Have you ever listened to a song and thought, “Wow, this has great lyrics!” Aside from the melody composing and track producing aspects in making a song another essential part of the process is writing lyrics.
The lyrics of the song are what mainly express the message and the emotions the songwriter and producer want to relay. In creating profound lyrics, songwriters make use of different figures of speech and other literary devices that bring color and life to the lyrics, instead of sounding like plain narrative text.
One common figure of speech that songwriters use is the simile. A simile is a figure of speech that compares two unlike objects or things with the use of words, “like” and “as.”
So, if one says that watching the school play was like watching the grass grow, it means to say that the play is uneventful just like watching the grass grow. Let’s look at more examples of similes in the different songs we listen to every day.
1. Stitches by Shawn Mendes
Though the lyrics can be interpreted in different ways, this famous song by Shawn Mendes is commonly described as a piece that talks about the aftermath of going through a breakup or a broken relationship and how the person in the song is having a hard time from moving on even if the person knows the pain of being in that relationship bears.
“Just like a moth drawn to a flame
Oh, you lured me in I couldn’t sense the pain”
In this specific line, the simile compares the person to a moth that’s being drawn to a flame. Moths get hurt by fire, but even so, they still come near it because they are fascinated by it. In the same way, the person in the song is being lured and wants to go near their partner despite the possible pain and hurt it may bring.
2. Believer ft. Lil Wayne by Imagine Dragons
Imagine Dragons focused on relaying the message that pain is an essential and meaningful part of our lives. The song expresses how the person goes through unimaginable pain, but this pain has made him stronger in many ways and has helped him discover himself through the situations that come his way. The person takes pride in the pain that he has gone through saying, “Seeing the beauty in the pain.”
“wear my uniform like a tuxedo”
This sense of pride is also expressed in the simile above. A tuxedo is seen as something luxurious and high-end and because of his pride in his pain, he also sees and wears his work uniform with a sense of honor, luxury, and respect.
3. Just Like Fire by Pink
“Just like fire burning out the way
if lean light the world up for just one day”
In this song, Pink talks about the determination to achieve one’s dreams and aspirations and being true to oneself. It also talks about growing to ignore what other people say.
The song expresses that some people may be holding the person back but the person chooses to break through these limitations and not let anyone stop her from what she wants to do.
Without letting others control the person, she is determined to show her true colors to the world, and burn bright just like fire, which is what the simile is trying to say. She sheds her own light in the world and trailblazing just like a fire burning.
4. Ex’s and Oh’s by Elle King
“Ex’s and the oh, oh, oh’s they haunt me like ghosts, they want me”
Elle King’s song talks about being haunted by past relationships and how the person’s ex-lovers keep running back to her.
The song talks about how the person was the best lover her exes could have had and how because of this, they all want to get back to her. When you’re being haunted by a ghost it’s a scary feeling, and the ghost won’t really stop haunting until they’re able to get you. in a way.
King expresses the same thing with her song, comparing her exes to ghosts who won’t stop haunting her and wanting her back.
5. Butter by BTS
“Smooth like butter, like a criminal undercover.
‘gon pop like trouble breaking into your heart like that”
This mega-hit by the renowned superstar, BTS, talks about making people fall in love with you. It talks about having the charisma and charm, that anyone could easily fall for them.
With references from Michael Jackson and Usher, the song captures the hearts of its listeners easily, as the meaning suggests. Multiple similes were actually used at the start of the line, and they all pertain to the easiness of breaking into someone’s heart, encountering no problems, entering as smooth as butter.
6. Dynamite by BTS
“So Im’a light it up like dynamite”
Released before Butter and acted as BTS’ English debut song, Dynamite is a happy track that invites its listeners to dance and enjoy the time, shedding light and positivity despite the dark time the world is facing right now.
Dynamite encourages the message of positivity and having hope in today’s time. In the same way. the simile talks about the person radiating positivity and shedding some light, lighting up bright like dynamite.
7. Permission to Dance by BTS
The third on this list and also BTS’ third English single. Like Dynamite, this song talks about positivity and allowing yourself to enjoy the moment you’re living in. Quite literally, it’s a song that expresses that you don’t need permission to dance or to enjoy from everyone.
“It’s the thought of being young
When your heart’s just like a drum
Beating louder with no way to guard it”
It’s another happy and fun track that listeners dance to and get happiness from. The simile above talks about the thrill and excitement that comes with joy feeling your heartbeat getting louder just like the loud beats of a drum.
8. Magic by TOMORROW X TOGETHER
“Oh, it’s just like magic
Feeling your touch, oh, it’s a rush”
Following the K-Pop trend in this list, TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s English song talks about the magical feeling of encountering someone that changes you and teaches you how to love.
The person in the song used to have so many apprehensions about loving because of past experiences that didn’t really go well. But the person encounters a person that saves him from the misery and cold world he lives in.
Like the simile expresses, meeting or feeling the other person’s touch was something magical and out of this world for the person.
9. Toosie Slide by Drake
“I could dance like Michael Jackson”
Hitting big by becoming a TikTok trend, this catchy hit by Drake expresses wanting to dance together with people and basically saying that we’re about to slide. It teaches its listeners to dance, going right foot up, left foot slide, and vice versa.
It also invites the listener to dance with the line “Baby, don’t you want to dance with me? No?”
Moreover, Michael Jackson is a renowned artist and a dance icon so what the simile is expressing is that the person in the song could dance well and can impress you.
10. Levitating by Dua Lipa
“My love is like a rocket, watch it blast off”
Another trend on Tiktok, this song Dua Lipa is a love song that talks about the excitement and thrilling feeling that you get from meeting someone, having fun, and falling in love.
It talks about an otherworldly and ethereal feeling that makes you feel like you’re levitating. It’s an exciting track that entices its listeners to dance with their loved ones.
Dua uses a simile in the bridge part which expresses how like a rocket, she would blast her love to the other person and make the other person feel her love.
11. Holy by Justin Bieber
As the community suspects and interprets, Justin Bieber’s piano track featuring Chance the Rapper talks about his relationship with his wife, Hailey, and how he feels about their relationship. Hailey makes him feel holy and respected as the song suggests.
“Running to the altar like a track star”
Following the concept of holiness, Bieber made mention of the lyrics above expresses how fast they tied the knot together. It expresses that they ran to the altar and got married fast, just like a track star, knowing that they can’t wait another second.
12. When We Were Young by Adele
This timeless piece by Adele talks about the nostalgic feeling that comes with meeting people from your past. It talks about reminiscing about the younger years and the things they’ve missed to live as they grew older. It’s also about wanting to catch up and rekindle one’s connection with the past.
“You look like a movie, you sound like a song”
The lines above express the same thing, whether a sad or happy movie, the person is compared to a movie she has watched before or a song that she listened to that allows her to reminisce.
13. Ice Cream by BLACKPINK
Another hit and globally known K-pop group, BLACKPINK released this track featuring Selena Gomez that expresses knowing one’s worth and not settling for less. It’s about finding a partner that would treat you the way you deserve to be treated and how the relationship creates love as sweet as ice cream.
“You’re the one been chosen
Play the part like Moses”
The simile above compares how the person’s partner is like Moses, as the chosen one the person wants a relationship with. It tells the other person to play their part and be a good partner and lover.
14. Sunday Morning by Maroon 5
This timeless piece which you’ve heard at least once in your life talks about simple yet lovely and wholesome moments you experience with a lover.
Like the title suggests the track is something you relax to as it also talks about the uneventful yet important things of being in love. As the chorus expresses, the person feels that all he needs, and in darkness, all he sees is his lover.
“And back and forth we sway like branches in a storm”
The simile above then expresses how their relationship is not perfect as it has its ups and downs, like how a branch sways during a storm. But, in the end, they’ll still be together as the next line says “Change the weather, still together when it ends.”
15. Sofia by Clairo
In this song American singer-songwriter, Clairo talks about falling in love with “Sofia” on Twitter. Clairo says that the song is about her crushing on women in the media.
“It just captures a moment in my life but instead of hiding it. it’s expressed in an almost ‘explosive’ manner,” Clairo tweets.
“Sofia, know that you and I shouldn’t feel like a crime”
The line above expresses being scared to reach out for what you want but also knowing that it shouldn’t feel like a crime. The simile compares their relationship to a crime, expressing that it feels wrong or people find it wrong for them to be together, even though it’s not and they shouldn’t feel this way.
16. Fight Song by Rachel Platten
“Like a small boat on the ocean”
Like its title suggests, Rachel Platten reminds everyone to keep fighting despite other people trying to bring you down or even if the world itself is trying to stop you. It’s a reminder to believe in oneself and one’s capabilities and potentials.
It’s about never giving up and inspiring people to keep going despite the obstacles.
The line above also speaks of this, as you are compared to a small boat that sends big waves. This means that even if you do feel small, you still have an immense impact on this world.
17. Rise Up by Andra Day
“I rise up,
I’ll rise like the day”
Following Platten’s song, Andra Day’s Rise Up is also an inspirational track that gives hope to its listeners, that after every setback and fall, there is also a rising and getting back up again. It talks about giving one another hope and being each other’s reason to get back up again.
Like how the sun sets and rises the next day the simile above expresses how we will rise up again like the day or the sunrise.
18. Diamonds by Rihanna
Singer and Icon, Rihanna talks about shining together like diamonds and how she sees the world and so much life in the other person. It’s about two people coming together and bringing each other happiness and hope.
“Shine bright like a diamond”
The simile above expresses how both of them are to shine together, like diamonds, as they shed their light and live their life on Earth. It’s a song that talks about two people being unapologetically themselves and showing their brightest lights and colors.
19. Roar by Katy Perry
Another empowering song, Katy Perry’s Roar talks about overcoming obstacles in life and powering through them like a tiger. Like what its lyrics express, it reminds listeners that they are a fighter and a champion no obstacle could stop them from going their way.
” You hear my voice, you hear that sound Like thunder, gonna shake the ground”
The simile above portrays the same message, saying that you are powerful and you have a powerful voice. It’s compared to thunder and that like thunder, your voice is loud enough to shake the ground.
20. Skyscraper by Demi Lovato
Ending it high with our last song on the list, Demi Lovato’s iconic song is about facing struggles and how people or society take satisfaction in that, even making it worse.
It’s about hitting rock bottom and others continuously ruining you. At the same time, though, it’s also about fighting back getting better and rising again despite whatever’s thrown at you.
“I will be rising from the ground like a skyscraper”
The simile above also says this by saying how you’ll rise like a skyscraper, meaning that you’ll rise high as a skyscraper is a high building.
That’s the end of the list!
Though there are probably thousands of other songs that use simile too, the 20 listed here definitely proves that writers and producers utilize figures of speech to create profound and meaningful lyrics which are turned into songs that people enjoy.
And, it’s not just limited to simile but lots of other figures of speech and literary devices that bring life to the tunes you listen to. So, the next time you listen to a song make sure to also give the lyrics a read!