Sometimes we all just want to get away from it all. Whether it’s a bad relationship, an unfulfilling personal life, or a dead end career, it can be a relief to dream about suddenly leaving it all behind and running away, even if you never actually do it. Here are 23 of the best songs about running away.
1. Breakaway – Kelly Clarkson
The original American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson dropped this song about breaking away from toxic personal relationships in 2004. It was actually recorded for the soundtrack of a movie called The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, but its incredible success with fans and radio stations led to it being the foundational single on Clarkson’s second studio album. Songs like “Breakaway” helped kick off the mainstreaming of brooding music in the mid-2000s.
2. Old Town Road – Lil Nas X
“Old Town Road” broke the internet when it achieved worldwide fame as part of a viral TikTok trend in 2019, catapulting Lil Nas X to international superstardom almost overnight. The track is known for its country style beat and sound, complete with banjo, but the lyrical content of “Old Town Road” outlines a successful, wealthy person who daydreams about retreating back to a time when his life was more simple.
3. Running Away – Bob Marley and the Wailers
Bob Marley is part of a pantheon of musicians whose legendary status is beyond question. He and his band, the Wailers, released “Running Away” in 1978 after he had already brought reggae to the forefront of popular consciousness. The track describes a person who wants to run away from themselves and all of their life’s problems. Marley points out that this is impossible, and you’re much better off accepting yourself for who you are.
4. Cowboy Take Me Away – The Chicks
The Chicks broke the mold of country music in the late 1990s with their pop-trio style that was still distinctly country and included a litany of instruments such as banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and dobro. “Cowboy Take Me Away” was released in 1999 following the commercial success of the band’s initial breakthrough album. The song is told from the point of view of a young woman who wants to run away with her partner to start their own new lives together.
5. Escape – The Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada is a heavy hardcore band that rose to popularity in the hardcore and post-hardcore musical trend of the late 2000s. Their heavy metal inspired sound was cultivated to its purest on the Zombie EP, which came out in 2010 and tells the story of a group of humans trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. The lead song, “Escape” is the first chapter of the story and describes the characters’ efforts to run away and escape the new zombie menace.
6. Be My Escape – Relient K
The pop punk band Relient K came to prominence in the early 2000s as the emo music trend took off. Their combination of brooding music and Christian self-identity gave them broad appeal to young people of all kinds. “Be My Escape” was released in 2004 as the band was entering the height of their popularity. The song describes a person fed up with the self-destructive patterns they find themselves repeating. The singer wants nothing else but to escape this cycle and their own self doubts.
7. Run Devil Run – Girls’ Generation
K-pop became a household term in the English-speaking world in the late 2010s with the massive success of bands such as BTS and BLACKPINK. However, one of the first k-pop acts to build significant awareness in the West was Girls’ Generation, which boasts a lineup of eight talented women. Run Devil Run was one of the band’s biggest hits and came out all the way back in 2010. The song turns the theme about running away around as the singers brashly insist that their spurned lovers run as far away as they can possibly go.
8. Eastside – Benny Blanco feat. Khalid & Halsey
“Eastside” is the musical equivalent of a super team, combining the highly talented and popular artists Khalid and Halsey with the superstar EDM DJ Benny Blanco. The result was a song that was played everywhere when it came out in 2018, rising to the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Halsey and Khalid sing as young lovers on the cusp of adulthood. They hope that they can avoid growing up and continue the simplicity of youth by running away from it together.
9. Run Away With Me – Carly Rae Jepsen
Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen is immediately associated with her single “Call Me Maybe”, which reached the top of the pop music charts in countries all over the world, including the United States. Music critics and insiders know that she continued a robust recording career after that, including “Run Away With Me” in 2015. The song is about a person who is so in love that they want to run away with their partner and start a new life. It received glowing reviews from critics.
Next: The top songs about falling in love with someone
10. I Ran (So Far Away) – A Flock of Seagulls
The English electronic band A Flock of Seagulls burst onto the scene in 1982 with the release of “I Ran (So Far Away)”. The song’s distinctive sound, heavy on synth, was part of a larger electronic trend of the early 1980s. The song became so synonymous with the era that it is often used in media set during that time period to immediately create the feeling of the era. The song is about the singer’s futile attempts to run away from a girl he is infatuated with that may not be good for him.
11. Runaway – Kanye West
Kanye West has made a huge name for himself due in no small part to his willingness to be arrogant and controversial. That being said, he is also a highly talented musician capable of producing smash hits. “Runaway”, which came out in 2010, embraces both of these aspects to great success. It is Kanye’s sentimental reflection on his brash nature and failed relationships, advising all future lovers to simply run away as fast as they can before they end up getting hurt.
12. Take You Back (The Iron Hoof Cattle Call) – Orville Peck
Orville Peck has achieved an avid cult following with his old fogey style country tunes and flamboyant stage presence, which includes a fringed leather mask that the singer always wears to hide his true identity. “Take You Back” is from the singer’s debut album Pony in 2019. It highlights Peck’s style perfectly and sounds like it would be at home coming out of an old jukebox in some dive bar somewhere. It tells the story of a man who is going to take the road and pursue adventures, in part to escape an ex-lover.
13. Forget Me Too – Machine Gun Kelly feat. Halsey
Machine Gun Kelly achieved modest success as a rapper, but he dropped a smash hit in 2020 when he suddenly released a genre-shifting pop puck album called Tickets to my Downfall that had huge mainstream success. “Forget Me Too” was one of the lead singles from the album and had Halsey joining MGK in this song about toxic love and their mutual desire to run away from it, even though they can’t seem to actually leave each other.
14. Till I’m Gone – Tinie Tempah feat. Wiz Khalifa
English rapper Tinie Tempah came from relative obscurity to drop a series of hugely popular club anthems in 2011. Perhaps the most successful of these was “Till I’m Gone”, which combined Tempah with the established American rapper Wiz Khalifa. It is Wiz who raps the chorus about running away from his love and everything he knows in order to take a chance on himself and chase his own dreams. Meanwhile, Tempah raps about the markers of success that are the product of that risk.
15. Gotta Get Away – The Offspring
Dexter Holland, the lead singer of The Offspring, put his studies as a graduate student in molecular biology on hold so that he could chase his dream of being a rock star in the early 1990s. His gamble paid off when the band made it big with their breakthrough album Smash in 1994 (he also went back and completed his doctorate in 2017). It included “Gotta Get Away” as a single, which is a song about Holland’s struggles with self-doubt and social anxiety and how he sometimes just wants to run away from everything that he is.
16. Runaway Baby – Bruno Mars
Singer Bruno Mars burst onto the scene in 2010 with his debut album Doo-Wops & Hooligans which, as the name suggests, combined the genres of pop reggae and R&B. Mars would go on to have huge commercial success, including performing the coveted halftime show at the Super Bowl on two separate occasions. An awesome B-side on that first album is “Runaway Baby”, which perfectly exemplifies the album’s feel. In the song, Mars warns the women of the world to run away from him because he will only break their hearts if they pursue him.
17. Take the Money and Run – The Steve Miller Band
The Steve Miller Band is known for a string of hits in the 1970s that have become staples of the classic rock genre. One of these is “Take the Money and Run”, from the band’s highly successful album Fly Like an Eagle in 1976. The song’s lyrics are a story about a young couple who are on the run from the law for stealing a bunch of money, evoking the often romanticized story of Bonnie and Clyde.
18. The Great Escape – Boys Like Girls
The pop punk slash emo band Boys Like Girls was formed in 2005 when those musical trends were peaking in their popularity. The released their debut self-titled album the following year. It was anchored by the single “The Great Escape”, which made it all the way to the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The song describes a young person’s desire to escape the shackles of youth and move on to the next stage in life where he will be free to define himself.
19. Please Don’t Go – Mike Posner
Mike Posner was something of a reluctant superstar, retreating from the limelight after his rise to superstardom in 2010. He released a string of hit singles that year, each one heavily influenced by EDM, which was surging in popularity at the time. One of these was “Please Don’t Go”, which presents songs about running away theme from the other side of the table, as Posner desperately tries to convince his romantic partner’s plans of running away from him.
20. Runaway – Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne’s angst-ridden punk inspired songs were the backdrop to an entire generation of teenagers in the mid-2000s. “Runaway” came out in 2007 when she had already established herself as the skateboarding queen of mainstream punk culture. In the track, Avril sings about all the reasons her life is overwhelming her and how she sometimes wants to just forget about all of it and run away.
21. Runnin’ Away – Sly and the Family Stone
Sly and the Family Stone made their stamp on the music scene of the late 1960s with their sound that combined soul with psychedelic rock, as well as their biracial ensemble that included women at a time when such a diverse musical act was unheard of. The released “Runnin’ Away” in 1971. The song is about how giving in to the urge to run away from your problems can just lead to a whole new set of much more lonely problems.
22. Let it Burn – Usher
Usher was the poster child for popular R&B from the late 1990s on through the 2000s, gaining a reputation for his dance moves and sexually charged lyrics. “Let it Burn” was released in 2010 at the end of this time period, but it has all the calling cards Usher is known for. He sings about a relationship that isn’t making him happy anymore and his desire to run away from it and start over fresh.
23. F*ck You, Goodbye – The Kid LAROI feat. Machine Gun Kelly
The Australian singer The Kid LAROI came seemingly out of nowhere to take the pop music scene by storm in 2020 due to his friendship and tutelage under the late rapper Juice Wrld. He released his debut album that year when he was only 17 and many of his tracks began skyrocketing up the popular music charts. “F*ck You, Goodbye” is a collaboration with Machine Gun Kelly and is an unapologetic break-up song where LAROI is glad to be leaving his ex-lover behind him and move on.
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.