50 Mother’s Day Songs That Will Give You All the Feels

Pass the tissues

mothers day songs
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

Sure, moms have infinite love to give, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve some in return. There are many ways to show your gratitude and devotion to your mom: For starters, you can whip her up a fabulous Mother’s Day brunch, try creative bonding activities or shower her with thoughtful gifts when the holiday rolls around. But when it comes to expressing sentiment, nothing delivers quite like music. Of course, picking the right song for the occasion is key.

Fortunately, there are a host of talented artists who have tackled this undertaking to great effect, so you don’t have to take up songwriting yourself. (Phew.) From tongue-in-cheek Merle Haggard to cloyingly sweet R&B ballads—and everything in between—here are our favorite Mother’s Day songs that will definitely sweep your momma off her feet. (Hint: Use ‘em to create a curated playlist for her and thank us later.)

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1. “Mother” By Kacey Musgraves (2018)

Kacey Musgraves is a six-time Grammy Award winner, but “Mother” is one of her best-kept secrets. The short but sweet song offers a rare glimpse into the country singer’s personal life…with a trippy twist. “I went on a fun acid trip and ended up writing the song ‘Mother,’” Musgraves told Entertainment Weekly.

2. “I Prefer Your Love” By St. Vincent (2014)

This heartwarming song is inspired by her own mom’s recovery from an illness. St. Vincent perfectly describes the uniqueness of a mother’s love and how she made her who she is today.

3. “Mama Liked the Roses” By Elvis Presley (1970)

Elvis croons like nobody can in this wistful B-side to The Wonder of You album. The song, a melancholy number dedicated to his deceased mother, Gladys, also serves as a stirring reminder of how a mother can show her love with small gestures—the type that are easily overlooked until they’re gone. It’s a sad and rather morbid thought, but poignant nonetheless—and Elvis, with his satin voice, says it best: Bring your mother her favorite flowers while you can.

4. “Look What You’ve Done” By Drake (2011)

Grammy-award winner Drake’s aloof delivery here only serves to underscore the poignant message of the track, which chronicles the ups and downs of his relationship with his mother, from his humble beginnings to his rise to fame. The lyrics here touch on painful moments of tension between mother and son, but the overarching theme is one of gratitude for the support his mama showed him as he pursued his dream and her unshakeable belief that he would succeed.

5. “Where You Lead” By Carole King (1971)

If you think this Carole King tune sounds like a love song, you’re not wrong—it was originally written with romance in mind. That said, your mom will absolutely get the feels if you feature this one on her Mother’s Day playlist. Don’t take our word for it, just ask anyone familiar with Gilmore Girls: Carole King and her daughter re-released the classic early 70s song with a mother-daughter slant for the popular TV show.

6. “Hey Mama” By Kanye West (2005)

Yep, Kanye and his mama, Donda, were tight—a closeness the rapper paid homage to in this track off of Late Registration, which was released just two years before his mother’s untimely passing. The reverence comes through loud and clear with lyrics like, “Can't you see, you're like a book of poetry/Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni/Turn one page and there’s my mommy.” A beautiful ballad that will probably turn both you and your mama into a ball of mush.

7. “Dear Mama” By 2pac (1995)

It’s hard to come by a more heartfelt letter from a son to mother than 2Pac’s tribute to his mom. A deeply personal reflection on his childhood, 2Pac’s lyrics capture the immense sacrifice and beauty of maternal love, while putting into words a sentiment that every mom wants to hear: “There’s no way I could pay you back, but the plan is to show you that I understand; you are appreciated.”

8. “Mother and Child Reunion” By Paul Simon (1972)

Owe your mom a visit? A phone call? Acknowledge your negligence and promise to do better with this upbeat ditty. Fun fact: The song itself was inspired and named after a chicken-and-egg menu item at a Chinese restaurant. (Mother and child reunion...get it?) But you probably shouldn’t mention that to your mom when you add it to her Mother’s Day playlist, lest you diminish the sentimental value.

9. “The Best Day” By Taylor Swift (2008)

What Taylor Swift’s take on mother-daughter relations lacks in nuance, it makes up for in sweet childhood nostalgia. This track from her Fearless album is a feel-good pop song that sounds like something from Starbucks’ permanent rotation (i.e., it’ll totally strike the right chords with mom).

10. “The Wish” By Bruce Springsteen (2014)

This ballad begins on a jangly, but relatively subdued note, serving up a brief, but unvarnished look at the Boss’s childhood—from the banal to the touching—before building up to a euphoric and celebratory sound. The inspiration for such joyous music is, of course, mom. In Springsteen’s ode to his mother, he promises “there won’t be a sad song tonight”—and let’s just say he delivers.

11. “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” By Glen Campbell and Steve Wariner (1987)

“There ought to be a hall of fame for mamas/Creation’s most unique and precious pearls/And heaven helps us always to remember/That the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Yep, this country song lays it on thick but don’t let that stop you from playing it for your mom—we promise she will swoon.

12. “December 4” By Jay-z (2003)

Jay-Z raps about his early childhood and rise to fame in this song, while giving his mom props for supporting him through thick and thin. The track is named for his date of birth and actually features his mom, who shares both her birthing experience and her perspective on the artist’s childhood.

13. “Mama Tried” By Merle Haggard (1968)

This gem from the great Merle Haggard is a good listen on any occasion, and an amusing acknowledgment of the hard work that goes into shaping a human. In this case, the narrator didn’t quite turn out the way mama would’ve wanted—a fact that in no way diminishes the effort she put in. Yep, when it comes to letting your mom off the hook, Merle’s classic does the trick

14. “I’ll Always Love My Mama” By The Intruders (1973)

This upbeat hit from the Philly soul group, The Intruders, is a spot-on expression of devotion to mom. Plus, this nostalgic number delivers all the feel-good vibes you’d expect from the lush and funky Philly sound, so it’s sure to transport your mom (or anyone, really) to a happy place. Groovy.

15. “The Sweetest Gift” By Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris (1975)

Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, two of country music’s most angelic voices, sing the praises of a mother’s unconditional love in this wistful and touching 70s ballad about a mother visiting her “erring, but precious” (read: imprisoned) son. As for the sweetest gift, it was simply a warm and loving smile. Yep, you’re still your mama’s baby, even if you’ve been bad.

16. “Coat of Many Colors” By Dolly Parton (1971)

Grab a box of tissues, friends—you’re gonna need ‘em to get through this beautiful country ballad, sung by the one and only Dolly Parton. The song tells the story of a mother who, too poor to buy new clothes, sews her daughter a "coat of many colors" from rags that she wears with pride, despite being teased by other kids. “I know we had no money/but I was rich as I could be/in my coat of many colors/my mama made for me/just for me.”

17. “Mom” By Earth, Wind and Fire (1972)

A mother’s unyielding love is the subject of this 70s slow jam from Earth, Wind and Fire—because even rock stars need a rock. Though the band was known for upbeat power funk, this sentimental number won over even the most hardened critics when it was released in November of 1972 and it has aged well.

18. “No Charge” By Shirley Caesar (1997)

The conceit of this one—an interaction that takes place after a son hands his mother an itemized bill for the housework he’s done—might sound a bit contrived at first; but brace yourself, friends, because when Shirley Caesar (AKA the First lady of Gospel) sings the mother’s response, the delivery will likely bring you to your knees.

19. “A Song For Mama” By Boyz II Men (1997)

You can always count on Boyz II Men to dial up the cheese factor, and their 1997 ode to mama is no exception. This ballad says every reverent thing you ever wanted to say to your mom—so if you want to include some super sentimental 90s R&B on your Mother’s Day playlist, this one is just the ticket.

20. “I’ll Be There” By Mac Miller (2011)

You know who’s not too cool to wax sentimental about mama? Mac Miller. Here, the rapper gets effusive with a touching tribute to the love and support his mom has provided over the years, a heartfelt promise to always have her back, and a call to action for everyone to do the same. “If you have your moms, you better treat her right/Call her up, say ‘wassup’ before you sleep tonight/Tell her you love her and thank her for what she did/You may be grown now but remember being a kid…” Amen.

21. “Ring Off” By Beyoncé (2014)

Beyoncé serves up some powerful emotional support for her mama with this track, written shortly after and about her mother’s divorce from her dad. The words of praise and empowerment are surely well-deserved, but let’s just say we’d all be lucky to have Beyonce for a daughter—and she really kills it here.

22. “Promise to Try” By Madonna (1989)

Another tearjerker, this track from Madonna’s seminal album, Like a Prayer, is a heart-wrenching expression of grief sung for her mother, who tragically succumbed to breast cancer when the future superstar was only five years old. If you play this one, be prepared for waterworks—with a finishing lyric that reads, “Can’t kiss her goodbye, but I promise to try,” this song has the power to bring just about anyone to tears.

23. “Julia” By The Beatles (1968)

This sweet track from the White Album was written by John Lennon for the two loves of his life: Yoko Ono and (you guessed it) his mom, Julia. A sparse but sweet poem with a beautiful melody, this soothing number has a refrain that says it all: “I sing a song of love, Julia.”

24. “Philomena” By Thin Lizzy (1974)

Phil Sygott, the oft overlooked genius behind Thin Lizzy, is responsible for this one. Sygott was very close with his mom, and this song, written for and named after his mother, presents an excellent opportunity to celebrate the devotion of mothers with an angst-ridden jam. Just do yourself a favor and give your mom a ring once you’re done rocking out. “She’s home, boys, home...when you’re far across the foam.”

25. “You Can’t Hurry Love” By The Supremes (1966)

Diana Ross’s vocals are a force of nature (obviously) on this classic Motown track from the 60s. Beyond being an excellent break-up song, this upbeat number also pays tribute to the infinite wisdom of mothers and the comfort they provide, particularly when it comes to matters of the heart: “But when I feel that I, I can’t go on/these precious words keep me hanging on/I remember mama said…”

26. “Mama” By Spice Girls (1996)

This pop group was all about girl power so it’s only fitting that they released this tribute to mothers in March 1997. In the fun and sweet song, the group members recall all the times their mothers were there for them...even when they were behaving badly.

27. “Mom” By Meghan Trainor and Kelli Trainor (2016)

With lyrics like “Ain't nobody got a mom like mine. Her love’s 'til the end, she's my best friend,” this upbeat ode to mothers hits all the right notes. And the singer-songwriter scores extra brownie points for recording a phone conversation with her mom, Kelli Trainor, to make the song even more special.

28. “Blue” By Beyonce (2013)

Of course we had to include Beyoncé twice in our roundup. “Blue” is an ode to the singer’s first-born daughter, Blue Ivy, and features a stream of beautiful and relatable lyrics, such as: “Each day/I feel so blessed to be looking at you/'Cause when you open your eyes/I feel alive.” (We’re also big fans of the music video that includes shots of Beyoncé and her family on vacation.)

29. “Superwoman” By Alicia Keys (2007)

In case you didn’t already know: Moms are total superheroes. Let your mom know how much you appreciate everything she does with this beautiful song by Alicia Keys that she released as part of her As I Am album (one that won her a Grammy Award for the best female R&B vocal performance in 2008, NBD).

30. “Mother” By Ray Charles (2002)

The genius of Ray Charles is uncontested—he even named an album for it and pulled it off—and this track is a testament to it. A perfect ten in terms of musicality, tone and pure soul, Ray Charles’ “Mother” is also a tender homage to his own mom who died when he was just 15 years old—a loss that devastated him and one that he continued to grieve throughout his life. In other words, this one is a soft and heart-wrenching song that will likely leave you misty-eyed.

31. “The Perfect Fan” By Backstreet Boys

Believe it or not, this song started out as a tribute to Thomas Smith, who was an actual fan of the group. Member Brian Littrell wrote it while the band was touring in Europe, but as he and Thomas continued to work on the song, they decided to change direction and make it a sweet homage to Littrell’s mom instead. (FYI, the lyrics are moving enough to bring any mom to tears.)

32. "You Can't Lose Me" By Faith Hill

Looking for a tune to celebrate your tight-knit mother-daughter bond? This touching song ought to do the trick. Included on her second album, It Matters to Me, "You Can't Lose Me" celebrates supportive mothers and their incredible impact on future generations of young girls.

33. "Don't Forget to Remember Me" By Carrie Underwood

The country star offered up a touching song about a mother who wants to ensure that her child never forgets her as they embark on their own journey to adulthood and independence. We suspect that many moms will identify with this one.

34. “Turn to You" By Justin Bieber

Bieber gave his mom, Pattie Mallette, the ultimate Mother’s Day gift back in 2012, when he released this heartwarming track as a tribute to her. On Twitter, she wrote, "@justinbieber wrote me a song for Mother's day! So excited 4 #TurnToYou out 2morrow, it made me cry.. Proceeds going to help single moms!”

35. "Mother" By Ashanti

In this special ode to her mom, R&B singer Ashanti opened up about the valuable lessons she learned from her role model. She sings, “You taught me strength and you gave me guidance / Whenever faith was lost, you were there to find it.”

36. “Sadie” By The Spinners (1974)

This 70s R&B group from Detroit penned a heartfelt and nuanced number, dedicated to all the strong mothers they remember from their youth. The lyrics here hit the nail on the head, so you might want to have a box of tissues nearby. Case in point: “Sweeter than cotton candy/Stronger than papa’s old brandy/Always that needed smile once in a while/Sometimes she would break down and cry”. (Oof.)

37. “Mama Said” By The Shirelles (1961)

An ode to the healing power of a mother’s wisdom, this Motown classic sings the praises of all the moms out there who provide much-needed comfort (and a reality check) in times of grief. The takeaway? Even though your mom totally told you so, you can still cry on her shoulder...but maybe don’t wait until heartbreak strikes to give her a call.

38. "Oh, Mother of Mine" By The Temptations

We've all had those days when we were too stubborn to listen to our moms—and this soulful group knows the feeling all too well. (Fun fact: This touching song was The Temptations’ very first single, and it actually led to their partnership with Motown Records.)

39. "My Mother and I" By Lucy Dacus

Lucy Dacus, who was raised by an adoptive mother, sings about what mothers pass down to their children in this thoughtful Indie tune. She told NPR, "Being adopted has encouraged me to consider what mothers pass on through blood and body, and what they impart in the way of socialization and context. We—daughters, and all children—easily inherit the shame and fear of our mothers, but also the pride, self-assurance and lessons of love."

40. "In My Daughter's Eyes" By Martina McBride

There's nothing quite like a special mother-daughter bond, and this heartwarming country track captures the sentiment so well. McBride sings, "And when she wraps her hand around my finger / How it puts a smile in my heart."

41. "To Zion" By Lauryn Hill

Hill penned this powerful song as a tribute to her son, Zion David Marley, after welcoming him in 1997. She told The Guardian, "That song is about the revelation that my son was to me. I had always made decisions for other people, making everybody else happy, and once I had him, that was really the first decision that was unpopular for me. It was one that was based on my happiness and not what other people wanted for me."

42. "Mama Knew Love" By Anthony Hamilton

In the song, Hamilton gets candid about the sacrifices his mother had to make while she raised him—and it's sure to resonate with fellow hard-working moms. He sings "Up bright and early / Scrambled eggs, swellin' in your legs, bills on the bed / Still you managed to show me a smile / Then walk to work about two or three miles."

43. "Somebody's Hero" By Jamie O'Neal

We can all agree that moms are heroes to their kids—even if they've "never pulled anybody from a burning building." Regarding her inspiration for the song, she said, "When you have a baby you start thinking about your own relationship with your mother, and when you were little, how much you looked up to her. Then you move to, 'Gosh, my baby looks up to me so much. I don't want to let her down. I want to be a hero to her.'"

44. "Baby Mama" By Brandy ft. Chance the Rapper

The R&B singer and proud mom details her love for her lookalike daughter, Sy’rai, in "Baby Mama." She told People, "It's a great Mother's Day anthem because I feel like so many mothers out there don't get the credit they deserve. They're just out there holding it down for their family and sharing that beautiful bond with their children [who] they're making all these sacrifices for."

45. "Tell Mama" By Etta James

The soulful track will make you want to confide in your mom and glean her priceless wisdom. James sings, "Tell Mama, all about it / Tell Mama, what you need / Tell Mama, what you want / And I'll make everything alright."

46. "Mama's Song" By Carrie Underwood

In "Mama's Song," which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Country Solo Performance, Underwood sings about a daughter who opens up to her mother about meeting the man of her dreams. She sings, "He makes promises he keeps / No, he's never gonna leave / So don't you worry about me."

47. "Mother Like Mine" By The Band Perry

Lead singer Kimberly Perry opened up to Billboard about the band's sweet tribute to their mom. She said, "Neil had this one line written on his phone, ‘If the world had a mother like mine.’ We are started to think about what the world would look like if our mother had raised it the way she raised us. The opening line of the chorus says ‘The wars would all be over, because she’d raise us all as friends.’ Our mother is our personal hero."

48. "Your Mother Should Know" By The Beatles

The 1967 hit will make anyone think twice about keeping secrets from their mom, but according to Paul McCartney, his main goal was to address generation barriers. Per his biography, Many Years from Now, he said, "I was advocating peace between the generations … I was basically trying to say, your mother might know more than you think she does. Give her credit."

49. "The Mother's Day Song" By Bryant Oden

Give your mom a laugh with this playful gem, which comes from the point of view of a child celebrating Mother's Day by tackling all of mom's duties. These range from doing the laundry (in the dishwasher) to watering the plants (with a hose).

50. "The Mother" By Brandi Carlile

You’ll find this underrated gem on Brandi Carlile's 2018 album, By the Way, I Forgive You. The song is a powerful tribute to the selfless nature of mothers, and the music video (which was created by an all-female team) paints a stunning, authentic portrait of motherhood.

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