10 Great Metaphors in R&B Songs

A metaphor is a figure of speech that shows the hidden comparison between two things that are outwardly unrelated but have some similar characteristics. R&B, also known as ‘rhythm and blues’ is one of the most popular music genres. It was originated in the 1940s among the African American communities. Through the years, there have been many changes. However, it is the combination of soul music, gospel and “incorporated electric blues” that includes a steady backbeat. Some metaphors in R&B songs are listed below.

Hound Dog – Elvis Presley

You ain’t nothin but a hound dog.
Quit snoppin’ round my door
You can wag your tail.
But I ain’t gonna feed you no more

Here the singer has used the hound dog as a metaphor for a stalker or someone he doesn’t like. The whole song revolves around this figure. He compares the lady with a hound dog. As she always wants to be in front of his eyes and just doesn’t leave him alone. Perhaps the song means that the lady is stalking the man. She had been unfaithful and complaining about her whole life, and now she wanted his attention. “Wag your tail” is the further explanation of her character means pleading for something.

Pretty Wings – Maxwell

If I can’t have you, let love set you free
To fly your prettywings around
Prettywings, your prettywings your
Prettywings, your prettywings around
So prettywings, your prettywings around
Prettywings, your prettywings around
Say prettywings oh prettywings, yeah
Prettywings, your (oh oh) prettywings around

Here the singer is warning the listeners that love without conviction is dangerous and could hurt. The singer is willing to set his beloved free as per the proverbs ‘When you love someone, set them free.’ Prettywings or pretty wings is a metaphor for the person or the love of the person who caused pain.

Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold
This one for them hood girls
Them good girls, straight masterpieces

In above-mentioned lines, the term ‘masterpieces’ is a metaphor of “good girls”. The songwriter has compared a good-natured girl with artwork. According to history, a masterpiece was used as a piece of craft and visual art of high rank. Bruno, in his song ‘Uptown Funk’ places these girls at a very high visual standard. He considers them to be physically attractive. The word masterpiece not only depicts outward beauty but also a girl’s inner qualities.

Thinking Bout You – Frank Ocean

A tornado flew around my room before you came
excuse the mess it made, it usually doesn’t rain in
Southern California

In the song “Thinking bout you” Frank Ocean beautifully depicts the modern time. He is using the metaphor of room to represents his life. He is saying that he was alone in his life before his partner joined him. His compares his life as a single person to a tornado.

Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire

Oh, she got both feet on the ground
And she’s burning it down
Oh, she got her head in the clouds
And she’s not backing down
This girl is on fire

In this song, Alicia Keys pays great heed on the hardships and shortcomings of life and how to cope up with the calamities of life with a new start. Here the girl is compared to a fire, which also means a strong passion for doing something. ‘This Girl On Fire” is also an extended metaphor for liberty, freedom and taking everything under control, and to live life at one’s own choice. Heads in the clouds mean higher aims and hopes.

Pharrell Williams – Happy

It might seem crazy what I’m ’bout to say
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don’t care, baby, by the way

Pharrell uses the metaphor of ‘Hot Air Balloon’ to talk about his hope, positivity, and emotional elation. Here, he is describing his mental condition and his attitude towards life. He means that no worldly bond can hinder his happiness. His is like a floating hot air balloon which is free to fly where ever the wind takes it, so is he. The inlying message of hope and weightlessness is quite clear in this song.

Icing On The Cake – Anthony Hamilton

You are the icing on the cake
a special holiday
since I laid eyes on you
I knew you were the one

In this stanza,  the lyricist has compares his beloved with ‘Icing On The Cake’. Here the word icing is described as the metaphor for external beauty and something valuable. Without the icing, the cake is colorless and flavorless. The lyricist is describing that as the cake is unattractive and less in taste without icing, so is life. Her presence enhances his life and makes it more meaningful.

My Man – Angie Stone

You know he has my heart
he’s my shining star
my girls, they understand
I’m talking about my man

In the above lines, Angie Stone is comparing her man to a Shining Star.  The metaphor of the star describes something very gloomy and luminous. As the star beautifies the sky, he too brightens her life just like twinkling star eliminates the darkness. In the previous line, she has described that she is calling him a star because he has her heart. The two metaphors here means her love makes him a shining star, and he is star enlightens her life.

End Game – Taylor Swift

I hit you like bang
We tried to forget it, but we just couldn’t
And I bury hatchets, but I keep maps of where I put ’em
Reputation precedes me, they told you I’m crazy
I swear I don’t love the drama, it loves me
And I can’t let you go, your hand prints on my soul
It’s like your eyes are liquor, it’s like your body is gold
You’ve been calling my bluff on all my usual tricks
So here’s the truth from my red lips

Here the singer compares the eyes to liquor and the lover’s body to gold. Liquor is a metaphor for intoxicated relationships, and it also means the person is looking at their partner with love. Gold is a metaphor for beauty.

Faith – Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande

See the girl with the diamonds in her shoes? Yeah
She walks around like she’s got nothing to lose
Ya she’s a go-getter, she’s everybody’s type
She’s a queen of the city but she don’t believe the hype
She’s got her own elevation, holy motivation
So I wrote some letters out in big bold type

Here the man compares the girl with a humble queen. As cities don’t have a queen and the girls of this generation chase after, in vain things, the writer says that the girl he knows is different and unique. She motivates herself. Queen here is a metaphor for dignity and royalty without belonging to one.

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