Top 10 Songs About Philadelphia


Philadelphia may be better known for its co-starring role in Rocky and its eponymous turn in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but the City of Brotherly Love has some representation in popular music as well. How many of these have you sung along to with eating a Philly soft pretzel?



"Yo Home to Bel-Air" by Will Smith
For a song with another city in the title, is there any more ubiquitously known Philadelphia shout-out than "Iiiin West Philadelphia, born and raised/on the playground is where I spent most of my days"? Philly native Will Smith, arguably our most famous musical export, may have equated West Philly with graffiti and "guys who were up to no good," but the area has seen a resurgence in the decades in The Fresh Prince TV show.



"Streets of Philadelphia," Bruce Springsteen
This song, written by Philly neighbor and The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, was attached to the acclaimed 1993 film Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. A haunting reflection of life in the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the song won several Grammys and the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Check out the music video for a now-retro glimpse at Philadelphia, including shots of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.



"TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" by MFSB featuring the Three Degrees
A quintessential example of Philadelphia soul music, "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" was written by MFSB with vocals by The Three Degrees and was the theme song to the TV show Soul Train and was the first TV theme song to reach number one on the Billboard charts. You can visit the old Sigma Sound Studios where the song was recorded.



"Punk Rock Girl" by The Dead Milkmen
This 1988 punk song by local band The Dead Milkmen filmed its music video at the world-famous Eastern State Penitentiary and references the now-defunct spots on South Street like punk clothing store Zipperhead and Philadelphia Pizza Co.



"Philadelphia Freedom" by Elton John
Released in 1975, the song, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, is a tribute to tennis great Billie Jean King, who was a friend of John's. (King played on the professional Philadelphia Freedoms tennis team.) The song nods to the unique Philly soul sound and represents Philly's pride as the birthplace of American democracy and freedom; you can hear it before every IMAX movie screening at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute.



"Bandstand Boogie" by Barry Manilow
The theme to the Philly-produced classic TV show American Bandstand, "Bandstand Boogie" was actually written by Charles Albertine and performed by several different musicians. Barry Manilow's version is the one that aired with the national broadcasts on ABC. The building where American Bandstand was originally filmed can be found at 4548 Market Street in West Philadelphia.



"Philadelphia" by Neil Young
Also written for the film with the same name, Neal Young's "Philadelphia" is a touching tribute to friends and lovers, here and gone. A perfect encapsulation of what we mean when we say "City of Brotherly Love."



"Motownphilly" by Boyz II Men
Philadelphia natives Boyz II Men celebrate their musical origins and their hometown in this catchy R&B song, but really, this song was meant to be experienced via music video. Appearances by Geno's Steaks, South Street, and Philly son ?uestlove!



"Summertime" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
We probably weren't going to get through this list without at least one more Will Smith song, right? DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince celebrate the humid, hot, social and exciting vibe of Philly in the summer. Spot the cameos in the music video by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Boathouse Row, and Logan Circle.



"I'm In A Philly Mood" by Daryl Hall
Daryl Hall, on a solo outing from his famous duo Hall & Oates, produced this soulful tune in 1993. While the song never really explains what a "Philly Mood" is, Hall is from a suburb of Philly, so between the lyrics and the tone of the music video, one could interpret it as being "extra romantic," to put it tamely. It's so full of feelings you can't help but love it.

Jeff Birou is an education administrator by day, travel and freelance writer by night. You can find him on Twitter at @Jetsetter_Jeff.