starting with “R.”

1. “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac

Song Year: 1975

Stevie Nicks came up with the lyrics to “Rhiannon” after discovering the character in a novel. Rhiannon is the name of a witch and also a Welsh goddess.

The lyrics are about a mysterious, mystical woman who is elusive, having the ability to become one with the darkness. As much as you want to love her, you may never win her.

2. “Roxanne” by The Police

Song Year: 1978

“Roxanne” became the signature song of the English rock band The Police. Sting wrote the track inspired by the prostitutes hanging around their seedy hotel in Paris, France.   

The song is about a man falling in love with a prostitute and wanting her to stop. He begs her to stop putting on the red light, which indicates she is open for business.

3. “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson

Song Year: 1979

“Rock with You” is a funky disco track from Michael Jackson’s album, Off the Wall, the first of his records produced by Quincy Jones. The song topped both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B charts.

Jackson sings to his woman about how they will spend their night together, their love so strong it will last forever.

4. “Radio Gaga” by Queen

Song Year: 1984

Paying homage to the radio, Queen drummer Roger Taylor wrote “Radio Ga Ga” for the band’s album, The Works. The song was part of Queen’s epic performance at Live Aid.

The song points out that music videos had overtaken the art form of radio, with the latter being lost to a new generation.

5. “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell

Song Year: 1975

Glen Campbell’s signature song “Rhinestone Cowboy” is about the struggle to become a big star under the bright lights of adoring fans.

The song was an international success with crossover appeal. It topped the Billboard Hot 100, Hot Country Singles, and Adult Contemporary charts in 1975.

6. “Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin

Song Year: 1969

“Ramble On” is a classic from the album Led Zeppelin II. What starts as a melodic acoustic number shifts into the band’s signature heavy metal.

The lyrics are that of a quest by the singer to find his girl. He has been searching for a long time and will continue to ramble around the world on his journey.

7. “Rainy Day People” by Gordon Lightfoot

Song Year: 1975

“Rainy Day People” are those types of folks that see the good in everything, even when the weather is gloomy. They are loyal, make good listeners, and help you through tough times.

Gordon Lightfoot reached number one with the song in Canada and on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It appears on his album, Cold on the Shoulder.

8. “Radar Love” by Golden Earring

Song Year: 1973

One of the great driving songs, “Radar Love” turned Dutch rockers Golden Earring into an international success.

A driver and his lover share “radar love.” When she needs him, there is no need to send a cable or a letter, he just feels it. While racing home to be with her, he has a tragic accident but their radar love survives. 

9. “Rainy Days and Mondays” by Carpenters

Song Year: 1971

“Rainy Days and Mondays” is a sad song from easy rock sibling duo, Karen and Richard Carpenter. It reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100.

This slow, melodic ballad is about having the blues and not feeling you fit in anywhere. The only thing that seems to help is being with someone who loves you.

10. “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie

Song Year: 1974

David Bowie was famous for changing his persona along with his music. “Rebel Rebel” ushered out his glam rock image and was an early example of what would become the punk movement.

Bowie sings about going out on the town with a wild, party-loving girl. She tears her dress and has a disheveled face, but that makes her all the more appealing.

11. “Red” by Taylor Swift

Song Year: 2013

Taylor Swift often equates emotions with colors, a habit most evident in the title track of her album, Red. The song charted on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles for 42 weeks.

Swift expresses that in her relationship, losing him is blue, missing him is dark gray, but flashbacks of loving him are always played out in burning red.

12. “Rhythm Nation” by Janet Jackson 

Song Year: 1998

Janet Jackson makes a socially conscious statement with the release of “Rhythm Nation.” This upbeat track was designed to appeal to a younger audience, the future for a better way of life.

In “Rhythm Nation,” music unites people with only positive vibes allowed. The video for the song was shot in black and white, symbolizing racial harmony.

13. “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley & The Wailers

“Redemption Song” by Bob Marley & The Wailers

Song Year: 1980

From the album Uprising, “Redemption Song” became one of Marley’s most important political commentaries.

In a departure from his typical reggae sound, he strummed his guitar and sang of freeing one’s mind from mental slavery.

14. “Rapture” by Blondie 

Song Year: 1981

In what was Blondie’s first foray into hip-hop, “Rapture” features Debbie Harry rapping lyrics over a pop-disco beat. It would be the first “rap song” to be heard by a major audience.

The lyrics to the song are somewhat nonsensical, centering on a man from Mars eating cars and bars. “Rapture” has been deciphered as a play on the “rap” scene in New York City as well as The Rapture, the ascent from Earth to Heaven.

15. “Run To the Hills” by Iron Maiden 

Song Year: 1982

Heavy metal rockers Iron Maiden give us a history lesson with “Run To the Hills” from the album, The Number of the Beast. This track is one of the most intense songs starting with “R” on the list.

The lyrics are from the point of view of both the Native Americans and the US cavalry. This track rocks without glossing over the brutality of the conflict.

16. “Reelin’ In the Years” by Steely Dan

Song Year: 1973

Jazz-rock band Steely Dan tries to fend off getting old with their hit, “Reelin’ In the Years.” The song peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Times were changing in the mid-70s and Steely Dan recognized that people were trying to grab onto something they thought was going to last. Some of their choices, however, made no sense.

17. “Red Red Wine” by UB40

Song Year: 1983

Written and recorded by Neil Diamond in 1967, UB40’s cover of “Red Red Wine” became a smash hit.

The lyrics are a love song to red wine. When you are hurting because your love has left you, red wine is the only thing left to give you any pleasure and help you forget the pain.

18. “Riders on the Storm” by The Doors

Song Year: 1971

From the mind of Jim Morrison came “Riders on the Storm,” a song about a hitchhiking killer and his love for his woman. Only the poet Morrison could juxtapose love imagery with a murderer.

The track appeared on the album L.A. Woman and charted on the Billboard Hot 100 the same week as Morrison’s death.

19. “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver

Song Year: 1972

John Denver moved to Aspen, Colorado, in the late ‘60s, where he was inspired to write “Rocky Mountain High.” It became an official state song in 2007.

Denver’s country folk classic is an ode to the Rocky Mountains. He paints beautiful imagery of the forests and streams and the meteor shower that lights up the sky.

20. “Reach Out I’ll Be There” by The Four Tops

Song Year: 1966

Motown’s The Four Tops had an international hit with their classic, “Reach Out I’ll Be There.” It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts.

The song is about a man singing to a woman struggling with loneliness and depression. No matter what, all she has to do is reach out and he will always be there for her. 

21. “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash

Song Year: 1963

June Carter wrote “Ring of Fire” about falling in love with her soon-to-be husband, Johnny Cash. Originally recorded by June’s sister, Johnny had a dream about the song which was accompanied by mariachi horns.

When two people are in love, they form a bond—a passionate ring of fire. Cash’s song reminds the listener the deeper you fall, the higher the flames get.

22. “Rain On the Scarecrow” by John Mellencamp

Song Year: 1985

John Mellencamp’s hit album Scarecrow featured “Rain On the Scarecrow,” which spoke to the struggle of farmers in America’s heartland. 

The lyrics are a telling recount of the reality faced by farmers, empty fields, foreclosures, and a loss of dignity. A land that fed a nation is but memories now.

23. “Rocket Man” by Elton John

Song Year: 1972

Elton John takes us far into space with “Rocket Man” from his album Honky Chateau.

The lyrics bring us on a journey through the eyes of an astronaut and his lonely existence far from his wife. It will be a long time before touchdown brings him back to Earth.

24. “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Song Year: 1983

From the album Welcome to the Pleasuredome, Frankie Goes to Hollywood tells us to “Relax.” Despite its controversial content, the song topped the charts across Europe and spent 37 weeks on the UK’s Top 40.

The hard-thumping disco-rock beat and suggestive lyrics got the song banned by the BBC.

25. “Runaway” by Del Shannon 

Song Year: 1961

Del Shannon had an international hit with “Runaway.” It reached number one in several countries, including the US Billboard Hot 100.

The singer laments that his girlfriend has left him and reflects on their time together trying to figure out what went wrong. Through his tears, he worries about his little runaway.

26. “Red Rain” by Peter Gabriel 

Song Year: 1986

“Red Rain” came from a dream Peter Gabriel had where he was swimming in a pool and drinking red wine. The dream turned into bottle-shaped people falling from the sky smashing on the ground and oozing red liquid.

The song was a track on Gabriel’s hugely successful album, So. It peaked at number two on the Billboard 200. 

27. “Rasputin” by Boney M

Song Year: 1978

Boney M. gives us a disco-pop-polka history lesson with “Rasputin.” It’s the story of a Russian mystical healer who was also quite the playboy with the ladies.

The lyrics tell the story of Rasputin and his reputation as a lover, but how he also ran afoul of his political enemies. Despite pleas from the women to spare him, Rasputin meets his ultimate fate.

28. “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” by The Shangri-Las 

Song Year: 1964

“Remember (Walking in the Sand)” reached number five for the all-girl group The Shangri-Las in 1964. Aerosmith covered the song and released a rock version in 1979.

It is a classic breakup song. Boy and girl fall in love, boy goes away, girl gets a letter that the boy has found someone new. All the girl can do now is remember holding hands while walking in the sand.

29. “Rock and Roll All Nite” by Kiss 

Song Year: 1975

Considered their signature song, KISS ends almost every concert with “Rock and Roll All Nite.” The song is a classic example of a rock and roll anthem. 

Its lyrics are all about letting loose and partying. When lead singer Paul Stanley gets the crowd jumping with the catchy chorus, Kiss Nation obliges by singing it back.

Best Songs Starting With R, Final Thoughts

There are so many great songs starting with “R,” we barely scratched the surface with our list.

No matter what genre of music is your favorite—pop, funk, country, or rock and roll—you are certain to find a wide selection of titles that begin with R. Rock on R, rock on!

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