Fire sees much less use in the present than in the past. That is because it has been replaced as a source of heat and lighting for the most part. Despite this, fire remains a powerful symbol.
To an extent, that is because it still shows up in a surprising range of contexts. However, it should also be mentioned that cultural influence built up over countless millennia can’t be eroded in an instant.
Here are 20 songs with fire in the title:
20. “Firework” – Katy Perry
“Firework” was one of the biggest hits of 2010. For proof, look no further than the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End chart of 2011, which put it in the number three position. The song was only bested by Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” in that year, meaning it more than held its own.
19. “Play with Fire” – The Rolling Stones
“Play with Fire” is a memorable song from the Rolling Stones. Its exact meaning sees some debate. However, most people agree that class plays an important role. Something that makes more sense when interested individuals remember that Great Britain is still a very class-conscious society in modern times. Never mind the mid-1960s.
18. “Fire” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Jimi Hendrix Experience released “Fire” back in 1967. Subsequently, it became one of the band’s most popular songs. Amusingly, the incident that inspired the lyrics was quite different from the scene depicted by the latter.
As the story goes, Hendrix wanted to warm himself beside his bandmate’s mother’s fireplace. He had to convince her German Shepherd to move out of the way before he could do so.
17. “Fire” – Busta Rhymes
Busta Rhymes is one of the greatest rappers to come out of East Coast hip hop in the mid-1980s. That said, “Fire” was the work of a more experienced artist than that. After all, it came out on Busta Rhymes’s fourth studio album, Anarchy, in 2000. A platinum seller that followed in the footsteps of three consecutive platinum sellers.
16. “Fight Fire with Fire” – Metallica
Metallica released Ride the Lightning in 1984. “Fight Fire with Fire” was one of the songs on the studio album. The idea might seem ridiculous. Even so, interested individuals should know it is a real thing. Firefighters sometimes use controlled burns to reduce the fuel available to the fire they are trying to bring under control.
15. “I See Fire” – Ed Sheeran
Famously, Peter Jackson asked Ed Sheeran to make “I See Fire” for the second Hobbit movie upon his daughter’s recommendation. There isn’t much mystery about the song’s exact meaning. Anyone who knows the story should have no problem figuring out that the lyrics were inspired by the dragon Smaug driving the dwarfs from their mountain home. Fortunately, the song isn’t overly specific, meaning its emotions can be applied to similar contexts.
14. “Fire Meet Gasoline” – Sia
“Fire Meets Gasoline” is a love song. The title and the lyrics combine to convey a sense of potential danger. Despite this, the narrator wants what she wants, meaning she plunges forward anyways. Some might recognize “Fire Meet Gasoline” because of the music video featuring Heidi Klum and Pedro Pascal, which was meant to promote the former’s lingerie line.
13. “Light My Fire” – The Doors
Fire is strongly associated with passion. As a result, it is no wonder that it sees so much use as a stand-in for love and lust. That said, fire is fundamentally dangerous, thus enabling interested individuals to get more meaning from these metaphors than otherwise possible. For instance, The Doors used it as a symbolic representation of a toxic relationship in “Light My Fire,” which is particularly noteworthy because the song came out in 1966.
12. “This Wheel’s On Fire” – Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan was the one who penned “This Wheel’s On Fire.” Interested individuals might not know this because a veritable parade of artists covered it. Some of these covers have been quite successful, with an excellent example being the version released by Julie Driscoll with Brian Auger and the Trinity. Still, Bob Dylan’s original is in no way inferior to its counterparts, thus making it more than worth listening to.
11. “I’m On Fire” – Bruce Springsteen
Some people have been known to interpret “I’m On Fire” in a disturbing way based on an overly-literal reading of its lyrics. However, interested individuals should know that the music video sees Bruce Springsteen playing a younger car mechanic who is badly tempted by the thought of starting an affair with an older, married woman. In other words, it is a song about pent-up desire.
10. “Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire” – Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell worked on “Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire” while still reeling from the end of her relationship with James Taylor. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t the happiest of songs ever released.
That is particularly true because most people interpret “Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire” as being about heroin addiction. Even so, interested individuals debate the exact meaning of the various metaphors used throughout the song. For example, some think “Cold Blue Steel” refers to a needle. In contrast, others think it might be a gun.
9. “[You Will] Set the World On Fire” – David Bowie
It seems safe to say that “[You Will] Set the World On Fire” is about someone who will do great things in the future. Instead, the discussion is more focused on who this person happens to be.
One popular line of speculation is that David Bowie was talking about his daughter, which is supported by the fact that he had written songs about other loved ones before it.
8. “Just Like Fire” – Pink
Speaking of which, we know that Pink took inspiration from her daughter when she made “Just Like Fire.” This is a song about determination. Generally speaking, fire isn’t associated with that kind of sentiment because we see it as something ephemeral.
Still, its use in this context makes sense because fire can make remarkable progress through various obstacles. Regardless, Pink brought her usual talent and experience to the song, thus enabling it to become a Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
7. “Angel On Fire” – Halsey
“Angel On Fire” was a song on Halsey’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. The artist has said it is about her throwing a party for her friends at her home in Los Angeles before locking herself in her bedroom to sleep. Something that she has done on multiple occasions. If that sounds like she wasn’t very close to those friends, that seems to have been intentional on her part.
6. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” – Billy Joel
“We Didn’t Start the Fire” is famous for referencing a series of famous people and events. As the story goes, Billy Joel was inspired to write those lyrics to an acquaintance’s complaint that nothing was going on in the 1950s. He retorted by bringing up the Korean War and the Suez Canal Crisis on the spot. Later, he turned the incident into the basis of a song. Funny enough, while the song reached the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100, Joel himself compared it unfavorably with “The Longest Time.”
5. “World On Fire” – Sarah McLachlan
Sarah McLachlan released “World On Fire” back in 2004. It is a song about feeling overwhelmed by the problems of the world. However, it doesn’t encourage listeners to ignore them for their comfort. Instead, it could be considered a call to action.
Famously, McLachlan released a music video that cost $15 to make, which revealed the various ways that the rest of its $150,000 budget was spent on charitable causes. Reportedly, the whole thing was inspired by a letter from a volunteer with Engineers Without Borders.
The latter is more or less what interested individuals would expect based on the name, which is to say, a non-profit organization dedicated to international development.
4. “Girl On Fire” – Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys released “Girl On Fire” as the lead single of the studio album of the same name in 2012. By that point, she had long been one of the most successful artists of her generation.
For context, her first studio album debuted at the number one position on the Billboard 200 in 2001, meaning she had enjoyed a decade of incredible success. Even so, “Girl On Fire” was the product of great changes in Keys’s life because the song took inspiration from her marriage and her first child. Regardless, this song is about success.
Specifically, Keys has said it is about people letting go of the things holding them back so they can follow what they care about and believe in.
3. “Great Balls of Fire” – Jerry Lee Lewis
“Great Balls of Fire” is strongly associated with a 1957 movie called Jamboree. In short, the movie is centered on a boy and a girl performing as a duo whose managers want to split them up. Given this, chances are good interested individuals can guess that Jamboree had a fair amount of romance packed into it.
As such, this song was always meant as a love song. Certainly, the lyrics don’t make this much of a secret, seeing as how they say as much. Primarily, “Great Balls of Fire” is known because of Jerry Lee Lewis’s original recording.
The funny thing is that it was so popular that its influence has shown up in the strangest of contexts, some of which are now quite dated in their own right. For example, Ric Flair got his catchphrase directly from the song’s lyrics. Similarly, the song appeared in the original Top Gun movie in 1986 and its follow-up in 2022.
2. “Sleep Now in the Fire” – Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine is an intensely-political band. Unsurprisingly, “Sleep Now in the Fire” is no exception to this rule, which should be clear to anyone who has listened to the lyrics.
Even the making of the music video was intensely-political. Rage Against the Machine teamed up with Michael Moore to film it before the New York Stock Exchange.
The latter had gotten permission to use the steps of Federal Hall but lacked the same for parking, loud noises, and filming on the sidewalks. As such, he went in expecting potential trouble with the police, which explains why he told the band to continue playing no matter what happened.
Both Moore and Rage Against the Machine frontman Tom Morello were apprehended by the police, though this wasn’t just because of the music video.
At one point, Moore told Morello and other people on the site to take the New York Stock Exchange, thus resulting in them trying exactly that. They managed to get through the first set of doors but not the second. Despite that, they shut down trading at the New York Stock Exchange.
1. “Set Fire to the Rain” – Adele
Adele released “Set Fire to the Rain” as the third single from her second studio album, 21. People have been known to voice criticisms of the song. One example would be the claim that it is melodramatic, while another would be the claim that it is over-produced.
Whatever the case, “Set Fire to the Rain” remains one of Adele’s most memorable songs, which is no small achievement considering the woman is the best-selling artist of the 2010s as a decade.
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