Respect is a fundamental component of our everyday lives. It allows us to understand and compromise with each other mutually and gives us the potential to earn the high regard of everyone we meet.
It’s something so incredibly valuable in today’s society, yet it is often undermined and taken for granted.
Fortunately, themes of respect can be found throughout the world’s music in many different forms, so we’ve compiled a unique collection of tracks we thought were the best of the best.
Valuable lessons can be taught within the confines of the lyrics of these songs on this list, and many of them are just great bops to listen to in general.
Here are 24 songs about respect:
1. “Respect” – Stevie Wonder
Let’s start with a song by a musician with a lot of respect himself, Stevie Wonder.
Despite being blind, Stevie Wonder was able to pioneer a new genre of music, produce tons of hit songs, and solidify himself as a legend in the music industry.
Given his circumstances, we can all agree that he deserves the respect he has, so we’d like to give a shout-out to his song “Respect,” a song about, well, respect.
Specifically, it’s about gaining the respect of a lover. The lyrics are broken up into short, rhythmic fragments, and the background instrumentals have snappy influences of soul and funk. The female chorus of backup singers is reminiscent of an older, jazzier time, not to mention we love that classic harmonica solo.
It’s not his most well-known song, but we love it and him all the same.
2. “Born This Way” – Lady Gaga
Jumping ahead to the present day (kind of), we’d like to introduce another song about respect written by another beloved bohemian: Lady Gaga’s 2011 hit “Born This Way.”
It’s a song about loving and respecting each other despite there being many different types of people. She states that it doesn’t matter your sexuality, race, or ethnicity is; you’ve just got to love yourself and everyone else.
Did we mention that it’s also catchy and enjoyable to sing? While the music video may be a bit bizarre, we can’t deny that the song is an upbeat pop anthem with charming vocals and various tone switches.
The song may be over a decade old now, but it’s so memorable that we can’t forget it.
3. “Respect” – Aretha Franklin
In another soul song titled “Respect,” Aretha Franklin’s substantially beautiful voice is nothing to scoff at.
This might be one of the oldest songs on this list (initially sung in 1967), but that doesn’t stop it from being a timeless classic that contributed to Franklin being crowned “The Queen of Soul.”
Also, we can’t get enough of those sassy backup singers and that funky soul rhythm.
Fun fact, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin was voted no. 1 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Songs of All Time.
4. “A Little Respect” – Erasure
“A Little Respect” by Erasure is like an antidepressant for the ears. It’s one of those feel-good songs about loving someone so tremendously that you can “hear their soul calling.”
In this track, Andy Bell, the lead singer of Erasure, uses his long-winded vibrato voice to create a soothing, almost tranquil, melody that eases the nerves and sets the mind to rest. Instrumentally it’s composed of that classic futuristic synthesizer, some light electric guitars, and a steady drum beat.
If you’re someone who can’t get over that 80’s synth-pop craze, then you’ll love this one (if you haven’t already heard it).
5. “Small Bump” – Ed Sheeran
While the acoustic tune and soft voice may be calming, “Small Bump” by Ed Sheeran has a slightly dark meaning.
It was written for a friend of Sheeran who had suffered a miscarriage at the time and then proceeded to inspire millions upon release. Thematically, it’s about respecting the life we are given and treasuring our time on Earth.
It’s a profoundly emotional song that goes far below the surface in-depth, and it’s a lovely tribute to all the life that never got a chance to start.
6. “Show Some Respect” – Bobby Wills
If country is your thing, then “Show Some Respect” by Bobby Wills is the song for you. It’s a laid-back, rustic track about showing respect to others.
Honestly, country music gets a bad rep when it can be relaxing and convey essential life lessons. “Show Some Respect” is the perfect example of this. Lyrically it’s extraordinarily profound and witty. Instrumentally, it’s alluringly harmonious.
There’s nothing to dislike about this song. Don’t let the fact that it’s a country turn you off and give it a try – you might like it after all!
7. “How Can You Live in the Northeast?” – Paul Simon
Paul Simon’s “How Can You Live in the Northeast?” is a little-known ditty which urges others to respect and cherish the religion and cultures of the world.
Throughout the song, he constantly asks, “how can you be…?” At first, it seems as if he’s questioning the belief of others, but you’ll quickly realize the true meaning behind the song. His repetitious questioning turns out to be a unifying call of loving and accepting one another.
We’d also like to point out the illuminating buildup of light guitar strumming into a rock anthem towards the end. It was unexpected but awesome nonetheless.
8. “Respect” – P!nk
This might not be your typical P!nk song, but “Respect” is a punky pop song about respecting your body.
It’s empowering for one’s femininity, although it’s slightly crude and raunchy (as we would expect from this artist). Still, you can’t help but break it down for the funky, 90’s-esque number with an attitude.
And remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl, you can still enjoy the sassy singer’s song.
9. “I Promise” – Radiohead
“I Promise” by the iconic Radiohead is melancholy and bittersweet.
Throughout the song, the singer repeatedly says “I promise” to various detrimental scenarios. What they’re relaying is that they’ll always be there for their darling no matter what – something that takes great respect and dedication.
It starts with Thom York’s one-of-a-kind vocals accompanied by the melody of the guitar and the beating of the drum. The methodical taps of the snare march the song onward, compelling and invigorating the adjoining instruments.
And what we get is a beautiful, unforgettable alternative rock song.
10. “You Raise Me Up” – Josh Groban
What is respect? One definition is the deep admiration of someone due to their ability to inspire others.
“You Raise Me Up” embodies this as it tells the story of someone who invigorates and raises the singer up.
Furthermore, Josh Groban’s voice is powerfully angelic in this song. There are no words that can describe the enchanting belting notes of Groban, and it sounds almost as if they descended from the luscious clouds in the sky.
Yeah, he’s that good at singing.
11. “Brave” – Sara Bareilles
As we’ve already established, self-acceptance is a form of self-respect – well, “Brave” is all about accepting yourself and not letting your potential go to waste.
As Baraelles states in her song, life can be intimidating. Sometimes, it seems like all eyes are on you, and that can be the scariest thing in the world. Still, you’ve got to “say what you want to say” and “be brave.”
Bravery is the highest form of self-respect, and after you listen to this song, you’ll have plenty of it.
12. “Only One King (feat. Jung Youth)” – Tommee Profitt
Historically, who has had the most widespread respect? The King, of course!
Here’s the thing about kings: they don’t ask for respect, they demand it, and everyone kneels when they walk by them.
Today, kings are synonymous with respect, and Tommee Profitt captures this with his bass-heavy rap about “only one king.” He speaks volumes with his confident demands of respect as he places himself as the one and only King.
And yeah, this song is gym motivation.
13. “Legendary” – Welshly Arms
Similar to kings, legends get the respect that is due. The only difference is that kings demand it while legends earn it.
And “Legendary” by Welshly Arms is all about getting the respect of everyone else by becoming a legend.
Arms states in his pumped-up rock song that it’s not something that’s attained by taking the easy path; you’ve got to take the arduous journey to become legendary. If you do that, then you too can get the respect of everyone around you.
Like the previous song, “Legendary” is another great song to get pumped while working out.
14. “Never Gonna Give You Up” – Rick Astley
We’re not “Rick Rolling” you, we promise.
“Never Gonna Give You Up” may be a surprising entry on this list, but it deserves a place all the same.
At its core, the song is all about respect. It’s a vow to appreciate one’s lover, which is something people today should try to do more.
It also seems to be a wise set of parameters of how a person should treat their partner.
Don’t get us wrong, this song may be overplayed just a tad, but that doesn’t stop us from ever giving it up.
15. “Respect Yourself” – The Staple Singers
Going back to those jazzy, soul undertones, “Respect Yourself” by the Staple Singers is a spirited lecture on why respecting yourself is important.
Okay, maybe calling it a lecture is unfair since lectures are usually boring. And this song is anything but.
You can start respecting yourself by adding this to your grooviest playlist and jamming out to it without a care in the world.
16. “Piano Man” – Billy Joel
Wait, this is a song about respect? Not in the way you may think, but hear us out:
There are all these struggling, everyday people trying to make ends meet. They all gather in one place to wash away their sorrows. And at the center of everything is the “piano man,” who everyone comes to see.
Yes, it is the piano man who has the unanimous respect of everyone who hears his piano that “sounds like a carnival.” It’s the bittersweet respect that no one strives for but is cherished all the same.
Give this song a listen, and you’ll hear what we mean.
Plus, it’s just a spectacular song in general. It’s got some beautiful lyrics and those memorable harmonica solos.
17. “As You Are” – Charlie Puth
Yet another song about respecting yourself, “As You Are,” compels you never to change who you are.
It’s a pretty tune, and we always love to hear Charlie Puth’s charming vocals, especially when he’s telling you that you have to be yourself to get love.
Additionally, the song’s melody flows gently and seems to capture your soul with its catchiness. It makes you want to tap your toes and snap your fingers.
Or maybe get up and dance.
18. “Money, Power & Respect” – the Lox
If you can’t get over old-school rap, you’ll likely latch onto “Money, Power & Respect” by the Lox.
It’s got that smooth hip-hop track in the background along with a sharp tongue rapping all about the three essentials of life.
It’s one of those songs you’ll love cruising down the street with because it’ll make you feel a certain way – seriously speaking, the flow is undeniably savvy, and we can’t get enough of it.
19. “One Love” – Bob Marley
Nothing sets the mind at ease quite like a Bob Marley song. His music is all about feeling good and loving all the denizens of the world, regardless of trivial demographics.
If everyone felt the way Marley did, we’d probably have world peace. We’d have too much respect for our fellow man.
Heck, we’d probably be a lot more united if everyone just listened to his musical messages.
Yes, his songs may be a bit simple both lyrically and instrumentally, but they still hold a sincere dream that humankind could one day get together and “feel alright.”
If you’re ever anxious or upset, try giving this song a listen. It might just put a smile on your face.
20. “Imagine” – John Lennon
In the spirit of Bob Marley’s unifying call, we’ll go back in time a little and visit John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
It’s a bit more nihilistic than Marley, but it has the same underlying meaning. Lennon believes that respect for everyone else won’t come through religion or politics but rather through the reason that there’s no point in hating one another.
It seems to be a farfetched dream, but a nice one to imagine.
Once you put your earbuds in and play this song, try closing your eyes. You’ll be brought to a peaceful world envisioned by few, but welcome to all.
21. “Greatest Love of All” – Whitney Houston
“The greatest love of all is easy to achieve. Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”
Whitney Houston’s singing is ravishing, energetic, and incontestably powerful. It’s hard to find a voice more beautiful and elegant than hers, try as you might.
Speaking with a poetic anthem about loving and respecting yourself, Houston reminds us of the only person’s validation who matters: our own.
22. “Count on Me” – Bruno Mars
In Bruno Mars’s catchy little tune “Count on Me,” he lets a prospective lover/friend know that they can respect and trust him. They’ll always be able to count on him, and in turn, he’ll do the same.
It’s a song that explores mutual respect, an important theme in maintaining healthy relationships.
The music is nice too. It’s laid back and something you can sing in the shower or your car. There isn’t anything too complex about it, and that’s what makes it so compelling.
It’s a shame that you don’t find too many songs as innocent as this one.
23. “Wonder Woman” – Lion Babe
Wonder Woman is an icon for female social justice, and Lion Babe uses the hero’s name in her song “Wonder Woman” to exemplify her power.
In her lyrics, she explains just why she is deserving of respect, and in utter confidence, she tells the world that she is a “wonder woman.”
The beat is pretty interesting, and the style of music is unique. You don’t see this type of music often (if at all), and it’s worth checking out.
Admittedly, while this song may not be on everyone’s playlist, if it’s your type of music, then you will adore it.
24. “The Greatest” – Sia
To end off our list, we’d like to tell you about “The Greatest” by Sia.
It’s a Sia song, so you know it’s going to be amazingly off-the-walls good.
It’s a song entirely about not giving up and becoming “the greatest.” What does this mean exactly? Well, the interpretation is up to the listener. What it means to them is what the song is trying to say.
The only certain thing is that you need a lot of respect to become the greatest, whatever that may mean to you.
Those are 24 songs about respect for you to check out and see what musicians have to say on the theme. Maybe you’ll even gain a little respect for the artist and their song. Countless other songs discuss respect. What did we miss? Let us know!