Drowning is thought of as one of the worst ways to die and the fear of it happening is a phobia for many people. But it’s also used as a metaphor quite often, serving as a way to describe the way emotions take over a person’s mind or how much of something one might have. This makes it an excellent theme for music as well. So in this article, we’ll look at 31 songs about drowning.
1. Head Above Water – Avril Lavigne
Head Above Water was the lead single and title track of Avril Lavigne’s 2019 album, and it was one of the most important songs of her career. After suffering from Lyme disease for years, she finally began to get better. In interviews, she described dealing with the illness as drowning and being swept along in a river, feeling the end coming but being unable to do anything about it.
At a party she threw as she felt better, she and Travis Clark worked on the track together, eventually releasing the Christian rock single alongside her album and finding quite a bit of success with it.
2. Waves (Robin Schulz Remix Radio Edit) – Mr. Probz
Waves is another song that deals with swimming against the flow and feeling like you’re drowning. The original version of the track was released in 2013, but it gained a huge popularity boost the following year when it was remixed by German DJ Robin Schulz.
Schulz’s version topped charts across Europe, prompting the original version to be sent to US dance radio in 2014. It eventually topped the UK Singles Chart and the Billboard Dance/Mix Airplay chart. In 2014 alone, the song was the fourth most-streamed track of the year with over 30 million streams.
3. Dead in the Water – Pop Evil
Dead In The Water is an album single from Pop Evil’s 2015 album Up and one that should get a lot more attention. The narrator of the song has already drowned in the track, sinking under the water of their hopelessness. The imagery is as scary as it is powerful, describing the water rushing into their lungs and the fact that their screams are silenced underwater. This is all metaphorical though, as the narrator is dealing with a betrayal that you can assume is a romantic one.
4. Lowlands Away – The McCalmans
Lowlands or Lowlands Away is the more common title of the Scottish folk song Lowlands Of Holland. Multiple versions of the track exist, with and without lyrics, dating back to the 1700s in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Some refer to the English conscripting men into wars in Holland, but this version of the lyrics discusses the Caribbean and the New World as a whole.
It’s told from the perspective of a woman whose man has been forced into the service of the navy, and she dreams of seeing his ghost come to her in the night. After she awakes, she knows her love has drowned and will never return to her.
5. Song to the Siren – Tim Buckley
Song To The Siren was written by Tim Buckley in 1967 and was released on his 1970 album Starsailor. Pat Boone was actually the first artist to release a recording of the song, with his version appearing on his 1969 album Departure. The track mostly focuses on the sirens of Greek mythology, mermaid-like creatures that tempt sailors to leave their ships with their beautiful songs, ultimately drowning them or driving them crazy in the process.
One of the most famous examples of this comes during a scene in The Odyssey. After Buckley’s death, several notable artists covered the track, with Mortal Coil producing one of the best versions of it.
6. In the Air Tonight – Phil Collins
Surprisingly, Phil Collins’ classic hit song In The Air Tonight briefly discusses drowning. While many people love this track, most end up missing the point of it in the first place. It’s a song of anger, betrayed feelings, and frustration. The narrator has plainly been cheated on and is expressing the hurt that they’re feeling as their partner sits silently trying to fool them.
The drowning part comes in the very first verse when the narrator states that if their partner was drowning, they wouldn’t bother to help them. This is a rather dark couple of lines that get glossed over during a casual listen of the track.
7. Blinding Lights – The Weeknd
Most people spend their lives distracting themselves from reality, as they aren’t particularly fond of the situations they find themselves in. But every now and then, we find someone who pulls us out of those habits and makes life fun again. One could say that we drown ourselves with distractions to filter out the things we don’t want to confront.
This is basically the theme of Blinding Lights by The Weeknd, a catchy song about feeling at home with someone you love that mentions drowning several times throughout the track.
8. Easy On Me – Adele
Adele returned to the music world in the most triumphant way possible after a six-year hiatus, but relationship difficulties had taken their toll on her. Thankfully, those problems were able to inspire an incredible new set of music, with Easy On Me being one of the best songs to come out of that rough period in her life.
The track describes drowning in silence, specifically focusing on the way communication problems in relationships can doom them. No matter how much you care or how much you try, if the lines of communication are closed, the relationship drowns itself in the lack of sound.
9. Drowning – Chris Young
Trying to keep your head above water is a powerful piece of imagery that will pop up in this article time and time again. This Chris Young song is used to create a heart-wrenching ballad about a man who has lost a loved one and is drowning in their sorrow. No matter how hard he fights, he still feels like he isn’t making any progress. And that is just as frustrating as the feelings of sadness and loss that he’s going through at the time.
10. Cold Water – Major Lazer Feat. Justin Bieber And MØ
Cold water is much more dangerous than warm water for people swimming, even if the temperature might seem reasonable at first. Water sucks heat out of your body at a much faster pace than air, meaning water in the 60s or 50s is more than cold enough for hypothermia to set in quickly. And once that happens, drowning is inevitable.
Major Lazer uses that imagery in the song Cold Water, as the narrator is looking for a lifeline to help them out of a bad situation. The cold water is likened to a depressive episode, wherein a single reason to go on can mean the difference between life and death.
11. Drowning – A Boogie Wit da Hoodie Feat. Kodak Black
Drowning is the perfect example of a song about being so loaded down with the luxuries of life that nobody else can compare to you. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie spends the duration of the track talking about drowning in jewelry, fame, and wealth. It’s a nice way to flip the script on a metaphor that gets used so often in a negative way. But this 2017 single was also a fairly solid hit, rising into the top 40 of the US Billboard Hot 100 and breaking the top 15 of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart as well.
12. Drowning – The Eden Project
It doesn’t just have to be water or emotions that a person finds themselves drowning in. Sometimes, it’s addiction. The Eden Project talks about drowning in a bottomless pool of alcohol in their song Drowning, dealing with the problems caused by being intoxicated and the drama that so easily comes around when the bottle is the focal point of someone’s life.
The story could be interpreted two ways though. Either the narrator discusses the problems with drowning in alcohol, or they drown their sorrows with it as a way to cope with the tragedies that have happened already. Either way, it’s a somber track about the dangers of alcohol.
13. Drowning – Backstreet Boys
Drowning is a classic song from the Backstreet Boys, not because of its success or how popular it was but because it encapsulates the boy band’s music. They often sang emotional tunes that were relatable for listeners dealing with the good and bad of relationships.
This was one of their best ones, as the 2001 single perfectly describes how love can fill up your life to the point that it takes over, washing over you and suffocating everything else that used to be important. But even as it pulls you under, the loss of that love can leave you just as breathless.
14. Drowning Lessons – My Chemical Romance
Trauma, being unable to control your situation, and losing people in your life can all send you spiraling into the feeling of drowning in your emotions. Memories themselves can bring up these feelings as well, especially when it comes to a bad breakup or a trauma that you relive in your mind over and over.
This is the main focus of Drowning Lessons by My Chemical Romance. The one positive of the song is that it reminds listeners that if they go through these kinds of things, they aren’t alone, as others out there feel the same way they do.
15. Righteous – Juice WRLD
Righteous is a blunt and honest, if a bit on the nose, song about the dangers of addiction. It focuses on the reality that mind-altering substances aren’t a good way to escape from reality or deal with anxiety, rather they only make more problems than they solve. It was released as the first posthumous single by the late artist’s estate and serves as a chilling reminder to take addiction seriously. If not, you’ll likely end up drowning in a sea of problems.
16. Love It If We Made It – The 1975
Love It If We Made It is relentlessly positive despite some very negative imagery used in the song’s lyrics. It serves as an anthem of overcoming problems and standing strong in the face of adversity while highlighting the ailing world we live in that is drowning in a slew of problems. The most striking imagery of drowning in the track has to be the lines about a beach full of drowning toddlers, but it manages to overcome that and find a way to breathe again.
17. Drown – Bring Me The Horizon
Bring Me The Horizon’s Drown is one of the best tracks out there when it comes to describing the feeling of drowning in depression. It screams about wanting to be saved from itself, having just one person who’s willing to be there for them and make them fight the demons that plague them. Throw in some great imagery about being drowned at the bottom of a lake and the way waves of emotions wash over you and you’ve got a great song about drowning.
18. Drowning (Avicii Remix) – Armin Van Buuren Feat. Laura V
Drowning is often framed in a negative light, and for good reason, as it’s one of the worst ways to die. But it doesn’t always have to be bad when it comes to the metaphorical use of the word. Avicii’s remix of Drowning by Armin Van Buuren and Laura V talks about drowning in a sea of love and likens the feeling of floating out into deep waters and giving into crashing waves to falling in love in general.
The original version is a relaxing tune, while the remix is faster and more lively. But both versions of the song are enjoyable and give this list a well-needed positive spin on the aesthetic of drowning.
19. I Feel Like I’m Drowning – Two Feet
I Feel Like I’m Drowning is a melancholy song that can be interpreted in a number of different ways. The narrator knows they’re being held back by the subject of the track, and it drowns them as it pulls them down. While it isn’t revealed what the thing actually is, be it addiction or a toxic relationship, everyone around them knows how bad it is for them too.
20. Drowning in a Sea of Love – Joe Simon
Sometimes, drowning in love can be a bad thing. Joe Simon’s song Drowning In A Sea Of Love describes what it’s like when you think you’ve found a person you can depend on, but they end up leaving you. The singer talks about how much their life changed for the better when their partner entered it, but now that they’ve been deserted, they’re unable to stop crying.
His original track was released in 1972, and Ronnie Foster released a jazz and funk version of it the same year. Notably, Ringo Starr recorded it for his album Ringo The 4th.
21. Counting Stars – OneRepublic
Counting Stars is a bit of an odd track to appear on a list of songs about drowning, as it doesn’t directly mention drowning in the lyrics. But the focus of the track is breaking free from the status quo and living a fulfilling life. The bridge and outro of the song is the part that talks about drowning, as the lessons the narrator has been taught are sunk in the river, never to rise again.
22. Drown in My Own Tears – Ray Charles
Drown In My Own Tears was written by Henry Glover and originally recorded in 1951 by Lula Reed. The most famous version of the song was released by Ray Charles in 1956 under the Atlantic Records label. It became his third number-one single on the R&B chart to boot. The track is mostly a blues theme of the sadness left after a partner ends up leaving.
23. Say It Ain’t So – Weezer
Say It Ain’t So by Weezer is another great song about the ramifications of alcoholism and the way it can tear a family apart. It’s not just the person abusing the bottle that ends up drowning in it, as the track points out that other family members can also drown in the flood of emotions and problems that come along with it.
24. Drowning – Lil Wayne Feat. Vice Versa And Marley G
Lil Wayne is a masterful lyricist, and Drowning is yet another example of his proficiency. He uses the theme of drowning in numerous places throughout the song, from a person drowning in their tears to the rapper drowning in someone’s guts. A good flow and creative lyrics make this a classic, even if it isn’t one of his most famous tracks.
25. Drowning – Mscmkrs Feat. Aaron Dews and Quinten Coblentz
This is another song that does an incredible job of describing what it feels like to drown in depression, especially when you find yourself at the breaking point. It talks about the feeling of drowning under the weight of all those emotions and literally cries out for help in the lyrics, as the singer knows they aren’t going to be able to escape without help. It’s their state of mind that forces them into those feelings of drowning, as they feel themselves sliding toward the inevitability of how they’re feeling.
26. Let Me Love You – Ariana Grande Feat. Lil Wayne
Let Me Love You focuses on drowning in a few different ways. The song talks about loving someone who doesn’t return the same feelings, but eventually, it transitions to a new partner who pulls them out of drowning in their earlier feelings. It’s an awesome collaboration between Lil Wayne and Ariana Grande from 2016 that can help you overcome just about any obstacle in life.
27. Drowning – Banks
Going through pain can make you feel like you’re drowning in emotions, but it doesn’t have to be your own pain that makes you feel that way. Sometimes, another person’s sadness can be just as frustrating or anger-inspiring. Banks sings about her friend’s troubles in Drowning, a song that talks about how awful it can be to watch someone else unable to deal with their emotions. This is even harder when it’s a partner or someone you love because you want with all your heart to help them.
28. Drown – Martin Garrix Feat. Clinton Kane
Martin Garrix’s song Drown is about fighting to stay with someone who doesn’t treat you the right way. Whether it’s the trauma or love that has bonded the singer to the person in the track, they’re ready to allow themselves to be pulled under for one more chance to be with them.
29. Lift Me Up – Rihanna
Lift Me Up is an uplifting song about not allowing yourself to drown in an endless ocean of things trying to pull you down. It’s the perfect track to give your day a little confidence boost and served as the lead single for the soundtrack to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
30. Drowning In Your Love – Jake Banfield
Jake Banfield uses drowning as a way to say that he craves his partner the way he craves air. Without them, he’s unable to breathe, and with them, he drowns himself in their presence gleefully. Unfortunately, it appears that these feelings are being expressed after a breakup, so the song serves as a desperate attempt to get their partner to give them another chance.
31. Drown – Theory of a Deadman
Theory Of A Deadman talks about drowning as a metaphor for the way a relationship ended. While everything seemed to be going perfectly, their partner abruptly ending things made it feel like they were left to drown alone. Despite the day being a nice one, they can’t get over the fact that they were hung out to dry.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.