The historic city of Boston and its tradition of rebellion is reflected in its culture through a variety of outlets, but most notably in its music. The bands and artists of Beantown have often made their name with loud and exciting songs. Bostonians use music to showcase their great sense of pride and love for their hometown.
Many famous bands got their start in Boston. The city is home to a burgeoning music scene with many lesser-known artists that are incredibly talented and boast the style and feel of a true Boston band. There are a variety of genres that feature artists with roots in Boston who always find ways to remind fans of their hometown. I’ve gone to plenty of shows where band members are wearing Red Sox hats or, more recently, have sported a Boston Strong t-shirt as a reminder both to the audience and to themselves of where they began. Prepare yourself for the inundation of Boston pride through music by listening to these songs.
“Walk this Way” (featuring RUN-DMC)
What better way to kick off this playlist than with a cross-genre classic? Rap and rock combine in a great way as Boston natives Aerosmith and proud New Yorkers RUN-DMC create a loud and catchy song.
“Young New England”
Off their newest album featuring the same name, “Young New England” is a simple song with a chorus that is easy to sing no matter your state of vocals. A song that mentions Boston, drinking and cobblestone? Check. A music video filmed with random locals throughout the city? Double-check. Transit nailed it with this one.
“Long Lost Friends”
Another popular song by Boston natives Transit, “Long Lost Friends” is melodic and easy to listen to. Good vocals, good instrumentals, fun vibe and it still manages to retain some of that strong Boston style.
“More Than a Feeling”
The band that loves their hometown so much they named themselves after it: Boston. It’s such a classic song that it would be a sin to exclude it from this list. Though it doesn’t have the “in your face” loudness of an Aerosmith song, “More Than a Feeling” has just as much a feeling of a Boston song.
Big D and the Kids Table
Big D is one of many ska bands to come out of Boston. What is ska, you ask? Well it’s punk with some reggae and a little jazz and whatever else you want really. Big D, and most ska bands for that matter, have loud vocals that are balanced out by smooth guitar riffs and trombone and saxophone sections—always exciting and always catchy.
This song captures Big D’s softer side, both literally and metaphorically. In a clever way, the music video picks up where “Noise Complaint” ended and starts with a new message; they point out that there isn’t much to complain about when the sun is shining down on us in the streets of Boston. When you walk around Beantown on a nice day its hard to argue.
“Like the Way”
This hip-hop duo is the epitome of chill music and really can’t be nailed down to any single genre. They have influences in rap, rock, acoustic and some punk and have managed to make music all their own. “Like the Way” is a great example of their unique style that, though softer, still reflects their Boston roots.
“Says She Loves Me”
This song off their newest, self-titled album has become very popular and is one of my favorites. It’s easy to listen to, fun, catchy and the music video pays homage to classic music--another great example of Aer’s style.
A Loss For Words
This pop-punk group features the loudness, sometimes grittiness of a classic Boston punk band but also the more melodic side. “Pirouette” is a great song with meaningful words. The music video is a not so subtle reminder of their hometown with a beautiful Boston skyline background.
“Hold Your Breath”
“Hold Your Breath” is a cheesier but no less entertaining track and the music video reflects that. With a catchy chorus and loud instrumentals this song is hard to forget.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
“The Impression That I Get”
The Bosstones are another great ska group to come out of Beantown and have a great pun on being Bostonians and loving music. This song is both catchy and rough with vocals that somehow work. Strong brass instruments are the really bass of the song giving it strength. Also, the band has a member who just dances on stage and sort of sings along—how can you not love that?
Passion Pit has gained recent mainstream success with their funky, indie sound and with creative music videos. Their electronic yet still organic vibe has gathered many fans and demonstrates their ability to play with sounds. Although their music is “newer” they still retain some of the classic Boston loudness, particularly in the chorus.
Passion Pit delivers with another great song in “Sleepyhead.” Both playful and memorable this song yet again tests the limits of high-pitched, coarse sounds but pays off with smooth synth leads. This music video falls in line with the originality of their others and certainly captures all of Passion Pit in a 3-minute video.
Four Year Strong
“Tonight We Feel Alive (On A Saturday)”
Although they’re really from Worchester, Four Year Strong has that Boston feeling that I keep mentioning. Honestly with those beards, their loud, catchy vocals and a music video with a Revolutionary War battle, they really scream Boston. This song in particular has the liveliness (no pun intended) and punk roots so characteristic of this band.
“It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now”
Well that was a mouthful. This song marked a big transition in Four Year Strong’s history. Released right before their album Enemy of the World, they had departed from the electronic style by parting ways with their keyboard/synth player and adopting a more punk less “pop” feel. The guitars were turned up and the vocals were louder. Personally, I love the older songs featuring the synthesizer and keyboard sounds but I understand the need to evolve--I think this song is still awesome and hard-hitting in the best of ways.
“I’m Shipping Up to Boston”
No playlist concerning Boston would be complete without this quintessential Beantown track. A celtic punk song about sailors in Boston? Oh yea. This is Boston and I can guarantee that even if you haven’t heard this song before you will most likely have it memorized before you graduate. Welcome to Boston!
Although Neil Diamond isn’t actually from Boston this song has become synonymous with the city. Played during the eighth inning at Fenway Park and sung drunkenly weekend nights on the bus, I can’t help but include this classic.
They Might Be Giants
“You’re on Fire”
They’re from Lincoln, MA, but still deserve a place on this list. TMBG has that loud, catchiness of typical Boston bands and has withstood a long career of relative anonymity. I wish more people knew of them because their funky style, silly lyrics, strange music videos and general awesomeness is too good to pass up. Their song “The Mesopotamians” even gives a little history lesson and has a chorus too catchy not to sing.