15 Songs About Walls – Putting Up, Breaking Down Walls
There are so many songs about walls, ones that are either about literal walls in a home or building, or the various metaphorical walls we throw up to protect our emotions. It’s a great, sometimes touchy subject for music artists to navigate, so when they knock it out of the park, it’s all the more impressive.
So in this article, I’m going to provide you with my absolute favorite songs that center around the topic of walls.
Songs About Walls That You Will Love
Let’s begin with the Michael Jackson track “Off the Wall.”
1) Off the Wall by Michael Jackson
In what amounts to one of the more memorable songs on the topic of dancing, this is a highly infectious track that’s all about getting a wallflower out of their head and onto the dance floor. On this song, Michael makes sure to inform you that now that the work day is over, it’s time to to finally let loose and enjoy yourself.
Jackson is actually imploring you to let the groove take over your body, release any anxiety or tension that might be causing you to hug the wall tightly, and let everything out on the dance floor now that you’ve left your 9-5 behind.
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2) Don’t Hold the Wall by Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” was a gem of an album. And while “Mirrors” and “Suit & Tie” got all of the mainstream love, and songs like “Let the Groove Get In” had all of the kinetic fun, the song “Don’t Hold the Wall” is probably one of the most unique songs on the album.
This song actually has a similar sensibility to “Off the Wall,” although on this track, the goal isn’t just to get you on the dance floor to have a good time, but to make an actual love connection. On this track, Timberlake overhears that a woman unhappy with her relationship, so he coaxes her out on the dance floor. Once there, it’s not too long before she’s gripping him much tighter than she ever was holding the wall.
3) Bridges by Fifth Harmony
You wouldn’t think a song entitled “Bridges” would have anything in the world to do with walls, but that’s what makes lists like these fun. On this triumphant song by Fifth Harmony, the ladies sing about the human experience, and how love is the answer to a lot of problems we see in the world.
The song’s soaring chorus makes sure to remind us that “love can conquer hate” and that if you want to see real change in the world, you need to build bridges between you and your fellow man—not walls.
It’s a song that one could argue is a bit overly saccharine or too self aware in its attempt to be virtuous. But I’m not jaded about this, as I hear a catchy pop song that actually has a heartfelt message behind it (which is more than you can say for a lot of the pop music you hear on the radio today).
4) Get Down On It by Kool & the Gang
This is of course a party song from 1981 by Kool & the Gang, and it’s centered around hitting the dance floor to have a good time. But what does this have to do with walls, you may ask? Well, “Get Down On It” demands an answer as to why you’re acting so shy and hugging the wall instead of letting loose on the dance floor:
How you gonna do it if you really don’t wanna dance
By standing on the wall?
(Get your back up off the wall) Tell me
How you gonna do it if you really don’t wanna dance
By standing on the wall
(Get your back up off the wall)
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5) Walls Have Ears by Elvis Presley and The Jordanaires
In this Elvis Presley song from his 1962 musical comedy Girls! Girls! Girls!, Elvis muses about how the world likes to scrutinize and gossip about relationships. When he claims that the walls have ears, he means it literally—he feels like the neighbors are listening in and judging whatever domestic dispute might happen in his apartment.
He has a clever solution to this, however—he insists that the walls can’t hear “a kiss, or two arms that hold you tight,” and so he concludes that the best way to prevent rumors from flying is just to love each other and not fight. This song is light and fun, and the choreography from the movie is masterful—one of Elvis’s best performances in his movie career.
6) Arms by Christina Perri
This song is about finally feeling safe enough in a relationship to let someone past your emotional walls. Christina Perri invites her partner to see through her walls, and to be there with her despite the damage she’s suffered from past relationships. This song is interesting, too, because the chorus repeats the line “you put your arms around me, and I’m home.”
This implies that the walls Perri had put up didn’t need to come down, necessarily—she just needed to not be alone inside them. The barriers that had previously served as a method of self-isolation now serve as a new home for her and her partner.
7) Walls Could Talk by Halsey
This track is a fresh and tongue-in-cheek exploration of the idea behind songs about walls having ears. Instead of just thinking about the walls as a passive observer of human interaction, Halsey asks the question of what walls could say if they could talk.
Her answer? She thinks all the walls would be able to say about her relationship is “s*** is crazy, right?”
Other lyrics in the song, however, reveal darker truths about the relationship dynamic and allude to abuse that she’s suffered at the hands of her partner. It becomes clear as the song concludes that she wishes the walls would talk about what’s happening in that relationship because she doesn’t feel safe enough to talk about it herself.
8) These Walls by Kendrick Lamar
Similar to Halsey’s song, this Kendrick Lamar track also takes personifying walls to a whole new level. But rather than the walls of a house, the walls being personified shift throughout the song. Each new set of walls seems to pass the same kinds of judgments on Lamar for the relationship that he’s in and the things he does because of that relationship.
The allusions to different kinds of walls intensifies throughout the song— the walls of an apartment, a prison cell, a hotel room—until it seems like the walls Lamar refers to are his own body and the body of his lover. The song ends with him alone in a hotel room, completely isolated.
9) Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus
Now, if you’re looking for songs about emotional walls, then this Miley song might be one of the most prominent tunes of the past decade or so. This track is about the challenges of being in a relationship where both parties have put up emotional walls that they don’t know how to let down. Miley Cyrus sings “All I wanted was to break your walls / All you ever did was wreck me,” positioning herself as a wrecking ball.
Even though she never meant to damage her partner, her attempts to see get past his walls were destructive to him—and even though his attempts to get past her emotional walls were also destructive to her, she didn’t understand immediately that she was also hurting him.
The controversial music video takes this a step further and shows her completely naked and riding a wrecking ball that is crashing into walls. Her nudity in the video shows that even though she was capable of causing an enormous amount of damage, at the end of the day, she too was incredibly vulnerable.
10) Walls by All Time Low
Although you can accidentally hurt yourself and the person you love when you try to carelessly destroy each other’s emotional walls, if you focus on your own walls, you’re less likely to hurt each other.
This All Time Low song is a joyous celebration of how good it feels to meet someone who makes you want to be open and vulnerable with them. The driving guitar mimics the feeling of a wall being knocked down, but softens toward the end of the song as a new relationship is built.
11) Another Brick in the Wall (pt. 1) by Pink Floyd
No list of songs about walls would be complete without including something from Pink Floyd’s most famous album The Wall. This song is the quintessential example of a wall representing an emotional barrier, but what’s different about this song’s approach is that it shows the process of the wall’s construction, not just attempts to destroy or circumvent it.
It shows how every negative experience that happens to Pink, the protagonist of the album, contributes another brick until he is completely closed off from the world.
12) Why We Build The Wall by Hadestown Original Broadway Cast
Although this villain song itself is over a decade old, it offers a political take on walls that has been hailed as unsettlingly timely. Within the story of Hadestown, this song refers to the wall that separates the living and the dead. The song is a call and response between Hades and the people in the underworld whose job it is to build and maintain that wall.
Throughout the song, Hades reminds them of all the reasons why they should continue building the wall—with the reason repeated most often being “to keep us free.” It explores the psychology of isolationism, and because it’s so clearly a villain song, ultimately highlights the importance of human connection across difference.
13) Walls by Bon Jovi
While the song from Hadestown was about the importance of maintaining a wall to keep people apart, this song is a celebration of tearing down walls that divide them. If a wall can’t be climbed over or gone around, it has to be torn down, and that’s exactly what happens.
This song by Bon Jovi shows the bricks that had initially been used in the wall being repurposed to build bridges instead, bringing people together. It was included on a rerelease of This House Is Not For Sale, intentionally written to join ongoing political conversations about what walls mean.
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14) Change (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift
This song positions walls as an oppressive force to be overcome and destroyed. It’s a song that Taylor Swift wrote when she was still with her first label, Big Machine Records, about overcoming the barriers placed in front of her as a teenage girl entering the music industry.
After she was denied the opportunity to own her own music and decided to rerecord her some of her albums, this song took on a new meaning. While the song was originally about her destroying the walls placed in front of her by the industry with her record label at her side, the rerecorded version of the song can be seen as an anthem for the triumph of her re-recordings’ commercial success.
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15) Walls by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
This song by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers is about falling in love with someone that you’re afraid might hurt you, but knowing that even if that’s true, there’s no way that your emotional walls will be able to hold up in their presence. The song is a fascinating mix of hopeful, despairing, and bittersweet emotion. Initially inspired by a conversation Petty had with Jonny Cash, the song was written for the 1996 movie She’s The One, but Petty liked the song so much that he performed it at almost every concert.
Multiple recordings of this song exist—some speed up the tempo, and some slow it down, meaning that either the joy or the despair can be emphasized depending on which recording you listen to.
Depending on the context of a song, the image of a wall can take on all sorts of different meanings. Whether you want a song about walls as barriers in a romantic relationship, as personified and judgmental objects, as political forces, or as something to be overcome, one of these songs about walls is sure to have what you’re looking for.
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