In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re looking back at ten unforgettable musical tributes from daughters and sons to the women who raised them. Here are heartwarming and heart-wrenching tracks that perfectly capture the essence of what it means to be a mother.
Moms are heroes. Shining examples. The personification of everything we need to be.
Moms are teachers. They teach us about humility, perseverance, love, kindness, passion, resilience, how to understand space and how to fill it. How to think creatively. Moms are the best friend that’s always willing to listen, knowing when not to ask any questions at all, but simply sit by our side.
Keep in mind today is a hard day for a lot of people who have lost their moms. If you're lucky enough to have one, give them a long hug.
💐 Happy Mother’s Day 💐
10. "Upward Over the Mountain" by Iron and Wine
A fragile stunner. Perhaps the truest and most tender song about the relationship between mother and son ever written. Lyrically, Samuel Beam juxtaposes the relationship's shift from childhood ("I've got some money I saved for the weekend," "Remember the blink of an eye when I breathed through your body") to the dark places that adulthood can lead ("I've lost it all of the fear of the Lord I was give," "I've got a cup and a friend on the corner"). The lasting sentiment that he hits on: the desire to not break your mom's heart and to never let her down.
9. "The Mother" by Brandi Carlile
The song is a love story to her daughter, Evangeline; but it’s also a raw and honest view of parenthood, told from the deepest and warmest places of a mother’s heart. Brandi sings:
"The first things that she took from me were selfishness and sleep / She filled my life with color, canceled plans, and trashed my car / but none of that was ever who we are."
She references holding her sleeping baby while longing to emulate friends who are accomplishing dreams. But as Carlile sings to her daughter, who she calls “nothing short of magical,” she also reminds herself and all parents that we get to relive life’s most amazing things through our children’s eyes.
8. "Oh Mother" by Christina Aguilera
This 2006 single addresses her own early childhood, as she thanks her mother for leaving her abusive father. Christina Aguilera takes a more emotionally immersive approach, asking us to experience the profound feelings of thankfulness and gratefulness towards her courageous mother.
"So, mother, I thank you (And I thank you for everything you've done) / For all that you've done and still do (Together we always move on) / You got me, I got you (You got me, I got you) / Together we always pull through (always pull through) / We always pull through"
7. "Mama’s Song" by Carrie Underwood
"Mama you taught me to do the right things / So now you have to let your baby fly," sings Carrie Underwood. "You've given me everything that I will need / To make it through this crazy thing called life." This gem of a song is all about telling mom it’s okay to let her daughter go on to the next phase of her life.
6. "The Perfect Fan" by Backstreet Boys
In this soft rock piano medley, BSB declare their love and appreciation for their mothers. When the song debuted in 1999 on the Backstreet Boys’ third album Millenium, fans and mothers everywhere swooned. How can you not love this ode to moms?
"You showed me when I was young just how to grow / You showed me everything that I should know / You showed me just how to walk without your hands / ‘Cause mom you always were / The perfect fan."
5. "Turn to You" by Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber pays tribute to his mom Pattie Mallette and sings about his young, single mother that struggled to raise him in small-town Ontario.
"You taught me everything / And everything you've given me / I always keep it inside / You’re the driving force in my life / Never gonna go a day without you / Fills me up just thinking about you / I’ll never go a day without my mama. / So when you’re lost and you’re tired / When you’re broken in two / Let my love take you higher / ‘Cause I still turn to you."
4. "Mama Said" by The Shirelles
The only optimistic doo-wop track we all love and need.
"Mama said there'll be days like this / There'll be days like this, my mama said (Mama said, mama said) / Mama said there'll be days like this / There'll be days like this, my mama said / don't you worry / (Mama said, mama said, hey, hey) don't you worry, now"
3. "If I Ain’t Got You" by Alicia Keys
Alicia’s countless tributes to her mama (Terria Joseph) are touching, heartfelt, and absolutely out of this world. Keys often talks about how her mom encouraged her to pursue music and equipped Alicia with both a piano and space to practice.
"Some just want everything / But everything means nothing / If I ain't got you, yeah"
2. "Mama" by Spice Girls
The idea for this Spice Girls ballad arose in 1996 when Melanie "Scary Spice" Brown thought it would be a good idea to write a tribute for the mamas of the group.
"Every other day I crossed the line, I didn't mean to be so bad / I never thought you would become the friend I never had / Back then I didn't know why, why you were misunderstood / So now I see through your eyes, all that you did was love."
In the book Real Life: Real Spice: The Official Story, Mel B said of the song: “The sentiments are really that your mum's probably the best friend that you've got. Whether she's an over-protective mother or a bit of a landmine, she probably knows you better than yourself in some ways.”
1. "Ring Off" by Beyoncé
The feminist empowerment of Beyoncé continues. November 2013, a new track on the deluxe edition of her eponymous fifth album praised her mother for getting over her father’s adultery. "Mama, after all them years / We can start all over again / Mama, we can love again / This is where freedom begins."
The song ends with Tina Knowles taking charge of her own life in her own spoken words: "If you’re going through it, just know: it’s called ‘going THROUGH it’ / You’re not gonna get stuck there, you’re not gonna die / You’re gonna survive."
Have a mom-umental Mother's Day, cause moms are the bomb dot com. 💖