21 Best Songs About Selflessness

Altruistic gestures are one of the ways we give love back to the rest of the world and show our appreciation for the life we have. Although people have long speculated about the meaning of life and our purpose on this planet, many believe that we’re here to help each other, and that selflessness and altruistic gestures are what give our lives meaning. It’s such a widely held belief, in fact, that many musicians have sung about selflessness and helping others without an agenda.

From songs about helping the entire planet from songs about being there for one special person, all the artists on this list have sung about altruistic gestures and the importance of supporting our fellow human beings. Here are 21 songs of the best songs about selflessness.

Our Top Songs About Selflessness

“Heal The World” – Michael Jackson

In this nearly seven-minute track, Jackson sends out an appeal to everyone listening to band together and fix a broken world. Jackson is known to have said that this track was the one he was most proud to have created. The track opens with a short monologue from a child about making the world a better place, a sentiment Jackson echoes throughout the track.

Although kept out of the #1 spot by Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’, ‘Heal The World’ remains one of Jackson’s most popular tracks. It was followed by the creation of the Heal The World Foundation, named after the song, which Jackson hoped would improve living conditions for children all over the world.


“Care” – Kid Rock ft Mary J. Blige & T.I.

Kid Rock’s ‘Care’ sees the singer lamenting that he can’t solve all the world’s problems with his own hands, but he hopes that by caring about the world’s problems and having an open heart, he can still effect some small change.

The track references in particular the divisive political climate in America. “I hear screaming on the left, yelling on the right, I’m sitting in the middle trying to live my life,” sings Kid Rock.


“Help The People” – Tammy Wynette, George Jones

“Won’t somebody help the people who ain’t lovin’?” sing Tammy Wynette and George Jones on ‘Help The People’. The couple express concern for the lonely in the world and selflessly worry about their happiness, expressing a wish that they will all help someone who makes their life worthwhile. “They’re not living if they’re not loving like me and you,” they sing.


“I’d Die For You” – Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi references the ultimate altruistic gesture in ‘I’d Die For You’. Lamenting that the girl he loves doesn’t understand his true intentions and how much he really cares about her. “I’d die for you, I’d cry for you, I’d do anything, I’d lie for you,” he tells her.

Even though he may be too stubborn to apologise sometimes and he might speak without thinking, the love he feels for her is entirely selfless. He begs her to understand that he’d do just about anything for her, including giving his life for her if it ever came down it.


“Say You’ll Be There” – Spice Girls

Spice Girls are selflessly giving everything to the man they love – all they ask of him is that he promises to be there for them in return. Although their relationship had a rocky start with the decision they should just be friends, now that they’ve fallen hard for each other, they have to be prepared to make big commitments. The Spice Girls are ready to go all in, as long as their man can promise he’ll be someone they can depend on.


“You Raise Me Up” – Josh Groban

This popular ballad has been used to describe a love rooted in selflessness for many years. Groban sings about someone who he can always depend on to support him when he’s feeling heavy and weary. “You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains,” he sings. ‘You Raise Me Up’ has different meanings to different people, with some feeling it represents their faith, and others a selfless and supportive romantic relationship.

‘You Raise Me Up’ was originally recorded by instrumental duo Secret Garden, with Brian Kennedy contributing vocals. Groban’s version is one of the best known, as is that of Irish boyband Westlife, who became the 100th act to record the song when they put out their chart-topping version in 2005.


“Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” – Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss can’t help continuing to selflessly love someone, even when they’ve told her that they want to leave. She knows the person she loves wants to leave her and that what they have isn’t built to last, but she can’t help loving them and building her life around them even when she knows she won’t get anything in return.


“Lean On Me” – Bill Withers

“Lean on me when you’re not strong,” sings Bill Withers, “and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.” In this classic song about friendship and altruistic gestures, Withers reminds the listener that everyone goes through tough times. He tells those he loves to lean on him in times of trouble and to give all their difficulties to him. Withers knows that there’ll be a time in his life when he’ll have to ask the same of his friends, and asserts we all need to be prepared to selflessly love each other.

The timeless and relatable message of the song meant that it had a mass appeal. Withers was pleased that ‘Lean On Me’ reached so many different demographics and that it was such a uniting tune. These days, the melody to lean on me is often the first song that children learn on the piano, because it can be played without them needing to move their hands.


“You’ve Got A Friend” – James Taylor

Taylor tells his friends that no matter where he is, when they need him, he’ll be there. “You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running,” he sings. Taylor promises to be a truly selfless friend and support those who loves no matter when or why they find themselves in times of trouble.

This cover of Carole King’s 1971 original remains one of Taylor’s biggest hits. King’s ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ was originally written as a response to Taylor’s 1970 song ‘Fire And Rain’. After King’s version appeared on her Tapestry album, Taylor and his band had a go at the song after finding themselves with extra studio time. When Taylor’s single version went to #1, it led to increased record sales for King as well.


“Treat People With Kindness” – Harry Styles

Styles’ gospel-tinged ‘Treat People With Kindness’ appears on his 2019 album Fine Line. It sees Styles appealing to the world to practice some selflessness and be kind to each other. Styles began to use “Treat people with kindness” as a slogan in 2017, wearing it on his person and putting it on his merchandise, and the phrase was heavily used in promotion for his Fine Line album.


“I’ll Be There For You” – The Rembrandts

Best known as the theme tune from the popular sitcom Friends, ‘I’ll Be There For You’ sees the Rembrandts promising to hold up those they love and keep them on their feet even on the most challenging days. “I’ll be there for you, cos you’re there for me too,” they sing.

The track was written after songwriters Allee Willis and Michael Scott watched the Friends pilot, and stood apart from other TV themes in that it made a great full-length song rather than just a great 30-second theme. Its radio success provided a lot of free publicity for the show.


“I’ll Be There” – Jess Glynne

Glynne vows that she’ll be there for her friends even in their hardest moments. Singing directly to a friend processing a breakup, she promises them: “You’ll never be alone, I’ll be there for you.”

This was the lead single from Glynne’s sophomore album, Always In Between, and was inspired by real-life events. Glynne and her co-writer Purcell were both going through breakups at the time of writing the track and would frequently call each other late at night to check in on how the other was coping.


“Told You So” – Little Mix

It can be tempting when your friend gets out of a relationship you knew wasn’t right for them to say, “I told you so.” But Little Mix know that a truly selfless friend won’t rub it in – they’ll just hold you.

“Girl, just come round mine tonight, I’ve got wine and make-up wipes,” they sing. Even though they knew that the boy in question was just playing games, cheating and lying, they won’t remind their heartbroken friend of how many times they said that to her. Instead, they’re busy planning a girl’s night.


“Count On Me” – Bruno Mars

Mars promises that he’ll always be someone his friends can count on me. “We find out what we’re made of when we are called to help our friends in need,” he sings. Mars’ friends can always count on him to be there when they need help, and he knows that they’ll selflessly be there for him in return.


“By Your Side” – Tenth Avenue North

There’s good friends, and then there’s those that will rush to your side in the middle of the night just because you need them. Tenth Avenue North wonders why the friend they’re speaking to still needs to search for love elsewhere, when they have all they could ever need right beside them.

“Please don’t fight these hands that are holding you,” they sing. It takes a truly selfless person to be there for those who need you even when you don’t get any thanks for it.


“People Help The People” – Birdy

This was the third single from teenage singer Birdy’s debut album, a cover of a song originally recorded by Cherry Ghost. It asks the world to be there for those who need it, as Birdy herself vows, “Give me your hand and I’ll hold it.” The song was written by Cherry Ghost lead singer Simon Aldred, who thought up the melody on a backpacking trip and had to hum it to himself every day to remember it as he had no way of recording it.


“Rockabye” – Clean Bandit ft Sean Paul & Anne-Marie

Few embody selflessness to the degree of single mothers. This trio of collaborators tell the story of a young single mum who gives everything she has to make sure that her infant son has a better life than she does. “Your life ain’t gon be nothing like my life,” she tells him.


“One Call Away” – Charlie Puth

“I’m only one call away,” Puth tells his loved ones. He promises that in times of trouble he’ll rush to their sides like Superman, if they just give him one call to say they need him. The song was inspired by a friend of Puth’s who made similar promises to his long-distance girlfriend.


“Here For You” – Kygo ft Ella Henderson

This dance track to which Henderson lends her vocal sees her vowing that she’ll always be right behind her loved ones whenever they need her, and that she wants to carry them with her the more successful she becomes. “I’ll be here for you,” she reminds them repeatedly.


“Selfless” – The Strokes

The Strokes sing about a love that acts as a motivation through life, one which they always want by their sides. The track portrays a selfless adoration that sees the group wholly wrapped up in this person, not wanting to miss a moment of time with them.


“Hey Brother” – Avicii

Avicii’s ‘Hey Brother’ features Dan Tyminski on vocals, who sings about being tied to your homeland and the people that make it home. “For you, there’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do,” he tells his loved ones.


Final thoughts

Selflessness can be a difficult thing to practice, but it’s often the ones that we deeply love that make us capable of it. From close friends and family members to romantic partners that we love unconditionally, there are certain people in this world who we’ll always be willing to perform altruistic gestures for. But as many of the artists on this list suggest, when we extend that selflessness to strangers and people we’ll never meet, we create a better world for everyone.

Writer

Caitlin Devlin is a music, entertainment and lifestyle writer based in London. When she’s not creating playlists for Repeat Replay, she’s reviewing gigs and interviewing artists for Ticketmaster UK and thinking about what her Spotify Wrapped will look like this year.

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