Doctors. Lawyers. Cowboys. Telephone operators? There are quite a few songs with occupations in the title, but some of the careers that people sing about might surprise you. Here are just a few of the best!
1. “Astronaut In The Ocean” – Masked Wolf
Beoming beloved by TikTok, Astronaut in the Ocean was made famous for its drops as well as its weird and psychedelic music video. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with space; “I feel like an astronaut in the ocean” is just a metaphor for the singer’s confusion. What’s he confused about? No one knows. It could be love, drugs, or the existential burden of being a neckbeard rapper in the 21st century. We’re all astronauts in the ocean about this one.
2. “I Shot The Sheriff” – Bob Marley and the Wailers
Though you might remember the country style of Eric Clapton’s cover, I Shot the Sheriff was originally sung by the reggae band fronted by Bob Marley in 1973. There was also a hip-hop version released by Warren G in 1997. This catchy tune has gone through multiple generations and genres to cement itself as a classic.
3. “Gravedigger” – Dave Matthews Band
Gravedigger / When you dig my grave / Could you make it shallow / So that I can feel the rain? Heavy in both sound and subject matter, Gravedigger isn’t always easy to listen to, but it was a raw, emotional, and Grammy-winning effort from Dave Matthews. He said that it was inspired by walking around cemeteries and imagining the different lives that the dead could have lived.
4. “Hot For Teacher” – Van Halen
Considered one of the great hard rock songs ever, Hot for Teacher was actually quite controversial back in the day. Not only did the lyrics raise eyebrows, but the music video was filled with horny young boys and bikini-clad teachers strutting in front of their students like beauty queens. There were also crotch grabs that got hilariously censored with black bars by conservative TV stations. Toss in some disco balls, epic guitar solos, and sky-high ’80s hair, and you’ve got yourself a classic rock song!
5. “Bad Case Of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)” – Robert Palmer
Doctor doctor, gimme the news / I got a bad case of lovin’ you. Though it was originally recorded by an artist named Moon Martin, his obscurity meant that Robert Palmer’s 1979 remake is the one that went down in history books. You’ve probably heard this song before in countless shows, movies, and video games. It has a real toe-tapper of a beat to match its fun and just slightly raunchy lyrics.
6. “I’m Like A Lawyer With The Way I’m Always Trying To Get You off (Me & You)” – Fall Out Boy
It wouldn’t be a Fall Out Boy song without a title that could also function as a book synopsis. Funnily enough, the song has nothing to do with the legal profession; the lawyer metaphor is just a lament about the self and about the world. The music video takes places in Uganda and showcases local life in colorful, memorable ways. If you’re a fan of FOB and their distinct music style, this could be a good song for your playlists.
7. “Paparazzi” – Lady Gaga
Paparazzi is one of Lady G’s biggest hits, and it’s a ritzy, glitzy satire on modern celebrity life that also manages to be batsh*t insane in the way that only Gaga can be. Its seven-minute music video is filled with everything from cartoon-style murder to gyrating dancers in skintight body suits. Its main narrative is a revenge story against Gaga’s eyepatch-wearing boyfriend played by a hunky yet deadly Alexander Skarsgard. Honestly, you have to see it to believe it.
8. “Paperback Writer” – The Beatles
Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book? / It took me years to write, will you take a look? Though less-known than other songs like Hey Jude and Yellow Submarine, Paperback Writer was a chart-topper for the Beatles back in the ’60s. Funnily enough, it was written by Paul McCartney after his aunt asked him, “Why do you always write songs about love all the time? Can’t you ever write about a horse or the summit conference or something interesting?”
9. “Bartender” – James Blunt
You won’t be so “beautiful” after a night at the bar! Bartender is one of James Blunt’s peppier tracks, and though its lyrics are occasionally melancholy, its beat is a banger. You could play this during everything from parties to road trips. The music video is fun, too; it shows Mr. Blunt getting handsy in the club with a woman way out of his league. Whatever he’s drinking, we should get some, too.
10. “The Scientist” – Coldplay
Oh, take me back to the start… Though “scientist” might be a broad name for a career, Coldplay’s 2002 classic is a must-have for any playlists centered around songs with occupations in the title. Its soft, soothing melody is just repetitive enough to get stuck in your head while also serving as the perfect backdrop for its emotional lyrics. There’s a reason that Coldplay is considered one of the greats.
11. “Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels)” – Jim Croce
How about this for a throwback? We haven’t had telephone operators in decades, but before the days of using the internet to find people’s contact information, they used to be an everyday part of placing a call. Fittingly, Operator is a song about a man trying to track down a long-lost lover with the help of his operator. When he decides to give up, he even says that they can “keep the dime,” which refers to the cost of old-fashioned payphones. This song is a blast from the past in every possible way.
12. “Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)” – Big & Rich
It isn’t just a meme! Save a horse / ride a cowboy is the refrain of this mid-2000s classic, and country singers Big and Rich were the ones who came up with it. The words have just been covered, remixed, and parodied so many times that you can see them today on everything from t-shirts to travel mugs. Do yourself a favor and watch the music video, too. It’s a rollicking good time filled with spurs, ten-gallon hats, and fringe-wearing cowgirls doing line dances.
13. “Pretty Ballerina” – Left Banke
Released in 1967, Pretty Ballerina is about a beautiful woman who haunts the memories of a man that she once obliged with a dance. It has simple lyrics and a gentle melody that suits its mood as an atmospheric, dream-like song… which is why it’s so surprising that it got covered by hard rocker Alice Cooper in 2005. Even more surprisingly, he didn’t change the beat. He remained faithful to the song’s original sound even though he put it on a death metal album.
14. “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” – Usher feat. Pitbull
How many times have you heard a singer telling the DJ to turn the music up? In terms of occupations, DJ is probably the most popular reference that you’ll find in modern music, and DJ Got us Fallin’ in Love is no exception. Its setting is entirely based in a club, and Usher swans in with his signature vocals as the drinks flow, the dancing gets hot, and his lady starts to respond to his advances. Thanks for being a good wingman, DJ.
15. “Son Of A Preacher Man” – Dusty Springfield
Released in 1968, Son of a Preacher Man is one of those songs that you can recognize by sound if not by singer. Its melody is simple, but its lyrics are surprisingly risque; they’re all about the temptation presented to a girl in the form of a seductive preacher’s son. You might have heard the tune featured in movies and video games, too. It’s made an appearance everywhere from Pulp Fiction to Mafia III.
16. “Beekeeper’s Daughter” – The All-American Rejects
You’re a pretty little flower / I’m a busy little bee… Though its lyrics won’t be winning poetry awards any time soon, Beekeeper’s Daughter gets credit for being original. How many times have you heard a song with this kind of occupation in the title? It also has a catchy enough tune that the music video was able to involve flash mob dancers, so that’s something. Blast this song to go back to the year 2012 and the sharp, sexy edge of Tyson Ritter’s cheekbones.
17. “An Architect’s Dream” – Kate Bush
Beautiful and lyrical, An Architect’s Dream is the kind of song that will sweep you away from the real world and into a dreamscape of color, sound, and form. Rather than building anything concrete, the “architect” spins visions out of imagination like a painter or a carver. The music video is similarly whimsical with Kate Bush’s soft vocals playing over a vintage-style trip to the seaside. For a more metaphorical take on career-based song titles, this is your best bet.
18. “Bartender” – Lady Antebellum
Another song dedicated to the shakers and slingers behind the bar, Bartender follows Hillary Scott as she celebrates a night on the town with the girls. She’s also trying to forget the memory of a particular man, but we all know how that goes. There’s a reason why Lady A is such a popular country music band, and their relatable lyrics are a big part of that.
19. “Butcher’s Hook” – Slipknot
With a name like Butcher’s Hook, you might expect this to be a hardcore song, and you’d be right. There’s throaty screaming over fevered drums and guitars, and the lyrics are basically a grab bag of unpleasant imagery: Contrite / commercial / arrogance / leprosy. Did we mention that its album is called All Hope is Gone? Cheerful. Don’t listen to Butcher’s Hook around your grandma, but if you’re looking for songs with jobs or careers in the title, it will suit.
20. “Follow The Cops Back Home” – Placebo
You can’t talk about alternative music without talking about Placebo, and Follow the Cops Back Home ticks off all of the boxes: strange, experimental, addictive. It’s the kind of song that gets stuck in your head even if you don’t understand why. It doesn’t have any catchy choruses or common chord progressions. It just exists, and somehow, Placebo makes you want to listen to it again and again.
21. “The Lighthouse Keeper” – Sam Smith
Soak in a warm bubble bath with a song like The Lighthouse Keeper. Not only is it a treat for your ears thanks to Sam Smith’s vocals, but its lyrics send a beautiful message of love, trust, and success after hardship. There’s romance as well, but it isn’t central to the purpose of the music. Rather than being a love song, The Lighthouse Keeper is better described as a hope song.
22. Entertainer – Zayn
Coming from a star like Zayn, you might expect Entertainer to be about himself. However, the entertainer in question is actually the girl who’s been cheating on him! He’s been amusing himself by watching her “performance” as a faithful girlfriend, but the jig is finally up, and he’s ready to croon about it over a synthesized beat. Don’t worry, Zayn. Plenty of other girls are waiting out there to entertain you.