Surfing Spotify for the perfect Father’s Day playlist but realize that “Today’s Top Hits” and your “Discover Weekly” can’t necessarily tickle your dad’s sweet spot for music? Have no fear, because all the hard work, research and laborious decisions between Beach Boys songs have already been done. From classic rock, 50’s music, pop, country, Brit rock and even rap, we have it all here. Turn up the volume, kick off your shoes and have your dad whip out his iconic air guitar, because an epic Father’s Day calls to you.
Here are 30 songs to rock out to this Father’s Day.
Check out the full Spotify playlist here.
1. Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra
By starting off with something happy go lucky and positive, this song actually mirrors some of our best memories of our fathers. That’s right–I’m talking about those 6 am mornings when our fathers seemed like the happiest of people with their morning coffee, offbeat singing and whatever other morning routines unique to them. Start off your Father’s Day medley belting out a tune that’ll lift your spirits and get you excited for the day.
2. New Light – John Mayer
While this groovy new bop by John Mayer seems to focus on the topic of romance, that doesn’t make the lyrics any less applicable to you and your A1 since day 1. Perfect for any drive along the coast with the windows rolled down and wind in your face, this song has the potential to bond any differing music tastes. “My dad and I unexpectedly heard this song on a Spotify playlist while driving in the car together in the summer, and we instantly knew it would be a classic for us. He really loves it, almost more than he loves the cringy but lovable music video,” UCLA third year Monica Perez said. In the end, the lyrics “If you give me just one night you’re gonna see me in a new light” seem so applicable in a time when your relationship transforms from one between a rebellious teenager and an authoritative father to one of best pals.
3. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
Famous for its feature in the 80’s rom-com Benny and Joon, this song distinguishes itself as one that every father in America should know. And with the college distance of either hundreds of miles or a 30-minute car ride between you and your dad, why not solidify your relationship with the heartwarming lyrics “I will walk 500 miles, and I will walk 500 more just to be the man who walks a thousand miles/To fall down at your door/.” Sing your heart out and bounce to the tune of this rhythmic song with meaningful lyrics.
4. The Longest Time – Billy Joel
C’mon, would a Father’s Day playlist be anything without the melodic piano keys and acapella harmonies of Billy Joel? While you may not know who he is, your father sure does. This catchy tune will upgrade your time spent with your father from 0 to 10 as you listen to lyrics about the timeless love between the singer and his lover. The lyrics reminisce about someone who inspires, puts their arms around you after finding you at your worst and feels like your greatest miracle. Must I say more? This tune was meant for your father.
5. For Once in My Life – Stevie Wonder
Now for a more soulful vibe that every father can’t help but whip out his ancient moves or sway unrhythmically to, Stevie Wonder can do any playlist a good solid. But only one song qualifies as the most appropriate for Father’s Day. “For Once in My Life” describes the very moment of your birth, the time when you and your father experienced having someone you need and someone who finally belongs to you. The lyrics “For once I can say this is mine, you can’t take it, as long as I know I’ve got love I can make it,” ring true for any father-child relationship.
6. Friday I’m in Love – The Cure
Although a love song, this song speaks of how Friday really provides an opportunity for love and excitement. Considering that Father’s Day this year takes place on a Sunday, this really makes no sense. But even so, the song provides a lovely tune with catchy lyrics that has a more metaphorical application to Father’s Day than you think. Besides, it’s the Cure. One mention of this band to your dad and he’ll immediately enter a nostalgic wonderland as he thinks about their concert he attended back in the ’80s.
7. American Pie – Don McClean
Don’t really have much to do this Father’s Day, considering the circumstances of quarantine? Well, consider yourself busy for at least 8 minutes and 33 seconds of your time, because you’ll be busy karaoking the lyrics to “American Pie,” a rock classic for any dad. “Besides reminding me of that one scene of The Office where Michael and Dwight sing this on a woman’s grave, this song also reminds me of all the times my dad would listen to it in the car. The song has grown on me throughout the years and I know it’s one of my dad’s favorites,” Cal State LA fourth year Jeremy Lee said. Give your normal bedroom pop and lo-fi hits a break by knowing every word to this hit and making your dad proud as you belt it in the living room together. You get extra points if disapproving family members stand nearby and shake their heads at your personal concert sesh.
8. Don’t Look Back in Anger – Oasis
Next on our list features a song otherwise known as one of Britain’s most beloved anthems–and for a good reason too. Despite its ambiguous lyrics, “Don’t look back in anger” clearly talks about moving forward in future love and relationships. And in those rare moments you do look back on the past, the song encourages us to not look back in anger, but to see those moments as essential to shaping who we are today. The best thing about this song? The anthem feels you get while singing the chorus together with someone you love. The songs prove great for any English rock fan, otherwise known as your dad.
9. People Are Crazy – Billy Curington
With the country music genre undeniably every dad’s favorite pastime or guilty pleasure, you just cannot avoid a country song on this playlist. But don’t worry, country singer Billy Curington strives at reeling in any country fan or foe with his meaningful lyrics that always tell a narrative. The song itself tells the story of the singer’s encounter at a bar with an older man he eventually becomes great friends with as they talk casually about girls, politics, their lives and everything else under the sun. This heartwarming tale may possibly remind you of your own wise conversations with your dad or even his own conversations with his dad.
10. Knee-Deep – Zac Brown Band (ft. Jimmy Buffet)
Looking for a song that’ll teleport you to a peaceful moment on the beach knee-deep in the water? Well, luckily for this lighthearted and catchy country song, you have a song that fits exactly that agenda. After listening to some quality rock ballads and classics, a country song that reminds you of the beloved leisures in life may be the very thing you and your dad need to hear.
11. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
While everybody knows “Don’t Stop Me Now’s” older and more recognized brother “Bohemian Rhapsody”, don’t underestimate the ability for this song to make your dad get out of the comfort of his lawn chair and do his iconic air guitar. This Queen classic talks about feeling on top of the world with nothing in the world to stop you. Allow your dad to celebrate his day with a song as empowering and uplifting as this one. And if the lyrics “I’m a shooting star, leaping through the sky/Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity” don’t make you want to join in on all the fun, then sorry to break it to you, but your dad may be cooler than you.
12. Don’t Worry Baby – The Beach Boys
For all my beach bum fathers who can’t get enough of the ocean waves and tackle bait, this one’s for you. Any father appreciates the memorable tunes of their favorite 60’s harmonious quintet, but what’s better than a song as comforting and heartfelt as “Don’t Worry Baby”? Paired with the Beach Boy’s classic harmonies and melody, the singer in the song reminds their lover that everything will be alright, as long as they have their love–a perfect message that defines any father-child relationship.
13. Take Good Care of My Baby – Bobby Vee
Now for a little 50’s flair in our playlist, you can’t go wrong with a classic like “Take Good Care of my Baby”–a song where the singer grieves over their lover who has another lover now. Still, as the singer asks the other lover to “take good care of his baby,” listen to her, and think about her in everything he does, the song feels like any father’s wish towards his child. Sing and dance along to a bittersweet song like this one with your father on a day that honors him.
14. Daughters – John Mayer
There’s a reason why John Mayor’s music always plays in the local JC Penny or elevator–in the midst of your mindless shopping or standing around his music never fails to make you feel something. But his song “Daughters” slightly one-ups his other songs due to its melancholic charm that talks about the importance of a father’s presence in his daughter’s life. As John sings the lyrics “Father’s be good to your daughters/ Daughters will love like you do/ Girls become lovers who turn into mothers/ So mothers be good to your daughters, too/”, it reminds us of the great cycle of familial relationships that come full circle once we grow up and have our own kids.
15. Watching You – Rodney Atkins
Now now, you didn’t think we hopped off the county music train just yet, did you? Similar to most country ballads that make you want to ball your eyes out, this song talks about a father’s relationship with his young son who copies mostly everything his father does. The climactic point of the lyrics reveals itself when the son tells his father “I’ve been watching you.” “My dad would play this song all the time in his car when we went on road trips. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized how meaningful and sweet the lyrics were, and how much it perfectly described our relationship,” Mt. Sac third year Alejandro Lara said. The song offers a great reminder that some of our first role models really are our fathers.
16. 7 Years – Lukas Graham
At this point in your Father’s Day bbq or hangout, a song as nostalgic and calm as this one feels like the perfect time for you to sit back, relax and really listen to the lyrics. In “7 Years”, the singer reminiscences upon his life, and the advice both his mother and father gave him. As you relax with your pops nuzzled up on the couch with good music and dessert, this song will make you think about your own life and your dad’s miraculous part in it.
17. Sweet Pea – Amos Lee
If the lyrics “Sweet Pea, apple of my eye, don’t know when and I don’t know why/ you’re the only reason I keep on coming home” don’t remind you of all the good things in the world, then do you even have a heart? Amos Lee’s ukulele melody “Sweet Pea” proves perfect as any father’s anthem as the singer sings to someone he considers the center of their world. In the end, as we think back on our relationships with our fathers, it really is the only reason we keep coming back home.
18. Growing Up – Macklemore (ft. Ed Sheeran)
An intricate flowing rap that acts as an instruction manual, this song boasts an intricate flowing rap that Macklemore wrote for his son. Yet, the song goes two ways in that Macklemore references not only his son’s own growth from baby to teenager but Macklemore’s growth from man to father. As the rap talks about heartbreaks, giving back to community and advice for his son to listen to Sam Cooke and read, the song offers a heartwarming take on a dad’s relationship with his son. Any dad would be smitten listening to a song like this.
19. Sister Golden Hair – America
Dating back to 70s American rock music, this classic is any dad’s go-to car ride song in his old chevy. Even so, the lyrics talk of a mystical “sister golden hair” that the singer admits that he can’t stop thinking about and needs. After all the sentimental songs before this, this song offers a perfect pathway for you and your dad when you get your second wind and feel like a karaoke anthem once again.
20. Yellow – Coldplay
Everyone loves a little early 2000’s Britpop–and even more from a beloved band that swept both America and the U.K. with their track “Yellow.” In all honesty, the lyrics don’t make much sense but hear the one message that undoubtedly gets through: love. The lyrics “Your skin oh yea your skin and bones, turn into something beautiful/ Do you know, you know I love you so?” ring true for any relationship as strong as you and your fathers.
21. When I’m 64 – The Beatles
If anyone other than you truly gets your father, it’s none other than John, George, Paul and Ringo. Among all the Beatles classics your dad won’t mind singing along to, “When I’m 64” truly references the longevity of love for your father, no matter how old he gets.
22. All I Have to Do is Dream – the Everly Brothers
As we grow older into functional adults with evolving lives, sometimes this means the distance between us and our fathers looms large. Whether in college, in different states or even different countries, this distance has nothing on the way we feel about our fathers. Nonetheless, the song “All I Have to Do is Dream” feels appropriate as the singer talks about the one thing that can solve this separation: dreaming about the one he loves. This 50s classic can act as your only-one-call (or dream) away anthem
23. Your Song – Elton John
Next on our playlist mentions the iconic piano playing man known by the name of Elton John–no doubt another one of your dad’s favorites. With lyrics that admit that the singer has nothing but a song to give his lover in “My gift is my song and this one’s for you,” the same can be true with your own father. As broke college students with nothing to give our dads but our own presence and maybe a new wallet or two, this song speaks the unspoken words we’d want to say to our fathers as well.
24. Heroes – David Bowie
Even though the world feels unfair and like it may very soon crumble to pieces, ever felt like you could do anything as long as you had your heroic father by your side? Well, that makes two of us. Not only a classic by a dad favorite like Bowie, this song speaks optimistically about the singer’s belief that the love of two people can conquer the world. Whip out your karaoke mics and stay for a second dessert because this is a Father’s Day classic that cannot be overlooked.
25. Legend – twenty one pilots
Moving on to a more modern alt vibe with twenty one pilots, the song “Legend” exudes the way we feel about our own dads. The lyrics “You were one of those classic ones” and “You’re a legend in my own mind” speaks of the way we individually love and appreciate our fathers and their sacrifices when our own words cannot.
26. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell
This soulful bop next on our list offers the chance to communicate your love for your dad a hundredfold by making the bold statement that even mountains cannot separate you two. Marvin Gaye’s hit is catchy, meaningful and the perfect backyard bbq hangout song that will lift everyone’s spirits.
27. My Girl – The Temptations
Yes, it’s true–this song has uses other than that one annoying little Debbie commercial back in the early 2000s that we all remember playing on TV. If you really listen to the lyrics, this song offers a heartwarming take on the singer’s lover who he refers to as “My Girl.” The song describes the special feelings that only this girl can give to the singer. I mean–can this song fit any more perfect for an occasion like Father’s Day?
28. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) – John Lennon, Yoko Ono
Remember those days when our childhood nightmares forced us to find solace in our brave dads? “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon is a lullaby the singer sings to his son as he comforts him with the praise “Beautiful, beautiful beautiful, beautiful boy.” The opening lyrics “Close your eyes/ Have no fear/ The monster’s gone/ He’s on the run and your daddy’s here.” Will likely make you want to curl up in a ball and remember all the times your dad came to your rescue as well.
29. Photograph – Ed Sheeran
Drawing towards the end of our playlist, this calls for an Ed Sheeran ballad bound to squeeze every ounce of sentiment out of us. The lyrics “We keep our love in a photograph / We make these memories for ourselves… You won’t ever be alone, wait for me to come home” ring true when we think of our dads. With all the memories and photographs we’ve acquired over the years, we still long for our one favorite moment when our dads finally return home after a long day.
30. Take on Me – A-Ha
Would this playlist be anything without the iconic electric keys and falsetto singing of every dad’s favorite A-Ha song? Otherwise known as the song that makes your dad roll down the windows, raise the volume and attempt to stably sing all the notes (he never can), “Take on Me” will challenge everyone’s dance and singing skills. Still, the lyrics speak of an indestructible love- which is clearly the love you and your dad have. End the night with a banger and challenge your dad to a falsetto challenge with this rock classic.