From theme parks to beaches to swamps, Florida is well-known for its diversity. Its charm has also made its way into music, inspiring artists to commemorate the state’s beauty through song. Musically characterizing Florida’s allure is a common practice among songwriters, who tell stories of palm trees, sunshine, and lively locales.
In this article, we explore some prolific songs that showcase Florida’s wealth of vibrant nuances, and how their lighthearted melodies encapsulate the state’s vivacity. Come along as we explore some of the best songs that celebrate the abundant splendor of Florida.
“Florida Kilos” – Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey’s “Florida Kilos” is a haunting and atmospheric track that draws inspiration from the Sunshine State’s seedy underbelly. Del Rey’s signature breathy vocals are at their best as she sings about “suntanned bodies and waves of sunshine” over a backdrop of cinematic strings and eerie synths.
The song’s lyrics read like a love letter to the hedonistic lifestyle of drug dealers and party-goers, making “Florida Kilos” a captivating addition to any playlist about the state of Florida.
“Floridada” – Animal Collective
“Floridada” by Animal Collective boasts a maximalist and eccentric sound that matches the state it pays ode to. The track blends psychedelic-pop, electronic, and experimental elements to capture the vibrant and lush character of Florida.
The whimsical lyrics concur with the absurdity of the instrumentation, creating a multi-sensory experience that is as colorful and unpredictable as the Sunshine State itself. The song’s captivating energy makes it an eccentric addition to any Florida-centric playlist.
“Miami” – Will Smith
“Miami” by Will Smith exudes Florida’s essence, with lyrics that paint a vibrant picture of the city’s vibrant culture and lively atmosphere. The distinct percussions and trumpets in the music resonate with the essence of Miami Beach, where the golden sand meets the crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
The song’s energy is contagious, as it encapsulates the sunny lifestyle of Florida, making it a perfect soundtrack for a drive on Ocean Drive, a stroll on South Beach, or a fun night out in Miami.
“St. Augustine” – Band of Horses
One of the tunes on our blog’s playlist is by Band of Horses and is titled after one of Florida’s most historic cities, “St. Augustine.” The lyrics evoke a sense of yearning and nostalgia as they paint an imagery of the city’s landmarks and scenery.
The song’s slow, melancholic melody coupled with the lead singer’s crooning make for a moving listening experience that perfectly captures the mood of the Sunshine State.
“Tallahassee Lassie” – Freddy Cannon
Freddy Cannon’s “Tallahassee Lassie” is a catchy rock and roll tune that will transport you back to the 1960s and have you tapping your toes in no time. It is a fun and energetic song that pays tribute to the capital city of Florida.
It is sure to be a hit with anyone looking to listen to some vintage rock and roll with a Florida twist.
“Gulf Coast Highway” – Emmylou Harris
Emmylou Harris’s “Gulf Coast Highway” paints a vivid and emotional picture of the Gulf of Mexico and the scenery along its coast. Her haunting vocals paired with the melancholic melody create a sense of longing and nostalgia for the Gulf’s beauty and the memories it holds.
The song captures the essence of Florida’s coastline and the connection many have to it, while also showcasing Harris’s incredible songwriting and vocal talents.
“Suntan City” – Luke Bryan
“Suntan City” by Luke Bryan is a catchy country tune with a vibrant chorus that perfectly captures the essence of a fun-filled day on Florida’s Emerald Coast.
It’s a song that paints vivid pictures of white sandy beaches, warm sunshine, and crystal blue waters, making it a perfect soundtrack for a day of beach hopping and soaking up the Florida sun. The melody is refreshing and energizing, making it impossible not to tap your feet and sing along to its groovy rhythm.
“Key Largo” – Bertie Higgins
Bertie Higgins’ “Key Largo” embodies the sun-soaked and romantic nature that Florida is known for. The song’s vivid imagery paints a nostalgic picture of a lost love while the peaceful and soulful melody captures the essence of the state’s tropical paradise. Listeners can feel the warm breeze and hear the waves crashing while being transported to a dreamy seaside town. “Key Largo” is a quintessential Florida ballad that captures the beauty and allure of the Sunshine State.
“Jacksonville” – Sufjan Stevens
If you’re on the hunt for a song that captures the essence of Florida, “Jacksonville” by Sufjan Stevens is an unconventional and compelling choice. With intricate instrumentation that ebbs and flows and lyrics that are both cryptic and vivid, Stevens paints a picture of a place that is both alluring and unsettling.
The chorus, which begs the question “Oh my God, Jacksonville, what have I done?” creates a sense of unease that is haunting in its ambiguity. It’s a song that defies easy categorization, much like the state it represents.
“St. Petersburg” – Supergrass
Sufjan Stevens’ heartfelt ballad “Jacksonville” paints a vivid portrait of the city in Florida through his lyrics, which invoke themes of suburban ennui and small-town despair. The song is a wistful ode to the American South, as Stevens channels his evocative storytelling to convey a sense of nostalgia for a place that’s both real and imagined.
With its soaring melody and lush instrumentation, “Jacksonville” is a masterful example of Stevens’ ability to capture the essence of a location through his music.
“The Gulf of Mexico” – Shawn Mullins
“The Gulf of Mexico” by Shawn Mullins is an enigmatic tune that captures the mystique of the vast, blue expanse that borders Florida. Mullins’ deft use of imagery and metaphors, as well as his poetic writing style, infuse the song with an aura of contemplation and longing that feels almost ethereal.
Devoid of any pretension or grandiosity, “The Gulf of Mexico” paints a vivid picture of the state’s sparkling coastline that is full of wonder and beauty. The song is a perfect sonic ode to Florida’s breathtaking landscape that will transport listeners to its sandy shores.
“Bus to Tampa Bay” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Bus to Tampa Bay” is a jubilant song that captures the essence of the city’s exciting nightlife and lively atmosphere. With its energetic chorus, classic rock arrangement, and Petty’s unique vocal style, the track is a fitting tribute to one of Florida’s most vibrant and culturally rich cities.
Whether you’re a fan of classic rock or simply love exploring cities like Tampa, this tune is sure to get you tapping your feet and feeling the rhythm of the Sunshine State.
“Miami Vice Theme” – Jan Hammer
This upbeat instrumental, characterized by its fast-paced synthesizer riff, was the theme song for the popular TV show Miami Vice. Composed by Jan Hammer, the song has become an iconic representation of 1980s Miami, with its catchy melody and retro electronic sound. It’s a perfect addition to any playlist celebrating the Sunshine State’s pop culture history.
“Florida Room” – Donald Fagen
Donald Fagen’s “Florida Room” is a mélange of rich, warm tones and retro vibes that transport you to a place of pure relaxation and sun-soaked nostalgia. Kravitz channels the breezy, sultry atmosphere of Florida into his music, painting a vivid picture of lazy days spent lounging in the shade of a palm tree as the world hums by in a blur of heat and light.
With its smooth vocals, shimmering guitar work, and lush production, “Florida Room” is a fitting homage to the Sunshine State and a celebration of its unique culture and vibe.