By Radio.com Staff
Aristotle once said, “Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own.” Whether this is true or not, we’ll never actually know, but it might explain why female singers seem almost predestined to create the most beautiful, heartfelt odes to their little ones. Perhaps, it is actually biological.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we’ve assembled a list of 12 songs written by moms about their kids. Some of the moms try to share words of wisdom with their growing boy or girl (Kelis, Madonna), while others simply choose to celebrate the miracle of life (Alicia Keys, Shakira).
A few even focus on the struggles of being a mom, like Lauryn Hill, who discusses her decision to keep her baby when others thought it was a bad career move or Warpaint, who touch on what it’s like to leave your child behind so you can hit the road.
One song even features a cameo from the bouncing baby the song is written in dedication of. And yes, we are talking about Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy, who in just two short years has already racked up as many songs to her name.
Check out the list below to celebrate these musical moms and make sure to tell the woman who brought you into this world how much you appreciate her. Perhaps, with a song of your own.
1. Beyoncé “Blue (feat. Blue Ivy)”
Maybe most of Beyoncé is about her and Jay-Z’s daughter Blue Ivy: A guidebook to her life, a document of marital bliss, and some tips on living as a not-yet-grown woman in this world. Then let “Blue” be the honest dedication in the afterword. It’s a song so gentle and heartfelt juxtaposed against all the sex and power that comes before it. Beyoncé now contains the singular glow of mom-love — another step toward containing all of the matter in the universe. – Jeremy Larson
2. Björk “Mouth’s Cradle”
While making her 2004 album, Medúlla, Björk was pregnant with her daughter, Ísadóra, and says her maternity played a major role on her sixth record, which is an a cappella masterpiece that makes good use of beatboxing, tongue clicking and throat singing. But it’s the song “Mouth’s Cradle,” written during and just after the birth of her little girl, that focuses on the joys of motherhood. This includes breast feeding. The Icelandic singer manages to poetically detail the pleasure she gets out of the motherly act, singing, “And you can follow these notes I’m singing/Up to the mouth’s cradle, the mouth’s cradle/The simplicity of the ghost-like beast/The purity of what it wants and where it goes.” How very Björk of her. – Shannon Carlin
3. Lauryn Hill “To Zion”
Lauryn Hill’s 1998 solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, was in part inspired by her first child, Zion, who she had with Rohan Marley, son of reggae legend Bob Marley when she was just 23 years old. But it was “To Zion,” an honest and emotional track sung directly to her young son, that addresses Hill’s decision to keep the baby so many others thought she should give away. Just try not to well up when Hill sings, “Look at your career they said/’Lauryn baby, use your head’/But instead I chose to use my heart/Now the joy of my world is in Zion.” Seriously, just try. – Scott Sterling
4. Kelis “Song For The Baby”
Kelis’ “Song For The Baby” has her dispensing life advice to her first child, Knight, whose father is her ex-husband Nas. But she doesn’t sugarcoat things for the sake of shielding her child at a young age. “No, I can’t promise to have all the answers to all of your questions,” she sings, “but I’ll never lie and I’ll raise you without an obsession.” With her closing, repeated insistence of “You can do it if you try,” it’s hard to imagine her offspring having confidence issues down the line. – Kevin Rutherford
5. Britney Spears “My Baby”
If you want to write a pop song that’s really reflective of your feelings, call Max Martin. The Swedish pop production genius teamed up with Britney on her sixth album, Circus to write a song for her sons, Sean and Jayden, who were born in 2005 and 2006 respectively. It’s an ode to tiny hands and baby’s breath, paying homage to how they changed her life. The track, released in December of 2008, followed a hard year for Spears after she was put under a conservatorship and physical and legal custody of the boys was given to their father, Kevin Federline. But this song would mark a more subdued, reliable and mothering Britney, who would never let her children sit unbuckled on her lap while she was driving. Never. – Courtney E. Smith
6. Minnie Ripperton “Loving You”
Yeah, we know. That line. “Lovin’ you is easy cause you’re beautiful/Makin’ love with you is all I wanna do,” seems, well, inappropriate for a Mother’s Day song list. But here’s the deal: motherhood is all about multitasking and this song follows suit. The lyrics were for dad, but the lilting music was intended to help lull her baby–that would be future Saturday Night Live star Maya Rudolph–to sleep. In fact, you can hear Minnie singing her daughter’s name at the end of the song, right after she throws in some proto-Mariah high octave vocal flutters. –BI
7. Alicia Keys “Speechless”
“You know, I’m at a brand new time in my life, with a brand new feeling. It’s like this little guy, he takes my breath away.” Those are the words Alicia Keys purrs on the intro to this non-album track, produced by her husband Swizz Beatz in 2010. The little guy in question is her son Egypt, born just weeks earlier. Celebrating her new mom status, she sings, “I’m just speechless, baby/The poet in me has gone away.” A big statement coming from a woman who’d published a whole book of poetry five years prior. We’re glad the poet in her eventually came back, but this song made it clear that she would forevermore be mom first, artist second.– Brian Ives
8. Shakira “The One Thing”
Shakira was lost before she had her son, Milan Piqué Mebarak. At least that’s what the song “The One Thing” on her latest self-titled album implies. “You’re the one thing that I got right,” she sings on the touching ode to her one-year-old. Later, she swears she’s a lucky girl now that she has her baby boy. We imagine Milan feels the exact same way. – Annie Reuter
9. Madonna “Little Star”
Ray Of Light was Madonna’s first album following the birth of her daughter Lourdes in 1996 and the song “Little Star” reads like a love letter to her baby girl. Over gurgling synths she sings, “God gave a present to me/Made of flesh and bones/My life, my soul/You make my spirit whole.” Sure, it’s a little New Age-y, but it must be nice to have Madonna say you made her complete. And let’s be honest, it’s a lot less embarassing than some of the other things the Material Girl has posted on Instagram recently. – BI
10. Warpaint “Son”
Being a musician means a lot of days, weeks, sometimes even months away from home. More importantly though, it means you’re forced to spend time away from the ones you love. On Warpaint’s song “Son,” off their recently released self-titled album, guitarist Theresa Wayman addresses what it’s like for her to leave her little boy, Sirius–who is now 9 years old–behind when she hits the road. With lines like “I’m not gonna stay away too long” she also touches on the often heartbreaking realities of being a working mom. – SC
11. Jennifer Nettles “This Angel”
“Who is this angel, sent here to change me?” sings Jennifer Nettles on “This Angel,” echoing a sentiment shared by pretty much every new parent ever. The birth of Nettles’ first son Magnus in 2012 was a life-changer for the Sugarland singer, so it’s of little surprise to hear her coo over her baby boy and all the “beauty” and “hope” he offers. “Holy water from my own veins/Come and save me where I lay,” she sings. “This Angel” is sentimental, yes, but it’s also heartfelt and honest. And on an album where topics include adultery (“That Girl”), celebrity gossip (“Know You Wanna Know”) and “Jealousy,” it’s a pleasant reprieve. – Kurt Wolff
12. My Brightest Diamond “I Have Never Loved Someone”
My Brightest Diamond’s 2011 album All Things Will Unwind ends on its most poignant note, Shara Worden tenderly relaying a love song to her child that lilts and glides like a babbling brook among its organ accompaniment. “I have never loved someone the way I love you / I have never seen a smile like yours,” she sings at the onset, two lyrics to which perhaps every mother can relate. Interestingly, the top version of the tune was recorded as part of French video series La Blogotheque (watch above), which finds Worden crooning the delicate song with nothing but an electric guitar in a tiny cafe. -KR
13. Lee Ann Womack – “I Hope You Dance”
Yeah, you’ve probably heard it at a ton of weddings, but there’s a reason for it. Every lyric in the song reads as an advice book from parents to their children.