20 Useful Music Idioms in English And 5 Songs with Idioms

Ugo EzendukaRevisado porKateryna Protsenko / más sobre Proceso editorial14 min
Creado: Sep 28, 2022Última actualización: Dec 26, 2023
20 Useful Music Idioms in English

It’s incredible how music can affect people’s lives. We listen to our favorite songs when we are happy or sad, celebrating birthdays, or just going to work in the morning. And sometimes, music can be a great teacher for learning a foreign language. In English, musical idioms are very popular among native speakers and learners. These expressions have various meanings, and you can hear them even in nonmusical conversations. And today, we will tell you about the most famous music idioms with examples and valuable tips.

How can learning music idioms help you sound like a native speaker?

If you’re already familiar with the Promova blog, you know that learning English doesn’t have to be boring. Plenty of engaging exercises, life-hacks, and unique tips can make the studying process exciting and absorbing. Idioms about music are in themselves a very intriguing topic, and with some pieces of advice from below, it can take your speaking level to the whole next level. 

Let’s imagine this – the English language is a bowl of soup. It contains many basic components familiar to both beginners and native speakers. But to make your meal more delicious, you need to add some extra spices to create the perfect flavor. The same thing with English speaking – using popular expressions, different music and song idioms, and other valuable phrases can make you sound more like a native speaker. 

According to Cambridge Dictionary, an idiom is a group of words with a settled meaning. There are many examples of using music idioms in your daily speech. But before we start discussing them, you need to remember some tips that can help you easily learn even the most difficult phrases. There are some valuable pieces of advice for learning idiom music expressions:

  • Pay attention to the context. If you want to learn a new idiom, try to remember its meaning and the context in which you can use this phrase. It will help you to understand how to use the chosen term in your daily conversations and memorize it faster. 
  • Make a diary. It is another excellent exercise for those who want to learn new idioms fast and easily. Even though it may sound very time-consuming, in fact, creating a diary of idioms can become really handy. You can always take it with you and check the meaning of the idiom you are unsure about. 
  • Don’t try to learn everything at once. There are hundreds and thousands of various idioms in English, and attempting to remember all of them at once is impossible. Instead, you can set a limit – for example, to learn three idiom examples in songs per day. 
  • Understand the history. If you have enough spare time, you can try to find out the history behind a particular idiom or expression. Most of such phrases have exciting background stories. And if you remember them, you will easily recall the saying itself. 

Those are the best tips you can use to remember any expressions effortlessly you like. And when you know them, we can proceed to the main subject. Below, we are going to tell you all about music idioms, examples of using them in daily conversations, and the best songs that contain such expressions. So, keep reading if you don’t want to miss all the goods!

Idiomatic in Music: 20 expressions to spice up your conversation

We all know that music can make the world go around. But did you know that this sentence is one of the most popular music-related idioms? It means our favorite melodies and songs can improve everything and lighten up even the darkest days. You can hear these lines in the Hamilton Brothers’ song of the same name. It is only one of many different songs with idioms in them. But before we discuss this subject, let’s look at the most popular music-related expressions you can use daily. 

  • Music to my ears.

You probably heard this expression before. It is widespread and means something pleasant to hear – usually, it relates to listening to excellent news. Compliments are the other satisfying thing that can be music to someone’s ears. For example:

It was like music to my ears when she said she was coming back to town. 

When he said I’m beautiful, it was music to my ears. 

Tell me, honestly, are these idioms music to your ears?

  • And all that jazz.

This expression is a polite way to say “and all that stuff.” Usually, you can use it when you are talking about something, but you don’t want to describe the whole thing, since it can be tedious. For example:

There are many fruits in the market today – apples, oranges, and all that jazz. 

What are my plans for today? Well, I’m staying at home all day. I probably will wash the dishes, clean up the room, and all that jazz. 

  • It takes two to tango. 

You can hear this idiom in songs of Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, and Paul Davis. Verbatim, this expression means that two sides are equally responsible for different arguments and difficult situations. For example:

She said it was all my fault, but it’s not true. It takes two to tango. 

I was trying to fix our relationship, but it takes two to tango, so it didn’t work. 

  • Like a broken record.

This expression means to say something repeatedly, usually annoying others with it. So next time you hear someone saying something over and over again, try to use this idiom. For example:

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I don’t think you should go on that date. 

You’ve already said that a minute ago! Stop sounding like a broken record. 

  • Change your tune.

If you are going to change your opinion depending on different circumstances, especially if it will help you to benefit in the future, you will change your tune. It is the meaning of this famous expression. For example:

When Paul understood that he was talking nonsense, he changed his tune. 

I will change my tune if you prove me wrong. 

  • Drum into one’s head.

This music idiom means to teach someone something persistently. Usually, it is suitable when someone sounds like a broken record trying to tell you critical information. For example:

I drummed into my sister’s head the importance of going to school until she finally understood me. 

My ex drummed into my head how to dress, how to talk, and all that jazz. Honestly, this is the main reason we broke up. 

  • It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

You can use this expression to describe a situation that doesn’t have a clear conclusion and can change in the future depending on different circumstances. The phrase appeared in the last century from a basketball game and has now become a widespread music idiom. For example:

We are playing football with Mike, and he is about to win, but I’m not going to give up. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

The score is 47:35, but the Bulls still have time to recoup. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

  • Blow your own trumpet.

It is another example of the most popular idioms in songs and daily conversations. This phrase means to brag about your achievements to other people. For example:

After I passed the final exams, I blew my own trumpet for a few days.

I am going to blow my trumpet when I win this competition. 

  • Hit the right note.

If you always know what to say to satisfy people, you know how to hit (or strike) the right note. Literally, it means to find the appropriate words and tell someone what they want to hear. For example:

I thought there was no right solution to the argument, but Jake just hit the right note, and we found a way to solve this issue.

I was in a terrible mood, but my sister hit the right note by asking me for a walk. Now I feel pretty good.

  • Chin music.

This idiom helps describe the meaningless conversation. You can say this phrase about someone’s talk that is annoying or distracting you. For example:

Please stop it, guys! Your chin music hinders my work. 

I was trying to fall asleep but couldn’t with her endless chin music.

  • Play the second fiddle.

Sadly, this music idiom can relate to some families with two or more kids. It means to feel or be less important than someone else. For example:

Mr. Black, I want to ask you to treat us equally. I don’t want to play second fiddle.

She left the company because she didn’t want to play second fiddle with her colleague. 

  • Dance to someone’s tune.

We are certain that this idiom is familiar to many people. In short, it means doing everything other people want and sometimes even forcing you to do it. For example:

She asked me to do it many times, but I refused. I am not going to always dance to her tune.

James and Lola broke up because she didn’t want to dance to his tune. 

  • Jump on the bandwagon.

You can use this expression to describe a situation in which someone changes their opinion about something due to the growing popularity of this thing. And if you like music idiom songs, you need to check the Richard Kapp & The Gowns song with the same title. For example:

Billie Eilish is one of the most popular young singers, so brands are jumping on the bandwagon and collaborating with her. 

Since TikTok is gaining popularity, everybody is trying to jump on the bandwagon and become famous. 

  • Face the music. 

Everyone knows that you have to take responsibility for your actions or words. This expression means to face unpleasant consequences or unpleasant truths. For example:

I know how long you have been trying to get this job, and I’m also sad that it didn’t work out. But you need to face the music and move on. It’s been a year! 

His behavior was terrible during the year, so now it’s time for him to face the music. The principal summoned him today. 

  • Play by ear.

To play by ear means to find the decision or the right answer to the situation later, depending on different factors. For example:

I don’t know if I want to do it. I need to play it by ear. 

She is not sure whether she wants to meet Jackson tomorrow. She said that she would wait and play it by ear. 

  • As fit as a fiddle. 

This idiom can be a perfect choice to describe a person with perfect health. For example:

I can’t believe she’s sixty. She looks much younger and is definitely as fit as a fiddle.

Don’t look at my ID. I am still as fit as a fiddle!

  • For a song.

It is another excellent music-related idiom that means to buy or sell something for a meager price. For example:

I let my phone go for a song since I had no choice. 

Anne showed me her new dress, and I fell in love. It was so beautiful, and she got it for a song.

  • Ring a bell.

Imagine a situation – you see a person, and they look familiar, but you have no idea where you saw them before. Or you hear the song, and it seems like you’ve already heard it before, but you can’t remember it yet. You can describe this feeling using this popular idiom. For example:

Her face rings a bell, but I’m uncertain if we’ve met before.

I am a hundred percent sure we’ve been here already because this shop rings a bell.

  • Sing for your supper.

This phrase is one of the best examples of idioms in song lyrics you can use in daily conversations. You can find it in the title of a famous composition by The Mamas and The Papas. And it simply means doing something for someone to earn money or food. For example:

My brother broke his phone, and now he’s doing my laundry for a dollar weekly. I make him sing for his supper. 

Johnathan is singing for his supper today. He promised to clean the entire house. 

  • All singing, all dancing. 

It is a prevalent phrase you can hear about a person or a thing. And if someone says it to you, you can consider it a compliment. This expression means that a person or a thing can do everything. For example:

We are going on a vacation to Egypt. We’ve already booked an all singing, all dancing package, and I’m thrilled!

Eddie hosts the best parties ever, all singing, all dancing. I can’t miss it.


Musical Guide: 5 Popular songs with idioms in them

When you know the most popular music-related expressions, it is time to proceed to our next equally exciting topic. It is time to explore the music charts and find the best and the most well-known songs that have idioms in the lyrics. The greatest singers and writers of all time know how to hide some catchphrases behind the verses and titles. But we found them all and are now ready to show them to you. 

Underdog by Alicia Keys

The first idiom song on our list is the Underdog by renowned Alicia Keys. This song quickly rose to the top of the music charts after its release in 2020. Its lyrics contain a very interesting idiom – to break the mold. It means to do something in a unique, incomparable way. And it can also describe a special person. Here’s that part of the lyrics:

They said I would never make it, but I was built to break the mold.

Cry me a river by Justin Timberlake

This banger from the 00s is probably one of Justin’s most successful compositions. And the idiom here is hidden in the title. To cry someone a river means to try to gain the sympathy or attention of the person by crying, complaining, or sniveling. Here’s how the singer used it in the lyrics:

The bridges were burned

Now it’s your turn to cry

Cry me a river.

Beat it by Michael Jackson

The King of Pop knew better than anyone how to use famous expressions in his lyrics. Michael Jackson has many songs with idioms, and this is the most popular one. And again, the saying is hidden in the title – to beat it means to leave immediately. This phrase is usually used as an order. 

You better run, you better do what you can

Don’t wanna see no blood, don’t be a macho man

You wanna be tough, better do what you can

So beat it, but you wanna be bad.

Thinking out loud by Ed Sheeran

This romantic song won the hearts of millions of people around the world. And it also contains a popular idiom – to sweep off your feet. This phrase means to fall in love with someone in a concise amount of time, and that’s how Ed uses it in this beautiful song:

When your legs don’t work like they used to before

And I can’t sweep you off of your feet

Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love

Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?

Hit the road Jack by Ray Charles

A legendary song with idioms that has been popular for decades now. Ray Charles is famous for his unique music and beautiful lyrics; this song is one of his best compositions. The idiom here is to hit the road – meaning to leave the place or to start a journey. And yes, we know that you know these lines:

Hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back

No more, no more, no more, no more

Hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more. 

Best ways to learn music idioms with Promova

Learning English idioms has never been easier! If you are looking for the best platform to strengthen your language skills, say no more! We have a perfect solution for you. Promova has something to offer everyone, whether you are looking for professional tutors, friendly group lessons, or the application to study alone. 

If you want to learn more about music idioms, and other related subjects, you have several options to choose from. For those seeking help from professionals, Promova offers an online platform where you can find a tutor if you intend to study alone or join group lessons if you need company. 

And suppose you want to practice anywhere and anytime. In that case, you can install a convenient application on your phone or tablet and access hundreds of topics, personal lessons, and other valuable features. Promova is truly an all singing, all dancing platform suitable for English learners of different experience levels. 


As we said earlier, it is hard to imagine our lives without music. And listening to our songs can be not only pleasant but also a practical pastime. There are numerous famous idioms and expressions hidden in the legendary lyrics. And after reading this article, you now know a big part of them. We hope it was helpful, and in the future, you will use some of the phrases mentioned above to impress your friends. 


What are the best tips for learning music idioms?

Many tips can help you to remember musical idioms. Foremost, try to remember not only the meaning, but also the context of the phrase. If you have spare time, make a diary of idioms, and explore the background history of those expressions. And remember that it’s impossible to learn them all in a day – it is better to memorize a small amount gradually.


What does the idiom “music to my ears” means?

This expression means something pleasant to hear – good news, a compliment, and all that jazz. You can use it in different situations, like hearing that your sister is getting married, or you passed the exams, and someone tells you the final results. 

Are there many songs with idioms?

Definitely yes. Hundreds of songs from different musicians contain popular catchphrases and idioms. You can find them in the lyrics of Ray Charles, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Post Malone, and other renowned artists. Remember the lyrics of your favorite song. Maybe it also contains a popular idiom? 

How to learn idioms with Promova?

If you want to study by yourself, you can install a convenient Promova app on your gadget and access hundreds of lessons, idioms, vocabulary, and other essential features. And if you need help, you can use the Promova online platform to find professional tutors or to join group classes to study in a friendly company. 


Jade MurraySep 27th, 2023
This article is music to my ears!!!
PromovaJun 22nd, 2023
Absolutely! When it comes to songs that prominently feature idiomatic expressions, I would recommend checking out artists like Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Taylor Swift. Their songs often contain rich lyrical content that incorporates various idiomatic expressions, providing learners with ample opportunities to explore and understand their usage in context. Additionally, exploring genres like blues, country, and rap can also expose learners to a wide range of idiomatic expressions within the music.
LolaJun 22nd, 2023
Can you recommend any songs or artists that prominently feature idiomatic expressions, allowing learners to further explore and understand their usage in context?