Name Dropper


It wasn’t until I heard Vance Joy’s “Riptide” and Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” in close proximity of each other that I noticed something odd – both songs have lyrics about Michelle Pfeiffer. Now, this would be less surprising if this was the late 80s or early 90s, when Pfeiffer was a little more high profile. Not to say that she isn’t still a beautiful woman – she absolutely is – but it seemed weird to me that not one but two songs in 2015 mentioned the actress. Do kids in 2015 even know who Michelle Pfeiffer is? Maybe she’s on the verge of some sort of career resurgence that only Vance Joy and Mark Ronson are aware of.

This got me thinking about other songs that randomly name check celebrities. It actually happens a lot more frequently than you would expect. I limited myself to songs that were not specifically about another person (that wiped out a lot of rap songs); I didn’t want songs that were calling someone out specifically. I also excluded references to brands that are also people. Even with those arbitrary rules in place, I came up with a lot of examples pretty quickly. Here are the first songs that came to mind:


Liquid Dreams – O-Town


Famous people mentioned: Destiny’s Child, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Angelina Jolie, Cindy Crawford, Jennifer (presumably Lopez).


That Don’t Impress Me Much – Shania Twain


Famous people mentioned: Brad Pitt, Elvis


Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me For Me) – Blessed Union of Souls


Famous people mentioned: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tyson Beckford, Robert Redford, Steve Buscemi, Pavarotti, Cindy Crawford, Jim Carrey, indirectly Clint Eastwood (“Dirty Harry”)


Vogue – Madonna


Famous people mentioned: Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Joe DiMaggio, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Grace Kelly, Jean Harlow, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Katherine Hepburn, Lana Turner, Bette Davis


You Get What You Give – New Radicals


Famous people mentioned: Beck, Hanson, Courtney Love, Marilyn Manson


Puttin’ on the Ritz – Taco


Famous people mentioned: Gary Cooper


Holy Grail – Jay Z ft. Justin Timberlake


Famous people mentioned: Mike Tyson, MC Hammer, Michael Jackson


Stronger – Kanye West


Famous people mentioned: Kate Moss, Prince, Appolonia, OJ Simpson


Don’t Let Me Get Me – Pink


Famous people mentioned: LA Reid, Britney Spears


Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera


Famous people mentioned: Mick Jagger


Tik Tok – Kesha


Famous people mentioned: Mick Jagger, P. Diddy,


Just Like Jesse James – Cher


Famous people mentioned: Jesse James


Work It – Missy Elliott


Famous people mentioned: Halle Berry, Lil Kim


Mrs. Robinson – Simon and Garfunkel


Famous people mentioned: Joe DiMaggio


Key Largo – Bertie Higgins


Famous people mentioned: Humphry Bogart and Lauren Bacall


Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus


Famous people mentioned: Jay Z, Britney Spears


Buddy Holly – Weezer


Famous people mentioned: Buddy Holly, Mary Tyler Moore


Jane Fonda – Mickey Avalon


Famous people mentioned: Jane Fonda, John Coltrane, Janet Jackson


It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – R.E.M.


Famous people mentioned: Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Breshnev, Lenny Bruce, Lester Bangs


We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel


Famous people mentioned: Harry Truman, Doris Day, Johnnie Ray, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggion, Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Marilyn Monroe, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marlon Brando, Dwight Eisenhower, Rocky Marciano, Liberace, George Santayana, Joseph Stalin, Georgy Maksimilianovich Malenkov, Gamal Nasser, Sergei Prokofiev, Winthrop Rockefeller, Roy Campanella, Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Arturo Toscanini, Albert Einstein, James Dean, Davy Crockett, Elvis, Brigitte Bardot, Nikita Khrushchev, Grace Kelly, Boris Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Jack Kerouac, Chou En-Lai, Charles de Gaulle, Charles Starkweather, Buddy Holly, Fidel Castro, Syngman Rhee, John F. Kennedy, Chubby Checker, Ernest Hemingway, Adolf Eichmann, Bob Dylan, John Glenn, Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, Pope Paul VI, Malcom X, Ho Chi Minh, Menachem Begin, Ronald Reagan, Ayatollah Khomeini , Sally Ride, Bernie Goetz


This obviously isn’t an exhaustive list. What are the first songs that you think of that reference famous people? Give us your suggestions in the comments below.

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