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65 Songs About New York

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Ray has been an online music writer for over four years. Having sung in multiple competitions as a youth, he has a passion for the art.

Songs About New York

Songs About New York

Songs about New York cover various genres and artists, from country to pop and rap to folk-rock music. The best New York songs are written by artists who understand what makes NYC great and horrifying. From Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' anthem "Empire State of Mind" to Taylor Swift's "Welcome to New York" song, over the years, there has been a lot of music showcasing New York. We compiled the best songs written about New York City to tribute this robust and beautiful city.

1. “New York, New York”

Artist: Frank Sinatra

Album: New York, New York

Year Released: 1977

Genre: Traditional Pop Music

Facts About “New York, New York”

  • “New York, New York” is one of the most popular songs about New York ever recorded.
  • John Kander composed “Theme from New York, New York” with lyrics by Fred Ebb for the Martin Scorsese film New York, New York (1977).
  • Even with hundreds of New York songs, the song is still one of the best-known songs about New York City.
  • In the A&E Biography episode about Liza Minnelli, composers Kander and Ebb explained that the song’s success was due to actor Robert De Niro, who rejected the original theme for the film for being “too weak.”
  • Sinatra first performed this NYC song at Radio City Music Hall in New York in 1978.
  • The song is not the same as “New York, New York” from the musical “On The Town.”
  • It is one of the New York, New York songs portraying the experience of an entertainer leaving a small town and trying to make it in the big city.

2. “New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down”

Artist: LCD Soundsystem

Album: Sound of Silver

Year Released: 2007

Genre: Ballad Music

Facts About “New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down”

  • As a traditional closing song to concerts, “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” is the last music the band usually plays before their encore.
  • In “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” LCD Soundsystem makes a nostalgic appeal to New York’s current conditions while demonstrating the band’s complicated feelings toward the city that never sleeps.
  • Murphy expresses how New York has changed negatively from his point of view in “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” but tells that, despite these changes, he still loves the city in many ways.
  • It is one of the best New York city songs about being disappointed in the city.

3. “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”

Artist: Beastie Boys

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Album: Licensed to III

Year Released: 1986

Genre: Heavy Metal, Hip-Hop/Rap Music, Rap Rock Music, Hard Rock Music

Facts About “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”

  • “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” is one of the admired songs about New York rap.
  • The song “No Sleep till Brooklyn” is the sixth single from the debut album Licensed to Ill by the New York hip hop group the Beastie Boys.
  • Despite all the tiring events during their tour, “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” demonstrates how determined they are not to stop until they reach Brooklyn, their hometown.
  • It is one of the songs for New York City paying homage to New York’s boroughs and has been described as a “joyful rant.”

4. “Coney Island”

Artist: Good Old War

Album: Only Way to Be Alone

Year Released: 2008

Genre: IndieFolk Music

Facts About “Coney Island”

  • “Coney Island” is a New York song about being bored with your hometown. Although tedious, yet appreciate it when you’ve been gone a while.
  • The band features former Days Away members in its lineup. Good Old War is an indie-folk band based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • There is a contradiction in this New York song between two places. The place he is leaving behind, and the area with his heart.

5. “New York City Cops”

Artist: The Strokes

Album: Is This It

Year Released: 2001

Genre: Indie Rock, Garage Rock Revival Music

Facts About “New York City Cops”

  • “New York City Cops” is a jam-packed punk blaster song about New York City cops from The Strokes’ debut album, Is This It.
  • “New York City Cops” is one of the most popular indie songs about New York.
  • Due to its New York City Police Department lyrics, it was replaced with another song on the then-unreleased American CD edition following the September 11 attacks.
  • Two New York songs from the album, “New York City Cops” and “Hard to Explain,” were released through RCA Records in Australia and Europe on June 25, 2001, following the killing of Amadou Diallo by four plainclothes officers in 1999.
  • A refrain of the song reads: “New York City cops, but they ain’t too smart.”

6. “New York”

Artist: St. Vincent

Album: Masseduction

Year Released: 2017

Genre: Pop Music

Facts About “New York”

  • St. Vincent released “New York” as the lead single off of her fifth studio album, Masseduction, on June 30, 2017.
  • The song initially had no chorus and was a piano ballad.
  • In “New York,” a relationship ends, hence the song’s somber tone.
  • It may not be as popular as “Despacito,” but St. Vincent’s “New York” is undoubtedly a strong contender for summer’s best song.
  • Others say that Carrie Brownstein, who played with Sleater Kinney in 2012, is the subject of this New York song.
  • In many ways, “New York” could be seen as the antithesis of “Los Ageless,” the album’s second single.

7. “N.Y. State of Mind”

Artist: Nas

Album: Illmatic

Year Released: 1994

Genre: Rap Music, East Coast Hip Hop, Hardcore Hip Hop

Facts About “N.Y. State of Mind”

  • Nas’ 1994 debut studio album Illmatic contains the song “N.Y. State of Mind.”
  • The song features Nas rapping two verses about his rapping talents and the dangerous surroundings of New York City over a drum break sample of “N.T.” by Kool & the Gang.
  • According to Nas, the song “Streets of New York” by Kool G Rap was one of the song’s primary influences.
  • Hill calls “N.Y. State of Mind” a standout track on Illmatic, stating that it is “conveying the ghetto experience as clearly as a photo by Gordon Parks or a poem by Langston Hughes.”
  • Nas shows off his exceptional lyrical skills in this song about New York on the simplistic beat.

8. “Chelsea Hotel #2”

Artist: Leonard Cohen

Album: Leonard Cohen

Year Released: 1974

Genre: Folk Rock Music

Facts About “Chelsea Hotel #2”

  • “Chelsea Hotel #2” is one of the best folk-rock songs about New York.
  • New York City’s Chelsea Hotel is often frequented by musicians, artists, and writers.
  • A sexual encounter at the Chelsea Hotel is referred to as “Chelsea Hotel #2”, probably New York City’s most famous bohemian hotel.
  • As stated in the song, Leonard Cohen met Janis Joplin in New York’s Chelsea Hotel.
  • In a nutshell, the song is only about a moment between two unattractive people who are both homely and exceptionally talented at the same time.
  • There have been many covers of this New York song. Lloyd Cole performed it on the Cohen tribute album I’m Your Fan, and Rufus Wainwright performed it at the live Leonard Cohen tribute Leonard Cohen called I was Your Man in 2006.

9. “Empire State of Mind”

Artist: Jay Z ft. Alicia Keys

Album: The Blueprint 3

Year Released: 2009

Genre: Hip Hop Music

Facts About “Empire State of Mind”

  • “Empire State of Mind” is one of the best songs about New York, popularized by Jay Z and Alicia Keys.
  • The song hit for New York, “Empire State of Mind,” is the new anthem for New York City, making it one of the most famous songs about New York.
  • From Jay-Z’s 11th studio album, The Blueprint 3 (2009), “Empire State of Mind” features vocals by American singer Alicia Keys.
  • It includes a sample of The Moments’ “Love on a Two-Way Street.”
  • Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” remains one of Hov’s most successful singles. It was the first Jay-Z-led single to top the Billboard “Hot 100,” staying at the top for five weeks in a row.
  • In addition to winning “Best Rap Song” and “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration,” the track was nominated for three Grammy Awards.
  • New York City is a gritty, honest place and an idealized, flashy dream in this NYC song.

10. “Autumn in New York”

Artist: Billie Holiday

Album: Thumbs Up!

Year Released: 1934

Genre: Jazz Music

Facts About “Autumn in New York”

  • Vernon Duke wrote the song “Autumn in New York” in 1934 when he lived in Westport, Connecticut.
  • Numerous musicians and singers have recorded versions of this New York song.
  • According to Timeout, New York, Billie Holiday’s “Autumn in New York” ranks No. 5 on our list of the 100 best NYC songs.
  • Frank Sinatra’s version was the only one to chart in the USA as a single, reaching #27 in 1949.

11. “Snow Is Falling In Manhattan”

Artist: Purple Mountains

Album: Purple Mountains

Year Released: 2019

Genre: Alternative/Indie Music

Facts About “Snow Is Falling In Manhattan”

  • Cocker, Gonzalez, and Feist performed a cover of Purple Mountains’ ‘Snow Is Falling In Manhattan,’ which came out less than a month before Silver Jews legend David Berman passed away.
  • In Berman’s opinion, it’s a tricky song about New York from the perspective of someone who owns a brownstone in Manhattan.

12. “Chelsea Morning”

Artist: Joni Mitchell

Album: Clouds

Year Released: 1969

Genre: Folk Rock Music

Facts About “Chelsea Morning”

  • Joni Mitchell wrote and composed “Chelsea Morning” for her second album, Clouds, released in 1969.
  • Mitchell’s room in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City was the inspiration for the song’s first verse. Her unique apartment’s décor partly inspired it.
  • Mitchel’s lyrics in this song showcase her style of imagery and her ability to use visual inspiration, a skill she inherited from her background in visual arts. For instance, “The sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses.”
  • The song “Chelsea Morning” appears on Neil Diamond’s 1971 album Stones.
  • In this song, Mitchell references Chelsea, a district in New York City and a famous area in London.

13. “Welcome to New York”

Artist: Taylor Swift

Album: 1989

Year Released: 2014

Genre: Synth-Pop, Disco Music, Electropop Music

Facts About “Welcome to New York”

  • “Welcome to New York” is a New York movie song featured in The Secret Life of Pets.
  • Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York” appears on her fifth studio album, 1989 (2014).
  • Taylor’s song is about her being a New Yorker. The song portrays Swift’s love for New York, where she lives, and how beautiful and welcoming it is.
  • Swift said she wanted to begin her 1989 album with this song because New York has been an important landscape and location in her life in the last couple of years.
  • Aside from writing this song about New York with Tedder, Swift produced it with Noel Zancanella, who penned hit songs for Demi Lovato, Ellie Goulding, and Maroon 5.
  • Compared with famous New York tribute songs, contemporary music critics criticized the lyrics for their lack of substance.
  • The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified “Welcome to New York” platinum for shipments exceeding one million units in the United States on January 22, 2015.

14. “First We Take Manhattan”

Artist: Leonard Cohen

Album: Famous Blue Raincoat

Year Released: 1987

Genre: Folk Rock Music

Facts About “First We Take Manhattan”

  • Leonard Cohen wrote the NYC song “First We Take Manhattan” in 1981.
  • Jennifer Warnes recorded it on her 1986 Cohen tribute album Famous Blue Raincoat, which contained only Cohen songs written by him or co-wrote.
  • The song’s lyric suggests religious and end-time themes with references to prayer, meaningful birthmarks, and signs in the sky.
  • As a staple of Cohen’s concerts, the song became a topic of discussion for people trying to figure out his poetry.

15. “New York State of Mind”

Artist: Billy Joel

Album: Turnstiles

Year Released: 1976

Genre: Jazz Music, Soft Rock Music

Facts About “New York State of Mind”

  • “New York State of Mind” is one of the well-known songs about NYC popularized by the legendary Billy Joel.
  • In 1976, Billy Joel released the song “New York State of Mind” on Turnstiles.
  • Ray Charles, a singer, songwriter, and pianist like Joel, influenced this New York music. In 1986, Joel did a duet with Charles on “Baby Grand.”
  • Originally from Long Island, Joel moved to Los Angeles for four years before returning to New York. This song commemorates his love for his hometown that he missed while away.

Continuation List of Songs About New York

Songs About New York TitleArtist(s)

16. “New York’s Alright (If You Like Sex & Phones)”

The Gotobeds

17. “My My Metrocard”

Le Tigre

18. “New York’s Not My Home”

Jim Croce

19. “South Bronx”

Boogie Down Productions

20. “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City”

Harry Nilsson

21. “I’m Waiting For The Man”

The Velvet Underground

22. “Across 110th Street”

Bobby Womack

23. “NYC”

Interpol

24. “Fairytale of New York”

The Pogues

25. “Seventeen”

Sharon Van Etten

26. “Rhapsody in Blue”

Leonard Bernstein with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra

27. “The Message”

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

28. “C.R.E.A.M.”

Wu-Tang Clan

29. “New New York”

Cranberries

30. “New York City”

The Chainsmokers

31. “New York”

Ed Sheeran

32. “New York at Night”

Old Dominion

33. “Ever Since New York”

Harry Styles

34. “6PM In New York”

Drake

35. “Brooklyn Baby”

Lana Del Rey

36. “Brooklyn’s Own”

Joey Bada$$

37. “Brooklyn, You’re Killing Me”

Andrew McMahon

38. “Leaving New York”

R.E.M.

39. “I Love New York”

Madonna

40. “New York, New York”

Ryan Adams

41.“Harlem”

New Politics

42. “Manhattan”

Sara Bareilles

43. “Brooklyn’s Finest”

JAY-Z

44. “Manhattan”

Ella Fitzgerald

45. “Angel of Harlem”

U2

46. “New York City”

Village People

47. “Walk on the Wild Side”

Lou Reed

48. “Englishman in New York”

Sting

49. “14th Street”

Rufus Wainwright

50. “Downtown Train”

Tom Waits

51. “New York Telephone Conversation”

Lou Reed

52. “What New York Used to Be”

The Kills

53. “Brooklyn Bound”

The Black Keys

54. “New York City Serenade”

Bruce Springsteen

55. “I’m Waiting for the Man”

Velvet Underground and Nico

56. “New York City Boys”

Pet Shop Boys

57. “Harlem Blues”

Nat King Cole

58. “Talkin’ New York”

Bob Dylan

59. “East Harlem”

Beirut

60. “Empire State”

Fleetwood Mac

61. “New York’s In Love”

David Bowie

62. “Broadway”

The Clash

63. “New York, New York”

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

64. “On Broadway”

George Benson

65. “Harlem’s Nocturne”

Alicia Keys

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Ray

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