Miami’s vibrant Latin community, beautiful beaches, and world-class nightlife have given this oceanside wonder the nickname The Magic City. Considering the year-round paradise Miamians find themselves in, it’s no surprise that there’s a wealth of songs about the city!
Whether they come in the form of piano ballads, hip-hop party anthems, or blasts of punk rock, it’s clear that once an artist experiences the beautiful sandy beaches of Miami, they write about it.
A tropical adventure awaits! All you need to do is queue up our list of the 21 best songs about Miami to hear sunshine-soaked sounds blast from your speakers!
Top 21 Songs About Miami
1. “Miami 2017” by Billie Joel
At first glance, Billy Joel’s “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” is about New York. Billy Joel is a quintessentially New York artist who has recorded many songs about the region, but there is an element of Miami hiding out in the singer’s 1976 track.
In The Piano Man’s post-apocalyptic track, he takes the point of view of a former New Yorker that escaped the city’s demise and took shelter in Miami.
It’s from Dade County that Joel recalls the fall of New York City. Joel wrote the song during escalating racial tensions in The Big Apple in the mid-’70s.
2. “Miami” by Will Smith
Will Smith was on top of the world in the late ‘90s. After a successful string of blockbuster movies that included Men in Black and Independence Day, the rapper-actor returned to his musical roots and dropped his classic LP Big Willie Style.
The record was an international hit thanks to the popularity of singles like “Miami.” Smith’s feel-good party anthem is an ode to beachside nightlife that became a club hit in its own right. While rapping over a sample of the Whisper’s 1979 soul hit, “And the Beat Goes On,” the former Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire extolls the beauty of the city and its citizens.
3. “Miami” by Against Me!
Gainesville, Florida’s own alternative punk band Against Me! has a love-hate relationship with Florida. While the state’s beaches and beauty are undeniable, much of this culture is considered vapid by a group of young punks.
So, when Against Me! recorded their concept album Searching for a Former Clarity, they named their song about the loss of vigor and creativity “Miami.” With snarling guitars and ska-inspired horns, the band places their tongue firmly in their cheek as they scream for the city.
The punk rock community in Florida is surprisingly big, and though they take issue with their home state, they also wear it like a badge of honor.
4. “Miami” by Counting Crows
The Counting Crows’ track “Miami” focuses their arena-ready alternative-rock sound upon the dissolution of a relationship. The singer’s at a crossroads, realizing that the lover he considered an angel might be his demise. Despite this realization, he still begs for her to meet him in Miami.
Vocalist Adam Duritz plays with ideas of light and dark throughout the song, giving the track a smattering of irony and absurdism as he describes the darkness in Miami – a city with a notoriously vibrant nightlife.
The single would score the Counting Crows another Billboard alternative top-ten hit and help their album Hard Candy crack the charts in over ten countries.
5. “Defend Dade” by DJ Khaled ft. Pitbull and Casely
Miami-Dade County is the biggest county in Florida and the seventh biggest in all of the US. There’s a provincial attitude to being from this area that rivals the hometown pride of New York or LA. In fact, rappers like Pitbull have built entire careers upon their Miami pride.
So, it’s no surprise that prolific and successful DJ-producer DJ Khaled tapped Pitbull for his hip-hop dance club track “Defend Dade.”
In classic rap battle style, Pitbull is boastful and braggadocious as he makes his case for all the great rappers from Miami. He also warns those who disrespect the city that Miami isn’t just golden beaches – there’s a tough underbelly, too.
6. “Miami” by U2
U2 was struggling in the studio to finish their experimental and techno-laced album Pop, so the band decided to clear their heads and leave the Dublin studio where they were recording to recharge their batteries.
So, where would an internationally acclaimed rock band go to decompress? Miami, of course.
After spending several nights soaking in the culture and nightlife, the band left feeling refreshed. They also left with the inspiration for their track “Miami.” The song is an industrial rock tale that takes the band’s actual experiences in the city and offers them up as small vignettes and character studies.
7. “Miami” by Bob Seger
Despite Bob Seger’s strong ties to Detroit Rock City, even this gritty singer-songwriter can appreciate the beauty of Miami. His single “Miami” is a heartland rock tribute to the city’s beautiful beaches and skyline.
Underscoring Seger’s already Miami-centric track was its inclusion in the classic ‘80s TV show Miami Vice. The show ran from 1984 to 1989 and helped put the culture of Miami on the map by filming almost entirely in South Beach.
Miami Vice would utilize music such as Seger’s to cater to the MTV generation. Its style and techniques would influence television for decades to come.
8. “Miami” by Taking Back Sunday
Taking Back Sunday blends elements of emo and post-hardcore into their electrifying rock sound. Utilizing loud-quiet dynamics and sing-along choruses made the band a favorite in the crowded race for emo supremacy during the ‘00s.
Tracks like “Miami” exemplify why Taking Back Sunday stands out from the rest of the rock and roll pack. The song’s rhythm section flirts with dance-inspired beats while staccato electric guitar cuts through to give the track a dose of grit.
Lyrically, referencing Miami becomes a shorthand for the band to represent the past – a time when the love was wilder, and the parties never ended. Ultimately, they know it’s not a state of mind they can stay in forever.
9. “Miami” by Foals
Even British rock bands dream of the sandy shores of Miami, as evidenced by Foals’ 2010 dance-inflected indie-rock single “Miami.”
The song is an intoxicating mix of bubbling synthesizers, stilted drum fills, and slinky guitar riffs that mimick the rhythm of the ocean. Even the light, melancholic nostalgia of the lyrics sounds like a breeze off the water.
“Miami” would help Foals’ album Total Life Forever crack into the mainstream music charts on its way to becoming recognized by many media outlets as one of the year’s best albums.
10. “Miami” by John Mellencamp
The beginning of John Mellencamp’s career can be a little confusing. He started as John Cougar, then switched to John Cougar Mellencamp, and finally settled on John Mellencamp. But whatever he goes by, his heartland-inspired rock and roll sound is unmistakable.
As John Cougar, he recorded “Miami,” a track that knowingly incorporates disco-inspired bass and strings to bolster Mellencamp’s raucous story of Miami girls.
It’s clear the singer is aware of their beauty, but he wonders just how fulfilling a life full of non-stop partying can be. Ultimately, he finds that beneath the golden bronze tans of these club kids lie hearts begging for love.
11. “Everybody’s Got a Cousin in Miami” by Jimmy Buffett
Jimmy Buffett’s career is full of tropical delights, from “Margaritaville” to “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” So, it’s no surprise that this musical king of the tropical life also has a song about Miami.
In his 1994 track “Everybody’s Got a Cousin in Miami,” Buffett sings of The Magic City as a place to escape the harsher realities of life. The song’s sound is as refreshing as a tropical drink, utilizing steel drums and a horn section that immediately takes the listener to a sandy paradise.
Jimmy Buffett is a laid-back guy on record, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be fiery. In 2001, the singer was ejected from his courtside seat at a Miami Heat game for excessive cursing!
12. “Only in Miami” by Bette Midler
Though Bette Midler’s 1983 single “Only in Miami” sounds upbeat and joyful, the song’s dance-inflected horns and percussion serve as a counterpoint to its longing lyrics.
The song tells the story of a homesick Cuban immigrant. She stands at the shore, waiting for friends and lovers to make their way to America while feeling a world away from home.
The irony of being so close to home while far away as possible is a poignant perspective of the immigrant experience. In a city as diverse as Miami, the song’s story is a familiar narrative that litters the beaches and barrooms with tears.
13. “Swimming in Miami” by Owl City
Owl City started as a bedroom recording project. Without much regard for a career, multi-instrumentalist Adam Young recorded songs in his Minnesota basement and uploaded them to the ‘00s social media site Myspace.
Young’s project would capture the imagination of thousands of fans online, no doubt thanks to his aspirational travelogues. From his Minnesota home, the singer would record angelic emo-inspired electro-pop gems like “Hello Seattle” and “Swimming in Miami.”
There’s a beautiful innocence to “Swimming in Miami,” one that is immediately relatable. While the song eschews any tangible references to the city, it captures the wonder of young love on the verge of setting out on its own.
14. “Welcome to Miami” by Pitbull
Pitbull is the quintessential modern Miami musician. His blend of hip-hop, Latin dance, and hometown pride make him one of the most recognizable voices from the South Beach scene. Using a remix of Jermaine Dupris’ “Welcome to Atlanta,” Pitbull flips the script on Dupris’ anthem of Southern pride for his single “Welcome to Miami.”
Pitbull leaves no stone unturned in his homage to the 305, referencing everything from Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino to dozens of streets and neighborhoods in the city. “Welcome to Miami” is a track swelling with pride, with Pitbull serving as a tour guide.
15. “Miami” by The Church
The final track on The Church’s 2014 album Further Deeper, “Miami” is a simmering and meditative alternative rock gem that finds the band in fine form after over forty years of making music.
With an underbelly of shimmering acoustic guitars and experimental electric guitar effects, the song ebbs and flows like the tide. The band swims in this ethereal backdrop for over eight minutes, weaving personal anecdotes of love into a moody rock and roll love song set in Miami.
Just as you think the track might fade away like a memory, the slow build finally boils over into a climactic and foamy outro, allowing the listener to swim away on swells of guitar feedback and harmonica.
16. “Miami” by Randy Newman
While his best-known work is the theme song from Toy Story, Randy Newman made his name by writing wry and ironic piano-driven character studies. One of his most successful songs from this period is “I Love L.A.,” a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the excesses of the City of Angels. But that wasn’t the only city Newman would put under the microscope.
In “Miami,” the singer-songwriter ironically celebrates the city’s underbelly with a sunny disposition. It’s par for the course for Newman, whose sense of humor rests in framing beautiful women, great weather, and drugs under the same blue skies.
17. “Moon Over Miami” by Eddy Duchin
Jazz bandleader Eddy Duchin scored a hit with his orchestral version of the single “Moon Over Miami.” While the song has been performed by many, including the great Ray Charles, Duchin’s 1936 version first captured the public’s imagination.
The single’s romantic assessment of Miami is hard to deny. Comparing guitars to waves and dreams to the tide is a poetic type of lyricism rarely seen in modern pop music.
Nearly a century old, “Moon Over Miami” still captures the beautiful and romantic essence of The Magic City.
18. “Miami Skyline” by Girls Against Boys
Girls Against Boys straddle the line between Sonic Youth and Fugazi with their simmering brand of post-punk fury. Though the band was short-lived, they blazed a trail through the independent landscape at a time when grunge was still clinging to the radio airwaves.
The band’s 2002 track “Miami Skyline” is an angular barrage of guitars and obtuse imagery. The song is less of a story and more a feeling – tied together by evoking the beauty of Miami’s skyline.
For a city dominated by dance clubs and hip-hop, this punkish ode to South Beach is as refreshing as it is subversive.
19. “We Already Won” by Flo Rida
With a name like Flo Rida, it’s pretty clear where the rapper’s sports allegiances lie. So, it’s no surprise that Flo Rida provided the unofficial theme song for the Miami Heat with his 2010 track “We Already Won.”
The track captures the excitement of the city during an era that saw Lebron James, arguably the best player of his generation, come to South Beach.
Unfortunately, this unofficial soundtrack to the Heat’s 2010-2011 season wasn’t enough to score the team a championship. But for anyone representing Dade County, the boastful homage to the 305 is the next best thing to a trophy.
20. “Move to Miami” by Enrique Iglesias
Miami heavy-hitters Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull team up for the top-5 Billboard dance single “Move to Miami.” With a Latin-influenced drumbeat and electropop synth sounds, this Miami dream team is in full party mode as they extol the virtues of a beautiful woman on the dance floor.
The woman they spot while dancing is so beautiful that the duo thinks she might turn your vacation into a full-time residency in Miami.
For those that flock to Miami for its legendary nightlife, meeting your match on the dancefloor is more than enough reason to start looking at local real estate!
21. “Cars With the Boom” by L’Trimm
Miami hip-hop duo L’Trimm’s ode to the city’s car culture, “Cars With the Boom,” is considered a pioneering track in the rap subgenre of Miami bass.
With hyperactive record scratching and a subsonic bass line, L’Trimm’s single was one of the most played songs bumping from car subwoofers in the ‘80s.
The song now ranks among one of the most influential in Miami hip-hop and is celebrated for spreading the Miami bass genre. L’Trimm and their car-rattling anthem set the stage for the next several decades of essential Miami rappers.
Though Miami has a reputation across the globe as a nightlife capital where the dancing never stops, there’s a wide array of songs inspired by the city. As the list above shows, the blends of styles that have paid homage to Miami are as diverse as the city itself!
Whether Billy Joel is tickling the ivories or Pitbull is spitting into the mic, The Magic City has inspired hundreds of artists with its beauty and charm.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the 21 best songs about Miami. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy a margarita while the sounds of South Beach fill your ears!