A common space for harmonic peacemakers
Fill your next dreary day with ballads, bangers and soul songs about the rain
From the rain-soaked streets of London to the alleys of Portland, people love to complain about rain. But people the world over also love to sing about the rain. It's not all sadness and metaphors for weeping, either. Sure, you'll find some tears amid the 15 songs about rain below, but you'll also find psychedelic classics, joyful club bangers and wet-hot disco jams. Together, they constitute the ultimate rainy-day playlist. Don't worry about the rain, either. Rihanna brought her umbrella.
"Purple Rain" by Prince from Live At Paisley Park, 12/18/1999
Before the Wetherspoons’ cocktail came one of the finest songs ever penned, produced and performed. You’ve heard it, watched it and belted it out more times than any memory could remember, so here are the words of the Purple One himself: ‘When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple... purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/God guide you through the purple rain.’ Yeah, what he said.
Singin' in the Rain - Gene Kelly
Sure, the rain may dampen our moods – and many days a year, at that. But Gene Kelly’s rendition of this classic film’s classic number is all about skipping along in blissful ignorance at the pissing clouds above you. ‘I'm laughin’ at clouds / So dark up above’ says it all – so whack two soggy fingers up at any sadness and tap-dance your way to a big ol’ grin.
The Temptations - I wish it would rain
One of the vocal group most heartbroken efforts, The Temptations’ slow, deliberate and swelling hit is essentially a prayer for rain to hide the fact that they've been uncontrollably crying after losing yet another love. It's as devastating as it is catchy, one of the best Motown songs of all time and an entrant in the heartbreak hall of fame.
The Rain Song’ by Led Zeppelin
‘Upon us all, upon us all, a little rain must fall’ Robert Plant entones on one the most mythically charged, Tolkein-esque The Song Remains the Same track, which is really saying something. The song is pure atmosphere, an evocative daydream that tours the seasons of the psyche with the quartet’s signature bravado and shows what happens when the Gods of Thunder bring the rain.
Here Comes the Rain Again’ by the Eurythmics
‘Here comes the rain again’ isn’t just one of the buzz phrases of British culture. It’s also the title of this Eurythmics number, which expertly blends bleakness with little droplets of euphoric sound. Oh, and back in the day, Alex Parks (remember her?) gave us a suitably moody cover version on underrated BBC talent show Fame Academy.
Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac
Someone needs to send Stevie Nicks to a meteorologist because thunder certainly can happen when it’s not raining. But in her defence, this song is one of the most majestic break-up songs ever written, feeling melancholy and restorative in equal measure. Perhaps, in this instance, the white witch can be forgiven.
Rain on Me’ by Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande
In the darkest, driest days of the pandemic, Gaga and Ariana emerged from the darkness to drop a wet-hot banger destined for eternal club rotation, announcing ‘I’d rather be dry, but at least I'm alive’ over a livewire beat. Then, for good measure, they dropped a rain-drenched dance-along video – directed by Robert Rodriguez, natch – to practice to so the dance floor looked extra lively upon reopening.
Rain’ by Madonna
Madonna has so many bangers that ‘Rain’ often slips through the umbrella of her discography. It shouldn’t – it’s a classic break-up song, fit with some great forecasting. Forget weather reports or cows lying down – Madge will be able to tell you: ‘I feel it coming / it’s coming / rain.’
Umbrella’ by Rihanna
Though it’s been horribly overplayed at cheese nights worldwide, this one’s still a certified classic. It has everything a pop juggernaut needs – a banging feature (Jay-Z as the ‘Rainman’), a huge chorus (from Rihanna as ‘Little Ms. Sunshine’) and more hooks than a Peter Pan convention.
Set Fire to the Rain’ by Adele
Bingo! We’ve got another full-house winner of Adele Bingo. Huge chorus? Check. String section? Gotcha. Perfect bridge? You bet. Scientifically unsound as the title may seem, it’s actually based on, in Adele’s own words, a time ‘when mah lightah stopped workin’ in the wet.’ Classic Adele, all round.
Rain Falls (David’s Soakin’ Wet Mix)’ by Frankie Knuckles
A tears on the dancefloor moment. Opening with Lisa Michaelis’s sultry spoken word intro and background rain sounds, it’s a classic piano house tune that gets even the most dampened of spirits grooving.
Spring Rain’ 1976 by Bebu Silvetti
Here’s a relatively unsung instrumental from the disco era. It’s equal parts euphonic and euphoric, capturing all the giddy goodness of a spring shower. Bask in the beauty of this (when you’re not bathing in purple rain, obvs).
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ by Bob Dylan
Fittingly, Dylan’s 1962 ballad doesn’t have the sunniest of origins. Crafted, in his own words, as ‘one long funeral song,’ it’s dripping with raw emotion and lyrics straight from the era of beat poetry. Bleak characters are everywhere: crying clowns, dying ponies, child soldiers. But it’s like an antique shilling off of eBay – vintage Bob.
November Rain’ by Guns N’ Roses
Even dad-rock favourites get soppy (and soggy) now and then. Power ballad ‘November Rain’ has broken a ton of records — it’s the longest song to get into the Billboard Top 10 and the first video from the 20th century to hit a billion views on YouTube, for example. But it’s also broken a lot of hearts and tear ducts with its soaring solos and symphonic sounds, and likely led at least a few people to ruin a wedding by diving into the cake for no reason.
Coming Clean’ by Hilary Duff
Who doesn’t love a metaphor about the rain’s cleansing power? Hilary Duff is most definitely a fan, even if she does want the wet weather to ‘wash away her sanity.’ Whether the rain really does have such restorative powers is debatable, but one thing’s for certain: standing in a shower of rain won’t leave you feeling all that clean, especially in a city.