When it comes to American cities, New York is the undisputed champion.
From Broadway to Wall Street, the Yankees to Central Park, this city has been influencing and shaping America for centuries.
And if you grew up in New York City like I did, then you know that no matter where you are or what time of day it is there’s always something happening in NYC – whether it’s a hot dog cart on a busy corner at 3am or an amazingly talented drag queen belting out show tunes at Carnegie Hall.
Songs about New York tell its story through verse and melody as well as capture the magic of life in the Big Apple with each memorable note.
Here’s our picks for the 20 Best Songs About New York!
(Theme From) New York, New York – Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra’s “Theme from New York, New York” is one of the most quintessential songs about the Big Apple.
The song paints a picture of the city that never sleeps, with its bright lights and endless energy.
Sinatra’s voice is full of passion as he sings about the allure of New York City.
If there’s one song that captures the spirit of New York, it’s this one!
Autumn in New York – Billie Holiday
One of the most iconic songs about New York is “Autumn in New York” by Billie Holiday.
Released in 1954, the song is a lyrical ode to the city in autumn.
The lyrics evoke the beauty and magic of the city in fall, with references to the leaves turning red and gold, the crispness in the air, and the way that New Yorkers love to walk around and take in the sights.
The song has been covered by many artists over the years, but Holiday’s version is still considered one of the best.
Welcome to New York – Taylor Swift
Welcome to New York is one of Taylor Swift’s most well-known songs.
The song was released in 2014 as the lead single from her album, 1989. The song was written by Taylor Swift, Ryan Tedder, and Noel Zancanella.
The song is about Swift’s experience moving to New York City and the culture shock she experienced.
She sings about the city’s bright lights, tall buildings, and all of the excitement that comes with living in New York.
The song has been praised by many music critics and has been nominated for several awards, including a Grammy Award.
The Only Living Boy in New York – Simon and Garfunkel
The Only Living Boy in New York is a haunting ballad about a young man who is struggling to find his place in the world
. The song paints a beautiful picture of New York City, with its winding streets and colorful characters.
The lyrics evoke a feeling of loneliness and isolation, as the protagonist reflects on his life and all that he has left to discover.
The song is a poignant reminder that we all have a story to tell, and sometimes the best way to tell it is through song.
New York City Serenade – Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen’s “New York City Serenade” is one of the most lyrical and beautiful songs about New York.
In it, Springsteen paints a picture of the city in all its glory, from the bright lights of Times Square to the allure of the subway.
The song is a tribute to the city that Springsteen loves, and it’s easy to see why he feels so connected to it.
With its sweeping strings and beautiful lyrics, “New York City Serenade” is a must-listen for anyone who loves New York.
New York State of Mind – Billy Joel (and Bruce Springsteen)
No one knows this better than Billy Joel, who wrote the song “New York State of Mind” about his love for the city.
The song is a melancholy ballad that paints a picture of a man who is deeply in love with New York and all of its quirks and flaws.
Its lyrics are about the loneliness and nostalgia that come with living in such a fast-paced city.
Bells of New York City – Josh Groban
Josh Groban’s song “Bells of New York City” paints a beautiful and nostalgic picture of the city that never sleeps.
The song touches on many of the things that make New York so special, from the amazing food to the passionate people.
Groban’s vocals are perfect for this feel-good anthem about New York.
Its lyrics are about as close to a love letter to the city as you can get.
I Guess the Lord Must be In New York City – Harry Nilsson
The song “I Guess the Lord Must be In New York City” by Harry Nilsson is a beautiful ballad that takes a nostalgic look at the city.
Nilsson sings about how special and unique New York is, and how it has a magic all its own.
The song is a tribute to the city and all of the amazing experiences that can be had there.
Its lyrics are about as poetic as they come, and they really capture the essence of New York City.
The Girl From New York City – The Beachboys
The Beachboys’ song “The Girl From New York City” paints a romanticized portrait of the city, with lyrics like “She walks along the East River/Listening to the wind sing a melody.”
The song is a beautiful ode to the Big Apple and all it has to offer.
Its lyrics are about longing for someone who is far away, and in that way it really captures the feeling of being homesick for a city.
Ever Since New York – Harry Styles
Ever Since New York, Harry Styles has been wistfully singing about his love for the Big Apple.
The song is written about a failed relationship, and in it Styles sings about how much he misses New York and all of the good times they had together.
The song is a beautiful ballad that will make you miss New York just as much as Harry does.
Its lyrics are about as poetic as they come, and the melody is simply enchanting.
New New York – Cranberries
New New York is the title of a song by Irish rock band The Cranberries.
It was released in October 2009 as the lead single from their sixth studio album, No Need to Argue.
The song was written about the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
The lyrics of the song reflect lead singer Dolores O’Riordan’s feelings of sadness and anger in the aftermath of the attacks.
She said that “the song is about how people reacted to 9/11 – all the hate and bigotry that came out – it was like a new type of fascism.”
New York City – The Chainsmokers
The Chainsmokers are a DJ and production duo from New York City.
They have had massive success in the past few years with songs like “Closer” and “Don’t Let Me Down.”
Their song “New York City” is a love letter to their hometown, and it’s clear that they are proud to be from the Big Apple.
The song is a upbeat dance track that shows off the energy of the city.
It’s perfect for a party playlist, and it will make you feel like you’re dancing in the streets of New York.
New York at Night – Old Dominion
Old Dominion is a country music band that was formed in Nashville, Tennessee in 2007.
The band is made up of Matthew Ramsey (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Trevor Rosen (acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, keyboards), Whit Sellers (drums, percussion), Geoff Sprung (bass guitar, vocals), and Brad Tursi (guitar, vocals).
In this song, “New York at Night”, the band sings about how much they love New York City and all that it has to offer.
Empire State of Mind – JAY-Z feat. Alicia Keys
Empire State of Mind is one of the most iconic songs about New York City.
The song was released in 2009 as a single from Jay-Z’s album The Blueprint 3.
It features vocals from Alicia Keys and tells the story of two lovers who are from different parts of the country but meet in New York City.
The song became an instant hit and is now considered one of the greatest songs about New York, and also features on our list of songs about 911.
Some people even call it the unofficial anthem of New York City.
6PM In New York – Drake
Drake released his song 6PM In New York in late 2014 as a response to reports that he was cheated on by Rihanna while they were in New York together.
The song is an emotional ballad about the pain of being cheated on and the loneliness of being away from the one you love.
The song is written from Drake’s perspective as he wanders the streets of New York, trying to make sense of what has happened.
The lyrics are full of imagery and detail, painting a picture of a city that is both vibrant and full of pain.
Drake talks about the lights of Times Square and the energy of the city nightlife, while also referencing the hurt he feels from being betrayed.
The song is a powerful meditation on love and loss, and it is a perfect example of the talent that Drake has for capturing the essence of a city in his music.
Brooklyn Baby – Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey’s “Brooklyn Baby” is a love letter to the city that never sleeps.
The song celebrates all that is great about New York, from the energy and excitement of the city to its rich cultural heritage.
Del Rey’s lyrics capture the essence of New York, and her voice oozes with passion for the city.
If you’re looking for a song that captures the spirit of New York, “Brooklyn Baby” is it.
I Love New York – Madonna
There’s no doubt that Madonna’s “I Love New York” is one of the most iconic songs about the city.
Released in 2005, the song was actually written and recorded as a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Madonna said that she wanted to write a song that would make people feel proud to be from New York again, and she succeeded with “I Love New York”.
The song is a celebration of the city’s toughness and resilience, and it’s still one of the most popular songs about New York today.
No Sleep Till Brooklyn – The Beastie Boys
No Sleep Till Brooklyn by the Beastie Boys is a definitive song about New York.
The lyrics are all about the energy and excitement of the city, and the track perfectly captures the feeling of being in Manhattan.
It’s hard not to feel pumped up when listening to this song, and it’s no wonder that it has become such an iconic track about New York.
Leaving New York – R.E.M.
Leaving New York is a song by the American rock band R.E.M. It was released as the first single from their 2004 album, Around the Sun.
The song was written by Michael Stipe and Peter Buck, and produced by Pat McCarthy.
The lyrics of the song are about a person who is leaving New York City because they can’t take the pressure anymore.
The song has been interpreted as being about the September 11 terrorist attacks, although Stipe has denied this.
New York City Cops – The Strokes
The Strokes are a New York City band, and their song “New York City Cops” is a scathing indictment of the NYPD.
The song was written in the aftermath of the police shooting of Amadou Diallo, and it’s a furious blend of punk and garage rock.
It’s a perfect example of the energy and anger that permeates New York City music.
Its lyrics are about as New York as you can get: “I’m in the city where the streets have no name/And I’m looking for a victim to blame.”