50 Best Songs About New York City of All Time | MidderMusic (2024)

Table of Contents
Top songs about New York City 1. Jay-Z and Alicia Keys – “Empire State of Mind” 2. Madonna – “I Love New York” 3. LCD Soundsystem – “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down” 4. Frank Sinatra – “New York, New York” 5. St. Vincent – “New York” 6. Sting – “Englishman in New York” 7. The Pogues – “Fairytale of New York“ 8. Billie Holiday – “Autumn in New York” 9. Leonard Cohen – “Chelsea Hotel No.2″ 10. Billy Joel – “New York State of Mind” 11. Interpol – “NYC” 12. The Strokes – “New York City cops“ 13. Cat Power – “Manhattan” 14. Taylor Swift – “Welcome to New York“ 15. Joni Mitchell – “Chelsea Morning” 16. Simon & Garfunkel – “The Only Living Boy in New York” 17. James Brown – “Down and Out in New York City” 18. Paloma Faith – “New York” 19. U2 – “Angel of Harlem” 20. AC/DC – “Safe In New York City” 21. Lenny Kravitz – “New York City” 22. Harry Styles – “Ever Since New York” 23. Ja Rule ft. Fat Joe, Jadakiss – “New York” 24. Jennifer Lopez – “Jenny From the Block” 25. Beastie Boys – “An Open Letter To NYC” 26. The Kills – “What New York Used To Be” 27. Lana del Rey – “Brooklyn Baby” 28. Kings of Leon – “Manhattan” 29. Sara Bareilles – “Manhattan” 30. Laura Nyro – “New York Tendaberry” 31. Bob Dylan – “Talkin’ New York” 32. Ani DiFranco – “Cradle And All” 33. Princess Nokia – “ABCs of New York“ 34. The Zolas – “Fell in Love with New York” 35. Ace Frehley – “New York Groove” 36. Hamilton Musical – “Alexander Hamilton” 37. The Black Keys – “Brooklyn Bound” 38. New York Dolls – “Subway Train” 39. The Wombats – “Moving to New York” 40. Le Tigre – “My My Metrocard” 41. Purple Mountains – “Snow is Falling in Manhattan” 42. Lou Reed – “Coney Island Baby” 43. The Crystals – “Uptown” 44. Norah Jones – “New York City” 45. Harry Nilsson – “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City” 46. Ed Sheeran – “New York” 47. Mattafix – “Big City Life” 48. George Benson – “On Broadway” 49. Nina Simone – “Central Park Blues” 50. Chicago – “Another Rainy Day in New York City” Final Thoughts References

I’ve curated a collection of the best songs about New York City, each track a tribute to the unique energy, diversity, and spirit of the Big Apple.

This article is a musical exploration of NYC, capturing the essence of the city that never sleeps through songs that resonate with its vibrant heartbeat.

Table of Contents

Top songs about New York City

  • Jay-Z and Alicia Keys – “Empire State of Mind”
  • Madonna – “I Love New York”
  • LCD Soundsystem – “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down”
  • Frank Sinatra – “New York, New York”
  • St. Vincent – “New York”
  • Sting – “Englishman in New York”
  • The Pogues – “Fairytale of New York”
  • Billie Holiday – “Autumn in New York”
  • Leonard Cohen – “Chelsea Hotel No.2”
  • Billy Joel – “New York State of Mind”

1. Jay-Z and Alicia Keys – “Empire State of Mind”

The very first beat of this song reminds us of New York.

At the beginning of the song, Jay-Z says he’s the new Sinatra. Whether you agree or not, “Empire State of Mind” did become one of the iconic songs about New York.

It could easily be categorized as one of New York anthems.

And since there are so many, that’s not an easy thing to do. It seems like Jay-Z and Alicia had the right formula.

2. Madonna – “I Love New York”

Although “I Love New York” isn’t as famous as the previous song, it’s undoubtedly one of the best pop songs about New York.

And it’s one of Madonna’s rather underrated songs.

“Other places always make me sad
No other city ever made me glad
Except New York.”

3. LCD Soundsystem – “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down”

New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down portrays the mixed feelings about this city perfectly.

It’s dreamy, nostalgic, and captivating.

“Our records all show
You are filthy but fine
But they shuttered your stores
When you opened the doors.”

4. Frank Sinatra – New York, New York”

Of course, New York, New York is arguably the most iconic song about New York City.

It captures its charm, elegance, and intensity.

The song was debuted by Liza Minelli in Scorsese’s 1977 film of the same name. And Sinatra started performing it in 1978.

This song also popularized New York as the City that never sleeps.

“If I can make it there
I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you
New York, New York.”

5. St. Vincent – New York”

Annie Clark, known as St. Vincent, wrote a song about New York in her own recognizable way.

However, “New York” is actually about the end of a relationship (and New York.)

Either way, it’s a beautiful ballad with memorable lyrics.

“New York isn’t New York without you, love
So far in a few blocks, to be so low
If I call you from First Avenue.”

6. Sting – “Englishman in New York

Although this is not specifically a song about New York, it’s definitely associated with it the minute you hear it.

Sting allegedly wrote the song about famous gay author Quentin Crisp. He is the Englishman in New York.

And the official music video is directed by David Fincher.

7. The Pogues – “Fairytale of New York

When it comes to the most famous New York songs, “Fairytale of New York” is definitely on the list.

It’s also one of our Christmas favorites.

“The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day.”

8. Billie Holiday – “Autumn in New York”

“Autumn in New York, why does it seem so inviting?
Autumn in New York, it spells the thrill of first-nighting.”

This New York jazz song will make you dream about visiting New York.

Autumn in New York captures the essence of this special season in the city.

9. Leonard Cohen – Chelsea Hotel No.2″

We continue with classic New York songs.

Chelsea Hotel No.2 was inspired by Cohen’s encounter with Janis Joplin. He obviously associated the NYC hotel with romance.

Moreover, Hotel Chelsea was popular among creative musicians and artists of the ’60s and ’70s.

“Those were the reason an’ that was New York
We were runnin’ for the money and the flesh.”

10. Billy Joel – New York State of Mind”

“It was so easy living day by day
Out of touch with the rhythm and blues
But now I need a little give and take
The New York Times, The Daily News.”

When it comes to romantic NYC songs, it seems that Billy Joel is really in love with New York.

He grew up in Long Island but moved to Los Angeles eventually, so “New York State of Mind” was his way of expressing nostalgia for his hometown.

11. Interpol – “NYC”

This tune is perfect for a night drive through the streets of New York.

It’s dreamy, captivating, and aware of the charm of this city.

It portrays one part of the City that never sleeps perfectly.

12. The Strokes – “New York City cops

This is also one of the famous rock songs about New York City.

In fact, it gained popularity after the band performed it at a Bernie Sanders rally in 2020.

It’s a quirky and fast-paced tune embued with political comments.

13. Cat Power – “Manhattan”

If you’re searching for Manhattan songs, look no further than this track.

Cat Power’s song about Manhattan is authentic, dreamy, and uplifting.

“Don’t look at the moon tonight
You’ll never be never be never be Manhattan.”

14. Taylor Swift – “Welcome to New York

Taylor Swift wrote several songs about New York, and “Welcome to New York” is probably one of the most popular ones.

It’s lively and energetic, just like Big Apple tends to be.

“Walkin’ through a crowd, the village is aglow
Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats
Everybody here wanted somethin’ more.”

15. Joni Mitchell – “Chelsea Morning”

Joni Mitchell used to live in the arty Chelsea District in New York.

So it comes as no surprise that she dedicated a song to this city.

“Chelsea Morning” is a tender feel-good song with genuine heartfelt lyrics.

“Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning
And the first thing that I saw
Was the sun through yellow curtains
And a rainbow on the wall.”

16. Simon & Garfunkel – “The Only Living Boy in New York”

Simon & Garfunkel wrote a song about New York in their recognizable style.

“The Only Living Boy in New York” is emotional, calming, and powerful at the same time.

17. James Brown – “Down and Out in New York City

Here comes another NYC classic.

“Down and Out in New York City” is soulful, funky, and incredibly charming; so, everything you would expect from one of the best NYC songs.

“Ain’t no way to be
But where can you go?
When you’re down and out at New York City.”

18. Paloma Faith – “New York

When it comes to pop songs about New York, Paloma Faith did a good job.

Her 2009 track is emotional and catchy. And gospel back vocals in the chorus make it rather powerful.

19. U2 – “Angel of Harlem

“Angel of Harlem” is one of the classic rock songs about New York.

It’s not a typical U2 song though, but it’s one of the band’s signature songs.

And it was, in fact, written as a homage to the great (and previously mentioned) Billie Holiday.

20. AC/DC – “Safe In New York City

Released in 2000, “Safe In New York City” is all about the excitement you can find in NYC.

And as you would expect from AC/DC, the music video shows the band playing in a crowded tunnel full of armed police officers.

21. Lenny Kravitz – “New York City

New York City is not as perfect and romantic as some artists claim. But it’s surely resilient.

And Lenny Kravitz pointed that out in his song about New York.

And he’s obviously inspired and mesmerized by the city. According to the lyrics, he thinks it’s “the greatest town that you’ll ever find.”

“Life is always tough
On New York City
Oh lord
But she’s fine, she always survives.”

22. Harry Styles – “Ever Since New York

“Ever Since New York” is one of Harry’s underrated songs.

It’s captivating, touching, and somewhat nostalgic.

He released it on his self-titled 2017 studio album.

23. Ja Rule ft. Fat Joe, Jadakiss – “New York

If you’re looking for hip-hop songs about New York, this one is for you.

Released in 2004, “New York” quickly became one of the favorite NYC jams.

24. Jennifer Lopez – “Jenny From the Block

We haven’t forgotten about this iconic pop hit.

After all, Jenny is from the Bronx, and she made sure we all remember that.

“Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got
I’m still, I’m still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go, I know where I came from (from the Bronx!)”

25. Beastie Boys – “An Open Letter To NYC

This song by the American hip hop group Beastie Boys is a true letter to NYC.

Unlike J.Lo, they dedicated it to all the parts of New York:

“Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten
From the Battery to the top of Manhattan
Asian, Middle-Eastern and Latin
Black, White, New York you make it happen.”

26. The Kills – “What New York Used To Be

Just as it’s expected from The Kills, they made a nostalgic song about NYC.

The song names all the things that used to be different.

Well, perhaps New York isn’t what it used to be, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, at least to some extent.

27. Lana del Rey – “Brooklyn Baby

Lana del Rey is the queen of nostalgic romantic music.

And “Brooklyn Baby” is arguably one of the best tracks from her album “Ultraviolence.”

“I’ve got feathers in my hair
I get down to Beat poetry
And my jazz collection’s rare
I can play most anything
I’m a Brooklyn baby.”

28. Kings of Leon – “Manhattan

Kings of Leon is another band inspired by New York.

To be more precise, they were inspired by Manhattan.

And although this is not one of their most popular tracks, it’s a very cool one.

29. Sara Bareilles – “Manhattan

Sara Bareilles also wrote one of the songs about Manhattan.

It’s a more melancholic one though.

“You can have Manhattan
The one we used to share
The one where we were laughing
And drunk on just being there.”

30. Laura Nyro – “New York Tendaberry

Laura Nyro released “New York Tendaberry” on her acclaimed studio album of the same name.

At times, “New York Tendaberry” sounds jazzy and at times, a little like Joni Mitchell’s tune. But it mostly sounds like Laura Nyro.

31. Bob Dylan – “Talkin’ New York

It seems like many great artists were inspired by the energy of New York City.

Bob Dylan wrote a song about New York in his recognizable style full of narrating and folk-like details.

“Wintertime in New York town
The wind blowing snow around
Walk around with nowhere to go
Somebody could freeze right to the bone.”

32. Ani DiFranco – “Cradle And All

Considering their songwriting style, Bob Dylan and Ani DiFranco would make an interesting collaboration.

“Cradle And All” is Ani’s homage to Big Apple.

“I live in New York, New York
City that never shuts up
In the daylight everything is so gory
You can hear snatches of stranger’s sorry stories.”

33. Princess Nokia – “ABCs of New York

“ABCs of New York” by American rapper Princess Nokia is an honest depiction of living in New York City.

Princess Nokia used to live in East Harlem, so she knows what she’s talking about.

34. The Zolas – “Fell in Love with New York

Canadian indie rock band The Zolas also fell in love with New York.

However, their 2016 track has several meanings, and it’s allegedly written about the lead singer’s friend who is an adopted gay Unorthodox Jew.

35. Ace Frehley – “New York Groove

Ace Frehley (from Kiss) wrote a surprisingly uplifting and catchy song about New York.

He released it on his 1978 self-titled album.

After listening to this song, we’re definitely “back in the New York groove.”

36. Hamilton Musical – “Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda is hands down one of the most popular Broadway musicals of the past decade.

It tells the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

And “Alexander Hamilton” is the first song of Act One. The song mentions New York several times.

37. The Black Keys – “Brooklyn Bound

Let’s go back to the songs with Brooklyn in the title.

“Brooklyn Bound” by The Black Keys was released on the band’s debut studio album in 2002.

The song didn’t rise to fame as some of their other tracks, but it’s a nice tribute to one of New York City’s most famous boroughs.

38. New York Dolls – “Subway Train

We can’t skip a song from the group called New York Dolls.

Their song “Subway Train” has no direct mention of New York, but it’s pretty clear what it is about.

39. The Wombats – “Moving to New York

And this tune is clearly one of the songs with New York in it.

“Moving to New York” is a fast-paced rock tune with a catchy chorus.

But it would be better to interpret the lyrics yourself:

“So I’m moving to New York
‘Cause I’ve got issues with my sleep
Looks like Christmas came early
Christmas came early for me.”

40. Le Tigre – “My My Metrocard

This song captures the essence of living in New York perfectly. At least one aspect of it.

“My My Metrocard” is catchy, upbeat, and fun.

41. Purple Mountains – “Snow is Falling in Manhattan

If you want to move away from standard Christmas songs, “Snow is Falling in Manhattan” is a good choice.

Maybe it’s not very cheerful, but it’s tender, soothing, and holiday-like.

42. Lou Reed – “Coney Island Baby

Coney Island is a popular place in music. And Lou Reed wrote its anthem.

Released in 1975, “Coney Island Baby” is one of Reed’s most popular tracks.

And perhaps one of the most beloved New York City songs.

43. The Crystals – “Uptown

“Uptown” by The Crystals is an incredibly sweet tune.

It will make you feel ready for a trip to NYC. Or for the Christmas holidays.

Either way, “Uptown” is undoubtedly one of those beloved old New York songs.

44. Norah Jones – “New York City

Norah’s soothing voice and relaxed feel-good vibes; it’s all you need for your New York playlist.

“New York City
We were full of the stuff that every dream rested
As if floating on a lumpy pillow sky
Caught up in the whole illusion
That dreams never pass us by.”

45. Harry Nilsson – “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City

Harry Nilsson is a master of quirky lyrics and unique song titles.

And this upbeat song is proof. It does sound a bit like his famous hit “Everybody’s Talkin”, and we don’t mind.

“ll say goodbye to all my sorrow
And by tomorrow I’ll be on my way
I guess the Lord must be in New York City.”

46. Ed Sheeran – “New York

Ed Sheeran released “New York” on his second studio album “x.”

It’s a sweet, touching song for New York.

And it’s a bit reminiscent of Sheeran’s beautiful track “The A-Team.”

47. Mattafix – “Big City Life”

Although “Big City Life” isn’t one of the New York themed songs, it’s a part of this list for obvious reasons.

This popular hit talks about living in a large, busy city.

Big City Life
Try forget by
Pressure nah ease up no matter how hard me try.”

48. George Benson – “On Broadway

Broadway is where all the excitement happens.

Although there are several cover versions of the song “On Broadway”, George Benson’s version won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance.

49. Nina Simone – “Central Park Blues

Central Park is another essential part of New York City.

“Central Park Blues” was released on Nina Simone’s debut album back in 1958.

It’s a relaxing jazz tune ideal for strolling around Central Park.

50. Chicago – “Another Rainy Day in New York City

Let’s complete this list of the best songs about NYC with feel-good vibes from the ’70s.

It’s another rainy day in New York City, and guys from Chicago don’t mind!

“Another rainy day in New York City
Softly sweet, so silently it falls
As crosstown traffic crawls.”

Final Thoughts

Our list of the New York favorites is quite versatile.

But most of the songs about NYC are either upbeat or dreamy. And even though some artists portray New York’s flaws, they don’t seem to like the city any less because of it.

Without a doubt, New York City has a unique charm, and it clearly keeps having a major influence on many musicians.

After all, it’s known as the City that never sleeps. So, of course, it’s an inspiring and intriguing place to be.

As Simone de Beauvoir said: “There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.”

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