20 Songs About Television

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Written By Julia Mehalko

Julia is a music journalist with a passion for retro songs. She holds a degree in journalism from University of Nevada.

Throughout the decades, songwriters have been inspired by a variety of items and subjects. Television has long brought inspiration to many writers and musicians since its inception in the 20th century!

Below, we’ve ranked the 20 best songs about television. While the meanings of these songs all vary, the songs all have something to do with TV! Enjoy!

1. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” was written in response to the ongoing Civil Rights movement in the United States. The song is about how the revolution will not be televised, and Heron discusses all the things the revolution will not do.

Heron first recorded this iconic song in 1970. Since its release, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” has been considered one of the best songs ever written. In fact, Rolling Stone even considers it one of the best 500 songs of all time (at #258)!

2. “Coffee & TV” by Blur

Blur released “Coffee & TV” off of their 1999 album 13. According to the band, the song follows the band’s guitarist Graham Coxon’s experience with alcoholism. Coxon stated that when he stopped drinking, he instead would sit and watch TV over a cup of coffee.

“Coffee & TV” was a big hit when it was first released and the song even hit #11 on the UK Singles Chart. Today, it continues to remain one of the band’s most popular and beloved songs!

The guitar solo featured here in this song also continues to be a fan favorite!

3. “Found a Job” by Talking Heads

“Found a Job” by Talking Heads also features a lot of talk about television. This great song, which the band released on their 1978 album More Songs About Building and Food, opens with a couple discussing how there’s nothing to watch on TV.

The couple then decides to make their own TV show, as a result. The show gets great ratings, which subsequently improves their relationship. Now that they enjoy what they’re doing, the couple is more than okay.

At the end of the song, Byrne sings that “If your work isn’t what you love, then something isn’t right.” And that is, in our opinion, the entire moral of this excellent alternative song.

4. “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.” by a-ha

While you may best know a-ha thanks to their hit “Take On Me”, the band also had a massive hit with “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.”. The band released this synth-pop song as their third single off of their debut album, 1985’s Hunting High and Low.

While “Take On Me” was the band’s biggest hit, “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.” was still massive and hit the top of the charts in the United States and various other countries around the world!

Listeners can take many meanings from this song. For the most part, the song is a love song. The song references television by saying that “the sun always shines on T.V.”.

This could mean that TV always shows happily ever afters and positive stories — when in reality, not everything is so bright and cheery in everyday life.  

5. “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)” by Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen released “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)” in 1992 on his album Human Touch. In this classic 80s rock song, Springsteen sings about how he has all this money and buys a nice TV… unfortunately, he has 57 channels but absolutely nothing is on.

There are many ways one could take this song. One could argue that Springsteen warns about being too materialistic. Even if you have money, you cannot find happiness by buying everything, such as nice TVs.

Because, at the end of the day, even if you have that nice TV, you might find that nothing is on!

6. “T.V. Talkin’ Song” by Bob Dylan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2w0FjHZXEI

Of course, Bob Dylan has to be on this list! Dylan, one of the greatest songwriters of all time, released “T.V. Talkin’ Song” in 1990 on his album Under the Red Sky.

This song talks about the perils of television. Dylan sings about a man who warns people against buying a TV, as it will harm their lives and their families: “Your mind is a temple, keep it beautiful and free”.

This song, like many Dylan songs, is poetically beautiful. But the best part comes at the end when we learn that Dylan watched what this man said — and the crowd that disapproved of him — later that night on his own TV!

7. “I’m the Slime” by Frank Zappa

This 1970s rock song is also one of the very best songs written about television. In “I’m the Slime” by Frank Zappa, Zappa also talks about the evils of television, much like Dylan does.

“I’m the Slime” was released in 1973 on the album Over-Nite Sensation. To this day, it’s a wonderful song to listen to. If you’re ever in a reflective mood about all that you watch on TV, this rock song may be just up your alley.

8. “Television Man” by Talking Heads

We’ve got another Talking Heads song! Talking Heads and lead singer David Byrne were often influenced by television, which you can see in the songs on this list.

“Television Man” was first released in 1985 off of the Little Creatures album. Whereas the song earlier on this list, “Found a Job”, discusses how a couple can positively create their own television show and thereby be positively influenced by TV, “Television Man” takes the opposite stance.

In “Television Man”, the narrator’s entire life is formed around TV. As a result, their real-life can feel fake or not up to par with what they’re used to seeing and feeling when they watch TV. Definitely an interesting take!

9. “Sleeping With the Television On” by Billy Joel

“Sleeping With the Television On” by Billy Joel is a great classic 80s rock song to put on! This song, which was released on 1980’s Glass Houses, tells the story of someone who rejects people because they were previously hurt.

However, this means they end up going home alone — and falling asleep with the TV on. Much like some of the other songs on this list, Joel sings about a romantic situation by comparing it to TV quite beautifully and interestingly!

11. “Television, Television” by OK Go

OK Go released “Television, Television” on their 2005 album Oh No. This rock song explains all the different things you may see on TV — both good and bad. From real news to fictional stories, this song discusses it all.

However, towards the end, the singer begins to explain how this actually isn’t a great thing. Much like some of the other songs on this list, “Television, Television” explains how detrimental TV can be — and how people can easily lose themselves in it.

12. “Satellite of Love” by Lou Reed

“Satellite of Love” by Lou Reed is another excellent song where the singer talks about watching TV as a means to distract from relationship problems. In this song, the narrator struggles with their partner’s infidelity.

However, the singer decides to talk about watching TV and how much they enjoy watching television… even though they know the truth about their flailing relationship.

Reed released “Satellite of Love” on his 1972 album Transformer. While it was only a mild hit at the time, this great song later became a staple of his!

13. “Television, the Drug of the Nation” by Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy

“Television, the Drug of the Nation” is similar to “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” in many ways, though this song was released much later in 1992. However, if you listen to both songs, you may step away with the same meanings and vibes.

“Television, the Drug of the Nation” discusses how TV can easily control mass populations. So many people always watch TV, which leads to “mechanized politic’s remote control over the masses”.

14. “Love For Sale” by Talking Heads

We’re back to another Talking Heads song! We’ve already discussed two excellent Talking Heads songs about TV above. Now, let’s discuss “Love For Sale”, which was released on 1986’s True Stories.

“Love For Sale” opens with the line “I was born in a house with the television always on.” And thus, the song begins — and quickly descends into critiques of television, materialism, and brands.

To sum up Byrne’s thoughts on television in these Talking Heads songs, he’s both for and against what TV stands for. Above all else, he’s always inspired by it!

15. “Watching TV” by Roger Waters

Roger Waters’ 1992 song “Watching TV” is both an analysis of how we watch TV and a heartbreaking account of a girl’s death in Tiananmen Square in the 1980s. For much of the song, Waters discusses her death and who he lost.

However, throughout the song, we’re also reminded that he’s watching TV. Towards the end, we learn that this young woman’s death will live on forever — because it was captured on TV.

As a result, this song is both general and personal. TV can be both good and bad, which is evident here in this Waters song.

16. “Television Rules the Nation” by Daft Punk

“Television rules the nation” are the only words heard throughout this entire Daft Punk song. Such a subtle message ends up having a massive meaning the more you listen to this electronic song.

In this 2005 hit, Daft Punk is saying that television is the way to control anybody — and not just in an entertaining way. If somebody can control television, they can control the nation, in whichever way they please.

As you can see from the other songs on this list, this is a common theme for many musicians. The idea that television can specifically control the masses has long been a form of inspiration for songwriters!

17. “Throw Away Your Television” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Throw Away Your Television” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, which was released on their 2002 album By the Way, could be taken in a variety of different ways. We could take this song to be literal.

If we go that route, then the band is telling us to throw away our televisions and break free from the grasp that it holds on us. However, many fans believe television in this song is code for something else.

Some believe television is code for drugs, as singer Anthony Kiedis battled drug addiction throughout his youth. Meanwhile, others believe that television is code for anything holding you back in life!

Regardless, this song is still great to listen to — and a great song about television!

18. “My Country” by Randy Newman

Randy Newman’s 1992 song “My Country” takes a bit more of a positive approach to TV. At least, compared to some of the other songs on this list, it does!

In this song, Newman sings about how families used to all sit around and watch TV together. This was something he did, and something he understood. All in all, according to Newman, everyone did this back in the day growing up.

19. “TV Casualty” by The Misfits

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IkWXXKHPMg

This punk song, released in 1985 by The Misfits, tells the story of someone completely lost and controlled by television. They don’t do anything else, other than watch TV. As a result, they are a “TV Casualty”.

As shown above, many of the songs here depict television as having a massive amount of control over people. In this song, The Misfits fiercely drive this point home.

20. “TV” by Billie Eilish

Let’s end with a new song. Billie Eilish released “TV” in 2022 on the album Guitar Songs. In this song, Eilish sings about a complicated romantic relationship that she’s in. In order to both disassociate from her current problems and feel something, she turns to TV.

She watches shows like Survivor, all while still dealing with these issues. Later in the song, she also asks her romantic partner if they’ve seen her on TV.

Therefore, television plays a vital part in this song, as Eilish continues to turn to it while she deals with her relationship.