Artists of every persuasion have always been inspired by London throughout its history, and in recent decades, various musicians have tried to capture the inimitable spirit of the city in song. From references to particularly meaningful spots in London to songs that try to reflect the vibrant heart of the capital as a whole, the songs about the city are as diverse and varied as London itself.
Read on to discover more about some of the top songs to try to capture the spirit of London, and where you can experience some of the special places mentioned.
Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks
A defining song of the 60s, this classic hit by The Kinks is felt by many to be one of the best songs ever written about London. The song’s title and lyrics refer to Waterloo Underground station, a busy spot for commuters and tourists alike, and a perfect spot for the song’s protagonists to have a romantic rendezvous.
If you’re a keen Kinks fan and staying at the Park Grand Kensington London, you might want to catch your own Waterloo sunset while in the city, although rather than heading to the station, you might enjoy a more picturesque view from Waterloo Bridge instead.
West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys
Possibly the most perfect dance club ode to West London’s thriving nightlife, the Pet Shop Boy’s 1985 hit captured the sound of the city’s dance clubs. While you can still enjoy a great night out, you might prefer something a little more serene these days, such as a Park Grand Restaurant afternoon tea.
The video for the song embraced the spirit of London even more, with shots of classic icons of the city, including red double-decker buses and Big Ben, as the two bandmates walked through the city streets.
Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon
Despite the strange and slightly spooky lyrics about a renegade werewolf on the prowl around the city, this classic 70s song references a number of London’s most popular destinations, summing up some of the top highlights of the city.
The song mentions Chinese restaurants in the bustling district of Soho, as well as the historic home of men’s classic tailoring in Mayfair. Of course, if you’re planning to stay in Kensington accommodation, you can look forward to a completely pleasant, werewolf-free stay.
London Calling by The Clash
A truly iconic song about the city from the popular 70s punk band, the Clash song channels a more youthful and angry voice of the city. Despite its peppy melody, the song’s lyrics itself are much more dark and apocalyptic, looking towards a future shaped by nuclear war and climate change. Referencing “phony Beatlemania”, and the approaching ice age, the song abruptly rejects the more optimistic and poppy tunes of the past decade, and instead anticipates a much darker version of the city.
You can still pay tribute to the band’s late Joe Strummer in the city, and if you’re at the Park Grand Kensington London, it’s worth heading down to Marylebone, which was once the thriving heart of the city’s punk scene. Over on 33 Daventry Street, you’ll find an unofficial plaque, marking the musician’s former home.
A Foggy Day in London Town by Ella Fitzgerald
While this classic song, penned originally by George and Ira Gershwin, has been covered numerous times, this romantic version by the sultry American jazz singer is often believed to be one of the best.
With its plaintive lyrics evoking a charmless, foggy city overcast in the mist, this is an ideal song to listen to on dark, heavy days in the capital, when you’re craving a little light.
Hometown Glory by Adele
The soulful singer’s ode to the capital featured on her debut album and was written as a teenager while she was caught between staying in her hometown city of London for university, or heading to Liverpool, as her mother had recommended.
The result was a plaintive protest song that summed up all that she loved about the spirit of the city, from polite conversations with friendly locals to the broad diversity of people across the capital and even the thick air of traffic pollution.
Still a hugely popular song today, the track has featured in the soundtrack of various TV shows and films and captures the contemporary feel of modern London in a charming way.
Brompton Oratory by Nick Cave
Sweeping and dramatic, this spectacular song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds captures the magnificence of one of West London’s grandest churches. The complex and beautiful song is full of emotional depth, while Cave’s voice conveys the majestic spirit of the historic Victorian building.
Situated right next to the Victoria and Albert Museum, it’s worth a visit after a delicious Park Grand London Kensington breakfast, to set you up for the day. with a spectacular nave and beautiful architecture within, it’s a spellbinding place. Look out for the Oratory’s own programme of music, with its excellent professional adult and junior choir regularly performing at services and events throughout the year.
A Rainy Night in Soho by The Pogues
Rainy nights in London often have a charm all of their own, and this sweet, romantic ballad from The Pogues captures a more tender side of the city. Originally released in 1986, the track was produced by a fellow key figure in London’s rock scene, Elvis Costello, while the video for the song showcased the singer amongst nostalgic, black and white clips of the city.
LDN by Lily Allen
Born and bred in London, Lily Allen penned this slight tongue in cheek song about her hometown in 2006, epitomizing the contrast between the surface glamour of the city, and the darker stories that often lurk at a deeper level. Behind its cheerful and poppy melodies, the song reveals a little more of the grimier side of city life, with perfectly summed up little snapshots of life in the capital.