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Top 12 Most Iconic Songs About Work

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Songs about work

To motivate ourselves while creating excellent content for our platform, we have created a list of the 12 Most Iconic Songs About Work. We hope you enjoy it!

1. The Seven Dwarfs, Disney, “Heigh Ho” (1937)

The phrase “Heigh-Ho” was first recorded in 1553 and is defined as an expression of “yawning, sighing, languor, weariness, or disappointment.” It is is sung on a daily basis by a group of seven dwarfs as they as they go to and fro from work in a mine filled with diamonds and rubies, in Walt Disney’s first feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. To this day, it’s one of Disney’s most loved and recognizable songs and still holds a special place in the hearts of workers the world over.

2. The Beatles, “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964)

The title of the song originated from something Ringo Starr said in a interview after working all day and night on a job:

I came up still thinking it was day I suppose, and I said ‘It’s been a hard day.’ And I looked around and saw it was dark, so I said, ‘…night!’ So we came to ‘A Hard Day’s Night’.

The song featured prominently on the soundtrack to the Beatles’ first feature film, A Hard Day’s Night, and was on their album of the same name. The song topped the charts in both the UK and the US, and both the American and British singles of “A Hard Day’s Night” as well as the American and British albums of the same title, all held the top position in their respective charts for a couple of weeks in August 1964 – the first time any artist had accomplished this feat.

3. Bachman Turner Overdrive, “Takin’ Care of Business”  (1974)

This chugging ode pays homage to those who “get up every morning from your ‘larm’s clock warning” to trudge into the city like a clone, only to rinse and repeat the next day. Sound familiar?

4. Rihanna, “Work” (2016)

A song which repeats the word ‘work’ 79 times has to be included in this list, right? Released as the debut single from Rihanna’s eighth studio album, Anti, it has sold over 32.5 million units worldwide and is one of the singer’s most popular hits. This dancehall bop is all about working for the pay-cheque, no matter what else is going on in your life – not something we advocate for when trying to create a healthy work/life balance!

5. Dolly Parton, “9 to 5″ (1980)

You knew this was going to appear somewhere on this list sooner or later!

Yes, “9 to 5” is possibly one of the most iconic songs about work, but because Dolly Parton is so sweet and so likable, it was easy for listeners at the time to miss how bitter, angry, and revolutionary the lyrics to her most famous song are.

They got you where they want you,” Parton sings, “It’s a rich man’s game / No matter what they call it / And you spend your life / Puttin’ money in his wallet.

6. The Saturdays, “Work” (2009)

Released as the final single on The Saturday’s debut album, Chasing Lights, this belting electro-pop banger is all about the importance of hard work, even outside the office!

Turn up prepared and make sure that you can keep up with me,” sings Mollie King. Good advice no matter what industry or pursuit you’re in! A thumping beat makes this the perfect music to motivate yourself and get down to the grind.

7. Huey Lewis & The News , “Workin’ For a Livin’” (1982)

Here’s yet another super jaunty tune with super-depressing lyrics! Released during the Reagan presidency in the US, this ’82 Huey hit was meant to expose how much people in America were struggling at the time, and how workers like busboys, bartenders, and prostitutes essentially had the same job. But according to the lyrics, you’re “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” keep working for the man. I told you the lyrics were depressing!

8. Donna Summer, “She Works Hard For The Money” (1983)

The next time your waitress brings you over done eggs and burnt bacon, and you’re tempted to throw a fit and send it back to the kitchen, remember this ‘80s dance gem. Few jobs are more gruelling than waitressing – all the heavy lifting, being on your feet all day, working for tips – and that server you’re about to berate is doing the best she can. In fact, she probably works twice as hard as you do and has been doing so for 28 years, so you “better treat her right“.

9. Fifth Harmony, “Work From Home” (2016)

Strong advocates of the remote work movement LONG before the COVID pandemic sent us all into our home offices and kitchen tables, this iconic song, from the now disbanded Fifth Harmony, is perhaps their most well-known on their discography.

Originally titled ‘Work,’ the girls changed the name to ‘Work From Home’ so as to avoid confusion with Rihanna’s song of the same name which was released a month prior. A mid tempo R&B style, this song really isn’t about work in the conventional sense at all and is laced with euphemism and double entendre. Catchy though!

10. The Bangles, “Manic Monday” (1986)

One of The Bangles most memorable hits. Manic Monday was actually written by late American musician, Prince, though he used a pseudonym on the credits.

An ode to the universal hatred of Mondays, this song captures all the longing we have for the freedom of the weekend. Not the most substantive lyrics, but the painful rhyming of Sunday with “I-don’t-have-to-run day” is always good for giggle! I wonder if this song will soon become irrelevant when flexible working becomes more omnipresent?

11. Cher, “Working Girl” (1987)

Co-written by Michael Bolton, this ode to an ogled, mistreated secretary somehow didn’t make it on the 1989 Working Girl movie soundtrack. Which is a damn shame because it’s awesome and Cher kills it, as usual.

12. Amy Adams (Enchanted), “Happy Working Song” (2007)

The signature song from Disney’s musical film Enchanted, “Happy Working Song” is performed by Amy Adams’ character Giselle. Both a parody and homage to a variety of work-themed tunes from Disney’s back catalogue.

An infectious and upbeat track, “Happy Working Song” was nominated for an Academy Award and was even performed on the night by Adams. This will be stuck in your head all day now!

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