Examples of Symbolism in Song Lyrics

Symbolism is a representation of an idea or a theme using symbols. They can be objects, colors, or general expressions. The music itself is symbolic of emotions, good and bad feelings, dreams and messages. It is to convey the specific meaning to the listener and reader. Through symbolism, a lyricist can depict his thoughts, abstract ideas, situation, event and the current issues prevailing in the society in a sugar quoted way. Layer by layer, lyricist takes the listener deeper into a person’s thoughts. The up and down of notes help to enhance symbolism. Some examples of symbolism in the songs are given below.

Mirror – Lil Wayne

Mirror on the wall, here we are again
Through my rise and fall
You’ve been only friend
You told me that they can understand the man I am
So why are we here talkin’ to each other again

The symbol in this verse is a mirror. Here, the mirror symbolizes the darkness and light in us. This reflection of good and the bad that we see within us guide us to be a better human being. Standing in front of the mirror and reflecting our thoughts daily is good.

Who Says – Selena Gomez

i am no beauty queen, I’m just beautiful me
You got every night to a beautiful life, come on
Who says?
Who says you’re not perfect?
Who says you’re not worth it?
Who says you’re the only one that’s hurting?
Trust me, that’s the price of beauty
Who says you’re not pretty?
Who says you’re not beautiful?
Who says?

Here ‘night’ is a symbol.She is symbolized ‘night’ as the lack of external beauty. Being a beauty queen will only last as long as they are young. Hence,the singer encourages girls to feel beautiful from the inside. She admits that she is ordinary as other humans are, leading a normal life.

Pocket Full Of Sunshine – Natasha Bedingfield

I got a pocket, got a pocketful of sunshine
I got a love and I know that it’s all mine
Oh, oh, oh oh
Do what you want but you’re never gonna
Break me
Sticks and stones are never gonna shake
Me, oh, oh ohoh

Here, ‘pocket full of sunshine’ is a symbol. It symbolizes happiness and pleasure that nobody can snatch away. She is referring to herself and saying that she has her own happiness and self-worth that the world will never take from her.

Ghost Town – Adam Lambert

And now I know my heart is a ghost town
My heart is a ghost town
My heart is a ghost town
My heart is a ghost town

Here the Ghost Town is used as a symbol for his loneliness and emptiness. It carries an atmosphere of sadness as well as longing for freedom and liberation to get rid of this isolation.

Titanium – David Guetta

I’m bulletproof nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away
Ricochet, you take your aim
Fire away, fire away
You shoot me down but I won’t fall, I am titanium
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium, I am titanium, I am titanium, I am titanium

In this song, the word ‘Titanium’ is used as a symbol for toughness. The singer expresses that others’ negative opinions will not bother him because he is as strong as titanium. This symbol reflects the inner strength and being strong in ourselves. Titanium is also a metaphor for a stubborn attitude. One should be strong even when the world is throwing it’s worse at you. Hence, this symbol means to be strong hearted and strong-willed.

Summer Love – One Direction

‘Cause you were mine for the summer
Now we know it’s nearly over
Feels like snow in September
But I always will remember
You were my summer love
You always will be my summer love

Here the relationship is symbolized as a season. Summer and winter both represent the relationship. The singer expresses how their bonding changes. At the start, their relationship is like summer with the warmth of love and affection, and with the time, it becomes cold like snowy September.

Broken Record Player – Mulatto

Sounding like a broken record player
Sounding like a broken record player…
You keep doing the same things
So we gone do this one more ‘gin

Here ‘broken record’ is used symbolism in the poem. The singer mentions that she keeps going back and keeps on repeating himself as a broken player does. The broken record player is a symbol of unrequited love or action that continues even after it is damaged.

Stressed Out – Twenty-one pilots

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out
Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

Here the time is a symbol of past memories. The lyricist has drawn the symbolic picture of childhood to convince the listener that life was easier when he was a kid. As a boy, the singer felt free from all worries and politics. As we grow we are enfolded in this muddy world.

Let It Go – Idina Menzel

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door

Here the door is used as the symbol for the fencing between past and present, a blockade between the relations and to hide oneself from others. Here Elsa (the character in Frozen Movie) is finally able to be free herself. She closes the door on all relationships and past memories and wants to live according to her terms.

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – The Beatles

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she’s gone
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds

In the phrase ‘The girl with kaleidoscope eyes’, the kaleidoscope is a symbol. It is a tube with many mirrors to see many patterns. The kaleidoscope is to see million reflections of yourself and the people around you. Some critics say that Lucy is a Lucifer and the Diamonds are used for stars. Another symbol used in this song is ‘The Sun’. ‘The sun in her eyes’ is the sun of hope or light of knowledge.