Mother’s Day: Songs About Mums, From Heartwarming To Truly Disturbing

Here are the tracks you might want to play for your mum this Mother’s Day – and the ones you definitely, definitely shouldn’t.

‘The Best Day’ – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift - The Best Day (Taylor's Version) (Official Music Video)

I’m five years old, it’s getting cold, I’ve got my big coat on,” sings Swift in the opening lines of ‘The Best Day’. In the next four minutes she walks us through childhood memories and explains that even in the sad moments, her mum has the power to make any day a happy one. The resulting song is frank, tender and genuinely beautiful – a great way to kick off our Mother’s Day playlist.

Most wholesome lyric: “I know you were on my side even when I was wrong”

‘Where You Lead’ – Carole King & Louise Goffin

Carole King & Louise Goffin - Where You Lead I Will Follow (Gilmore Girls intro theme song)

Carole King’s original version of ‘Where You Lead’ wasn’t written about a mother-daughter relationship, but after the song was selected as the theme for Gilmore Girls, King opted to record a new version of the track. The new ‘Where You Lead’ had slightly altered lyrics to reference the bond between mother and daughter and featured King’s own daughter, Louise Goffin. And thanks to the success of Gilmore Girls, their duet is now an anthem for mothers and daughters everywhere.

Most wholesome lyric: “All you have to do is call my name/And I’ll be there on the next train”

‘Her’ – Anne-Marie

Anne-Marie - HER [Official Video]

In ‘Her’, Anne-Marie laments that she will never live up to the impossible standards set by her mother, who she regards as the best woman on Earth. The lyrics are earnest but genuine and especially touching is Anne-Marie’s assertion that her mother was the one who taught her to know her worth. Plus, it’s Anne-Marie, so it’s catchy.

Most wholesome lyric: “And when I have children/I’ll pass on the things I was told”

‘Mama’ – The Spice Girls

Spice Girls - Mama (Official Music Video)

Age brings perspective in this track from the Spice Girls. ‘Mama’ sees them lamenting what ‘bad’ daughters they now realise they were, as they come to the understanding that every time their mothers told them “No” it was likely for their own good. It’s a heartfelt ballad that doesn’t fall into the trap of too much cheese and instead celebrates the lovely thing that is an adult friendship with your parents.

Most wholesome lyric: “I never thought you would become the friend I never had”

‘Mother’ – Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves - Mother (Official Music Video)

Not even a minute and a half long, Kacey Musgrave’s ode to her mother is short but full of feeling. Sat ‘missing her mother’, Musgrave reflects on the fact that her mum might be feeling the exact same way about her own mother. A melancholy track, ‘Mother’ reminds us to cherish our loved ones for as long as we can.

Most wholesome lyric: “I’m just sitting here thinking ’bout the time that’s slipping/And missing my mother”

‘Coat Of Many Colors’ – Dolly Parton

Coat of Many Colors

Parton tells a touching story in this track about a young girl from a poor family who needs a coat for autumn. The girl’s mother lovingly sews her one from scraps of multicoloured fabric, and even when she is laughed at by her classmates, the girl couldn’t be prouder of her new coat. It’s a sweet tune and speaks to the unseen sacrifices that parents make.

Most wholesome lyric: “Although we had no money, oh, I was rich as I could be/In my coat of many colours my momma made for me”

‘Mom’ – Meghan Trainor, Kelli Trainor

Meghan Trainor - Mom feat. Kelli Trainor (Homemade Video)

Trainor sings about how her mother is head and shoulders above the rest in this upbeat track from her ‘Thank You’ album. It’s a nice change of pace from the weepy ballads that usually crowd a Mother’s Day playlist and it’s sure to get both you and your mum dancing. The section where Trainor calls her mother to strongarm her into recording a soppy voice message for the bridge is a tad questionable, but hey, that’s raising a pop star for you.

Most wholesome lyric: “Ain’t nobody got a mom like mine”

‘The Perfect Fan’ – Backstreet Boys

Backstreet Boys - The Perfect Fan (Audio)

The Backstreet Boys heap high praise on their mothers in this one. After running through all the essential things they learnt from their mums, they proudly declare them not perfect parents, but perfect fans. Hey, it’s probably accurate. We all know mums make the best groupies.

Most wholesome lyric: “I wanna thank you for what you’ve done/In hopes I can give back to you and be the perfect son”

‘A Song For Mama’ – Boyz II Men

This one starts relatively normal (You taught me everything… you’re the driving force of my life) and quickly devolves into the kind of stuff you come across on Facebook that makes you want to curl up and die. “Mama, mama, you’re the queen of my heart,” sing Boyz II Men. “Your love is like tears from the stars… Lovin’ you is like food to my soul.” Sweet in way, but also if any man in your life wants this on his wedding playlist, call the whole thing off.

Most questionable lyric: “You will always be the girl in my life”

‘Mother’s Daughter’ – Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus - Mother's Daughter (Official Video)

There’s no denying that this is a great track from Miley, but we have to wonder how Trish Cyrus feels about it. Miley is a ‘freak’, a ‘witch’ and ready to devour any man she wants. Either there’s something in the water, or she gets it all from her mum. There’s obviously a lot of love here though – “My mama always told me that I’d make it, so I made it,” sings Cyrus – and when you have a daughter as powerful as Miley, it has to be flattering when she names you as the source of that power.

Most questionable lyric: “I’m nasty, I’m evil… I’m my mother’s daughter”

‘Mama, I’m Coming Home’ – Ozzy Osbourne

OZZY OSBOURNE - "Mama, I'm Coming Home" (Official Video)

This heartbreaker from Ozzy describes a fraught relationship between mother and son that may be beginning to mend. Osbourne recognises that although his mother hasn’t always been a perfect parent, he has something to answer for as well, and at the end of the day he doesn’t want to let go of their bond. Brutally honest and gorgeously written, but perhaps not one to play at Mother’s Day brunch.

Most questionable lyric: “You took me in and you drove me out”

‘Stacy’s Mom’ – Fountains of Wayne

Fountains of Wayne - Stacy's Mom (Official Music Video)

Getting into questionable territory here, but only slightly. This Fountains of Wayne track about obsessing over an older woman is a little creepy but it’s also a lot of fun. The lyrics are tongue-in-cheek and there’s an absolute belter of a chorus that offsets any discomfort. When it comes to questionable Mother’s Day songs, ‘Stacy’s Mom’ is far from the worst offender. Just ignore the part where the protagonist tells the girl he’s seeing that he’d like to become her stepdad (and also probably give the music video a miss).

Most questionable lyric: “Since your dad walked out, your mum could use a guy like me”

‘Mother Stands for Comfort’ – Kate Bush

Mother Stands For Comfort (2018 Remaster)

Here’s where things start to take a turn for the dicey. Would your mother help you cover up a murder? Play this unsettling Kate Bush track and assess her reaction. The protagonist of ‘Mother Stands for Comfort’ seems certain that their mother will protect them no matter how dastardly their deeds. It’s sweet in a way, despite the implied backstory and the haunting arrangement. At least they’re close.

Most disturbing lyric: “Mother stands for comfort/Mother will hide the murderer”

‘Mama Tried’ – Merle Haggard

Mama Tried (Remastered 2001)

Despite the efforts of a loving mother, the protagonist of this track just can’t stay on the right side of the tracks. He takes the blame on himself, however, and speaks fondly of his hardworking mum who ‘tried to raise him right’. Unfortunately, due to unspecified criminal behaviour, he’s now found himself in prison on a life sentence. Quite an ominous track to add to your Mother’s Day playlist.

Most disturbing lyric: “And I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole/No one could steer me right, but Mama tried”

‘Mama, Open Up’ – Flo & Eddie

Flo & Eddie lament the difficulties of living in this offbeat track, which at first listen seems to speak of a wish to return back to their childhood home. However, listen again and you might realise that the duo want to wind back the clock a little further…

Most disturbing lyric: “Mama, open up, I’m coming back in/I don’t like it out here no more”

‘Mother’s Little Helper’ – The Rolling Stones

Mother's Little Helper (Mono)

The mother in this song isn’t coping so well with the pressures of domestic life. When things go wrong, she takes ‘a little yellow pill’ to help her through, increasing the dose as the song continues. It’s a disturbing track from The Stones and probably not one that’ll warm the hearts of any listening mums.

Most disturbing lyric: “And if you take more of those you will get an overdose/No more running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper”

‘Happy Mother’s Day’ – David Peel & The Lower East Side

Happy Mother's Day

Peel wastes no time telling us how he really feels about his mother in this one. The prevailing message is that he’d rather be living on the East Side ‘getting high’ than be at home with his ‘filthy rich’ parents for Mother’s Day. It’s a surprisingly upbeat song despite the angsty lyrics. There’s also a verse for Father’s Day, in case you want to ruin two holidays with one stone.

Most disturbing lyric: “Always getting high, I’m glad I’m not home”

‘Mama’ – Genesis

Genesis - Mama (Official Music Video)

The protagonist of this song is entangled with an older prostitute, and let’s just say he seems to be working out some, ahem, issues with her.

Most disturbing lyric: Just go read them. All of them.