As we go through life, we’re often pressured to conform to societal norms – to think, act, and dress a certain way. But while some people might feel safe and validated in following the pack, others find the idea of following blindly to be stifling and soul-crushing.
These songs about conformity explore the innate human struggle between following the herd and following your own path. Whether they motivate you to break free from the mold or simply offer solidarity in your unique viewpoint, these tracks refuse to play by the rules.
“One Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” – Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” is a thought-provoking melody that accentuates the bleakness of a highly conformist society. The song’s lyrics expose how institutions and norms can quash individuality and stifle creativity, prompting a desire for rebellion against the oppressive system.
The track’s edgy guitar riffs and aggressive drums intermittently burst forth in a fitting melodic representation of the frustration and disorientation felt by those seeking to break free from a conformist world view.
“We’re Not Gonna Take It” – Twisted Sister
“We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister is a fitting song for those rebelling against conformity. With its defiant lyrics and catchy melodies, the song encourages listeners to reject the status quo and stand up for their beliefs.
The song’s composition exemplifies the disruptive nature of nonconformity, making it a prime choice for those who reject societal norms.
“Fight the Power” – Public Enemy
“Fight the Power” by Public Enemy is fairly obnoxious and obscure in its lyrics, however the song strongly echoes the notion of challenging the societal structure, urging them to “fight the powers that be.” With its catchy beat and social commentary, the song advocates for individual freedom by challenging the status quo.
The upbeat rhythms and the song’s dynamic pace highlights the theme of resistance, making it an absolute must-listen anthem of defiance to society’s expectations and rules.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana
The thought-provoking and alluring “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana is an angsty anthem for a generation disenchanted with conformity and conventionality. Its explosive mix of distorted guitars, thrashing drums, and Kurt Cobain’s haunting vocals expresses the sense of rebellious energy and frustration that can arise from societal pressure to conform.
The lyrics are cryptic, enigmatic, and carry a heavy weight, conjuring up feelings of disillusionment and disconnection, challenging listeners to embrace individuality and reject the status quo.
“The Times They Are A-Changin'” – Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'” is an impactful and memorable track that has become synonymous with social change and nonconformity. The lyrical content is thought-provoking and filled with nostalgia, while also standing as a symbol of rebellion against societal conventions.
The song urges listeners to embrace change and to not be complacent with the status quo, cementing it as a classic in discussions of conformity. The meaning behind the track is both profound and complex, adding to its timeless appeal.
“Express Yourself” – Madonna
Express Yourself by Madonna is an emblematic song about breaking from societal conformity and emancipating individuality. This track serves as an anthem for self-realization, encouraging listeners to be true to themselves despite any prescriptive norms imposed by the world.
As the instruments play on repetitively, Madonna’s lyrics incite a sense of rebellion against any form of subjugation, inspiring a drastic shift from the humdrum and predictable into something strikingly different and singular. Overall, this track is an ode to those who follow their own path and seek fulfillment through self-expression.
“Loser” – Beck
The track in question delves into the topic of conformance with a perplexing yet irresistible infusion of beats, rhythm, and instrumentation. It embodies the conflict between individuality and conformity, highlighting the struggle of sticking out whilst fitting in.
A fusion of genres that is both lively and introspective, it incites a sense of unease, imbuing the listener with a sense of existential insecurity that is all too relatable.
“Creep” – Radiohead
“Creep” by Radiohead could be included in a list of songs that challenge the constraints of conformity. In this song, the lyrics portray feelings of isolation and inadequacy, which are common to those who struggle to fit into societal norms. The melodic and hypnotic elements of the song build up its sentiments of sorrow and raw emotions that can only be felt by someone who’s experienced the pressure to blend in.
Its somber and moody soundscape adds an aura of introspection to the piece, making it a fitting addition to a collection of songs grappling with nonconformity.
“Man in the Mirror” – Michael Jackson
“Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson is an introspective anthem that challenges its listeners to reflect on their own actions and make positive changes in the world. With a stirring melody and Jackson’s signature vocal delivery, the song addresses the idea of conformity by suggesting that true change can only come from within.
It encourages individuals to look at themselves with a critical eye and recognize the ways in which they have contributed to societal problems, urging them to take responsibility and strive for a better future. The song’s powerful message of self-examination and personal growth has resonated with audiences for decades, making it a timeless classic.
“The Unforgiven” – Metallica
“The Unforgiven” by Metallica is a labyrinthine track that speaks to the struggles of breaking free from the conformism in an individual’s life. The song’s melodic intensity and powerful lyrics emphasize the weight of societal expectations and the stark realization of an individual’s confinement to the label imposed.
The lyrical dynamism calls to mind the idea of unveiling one’s true self and the consequent freedom that often follows. Despite the harrowing struggles of conformity, the track ultimately inspires with its message of seizing autonomy and individuality.
“Bullet with Butterfly Wings” – The Smashing Pumpkins
“The Wall” by Kansas delves deep into the lack of individuality one faces when they conform to societal norms. The cascading keyboard notes and soaring guitar solos paint a picture of a person trapped and suffocated by conformism. The poignant lyrics of the song call out for individuality to be celebrated, and for the establishment to be challenged.
The electrifying climax of the track leaves an indelible mark on the listener’s mind, encouraging them to question the boxes society tries to place them in.
“Killing in the Name” – Rage Against the Machine
“Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine is a fierce protest song against conformity and societal norms. It denounces the hypocrisy of a system that illegally enforces oppressive power, using charged repetition to drive the point home.
The song is an explosive manifestation of the frustration and anger felt by youth towards a staid and unresponsive society. Its intense, unbridled energy embodies the spirit of rebellion and counterculture that has long been a hallmark of rock music.
“The Wall” – Kansas
“The Wall” by Kansas is a thought-provoking composition that examines the struggle of conformity. The song explores the physical and figurative walls people put up to fit in with society and the barriers that prevent them from expressing their unique personalities. The melody creates an atmosphere of tension and unease, driving home the message that conformity can be suffocating and coerces people to hide their true selves.
The lyrics paint a picture of a person trapped in their search for identity and facing a series of obstacles that serve as impediments to their progression. It’s a haunting piece that will leave you pondering about what it means to be yourself in a world obsessed with conformity.
“Society” – Eddie Vedder
The thought-provoking tune talks about the expectations of society and the pressure to conform. The lyrics question the worth of conformity and express the idea that it challenges human nature. The singer highlights the difficulty of going against the norm but warns against losing oneself in the process.
The instrumentation is relatively simple but builds in intensity as the song progresses, culminating in a powerful and emotive chorus. This is a strong example of a song that tackles the subject of conformity without resorting to clichés or familiar tropes.
“Sheep” – Pink Floyd
“Sheep” by Pink Floyd presents a poetic allegory about conformity and individuality. The song doesn’t only urge one to choose between the two, It’s just like a conversation with oneself about taking the risk of breaking free from the herd mentality and becoming a bold individual amid a world that encourages conformity.
The lyrics are open-ended, but they suggest that being a follower blindly without taking one’s agency, as it leads to problems that can only be solved by one’s resilience and resolve.
“Welcome to the Machine” – Pink Floyd
“Welcome to the Machine” is a tune that explores the theme of conformity and its impact on individuals. The song unveils a surreal world inhabited by those who have given up on their unique voices and identities, entrapped in a fabricated society’s false standards. Through Pink Floyd’s signature mellow beats and haunting lyrics, listeners are asked to reflect on the decay of human emotions and authenticity.
The track is both gloomy and mesmerizing, reminding us of the perilous dangers for blending in and losing ourselves in the Machine.
“I Will Not Bow” – Breaking Benjamin
“I Will Not Bow” has a tenacious spirit that resists conformity with its raw and dynamic sound. Breaking Benjamin uses a burst of emotion to convey the message of being unyielding to the pressures of expectations and refusal to bend. This song’s lyrics are thought-provoking and resolute; they encourage individualism rather than existing within the narrow confines of conformity.
It’s an explosive and passionate melody that inspires listeners to have strength and confidence in their uniqueness, and deliver superior results without compromising their own sense of self, no matter the costs.
“Glory” – Common and John Legend
“Glory” is a high-minded and self-confident track about empowerment and liberation. With a clear and impassioned delivery, Common and John Legend lay bare the depths of society’s ills and call for a collective uprising. The song oscillates between regal verses and a gritty, distorted chorus. Its emotive core is the struggles of a generation that demands better from the world.
The composition’s soaring production, brimming with brass, strings, and piano, elevates the already striking lyrics to even loftier heights. “Glory” is as stirring and memorable of a protest song as they come.
“All These Things That I’ve Done” – The Killers
Yo, this joint by The Killers explores the idea of resisting conformity by encouraging listeners to chase their own individual dreams. The upbeat rhythm and groovy beat helps communicate the message that it’s okay to be unconventional; in fact, it’s dope to embrace your own style and beliefs.
The song serves as a reminder to stay true to yourself, and that fitting in isn’t always the move, especially if it means sacrificing your own voice.