Let’s face it, rain gets a bad rap. It is all too common to associate rain with sadness and depression, especially in songs. If sunshine reflects a mood of happiness and joy, then rain must have the opposite effect.
Luckily, some artists can see that rain does not always have to be melancholy and depressing. Rain can bring a feeling of peacefulness. It can also symbolize hope, the rain washing away the negative. Rain can reflect your mood, both during times of sadness and moments of inspiration.
Here is our list of the best songs featuring rain– happy, sad, or somewhere in-between.
1.Singin’ in the Rain – Gene Kelly
Most of us might think that Singin’ in the Rain first appeared in the 1952 movie of the same name where Gene Kelly memorably sings and dances in a rainstorm splashing in puddles while spinning his umbrella. They recorded the song originally in 1929.
The song has been recorded by other contemporary artists as well. In 1950, Dean Martin sang the song on the variety show The Colgate Comedy Hour while partner Jerry Lewis doused him with water. Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney also recorded their rendition of the song in 1961.
‘Singin’ in the Rain’ is the epitome of a song that does not depict rain as depressing. When you are in love, you have sunshine in your heart and can laugh the dark clouds away.
2.Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head – B.J. Thomas
‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’ was a song written specifically for the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969. It would become a massive hit for singer B.J. Thomas in 1970, spending four weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and winning an Oscar for Best Original Song.
The singer is determined to have a positive outlook on life despite the title suggesting he always seems to get stuck in the rain. Rain is associated with blues and the feeling of always looking forward to the sun coming out.
3.Purple Rain – Prince
Prince was hot in 1984, starring in his own musical drama feature film Purple Rain in which he also won an Oscar for Best Original Score for the soundtrack. The album with the same name contained the title track and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100.
Prince performed the song to conclude what is arguably one of the best Super Bowl halftime performances of all time in 2007. The stage filled with purple lights as it started raining.
The power ballad sounds like a love song but has a more ominous undertone. Purple rain refers to the end of the world or a doomed relationship. When there is red blood in the blue sky, the result is purple rain.
4. I Love a Rainy Night – Eddie Rabbitt
Not everybody is depressed by rain. Some people love a rainy night. Just ask Eddie Rabbitt. ‘I Love a Rainy Night’ was a big hit from his 1980 album Horizon and was certified gold when it reached a half-million record sales. The song had crossover appeal, hitting number one on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot Country Singles, and the Adult Contemporary Singles charts.
The song’s lyrics describe how a thunderstorm can bring about a feeling of peace and hope. Not only does thunder and lightning fascinate, but the rain washes away your troubles leading to a sunny day.
5. Have You Ever Seen the Rain? – Creedence Clearwater Revival
John Fogerty wrote ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain?’ for Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1970 album, Pendulum. The single went gold, reaching the top of the chart’s in Canada and peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song has been open to interpretation, released during the Vietnam War. Was rain a metaphor for bombs falling from the sky? Not according to Fogerty.
The members of CCR were in a state of turmoil despite having reached great success. How could everyone be so unhappy having achieved fame and fortune? This is best reflected in the line, ‘Have you ever seen the rain coming down on a sunny day?’ The band would break up a year later.
6. Fire and Rain – James Taylor
James Taylor’s ‘Fire and Rain’ was released as a single from his second album, Sweet Baby James in 1970. It reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song reflects the ups and downs in life, happiness, and sadness, success, and failure. At a time when Taylor’s star was on the rise, he learned of the suicide of a close friend. His fame brought addiction to drugs.
Although there appear to be sunny days that may never end, there are also days when the feeling of loneliness may last forever. Taylor beautifully presents this paradox with ‘Fire and Rain’.
7. Set Fire to the Rain – Adele
Adele’s power pop ballad ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ was the third US number-one single from her second album, 21. Her performance of the song at the Royal Albert Hall earned her a Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance in 2013.
Adele does not shy away from her feelings, putting her most vulnerable self into her lyrics. ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ is no exception. Heartbroken from a relationship, Adele was in a state of recovery when she stepped outside of a restaurant and tried to light a cigarette in the pouring rain.
8. Here Comes the Rain Again – Eurythmics
British group the Eurythmics had a big hit with the song ‘Here Comes the Rain Again’ in 1983. It was released on their third studio album, Touch. It reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100.
Band members Annie Lennox and David Stewart wrote the song while staying in a hotel in New York City. The day was overcast with dark clouds approaching. ‘Here Comes the Rain Again’ invokes feelings of sadness and depression, dealing with the emotions that come with memories of past failed relationships.
9. Kentucky Rain – Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley recorded ‘Kentucky Rain’ in 1970, a hit that was released on his compilation package Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits Vol. 1. The song was written by Eddie Rabbitt and Dick Heard and featured session player Ronnie Milsap on piano, who would become a country legend in his own right.
The song is about a man hitchhiking from town to town searching for his true love. There is a sense of desperation and loneliness as we look for her through the ‘cold Kentucky rain’.
10. No Rain – Blind Melon
Blind Melon’s biggest hit ‘No Rain’ came from their self-titled debut album in 1993. It had moderate success in the US, but topped the charts in Canada and made the top ten in Australia.
The album went multi-platinum thanks to the heavy airplay the video for ‘No Rain’ received on MTV.
The young Bee Girl from the album cover is featured in the video, getting laughed off stage during her tap dance performance. That feeling of loneliness and rejection is lifted when the Bee Girl finds acceptance among people just like her, dancing in a green field on a sunny day.
11. November Rain – Guns n’ Roses
From Guns n’ Roses 1991 release Use Your Illusion, ‘November Rain’ was the longest song to make the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 with a running time of eight minutes and fifty-seven seconds. It would peak at number three on the chart.
Written by lead singer Axl Rose, ‘November Rain’ is a departure from the heavy metal head-banging songs that were the staple of the band. It is a song about the difficulty of keeping a relationship going when feelings for one another change. That heavy mood of a failed love is beautifully reflected with the imagery of a cold November rain.
12. Rain on Me – Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande
Pop superstars Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande joined forces to record ‘Rain On Me’ for Gaga’s album Chromatica, released in 2020. It was the first all-female collaboration to reach number one atop the Billboard Hot 100. The song garnered international success, reaching number one on the charts in 13 different countries.
‘Rain On Me’ is an upbeat, disco, electro-pop dance song that defies the message of rain reflecting a negative mood. It is a song of defiance. Rain represents tears and misery, reflecting the hardships one faces in life. But the singers show their will, inviting the rain because at the end of the day they are still alive.
13. Who’ll Stop the Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Another rain song written by John Fogerty, ‘Who’ll Stop the Rain’, appeared on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1970 album Cosmo’s Factory. It has an acoustic feel reflective of the band’s folk-rock roots.
Much like the band’s release ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain?’, ‘Who’ll Stop the Rain’ is interpreted as a commentary on the Vietnam War. According to Fogerty, the song is not a song of protest.
Rather it is a song that was inspired by CCR’s appearance at Woodstock in 1969. Although the rain poured down on the large gathering of young people, it could not dampen the feeling of peace and love.
14. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan wrote ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ in the summer of 1962. He recorded it in a single take and released it on his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.
It is a powerful song with imagery of warfare and suffering, the rain symbolizing impending doom. Dylan performed the song at Carnegie Hall exactly one month before the Cuban Missile Crisis was announced to the nation by U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Dylan explained that the rain did not represent nuclear fallout, but rather the lies that are spread through the media poisoning people’s minds.
15. Red Rain – Peter Gabriel
Rock musician Peter Gabriel’s 1986 song ‘Red Rain’ appears on his hit solo album, So. Although the song did not achieve the same heights as singles ‘Sledgehammer’ and ‘In Your Eyes’ from the same album, ‘Red Rain’ did reach number three on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.
Gabriel enlisted Police drummer Stewart Copeland to create the sound of rain on the hi-hat cymbals. The song is a recount of a recurring dream (nightmare?) Gabriel was having at the time, an inescapable red rain falling like blood. It was likely spurred by two recurring themes prevalent in the mid-80s: the AIDS pandemic and nuclear fallout.
16. I Wish It Would Rain – The Temptations
‘I Wish It Would Rain’ was recorded by the Temptations for the Motown label in 1967. The song was written by a Motown staff writer who found out that his wife was cheating on him.
The lyrics reflect the pain of having your heart broken by someone you love. The wish for rain is to disguise the tears, for it is believed a man should not be seen crying. Until it rains, the singer will hide inside so he won’t have to explain his tears. When a song like ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ is written from an authentic source of pain, the lyrics cannot help but convey raw human emotion.
17. Like the Rain – Clint Black
Clint Black was nominated for Best Male Country Vocal Performance at the 1997 Grammy Awards for his song ‘Like the Rain’. Released in 1996 on his Greatest Hits album, the song hit number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.
The moody country ballad begins with the common imagery of rain and dark clouds reflecting dark days. However, when you are with the person you love, it is possible to like the rain. You can even fall in love, just like the rain falls from the sky. The song features sound effects of thunder and rain.
19. The Rain Song – Led Zeppelin
From their 1973 album Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin released ‘The Rain Song’, a ballad quite different from the heavy rock their fans were used to. Legend has it that the song was in direct response to a criticism from Beatle George Harrison who described Led Zeppelin as incapable of writing a ballad. Jimmy Page went off and did just that.
The song mirrors the passing of the seasons compared to the love within a relationship. It grows in the spring and is the hottest in the summertime. However as the coldness of the winter sets in, the relationship wanes. It is the natural way of things, and ‘upon us all, a little rain must fall’.
20. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain – Willie Nelson
‘Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain’ had been covered by a long list of artists before Willie Nelson recorded it in 1975 for his Red Headed Stranger album. Originally written by Fred Rose and released by Roy Acuff in 1947, country music notables like Hank Williams Sr, Slim Whitman, Hank Snow, Charley Pride, and Conway Twitty also recorded the song.
It was something of a crossover hit for Nelson. It was his first number-one hit as a singer on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and also received airplay on Top 40 radio. The song is an emotional tale of a man on the run after killing his cheating wife, ‘crying in the rain’ until he sees her again in heaven.
21. It’s Raining Men – The Weather Girls
‘It’s Raining Men’ is a soulful, upbeat dance number that nearly never got recorded. Written by Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer in 1979, it was turned down by several artists including Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, and Cher.
The song is a celebration of the many different types of men in the world and a promise that there is someone right for every woman out there. It was eventually recorded by the musical duo Weather Girls in 1983 for their album, Success.
‘It’s Raining Men’ would become a number-one dance hit in the US and receive a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. Hallelujah!
22. Blame It on the Rain – Milli Vanilli
‘Blame It on the Rain’ was written by Diane Warren, recorded by singers Charles Shaw and Brad Howell, and ‘performed’ by the dance-pop group Milli Vanilli. The song appeared on the group’s 1989 North American debut album Girl You Know It’s True.
Despite becoming a huge hit topping the Billboard Hot 100 and selling millions of records, Milli Vanilli fell back to earth like the rain when it was discovered they were not singing during their performances. The songs were pre-recorded and Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus would lip-synch the lyrics.
The song itself speaks to losing a woman you wish you hadn’t, but pride does not allow the man to take responsibility. Instead, he looks to blame it on something, so why not blame it on the rain because “the rain don’t care”. Once the audience realized Milli Vanilli was a sham, they didn’t care either.
Songs about rain are often about doom and gloom. Pining for a lost love. Rain as a symbol of tears. The dark clouds are a foreboding image of the darkness in our hearts.
However, this is not always the case. As with many of the songs in this list, rain has inspired artists with hope. Rain can wash away our tears with a promise of sunshine.