Rainbow songs have been popular throughout time. Rainbows are a sign of hope following a storm literally and figuratively. When the sun’s rays shine through droplets of rain and bring out an arched prism of colors, who can’t find the sight inspiring? Many songs have been written about rainbows over the years. The theme of the songs is often overcoming hardships to find hope and inspiration, just like the appearance of a beautiful rainbow following a dark storm.
Here are the best rainbow songs of all-time.
10. Pocketful of Rainbows by Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley recorded a song about rainbows in 1960 for the film “GI Blues”. In the movie, Elvis sings a the duet version of “Pocketful of Rainbows” with his co-star Juliet Prowse (who lip syncs her lines) while riding a cable car in a German town. Elvis had just begun his film career before enlisting in the US Army in 1958. Although the few films he made before entering the Army were not well received, he still hoped to have an acting career, so it was happy for him that 1960’s “GI Blues” was well received. Elivs went on to have not only a successful music career as well as acting career.
9. Rainbow by Sia
Australian singer Sia recorded “Rainbow” for the soundtrack of the animated film “My Little Pony: The Movie” in 2017. The uplifting song is perfect for the movie about the beloved pet stuffed animals. In the movie “Songbird”, a pop singing Pegasus sings to a crowd. “Rainbow” was written by Sia, Jesse Shatkin and James Vincent Notorleva and produced by Jesse Shatkin. Kids loved it but so did adults.
8. Rainbow (Interlude) by Mariah Carey
Famous for her angelic five octave range, singer Mariah Carey loves rainbows so much that she recorded an album titled “Rainbow”. Released in 1999, “Rainbow” includes the single “Rainbow (Interlude) which features background sounds of nature including chripping birds and cascading waterfalls. The album was Mariah’s seventh studio album and was defining for her as a musician. Prior to this she was married to Tommy Mottola, the head of Sony Music Entertainment, her first label. Mariah’s early career consisted of slow ballads. When she divorced Mottola, she evolved her music style to be more urban. The album features artists Jay Z and Snoop Dog.
7. Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows by Leslie Gore
The 1960’s campy hit song about sunshine, lollipops and rainbows lives on in pop culture. Leslie Gore, who also sang “It’s My Party. I’ll Cry If I Want To”, recorded “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” for her 1963 studio album “Leslie Gore Sings of Mixed Up Hearts”. The song was written by Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Liebling and produced by Quincy Jones. It appeared in the 1965 film “Ski Party”. The classic happy love song lives on in pop culture. It appears on a 1965 Alvin and the Chipmunks album, a 1993 episode of “The Simpsons” and in the 2009 animated movie “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” among others.
6. Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog
Young and old alike adore the unforgettable song “Rainbow Connection” from 1979’s The Muppet Movie. The lovable puppet hero Kermit the Frog, voiced by creator Jim Henson, sings the acoustic song in the movie and captures the hearts of millions. Like most songs about rainbows, “Rainbow Connection” has the theme of hope. It’s also a song about asking questions, even if there are no answers. The music and lyrics are by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher who previously collaborated on songs from “A Star Is Born”. “Rainbow Connection won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It’s been frequently covered by artists including Judy Collins, Willie Nelson, Kenny Loggins and The Dixie Chicks.
5. Rainbowland by Miley Cyrus feat. Dolly Parton
Miley Cyrus wrote “Rainbowland” for her sixth studio album “Younger Now” in 2017 which also featured the chart topping song “Malibu”. Originally the song was meant to be about finding love in a magical place, Rainbowland. After consulting with her godmother Dolly Parton, Dolly helped Miley rewrite the song to be simply about wanting to live in a free world that is safe for all. The result was a hit song with an upbeat country tune that will put you in a good mood.
4. She’s a Rainbow by The Rolling Stones
“She’s A Rainbow” is from The Rolling Stones’ 1967 album “Their Satanic Majesties Request”. Critics pointed out that the song is unlike most of the band’s music. It is a pretty, 1960’s psychedelic track. Band members Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote the song and the band produced it. The song stands out as one that is a bit of a side step from The Rolling Stones’ typical rock music. “She’s A Rainbow” was recently covered by bluegrass artist Molly Tuttle.
3. Rainbow by Kacey Musgraves
Like many rainbow songs, Kacey Musgrave’s “Rainbow” is about hope when in despair. Musgraves wrote the song for her third studio album “Golden Hour” which won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The song features soft lyrics and simple piano playing. The slow tempo piano ballad is in the quite key of E Flat Major. Produced by Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian, Musgraves wrote the song with Shane McAnally intending it to be an anthem of hope for those facing adversity, particularly the LGBTQ community with the lyrics “’cause the sky has finally opened. The rain and wind stopped blowing…There’s always been a rainbow over your head.”
2. Rainbow by Kesha
Kesha suffered a lot of despair early in her career. She was abused by a record producer and suffered depression as a result. While in treatment to overcome her mental struggles, the song writer wrote “Rainbow”. The song represents Kesha’s promise to herself that things would get better. From her depression came happiness. From her darkness came all of the colors of the rainbow. The hit song was released on Kesha’s third studio album, “Rainbow”. Ben Folds produced the album and created a beautiful song with Kesha that included an orchestra with cellos, violas, oboe flute, French horn and kettle drums.
1. Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland
When you think about Rainbow songs you automatically think about Judy Garland’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in The Wizard of Oz. The 1939 song won the Academy Award for Best Song. In the movie Judy Garland plays the part of young Dorothy Gale. After Miss Gulch (Margaret Hamilton) tries to steal Dorothy’s dog Toto, she sings the song against the dark and dreary skies of Kansas. She longs for a place where there is no trouble. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was composed by Harold Arlen, and the words were written by E.Y. Harburg. The song has been covered several times over the decades. Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Trisha Yearwood and Jewell have produced famous covers of the rainbow song. Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole recorded a memorable ukuleli version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in 2010.