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21 Best Songs About Respect

Respect is a virtue practiced in today’s society for harmonious living. Different musicians have written songs about respect to promote the message to as many people as possible. Here are some of the best songs about respect.

“A Little Respect” – Erasure

This tune is one of the songs about respect from the 1980s, as it was released in 1988. Erasure’s singer Andy Bell and rhythm maker Vince Clarke teamed to release this song, a cry for a reunion from a betrayed lover. Andy Bell’s ability to pour his emotions out in this song is something Clarke respects since he had struggled with this in the past.

The lyrics suggest that people in love should not take advantage of their partner simply because they think they can get away with it. The song is one of the best on the topic of respecting significant others and living in peace.


“Respectable” – Rolling Stones

This fast-paced rock single from 1978 reflects on the acceptance of the band by upper society who had previously snubbed them. It is also primarily about the Rolling Stones’ admiration for Bianca, Jagger’s then-wife. Lyrics mention Bianca visiting the White House to meet President Ford’s son.

The track is a reminder that respect is earned – how people show themselves to the world determines whether or not they are appreciated.


“Born This Way” – Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga released this song about love, trust, and equality. With the support of her crew, Gaga wrote and co-produced the song. Lady Gaga implies she’s unique in her way and this should be accepted by others.

The lyrics chant on about the diversity in humans based on their culture and personality, and should remain without the necessary need to adapt to society. Humankind must learn to embrace this – allowing people to thrive regardless of their differences. Finally, respect is exemplified by accepting someone for who they are.


“Can’t Hold Us Down” – Christina Aguilera

“Can’t Hold Us Down” debuted in 2002 becoming one of the most successful pop songs about respect. Aguilera croons about how to treat women well. The song’s message will no doubt remain relevant for years to come – addressing issues most women have faced in the past and still face today.

This ditty indicts society’s double standard where men are applauded for their sexual performance while women are shunned for the same characteristics. Respect knows no gender and must be reciprocated.


“Sorry” – Beyoncé

This Beyoncé tune is a terrific motivator to practice self-respect. It was written as a result of her personal experiences, and its message is that of devotion, bravery, and courage in standing up for oneself – suggesting disrespect from others is unacceptable.

After Beyoncé’s spouse had an affair, her message was one of respect and love, within unions, and families. If one betrays the love they have been given they must be confronted.


“One Love” – Bob Marley

This tune is one of the most well-known reggae songs on respect, and the artist is someone from whom we can all learn. Bob Marley supported peace, togetherness, and equality in the song – binding people in a community. The song, however, has a deeper message than a mere appeal for unity.

Marley envisioned a future in which everyone respected one another and where war and violence can be avoided with a means to resolve disagreements that arise. A reminder that war and violence is not a resolution and only add to the damage.

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“Do You Really Want Me (Show Respect)” –
Robyn

In a nutshell, this song by Robyn is another on how to treat a woman well. Robyn comes from the angle of a teacher to men who are interested in pursuing ladies chanting about what a man must do for a loved one.

The lyrics claim that women desire those men who will look after her as if she were his daughter, love her as his wife, and respect her as if she were his mother. Respect shows that a man is serious about having a lady in his life.


“A Well Respected Man” – The Kinks

After the Kinks’ 1965 tour of the United States, leader Ray Davies wrote this song. The Kinks portray a vision of what a decent is – suggesting a man should maintain control over his life. A man must know when to get up, go to work, and return home to take care of himself.

A well-respected guy is one who takes care of his mental health and is not afraid to seek help. Additionally, he is one who stays fit and maintains a healthy work-life balance and relationship.


“Respect Yourself” – The Staple Singers

In 1971, The Staple Singers released the song. The message is to understand one’s value and accept nothing less than that. According to the song, self-respect begets respect from others.

Appreciating oneself enough to recognize they are entitled to nothing less than the best is valuable. Backing what make you happy and what you believe in is what self-respect is all about. This number might help some of us understand that letting go of something that no longer brings positive vibes is a sign of self-respect.


“Amendment” – Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco released this song 2012, a well-known feminist icon. DiFranco discusses women’s civil rights, a topic that few other female artists have tackled in the past. Women have historically been one of the most vulnerable victims of crime, sexual criminal actions, and these concerns are not often addressed as they should be.

DiFranco is one of the few female artists who freely discuss women’s civil rights.


“Why Can’t We Be Friends?” – War

Catchy, relatable, and the perfect song to jam out to on a road trip, “Why Can’t We Be Friends” by R & B group War references an all-too-familiar feeling – an unrequited desire for friendship. 

Members Jerry Goldstein, Charles Miller, Lee Oskar, Lonnie Jordan, Howard Scott, B.B. Dickerson,Papa Dee Allen, and Harold Ray sing about cultural, economic, and physical differences and their irrelevance. Singer Lonnie Jordan discusses unconditional respect for the seemingly distant potential pal. 

The funk and reggae beats layered with group vocals give the tune a sing-along feel, while the lyrics preach respect and harmony despite differences. This War tune is one of the most well-known songs about respecting differences. Good vibes all around!


“Respect” – Aretha Franklin

No Top 10 Respect Songs list is complete without this iconic Aretha Franklin tune. Using unique rhythms and lyrical techniques like spelling and brassy instrumentals, Aretha belts lyrics about her willingness to help her partner but expects the same level of care in return.

“Respect” captured the hearts of listeners and became one of the most popular hits of the late 60s. Songwriter Otis Redding originally recorded the hit in 1965 and later gave Aretha rights to produce her version of the song (although he didn’t show much affection for her take). 

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Aretha Franklin had countless chart-toppers, but “Respect” remains an anthem for relationships – they take communication, effort, and, well, respect.


“Mortal Man” – Kendrick Lamar

Renowned for his heartbreakingly honest lyrics, Kendrick Lamar tackles multiple social issues concerning ethnicity, economics, and the lack of respect for underserved populations. Lamar uses iconic humanitarians like Nelson Mandela to explore the multi-faceted views of fans and the general public. 

He asks listeners if they’ll be there for him even when things fall apart – how one day they respect him and the next he’s against the wall. The powerhouse hip-hop tune ends with a famous recording of Tupac discussing similar problems.

Overall, the song demands respect, but it also explores the intricacies of human bias, prejudice, and compassion, making it one of the most complex rap songs about respect.


“Sleep to Dream” – Fiona Apple

Slightly different from some of the happier tunes on this list, “Sleep to Dream” by singer/songwriter Fiona Apple discusses a relationship in which she didn’t get the respect she deserved. 

Aggressive, soulful, and confrontational, the tune takes listeners through the end of a relationship and the conflict that made it happen. Apple uses her iconic low-toned and smooth voice paired with simple-but-rhythmic drums to convey her subdued (but very real) rage at the disrespect she endured.

Fiona released “Sleep to Dream” on her first album, “Tidal”, in 1996. Since then, she’s become a beloved songwriter for her brutal honesty and unique musicality.


“The Reason” – Hoobastank

A 2000s soft rock throwback, “The Reason” by Hoobastank, brought a rare and beloved emotional side to popular radio with one of the most popular songs about respect in a relationship. Singer and writer Doug Robb discusses how finding his partner or loved one is his reason for existence.

Robb respects his loved one almost more than he respects himself. Self-deprecating lyrics referencing his past mistakes and shortcomings in the relationship blend effortlessly with a simple piano score and drumbeat, giving his voice center stage.

Respect in “The Reason” derives primarily from Robb’s inspiration to become more like his partner and to change who he was in the past. 


“Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” – Kate Bush

While this Kate Bush hit has recently re-emerged due to its appearance on Stranger Things, the song premiered in 1985 and describes trading places with someone with a different worldview. Bush establishes the switch as a way to build empathy and respect between men and women.

Considered one of the top feminist anthems ever produced, “Running Up That Hill” evokes desperation and honesty. The musicality is quintessential 80s synth-pop, with Kate’s dreamy and powerful voice belting the lyrics woven through. 

Her longing to be understood and to understand those different from her feels genuine. She wants respect but not without realizing she needs to practice it herself.


“You Can Call Me Al” – Paul Simon

The Simon counterpart to legendary Simon & Garfunkel, Paul Simon, released “You Can Call Me Al” on his album “Graceland” in 1986. It almost immediately gained traction for its catchy instrumentals and spoken-word lyrics.

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Paul Simon describes several unnamed characters – a man asking existential questions about his life, his trials and tribulations, and the disappointment of meeting his heroes. The chorus is when Simon launches into the unforgettable line “if you be my bodyguard, I can be your long lost pal. I can call you Betty, and Betty when you call me, you can call me Al”.

These lines reference mutual respect between two people. The relationship Simon describes is almost symbiotic – as the compassion and respect, they hold for one another prevail even if life gets messy. While the song describes some adult themes, it still manages to be one of the few songs about respect clean enough for radio airplay.


“We Are The Champions” – Queen

This classic from Queen demonstrates the tenacity of singer Freddie Mercury and the respect he has for his fans and bandmates. Mercury uses the song to describe his appreciation for his fellow musicians and knows that much of the success earned by the Queen derives from mutual respect and admiration.

He emphasizes this respect by referring to himself and others as champions. Despite the roadblocks, almost-breakups, and inner turmoil, the band prevailed and became one of the most legendary bands of all time.


“With a Little Help from My Friends” – The Beatles

One of the most iconic songs about respect and kindness, “With a Little Help From My Friends” by The Beatles, is at its core a song about friendship. Paul McCartney asks his pals if they would still support him if he sang out of tune – the assumption is that they would, and the chorus describes only needing friends to get by when life gets hard.

The Beatles show off their harmonizing skills amongst perky guitars and percussion, forming the perfect sing-along jam. The lyrics reveal that respect amongst friends endures everything, and true friends don’t turn away when things don’t go as planned.


“She” – Green Day

This Green Day tune tells the story of a woman begging for respect. Billie Joe explains how the woman feels like she screams in silence and no one hears what she has to say.

He then launches into an explanation of how he’s listening, even if the rest of the world isn’t. Billie’s lyrics convey a sense of solidarity and respect, a message towards women that listeners of rock or alternative may not hear very often. Overall, the song promotes hope and optimism for the future – and if people respect and listen to one another, real change can happen.


“Face Down” – Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

A 2000s emo classic, “Face Down” by the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, is a heartbreaking story of intimate partner abuse from an observer’s point of view. Lyricist and singer Ronnie Winter wrote the song about the domestic violence he and his brother endured as children. 

Despite its heavy topic, the song has speedy instrumentals and fast-paced lyrics that make it unique from other songs about similar material. Winter’s lyrics discuss respect for other people and not treating them poorly – with abuse as the most disrespectful action anyone can do. 

Final Thoughts

Apart from respect for oneself and others, there is a lot to learn from these songs. Respect plays a significant role in one’s success story in today’s culture.

Writer

Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.