FlourishAnyway believes there is a playlist for just about any situation and is on a mission to unite and entertain the world through song.
Ghosts Walk Among Us
With the billions of souls who have inhabited the planet before us, it's hard to fathom that there are not some spirits that remain, either unable or unwilling to move on. I live in an area that was involved in both Revolutionary War engagements and major Civil War campaigns. Nearby in a public wooded park there are remnants of both a cemetery and a Civil War field hospital.
Red Cross founder Clara Barton and others tended to wounded soldiers there, and Abraham Lincoln visited the site in the abysmal waning days of the conflict. Some people in these parts say that you can still hear the moans and screams of injured and dying soldiers if you listen closely enough. Maybe that's just a ghost story.
Whether you call them ghosts, spirits, or apparitions, such departed souls may indeed wander among us, guarding, haunting, and tending to unfinished business among the living. It's no wonder, then, that they have become a popular topic in music, as artists grieve lost loved ones as well as memories of old flames that won't die.
However, in music, ghosts are also used to represent a detached, nonengaged style of social interaction as well as people who feel emotionally broken. This includes those who are a shadow of who they used to be. Wherever there is emptiness, sorrow, and a sad twist of fate, there are often images of ghosts. Celebrate ghostly spirits by making a playlist of pop, rock, country, and R&B songs with ghosts in the title. We have a long list to start you off!
1. "Ghost" by Justin Bieber
Feeling bereft at the death of a loved one, the narrator in this 2021 pop tune looks back in sorrow and wishes that they had spent more time together. Since that's not possible, he settles for the comfort of the many happy memories they created. His loved one's ghost is the next best thing to having them there.
Singer and co-songwriter Justin Bieber explains that the song is about losing someone you care about during the pandemic. Globally, approximately 6 million people have lost their lives to COVID-19 so far.
2. "Ghost of You" by 5 Seconds of Summer
The ghost in this 2018 pop tune is not a dead person but rather the memory of a lost love relationship that the narrator still grieves. Evidence of his ex-partner's memory is fading, but it still infiltrates his life, like her Led Zeppelin shirt and lipstick-stained coffee cup.
The narrator is too disheartened to sleep in the empty space on his former girlfriend's side of the bed. He also finds himself dancing around the house with her ghost, although it doesn't feel the same as before. Having left these hints of herself behind, his ex-lover's memory is an apparition that haunts the man long after she has fled his life.
3. "Ghost Town" by Benson Boone
The man in this 2021 soft rock song is an adept taker while his lover is a giver to the point that their relationship has grown toxic. He desperately acknowledges that the love they once had now feels dark, cold, and empty.
Whether in a moment of insight or despair, the narrator suggests that perhaps he is the source of his partner's unhappiness and they should break up so she can be happy:
Maybe you'd be happier with someone else
Maybe loving me's the reason you can't love yourself
Before I turn your heart into a ghost town
Show me everything we built so I can tear it all down
Down, down, down.
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Although Benson Boone appeared on Season 19 of American Idol, he decided on his own to leave the show. Boone became a TikTok sensation with the song.
4. "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr.
Who you gonna call?
I ain't 'fraid of no ghost.
From the soundtrack of the 1984 major motion picture by the same name, this worldwide dance hit sings the praises of a low-rent ghost extermination service. Thus, if you're seeing haunted apparitions, invisible men, scary phantoms, freaky spirits, or spectres, then pick up the phone and call Ghostbusters. They'll rid your property of its uninvited tenants.
The song "Ghostbusters" unfortunately had an eerie similarity to the melody of Huey Lewis and The News' 1983 pop hit, "I Want a New Drug." Following a plagiarism lawsuit, there was an out-of-court settlement. It was estimated that the theme song for the movie added a gobsmacking $20 million to the movie's box office gross.
5. "Ghost Town" by Adam Lambert
Some folks give a lot of credence to their dreams, interpretting them as signs. In this globally popular 2015 dance track, the narrator addresses a former lover, recalling a dream in which he died. (Note that dreaming about yourself dying usually signifies a major life transition).
As the man namedrops Hollywood legends, he recounts how he was barred from entering heaven in his dream, so he walked into hell, calling out his former partner's name to no avail. The man feels all alone and insecure, disconnected from people he knows and from the wider world. His heart is an empty ghosttown.
6. "Ghost" by Halsey
The woman in this 2014 synth-pop single likes the bad boys. Her ghost is a player who is physically there but emotionally absent. The narrator knows this isn't a relationship that will last, and her ghost has even warned her that he's no good for her. It's too bad that she lets him haunt her life.
7. "Ghost in This House" by Shenandoah
We don't know what made this love affair die, but the longstanding effects of heartbreak still linger for the man in this mournful 1990 country song. Having been abandoned by his significant other, he declares that he is a mere shadow of who he used to be.
The narrator has wrapped himself up in loneliness and longing, unable to recover from the demise of the relationship, and he lives in the house they once shared, surrounded by his ex's memory. Whereas the couple used to be red-hot lovers, now the sorrowful guy is a reclusive ghost, deeply depressed and unable to carry on many day-to-day functions. Oh, what misery!
8. "Two Ghosts" by Harry Styles
Awkwardness takes over when you spend time with someone you've grown apart from, as the guy in this 2017 folk rock song depicts. A special relationship can grows flat and lose its spark.
As Harry Styles laments in this song, "We're just two ghosts standing in the place of you and me." When there's increasing distance between you, conversation doesn't flow easily like it used to. Even if you share the same stories or words, the feeling just isn't there.
9. "Ghost Town" by Jake Owen
The lovelorn fella in this 2013 country tune is experiencing hallucinations of the heart. Following a breakup, he has such trouble forgetting his former girlfriend that he sees her all over town, in every nook and cranny. Her memory has him living in a ghost town. (He should also be checking his sanity, but that doesn't come up in this song.)
10."Through the Ghost" by Shinedown
Drugs, booze, and hard living. Whatever bad stuff the dude in this 2012 alt rock song has been abusing his body with, it sure has been taking its toll. As he regards himself in the mirror, the reflection that looks back is unrecognizable, barely resembling who he once was.
Thanks to his choices, everything that once mattered to the narrator is shattered in dust. He is a ghost, a mere shadow of his prior self. Tomorrow is a lost possibility. In disbelief, this is a confrontation of self. The song is inspired by an autobiographical situation faced by the band's lead vocalist, Brent Smith, who struggled for years with substance abuse issues and weight management.
11. "Dancing With Your Ghost" by Sasha Alex Sloan
Grieving the loss of her significant other, the sad young woman in this 2021 indie pop ballad wrestles with whether it's the right time for her to move on. Is she ready yet to give herself permission?
The narrator is having particular difficulty gaining closure because didn't get to say goodbye to her lover. She screams at the world, stays up all night, and dances each night with his ghost to their special song. For her, grief is like quicksand, and she stays stuck.
12. "Ghosts" by Michael Jackson
When the King of Pop released this song in 1997, he was still trying to shake off the impact of 1993 child sexual abuse allegations. Although he vehemently denied them, multiple such allegations—such as those detailed in the 2019 HBO documentary Leaving Neverland—followed him throughout his career.
Jackson portrays a man who is attacked by a mean, vindictive "ghost of jealousy" in this R&B track, as he proclaims his innocence. The restless spectre stabs him in the back, shoots an arrow in him, and both confuses and alarms him. In response, the narrator feels indignant, asking the ghost haunting him who gave it the right to terrorize him and his family. Who is the victim here?
13. "The Father, My Son and the Holy Ghost" by Craig Morgan
Country singer Craig Morgan wrote this 2019 country song to help him cope with the 2016 death of his teenage son, Jerry, who was being pulled in an inner tube behind a boat. Despite wearing a life jacket, the 16-year-old was dragged underwater and failed to resurface, drowning in the lake.
The mournful song describes Morgan's heartrending grief as he rejects well-meaning friends' attempts to get him out of the house. The father prays and cries, hopes and works on healing his shattered heart. Knowing that one day he will be reunited with his lost loved one brings him solace.
14. "Ghost" by MercyMe
The ghost inhabiting this man's heart is neither scary nor unwelcome, as it is the Holy Spirit. In this 2017 contemporary Christian song, the narrator expresses joy to have invited this ghost into his life. It vanquishes his fears and brings him hope and peace. He feels comforted by this force of spiritual goodness leading him through the darkness and the unknown.
15. "Ghost Town" by Kanye West
Kanye West is having trouble with his mind in this 2018 hip-hop release which gives an account of his mental unraveling. Full of the illogical, disturbed, and broken thoughts of someone experiencing bipolar disorder, this song juxtaposes emotional needs, grandiose ideas for his future, and random, fleeting jargon and images.
West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2017 and is unmedicated for the condition. He experiences bouts with mania and has spoken publicly about his mental illness.
Amid his bipolar episodes, West has made a number of confusing and divisive statements, including denigrating American abolitionist Harriet Tubman and suggesting that slavery is "a choice." Additionally, he has experienced public meltdowns on social media, tweeted very personal details about his private life with ex-wife Kim Kardashian, and attempted a failed 2020 bid for President.
16. "Ghost" by Alan Walker and Au/Ra
Comparing herself to a ghost, the gal in this 2019 pop song has challenges with social interaction. She wants to be close to others but has difficulty with maintaining interpersonal connections. As a result, she finds herself disappearing from people's lives like a ghost, cooling the relationship, or losing touch with them. Although her disappearing act helps her to keep people at a comfortable emotional distance, it has her feeling lonely and rightfully afraid that she'll end up alone.
17. "Walking With a Ghost" by Tegan and Sara
A partner is much like a ghost if they aren't all that into you but insist on hanging around (perhaps until someone better comes along). They aren't overly visible and minimally engaged in the relationship but still linger.
The woman in this 2004 indie folk rock tune is nursing a heartache for such a creeper. She felt more deeply for her former lover and is trying to erase both his memory and the damage he caused.
18. "Ghostin" by Ariana Grande
Indeed, this is a girl who admits to carrying "a whole lot of baggage." Full of autobiographical allusions, this 2019 pop ballad features Ariana Grande describing a narrator who seeks comfort in the arms of a current lover.
Who is she crying over? Someone she loves way more, to be honest. She feels guilty and regretful because she isn't ready to tell her supportive boyfriend that he'll never compare to her previous boyfriend. The narrator also knows that she should be putting her former lover in the past by now, however she just can't get over him. (You can't help who you love, she'd have you believe.)
Grande and rapper Mac Miller dated for two years before breaking up in May 2018. Shortly thereafter, she began dating Saturday Night Live actor Pete Davidson, and the couple became engaged in June 2018. Miller died of an accidental drug overdose in September 2018, and Davidson and Grande broke up the next month. Very sad emotional baggage.
19. "Ghost!" by Kid Cudi
This 2010 R&B/hip hop song describes the narrator's journey to manhood. The crazy, "in between" time of adolescence was marked by risk and lack of real help, as he had to basically figure life out for himself. Although his parents tried to offer him advice, he preferred to learn from first hand experience like most of the rest of us. Eventually, things made sense, and he learned that his parents didn't really know what was going on anyway.
The person he is now has been impacted by all of the places and people that he's experienced. Somewhere along the way, he has become numb and barely there, like a ghost.
20. "Ghosttown" by Madonna
If you were left standing in a post-apocalyptic world, who is the love interest you would you want by your side? In this 2015 electropop ballad, a song narrator declares her love and loyalty to her significant other until the end. All they have is one another:
When it all falls, when it all falls down
I'll be your fire when the lights go out
When there's no one, no one else around
We'll be two souls in a ghosttown.
Even More Songs With Ghost in the Title
21. Dance With Ghosts
22. The Ghost of You
My Chemical Romance
23. The Ghost in You
The Psychadelic Furs
24. (Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend
25. Give Up the Ghost
26. Ghost of You
Selena Gomez & The Scene
27. Ghosts of the Navigator
28. Ghost Towns Along the Highway
31. Ghost Town
33. The Ghost Inside
34. The Ghost of Tom Joad
35. The Ghost Train
36. Ghost of the Navigator
38. The Ghost of General Lee
40. I Believe in Ghosts
42. Holy Ghost Fire
43. The Ghosts of Highway 20
44. Ghosts on the Stereo
45. me & ur ghost
46. Ghost Town
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