You want to sing. You want to dance. You want to burn the world down in a blaze of anarchist glory. Songs about fire have all kinds of meanings, so let’s strike a match and see how musicians have created their own infernos over the years!
1. Fireball – Pitbull feat. John Ryan
We gon’ boogie oogie oogie, jiggle, wiggle and dance like the roof on fire. Okay, so the lyrics aren’t exactly Shakespeare, but this song has an undeniable shake-your-booty energy. The melody is like something out of a beach cabana once everyone’s feeling loose from the adult beverages, and between its rhythmic beat and feel-good vibes, you’ll definitely want to do a fireball shot in its honor.
2. Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon
If you’re looking for a song to get busy to, “Sex on Fire” is an obvious choice. It offers steamy lyrics and an even steamier video that features close-ups of sweaty faces, bitten lips and weirdly salacious bites of chicken wings. You might not be able to understand all of it, but you’ll feel it.
3. Setting Fires – The Chainsmokers feat. Xylo
With a name like the Chainsmokers, you can bet that these folks aren’t afraid of fire metaphors, and “Setting Fires” dials it up to 11 with lyrics like Down to my last match fire I touch just to feel/Why is it easier to burn than it is to heal? As you might have guessed, it’s a moody, self-reflective track, but it also boasts their signature electronic sound with lots of synths and drops. There’s also a female vocalist to add a bit of levity. This is a great overall song with figurative language too!
4. Fire – BTS
BTS has become one of the hottest bands in the world, and it doesn’t get any hotter than a song called “Fire.” While the majority of the lyrics are in Korean, the chorus is a catchy and straightforward bellow of fiiiiire, oh-eh-oh, and there’s some high-energy choreography to go along with it. It’s a song that’ll get you pumped for sure.
5. Disco Inferno – The Trammps
It’s impossible to hear the hook burn baby burn without launching into the full song. The rest of the lyrics aren’t as well-known, but they’re all about boogie fever, and they’ll infect you as well. There’s a reason why this retro classic managed to outlive the very genre that it’s singing about: It’s just that catchy. If you’re really feeling #ThrowbackThursday, go fully retro with “Disco Inferno.”
6. We Didn’t Start The Fire – Billy Joel
If you’ve seen The Office, you’ve heard this song. You can probably clock it from other sources as well; it’s a classic, and it’s been used in everything from commercials to political parodies. Billy Joel wrote it as a defiant rock song that criticizes older generations for ruining the world and then trying to pass the buck off to younger ones. As you might imagine, it’s very relevant for millennials and Gen Zers.
7. Fire Meet gasoline – Sia
It’s dangerous, to fall in love/But I wanna burn with you tonight. This is the emotionally charged opening of “Fire Meet Gasoline,” a song that talks about desire, passion and the all-consuming ache of wanting to be near someone you love. As Sia points out, it can be a dangerous thing to risk it all for love, but the sparks are often worth it.
8. Fire – Busta Rhymes
Kids today don’t realize how much Busta Rhymes used to rule the rap world. Everyone wanted a flow like his, and he absolutely tore up the mic whenever he performed. “Fire” isn’t the only hit that demonstrated his ample talents, but it’s one of the best, and it still holds up today as a showcase of skill that few modern rappers can match. The next time that someone tries to debate Drake versus Kendrick Lamar, school ’em with some Busta Rhymes.
9. Heart’s On Fire – Passenger
Indie darling Passenger created this soft and lovely song back in 2014. It has a strong “alternative” vibe with its softly-strummed guitar and dreamy video landscape of girls in white dresses walking barefoot through the forest, but sometimes, that’s exactly what you’re in the mood for. Fire doesn’t have to result in charred and ruined destruction, after all. It can be a warm and welcoming thing on a cold night.
10. Burning Down The House – Talking Heads
Another classic from the days of big hair and bell bottoms, “Burning Down the House” is a bizarre song with the same kind of indescribable energy as “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” It has a video to match if you’re in the mood to be confused for four straight minutes. If it winds up being too weird for you, try the straightforward rock remake by The Used in 2019.
11. Fireball – Willow Smith feat. Nicki Minaj
Willow Smith is reviving old-school female punk with the likes of Avril Lavigne, but she’s been making bangers long before that, and “Fireball” is proof. Featuring Nicki Minaj, it’s a fierce hip-hop track with strong lyrics and killer choreography. Everything is executed with maximum style and full-throttled feeling. The fact that Willow is still baby-faced in the video doesn’t at all detract from its intensity.
12. Burning Love – Elvis Presley
I feel my temperature rising, Elvis sings, which is funny considering the fact that his jumpsuit-clad hip thrusts also lit many women on fire back in the ’50s and ’60s. If you’re looking for an oldie but goodie, consider this song about a passionate romance fueled by the flames of desire. Elvis gives it his all, and considering that he’s the king of rock ‘n’ roll, that’s a lot.
13. Light My Fire – The Doors
Come on, baby, light my fire. This line was instantly iconic back in the 1960s, so much so that many folks only know the hook and not the rest of the song. If they listened more closely, they might’ve been surprised to realize that the song was actually about a toxic and turbulent relationship. And our love become a funeral pyre…
14. Great Balls of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis
“Great Balls of Fire” is a fun, silly song that’s perfect for road trips or obnoxiously loud shower singing. It’s about a guy who is so struck by a beautiful woman that he’s lost all of his senses. He yells the title when he just can’t take it anymore: You broke my will, but what a thrill/Goodness gracious, great balls of fire! See if you and your friends can reach a higher pitch than he does!
15. Girl On Fire – Alicia Keys
Long before Katniss Everdeen, Alicia Keys was the girl on fire. This song is a showcase of both her impressive vocals and her positive, self-affirming messages. She doesn’t just toot her own horn; she encourages others to find inner strength and develop confidence and poise as well. When you’re feeling hot, this is a song that can help you blaze a path into a future of your own making!
16. World On Fire – Sarah McLachlan
A sad song, “World on Fire” features a barefoot and vulnerable Sarah McLachlan as she strums her guitar and sings about the state of the planet today. It isn’t all doom and gloom, however, as she also reassures her listeners that they aren’t alone and that they can create positive change: The world is on fire, it’s more than I can handle/I’ll tap into the water, try to bring my share…
Next: Saddest songs ever made
17. Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
This song is less about fire and more about the cleansing rain that comes after purging yourself of a bad relationship. Adele sings her heart out with her signature powerhouse vocals, and she tells a tale of love, heartbreak and self-realization. It’s a great song to help you get back on your feet after a cheating ex or a failed hookup. Adele is always a mood when you’re feeling some type of way.
18. Fight Fire With Fire – Metallica
Starting with the deceptively soft twangs of a harpsichord, “Fight Fire With Fire” explodes into an absolute rager of a song. It’s an angry anti-war anthem that warns of the end of humanity if world leaders don’t stop using nuclear weapons. It’s also notable for being, musically, one of the fastest and heaviest metal songs in all of existence, so there’s that.
19. Cease Fire – Christina Aguilera
Not every song about fire is a literal one! “Cease Fire” uses fire as a metaphor for a battleground of a relationship where two people keep hurting each other. Christina Aguilera calls for a cease fire because she just can’t take it anymore. Since it’s Christina, she belts out the lyrics from deep within her diaphragm, resulting in a powerful song with powerful imagery.
20. On Fire – Switchfoot
Some people don’t know that Switchfoot is a Christian band, but it becomes obvious with songs like “On Fire.” They sing about the fire that burns in the hearts of the faithful when they feel close to God. Even if you aren’t religious, it’s a cool song to listen to, and it has a catchy hook as well. You’re on fire when He’s near you/You’re on fire when He speaks…
21. Firework – Katy Perry
This was the pop song of 2010. You couldn’t escape it. Today, it’s a nostalgic nod to the past as well as a good rallying song for everything from athletic games to post-breakup transformations. Do you have a broken heart? Are you ready to give yourself a hot girl makeover and forget all about him? If you need a song to play over a montage of you getting your s*** together, this is it.
22. Angel on Fire – Halsey
Another song for your sadder days, Halsey gets personal and emotional with “Angel on Fire.” It mourns what she sees as the loss of her younger, more idealized self as she stands in the ashes of who she used to be. In this case, the fire has gone out, and the song is about the cold and desolate feeling that you have to deal with afterwards.
23. Fire Bomb – Rihanna
Rihanna’s never shied away from hot takes, and this one is her hottest yet. She brazenly sings about wanting to take down a bad ex with a mix of fire, fuel, gasoline and a “no brakes needed” policy. Some folks say that it’s about her relationship with Chris Brown; others say that it’s just a general metaphor for going nuclear. Either way, she isn’t pulling any punches: I just wanna set you on fire so I won’t have to burn alone.
24. Cold Fire – Rush
Most songs about fire are all about the heat, but Rush goes in the opposite direction with “Cold Fire.” The song describes a complex and often contradictory relationship between a boy and a girl, which is one of the reasons for the oxymoron in the title: The look in your eyes as you head for the door is a cold fire… It’s one of the more obscure tracks on this list, but if you like indie gems, it’s a keeper.
25. Just Like Fire – Pink
Created for the soundtrack of Alice Through the Looking Glass, “Just Like Fire” is a fun and feisty girlpower track that celebrates the uniqueness of the individual spirit. It’s written in the first person, so it’s great for loud and defiant screw-you moments, and it also has a stunning video with all of the costumed finery and fantastical wonders of its source material.
26. Inferno – Amaranthe
Amaranthe is what it sounds like when screamo rock meets Dance Dance Revolution. They have the typical long-haired guys growling their lines, but they also have an autotuned female vocalist delivering catchy choruses over super-fast BPMs. The end result is something utterly unique but absolutely addicting, especially when combined with lyrics that are designed to burn.
27. Fireworks – Drake feat. Alicia Keys
Though it shares a title with Katy Petty’s pop hit, this song couldn’t be more different. It tells an emotionally complex story about a man who struggles to define love even as he expresses deep and sincere feelings for the woman he loves. It’s commonly interpreted a love song from Drake to Rihanna, but even if you aren’t familiar with their old flame, it’s still a song that can stoke some embers.
28. Fire – U2
“Fire” is one of the older tracks in U2’s discography. In fact, it’s old enough that Bono still has all of his hair and isn’t wearing gigantic sunglasses. Despite its age, however, it’s still a great song, and it’s very well-suited for a fire-themed playlist. The lyrics talk about fire so consuming that it takes out the stars and turns the moon red!
29. I See Fire – Ed Sheeran
Another song written for a movie, “I See Fire” was composed for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which explains its call-to-arms lyrics about facing down a dragon with your brothers at your side. You can take it either literally or as a metaphor for another kind of struggle. Either way, the message is clear, and the song is catchy. Ed Sheeran has a knack for producing tunes that get stuck in your head all day.
30. Burning Bright (Field on Fire) – Nine Inch Nails
You can’t get more hardcore than Nine Inch Nails, and their song “Burning Bright” lives up to their reputation for epic guitar riffs and discordant screaming. The lyrics of the song, however, are strangely uplifting. They speak of things like “breaking free” and “breathing deep.” Perhaps this is a song about being cleansed by fire?
31. Ring Of Fire – Johnny Cash
This list wouldn’t be complete without “Ring of Fire,” the granddaddy of fire songs. It’s one of the most famous country ballads of all time, and it’s iconic for everything from the blazin’ lyrics to the deep twang of Johnny Cash’s southern accent. Countless people have remade it over the years, but nothing compares to the OG recording.
These are just a few of the best and most memorable songs about fire. Whether you’re looking to burn a cheating ex or rage against the inferno of corruption and capitalism, consider these songs for your personal soundtrack!
As the Head Editor at Music Grotto, Liam edits content produced from over 30 professional music/media journalists and contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.