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From The Beatles to Billie Eilish: 30 songs inspired by the oceans

Someties it pays to remember where you come from and, for humans, unless you believe in God crafting us all from dust and a spare rib, that place is the ocean. While the human race continues to celebrate the ocean by dumping mountains and mountains of plastic into it every single day, we thought we’d try and show how the seven seas are still shaping our cultural landscape to this day.

Below, we’ve captured 30 songs from across the musical spectrum that were inspired by the ocean. It’s a collection of tracks that not only has us wistfully dreaming of dipping our toes into a gently lapping sea but also stomping our feet in sheer joy. Expect to see entries from The Beach Boys, Billie Eilish, Pearl Jam and so many more.

One thing we should get clear straight from the bat, the oceans aren’t just a physically imposing space — creatively they also cover a whole spectrum of songwriting. Meaning, we’re not sticking purely to songs that were inspired by a singular seaside excursion or a particular wave. Within the 30 selected songs below we have songs about all aspects of the ocean.

It could be that the ocean glimmered in the same way as your lover’s eyes, like Billie Eilish’s song ‘Ocean Eyes’, or the thought of carrying your partner home from a day at the beach like The Drums on ‘Down By The Water’. The opportunities for influential marine moments are endless.

Of course, we haven’t stopped short of the seaside either. There are plenty of additions for those of us who prefer to admire the ocean from the comfort of the beach. As well as Ramones classic ‘Rockaway Beach’ we’ve also got Patti Smith’s ‘Redondo Beach’ and The Drifters’ timeless tune ‘Under the Boardwalk’ for good measure.

It would seem that the 1960s were the golden years for thalassic tunes. Not only are there the plethora of hits from The Beach Boys — a band whon faced a strong limit on this playlist — but also a few entries from The Beatles (‘Yellow Submarine’, ‘Honey Pie’ and ‘Octopus Garden’) as well as the ode to Brighton’s decaying facade ‘Sea and Sand’.

There are some newer artists featured too, proving that the view of the ocean never fails to bring up a song or two. Entries from FIDLAR, Miguel, War on Drugs and Easy Life ensure this playlist has a little bit of everything.

So, what are you waiting for, take yourself to your nearest waterside locaton (or perhaps run a sink or bath in your home) pop on this playlist and let the lapping waves take you away.

30 best songs inspired by the ocean:

  1. ‘Surfin’ USA’ – The Beach Boys
  2. ‘Surfin Bird’ – The Trashmen
  3. ‘Rockaway Beach’ – Ramones
  4. ‘Ocean’ – Velvet Underground
  5. ‘Ocean Eyes’ – Billie Eilish
  6. ‘I Want to Got to the Beach’ – Iggy Pop
  7. ‘Redondo Beach’ – Patti Smith
  8. ‘Down by the Water’ – The Drums
  9. ‘Yellow Submarine’ – The Beatles
  10. ‘Octopus’ Garden’ – The Beatles
  11. ‘Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’ – Otis Redding
  12. ‘Whitest Boy on the Beach’ – Fat White Family
  13. ‘Max Can’t Surf’ – FIDLAR
  14. ‘Under the Boardwalk’ – The Drifters
  15. ‘I Sat By The Ocean’ – QOTSA
  16. ‘Sea and Sand’ – The Who
  17. ‘Into the Mystic’ – Van Morrison
  18. ‘Kokomo’ – The Beach Boys
  19. ‘Oceans’ – Pearl Jam
  20. ‘Waves’ – Miguel and Tame Impala
  21. ‘An Ocean Between the Waves’ – War on Drugs
  22. ‘Ocean View’ – Easy Life
  23. ‘The Ocean’ – Led Zeppelin
  24. ‘Mermaid in the Night’ – Jimmy Buffet
  25. ‘Ship Song’ – Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
  26. ‘Sail on Sailor’ – The Beach Boys
  27. ‘Sea Legs’ – The Shins
  28. ‘Honey Pie’ – The Beatles
  29. ‘Beyond the Sea’ – Bobby Darrin
  30. ‘How Deep Is The Ocean?’ – Bob Dylan