From dogs to birds, it’s difficult to go a day without encountering animals. Throughout history, artists have used animals as metaphors for human behavior.
Songs about animals incite feelings of fear, love, adventure, and everything in between. Below are the best songs with animals in the title.
“Octopus’s Garden” by The Beatles
Song Year: 1969
The Beatles’ platinum album Abbey Road is packed with a variety of hits, with its most unique track being “Octopus’s Garden.” “Octopus’s Garden” was the only Beatles song written by Ringo Starr, who also does the vocals.
“Octopus’s Garden” is a peaceful and visual song. Ringo received inspiration in Sardinia after learning that octopi build gardens from beautiful objects like rocks and shiny trash.
The song has also been interpreted as a warning against water pollution.
“Crocodile Rock” by Elton John
Song Year: 1972
“Crocodile Rock” is one of Elton John’s most well-known hits, thanks in part to its use of the Farfisa organ.
“Crocodile Rock” was released as a single before being featured on John’s 1973 album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player. The inspiration for “Crocodile Rock” came from Australian band Daddy Cool’s song “Eagle Rock.”
The lyrics tell of an older man who does the Crocodile Rock, a dance everyone else forgot about after the 60s. From the dance to his girlfriend, the man who does the “Crocodile Rock” has lost everything to time.
“Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + The Machine
Song Year: 2008
Part of their debut album Lungs, “Dog Days Are Over” is arguably Florence + The Machine’s most memorable song. The 2010 music video currently has over 160 million views on YouTube.
Florence Welch got the inspiration for this upbeat bop from a London bank that had a large rainbow sign saying, “Dog Days Are Over.”
Despite the music being bright, the lyrics are dark and talk about fleeing to survive. Some listeners believe the song is about leaving toxic relationships.
“A Horse with No Name” by America
Song Year: 1972
Some bands peak on their first song, but America’s “A Horse with No Name” proves that isn’t always a bad thing.
Songwriter Dewey Bunnell claims he wrote “Horse with No Name” out of boredom in only a couple of hours. He pictured himself riding a horse and pulled inspiration from severe sunburns he would get on the beach as a kid.
In 2009, a posthumous Michael Jackson song “A Place with No Name” was released, taking direct inspiration from “A Horse with No Name.”
“Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin
Song Year: 1971
No. 1 in Q magazine’s “20 Greatest Guitar Tracks” and ranked on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” “Black Dog” is a true rock-and-roll classic.
“Black Dog” is set in a call-and-response style, with the band and vocalist going back and forth. It was inspired by Fleetwood Mac’s song “Oh Well” and Muddy Waters’ album Electric Mud.
“Hound Dog” by Big Mama Thornton
Song Year: 1952
Originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton in 1953, “Hound Dog” was a 12-bar Blues song of passion and rage before it was introduced into rock-and-roll.
At the time, the slang word “Hound Dog” referred to a cheap, male sex worker. The song is about the woman married to him who is vocally livid with her man.
Elvis Presley later changed the lyrics to be about an actual dog instead. Though Elvis’s rock-and-roll cover of “Hound Dog” changed music history, it carried none of the emotional weight of Big Mama Thornton’s original recording.
“I Am the Walrus” by The Beatles
Song Year: 1967
Originally written for their TV movie Magical Mystery Tour, “I Am the Walrus” is among the most confusing of The Beatles’ songs.
John Lennon supposedly took inspiration for “I Am the Walrus” from Lewis Carroll’s 1871 poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” after two LSD trips.
Lennon had started to get sick of music critics coming up with scholarly meanings and interpretations of his lyrics. He intentionally made the lyrics of “I Am the Walrus” nonsensical to mess with the critics.
“White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane
Song Year: 1967
Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, “White Rabbit” is Jefferson Airplane’s most well-known song today.
Released in the summer of love, “White Rabbit” wasn’t an instant hit, but the song stuck with its audience for decades to come. The lyrics are about liberating yourself by educating your head and, quite frankly, doing drugs.
“White Rabbit” was listed on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” and on The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.”
“Swine” by Lady Gaga
Song Year: 2013
Though it’s not one of her most identifiable tracks, “Swine” is perhaps one of Lady Gaga’s most serious songs. “Swine” is a very angry song, and rightfully so.
The song lyrics are about her rage in response to being raped by a record producer. Lady Gaga later said that using the song to confront her trauma and anger was “freeing.”
“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
Song Year: 1982
Written as the iconic theme song for Rocky III, “Eye of the Tiger” is Survivor’s biggest hit. “Eye of the Tiger” was certified platinum only three months after its release and was ranked No. 63 in VH1’s Greatest Hard Rock Songs.
The idiom “Eye of the Tiger” means to pick up the pieces of your life and move forward against all odds. A true motivational piece, “Eye of the Tiger” is the perfect workout song.
“Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones
Song Year: 1971
“Wild Horses” is very in-tune with The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction,” with lyrics about being on the road and away from home.
Some rumors claimed the song was about Keith Richards’ newborn son, while others claimed the song to be about Mick Jagger’s struggling relationship with Marianne Faithfull.
“Wild Horses” is ranked No. 334 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
“Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons
Song Year: 2009
Mumford & Sons’ most iconic song, “Little Lion Man” is about growing up. The singer talks to his younger self and describes himself as a “little lion man” – strong and mature like a lion while still feeling small and childish.
“Little Lion Man” received numerous award nominations, including “Top Alternative Song” at the Billboard Music Awards and “Best Rock Song” at the Grammy Awards.
“Pink Pony Club” by Chappell Roan
Song Year: 2020
Described as the “the Song of Summer 2021” by Vulture, “Pink Pony Club” was the second hit song by up-and-coming artist Chappell Roan.
The song is about a dancer (stripper) at the fictional Pink Pony Club. Despite the protestations of her family and judgment from her hometown, the dancer loves her job and will keep on dancing.
The music video heavily implies that “Pink Pony Club” is a queer coming-out story. The video opens with Roan in a biker bar but ends with her being lifted into the air by drag queens and leather daddies.
“Rockin’ Robin” by Bobby Day
Song Year: 1958
“Rockin’ Robin” is an upbeat classic with simple yet pleasant lyrics. “Rockin’ Robin” is a bit of an enigma, one of the only songs to fit four choruses (each followed by a hook) in only 2 ½ minutes.
“Rockin’ Robin” was Bobby Day’s biggest hit, peaking at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The song was later covered by Michael Jackson in 1972.
“Hounds of Love” by Kate Bush
Song Year: 1986
“Hounds of Love” was the title track for Kate Bush’s fifth album. The song is about the fear of falling in love, comparing love to being chased by a vicious pack of dogs.
The music video for “Hounds of Love” was heavily inspired by Alfred Hitchcock movies and featured a line from Night of the Demon (1957) in its intro. “Hounds of Love” was ranked No. 21 on Q magazine’s “50 Greatest British Songs of All Time.”
“Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club
Song Year: 1983
“Karma Chameleon” is about the fear of being alienated. It’s about being true to yourself and not trying to match somebody else’s colors. If you only live your life blending in with others, karma will follow.
“Karma Chameleon” was the biggest-selling single in the UK in 1983, sticking to the No. 1 spot for six consecutive weeks.
“War Pigs” by Black Sabbath
Song Year: 1970
“War Pigs” was originally named “Walpurgis,” which Black Sabbath bassist/song-writer Geezer Butler described as “Christmas for Satanists.” “Walpurgis” was renamed “War Pigs” to be more radio-friendly, but the lyrics stayed the same.
The song is about evil, especially in the face of the Vietnam war. Butler was adamantly against the war. This song was his way of saying he won’t fight anyone else’s wars for them.
“The Lovecats” by The Cure
Song Year: 1983
“The Lovecats,” otherwise spelled “The Love Cats,” was one of The Cure’s biggest hits, their first song to break the UK’s Top 10 charts.
Much like The Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus,” songwriter Robert Smith later revealed that “The Lovecats” was written as a joke. The song was written drunk, and the music video was filmed drunk in a for-sale house that they told a real-estate agent they were interested in buying.
Despite being utterly random, “The Lovecats” is a great example of how songs with animal names in the title can unintentionally become lively classics.
“She Wolf” by Shakira
Song Year: 2009
The title track of Shakira’s eighth studio album, “She Wolf” is a song about female empowerment and expression.
The song uses werewolf analogies to inspire women to embrace their wildest, truest selves. Shakira later described a “she-wolf” as “the woman who knows what she wants.”
“She Wolf” performed well on most charts, while the Spanish version of the song “Loba” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs.
“Blackbird” by The Beatles
Song Year: 1968
“Blackbird” is one of the slower songs on The Beatles’ White Album, written and sung primarily by Paul McCartney. The song features a peaceful, acoustic guitar riff, which was inspired by Bach’s Bourrée in E minor.
McCartney was inspired to write “Blackbird” after hearing a blackbird’s call while meditating in Rishikesh, India. The lyrics are about the US civil rights movement, with “blackbird” meaning “Black girl,” according to McCartney.
“Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin
Song Year: 1973
“Cats in the Cradle” was inspired by a poem of the same name written by Harry Chapin’s wife, Sandy. The song is about a father and son who are estranged because of the father’s busy career.
“Cats in the Cradle” reached No. 1 in the United States and Canada. The song received a Grammy nomination in 1975 and was added to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011.
“Rock Lobster” by The B-52s
Song Year: 1978
Declared the 147th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone, “Rock Lobster” is an upbeat song about encountering a rock lobster at a beach party. And that’s really it.
“Rock Lobster” was The B-52s’ first single, originally recorded on almost no budget. Warner Bros. Records soon signed with the B-52s, and the version of “Rock Lobster” we know today was recorded a year later.
“Rock Lobster” went on to be one of the most fun songs for parties.
“Who Let the Dogs Out” by Baha Men
Song Year: 2000
“Who Let the Dogs Out” is a feminist song that almost everyone knows the chorus to. It was a global hit from 2000 through 2001 and is still often used in movies and TV shows featuring dogs.
The “dogs” of “Who Let the Dogs Out” are a metaphor for men who catcall women. The lyrics repeatedly tell men to stop the name-calling. The question “who let the dogs out?” ultimately translates to “who let these obnoxious men outside?”
“Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Song Year: 1974
According to lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, “Free Bird” should never have been as popular as it is. It’s too long, has too many key changes, and is simply a lot. Fortunately, his expectations were wrong.
“Free Bird” is a song about freedom. Van Zant used the analogy of a bird to describe being able to fly anywhere and do anything you want – even if what you want is to perform a ten-minute song on guitar.
“What’s New Pussycat?” by Tom Jones
Song Year: 1965
Written for the Woody Allen movie of the same title, “What’s New Pussycat?” is a goofy song that almost everyone has heard. The song was originally an instrumental theme, but lyrics were added once Tom Jones joined the project.
“What’s New Pussycat?” received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.
“Shake Me Like a Monkey” by Dave Matthews Band
Song Year: 2009
Usually notable for having slow, chill songs, the Dave Matthews Band mixed things up with “Shake Me Like a Monkey.”
“Shake Me Like a Monkey” is an expressive song about embracing love and emotions without restraint. In an interview, Dave Matthews said he pictured the song being sung by an out-of-his-mind man in a top hat.
“Buffalo Soldier” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
Song Year: 1983
Though it wasn’t released until after his death, “Buffalo Soldier” is one of Bob Marley’s most recognizable songs. The song describes the “buffalo soldiers,” regimes of slaves who were forced to fight against Native American tribes in early America.
Marley celebrates the courage of these men, but the song is also somber in acknowledging that these men were oppressed and only brought more oppression with them.
Top Songs With Animals In The Title, Final Thoughts
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best songs with animals in the title.
While animal songs aren’t always specifically songs about animals, they all use animals as fitting analogies for our behavior.
From the ferocity of a tiger to a chameleon’s fear of being unique, and from the freedom of a bird to the peculiar interests of octopi, these songs use the animal kingdom to incite emotions we couldn’t feel otherwise.
What is your favorite song about animals?