Father’s Day Playlist: 10 Songs That Offer Dad-Like Advice

John Hamilton | June 10, 2013 6:02 am

It’s that time of year again, Idolofans: time to celebrate fathers! Well, not just fathers, but grandfathers, male guardians, or any man who played a part in raising us. And when one thinks of Father’s Day (it’s June 16th this year — you’ve still got time to buy a card), don’t a good number of pop songs pop into your head? Of course they do. But if they don’t, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. You didn’t think we’d let a holiday go by without commemorating it in song, did you?

As is our usual wont, we’ve spent hours combing through various research materials (YouTube) for pop hits that reflect fatherhood and the unique brand of wisdom that can only come from a man who finds interesting things to do in a garage for an entire weekend. Or maybe yours likes crosswords? Fathers are a species all their own, aren’t they?

So in the spirit of celebrating the paternal bond, we present 10 classic songs in which male vocalists (father figures, if you will) dole out helpful advice, words of encouragement or just plain old common sense to the young people in their lives. Play it for your dad and see what kind of witty gems he comes up with. If it’s something along the lines of “turn up that fabulous playlist, child!” then our work here is done.

1. Michael Jackson, “Man In The Mirror” When Michael Jackson sang about poverty, injustice and trying his best not to be a callous jerk who ignores kids in the street, the world listened! And they bought, too: this #1 hit was one of the best-selling singles from the Bad era. Thanks to MJ’s passionate performance and “look at yourself and make a change” refrain, this reflective, gospel-tinged jam still resonates.

2. Baz Luhrmann, “Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen” Pop hits don’t get more fatherly than this five-minute commencement speech set to an oh-so-’90s beat, conceived and produced by Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann for his Romeo + Juliet soundtrack. Based on an essay written by Mary Smich, “Sunscreen” offers such gems as “do one thing everyday that scares you” and “Floss!”, read by voice actor Lee Perry over a remix of Rozalla’s “Everybody’s Free.” Nagging dads never sounded so cool.

3. Tears for Fears, “Advice For The Young At Heart” The ’80s “Shout”ers tone it down a notch or two on this gentle ballad, one in which they admonish young listeners to make the most of their youth, for “soon we will be older.” Yeah, it’s the kind of advice dads dole out every day that can’t really be appreciated by kids until they’re, oh, pushing 30 and watching Tears for Fears videos from two decades ago.

4. Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis, “Thrift Shop” Father’s day isn’t just about father’s, it’s about grandfather’s, too! And we can’t think of any song your grandfather would enjoy more than “Thrift Shop.” In the words of Mackelmore, “I’ma take your grandpa’s style, No for real — ask your grandpa — can I have his hand-me-downs? “

5. John Mayer, “Daughters” Ironically, we don’t know anyone who would want their daughters to hang around John Mayer (is it too late to save Katy Perry?), but this tribute to the young women in a father’s life (“So fathers, be good to your daughters / daughters will love like you do”) never fails to create slightly damp eyes when we listen to it.

6. Notorious B.I.G. feat. Puff Daddy & Mase, “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” As the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy opines that wherever money goes, headaches follow, we can’t help but wonder: where did Ma$e go? Maybe he got tired of the problems and left showbiz? We’ll wiki him later. In the meantime, a Fatherly Advice Bonus: mid-clip, a strangely prone Biggie Smalls pops in to proffer a few additional words of wisdom!

7. Jay-Z, “Glory” “Glory” is a more than fitting title for this tribute from the world’s most celebrated hip-hop mogul to his newborn daughter, the equally celebrated Blue Ivy. The little diva even lends an occasional gurgle to the proceedings! And with sentiments such as “Baby, I paint the sky blue, my greatest creation was you,” we can’t think of a more genuine expression of one father’s love.

8. Rod Stewart, “Forever Young” No one ever expected the gravel-voiced Brit rocker who gave the world “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” to pile the kids into a pickup truck for a ride in the country while singing them this anthem of fatherly wisdom, but that unexpected layer of poignancy may be what makes this 1988 hit so memorable. Well, that, and Rod’s shoulder pads.

9. Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, “Walk Like a Man” With its clap-happy beat and Noo Yawk attitude, “Walk Like a Man” could easily be mistaken for an artifact of outdated machismo. But Frankie Valli’s soaring, sassy vocals give the lyrics an ironic wink: walking like a man has more to do with confidence than conformity!

10. Divine, “Walk Like a Man” Did we mention this song was more about being strong than about being traditionally masculine? If we didn’t make that clear, we’ll let late actor and drag icon Divine spell it out for you.