Trumpets are diverse and versatile instruments typically heard in classical and jazz music. However, many pop songs have found creative ways to achieve all sorts of moods, vibes, and rhythms with the help of trumpets.
The following list features some of the best pop songs with trumpets that showcase the brass magic these instruments are renowned for.
“Trumpets” by Jason Derulo
Song year: 2013
“Trumpets” examines being in love and how that feeling is like an explosion. Jason Derulo likens that feeling to trumpets exploding in your head whenever you are with your heart’s desire.
The song was a global success, peaking at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and number four on the UK Singles Chart. It also made waves on music charts in other countries, most notably the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand.
“Kevin Carter” by The Manic Street Preachers
Song year: 1996
Inspired by the life and suicide of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Kevin Carter, the song “Kevin Carter” by The Manic Street Preachers is a contradiction of incredibly sorrowful lyrics over top of an exhilarating trumpet solo.
The optimistic and joyful melody of the trumpet played by the drummer of the band, Sean Moore, emerges from observing and celebrating the life of Carter-that ended too early.
“Check the Meaning” by Richard Ashcroft
Song year: 2002
The trumpet featured in “Check the Meaning” by Richard Ashcroft is as gorgeous sounding as it is grieving. The song speaks about scouring for some meaning in life.
“Check The Meaning” also points out that finding that missing meaning does not always fill the void.
Just like the trumpet details in the song, the lyrics in the song have an intense contrast with the darkness and mistreatment of life balanced with a quest for hope and enjoyment.
“The Rascal King” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Song year: 1997
Known for their ska music blended with punk and brass instruments, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones has been carrying trumpets to the stage and music fans since 1983.
The song “The Rascal King” was the second single from their 1997 studio album, Let’s Face It. and reached number seven on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.
The song describes the saga of a Boston man named James Michael Curley. Curley was a member of the House of Representatives and, probably more notably, the only mayor to be reelected to the office while serving a prison.
“The National Anthem” by Radiohead
Song year: 2000
“The National Anthem” by Radiohead examines the anxiety and fear that people feel in society. It encourages people to break free from the rules and constraints of extensive groups of people and finishes with a part of the British National Anthem, which is how the song earns its title.
Complementing the theme is a free jazz improvised section performed manically by eight musicians from the St. John’s Orchestra.
“Going Out” by Supergrass
Song year: 1996
Supergrass’s trumpet-filled song “Going Out” is the first single released from the band’s second album. It was composed specifically in the key of E to match the pitch of their tour bus engine. The brass peals pinging in the song are played by English musician Robert Joseph “Rob” Coombes.
The song examines the idea of being spotlighted in newspapers and media press no matter what a person of fame does, regardless of whether they stay home and do nothing or go out on the town and act wild.
“Born of Frustration” by James
Song year: 1992
“Born of Frustration” by the English band James features regressive and reminiscent guitar licks of the 70s and a melancholy trumpet score driven into a disconnected sensation that, of course, seems born of frustration.
Andy Diagram is the trumpet master in this song, bringing those despairing notes to the tune. Even though the band preferred the idea of underground status, the song peaked at number five on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and number 13 on the UK Singles chart.
“On a Rope” by Rocket From The Crypt
Song year: 2002
Rocket From The Crypt is a punk rock band with the soul and magnetism of a jazz concert tucked away in the corner of New Orleans. The brassy, both musically and metaphorically, the song “On a Rope” was the band’s highest-charting single, peaking at number twelve.
The piece is a mixture of boisterous and energetic punk music with the right amount of trumpets and other brass instruments launched in for additional chaos.
“Wake Up Boo!” by The Boo Radleys
Song year: 1995
For the British indie band The Boo Radleys, “Wake Up Boo!” is their most significant hit with fans and over the airwaves.
The song captures the sunny positiveness of Britpop, featuring sampled vocals and harmonies from the Beach Boys, tons of hand-claps, upbeat drums, and an uplifting ensemble of trumpets and brass fanfares at the onset and outset of the song.
“Nice Weather for Ducks” by Lemon Jelly
Song year: 2003
“Nice Weather for Ducks” is a lively, quick-tempo song and features superb trumpet playing sampling by founding members of Lemon Jelly, Fred Deakin, and Nick Franglen.
With a combination of charming guitar licks, child-like whimsical lyrics, and outlandish trumpet sounds, this song is best described as cheerful music for joyful people.
“September” by Earth, Wind & Fire
Song year: 1978
“September” is an upbeat song by the famous American band Earth, Wind & Fire that has been setting the dance floors on fire since the 70s. The song features a playful chord progression and harmonious vocals accompanied by the trumpets that raise the excitement even further.
The song was a huge commercial success, ranking highly on various charts worldwide, including the eighth spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 and third on the UK Singles chart. It was also added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2018.
“Fire in Me” by John Newman
Song year: 2018
John Newman announced to the world that we can expect a lot more from him with his song “Fire in Me.” The artist was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to undergo surgery two years prior, so the fans rejoiced when Newman returned to producing music.
The song features an uplifting blend of Newman’s iconic voice and energetic instrumentals. Furthermore, the trumpets in the chorus fit the theme perfectly.
“Bathwater” by No Doubt
Song year: 2000
Though it allegedly took only ten minutes to write “Bathwater,” this underrated gem by No Doubt masterfully tackles the difficult subject of bad romantic relationships.
The song starts with Adrian Young’s beatboxing intertwined with New Orleans funeral brass. As Gwen Stefani’s introspective lyrics reach a boiling point, trumpets become more prominent and carry the song to its conclusion.
“The Distance” by Cake
Song year: 1996
When you hear the phrase “going the distance,” you most likely think about competition and winning. That may or may not be the case with this song by the British band Cake.
The lyrics examine a man entangled in a race which some interpret as an actual car racer, but others think it is symbolic and a woman wounded by the man.
The song features ingenious guitar licks, a loftier melodica sound, and the magical trumpet stylings of Vince Defiore’s trumpet.
“All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles
Song year: 1967
Stanley Woods and David Mason belt out the incredible trumpet flairs in The Beatles’ classic “All You Need Is Love.”
The uncomplicated song examines the significance of love that echoed the sentiments of young people in the late 1960s.
The song became an anthem for the anti-war counterculture’s embrace of flower power attitude and topped sales charts in Britain, the United States, and worldwide.
“You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon
Song year: 1986
“You Can Call Me Al” recounts the tale of an arrogant man who goes on a journey of self-awareness and becomes more conscious of the world around him.
The song’s title was inspired by a dinner party whose host didn’t know Simon and his wife, so he introduced them as “Al” and “Betty.”
The music video is hilarious, featuring actor Chevy Chase lip-syncing the song and “playing” the trumpet parts that jazz musician Morris Goldberg actually recorded on a penny whistle trumpet.
“Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder
Song year: 1976
Written as a homage to music legends, specifically Duke Ellington, “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder shows gratitude and appreciation for the musicians who have profoundly impacted their audiences.
Duke Ellington was a jazz bandleader and composer who significantly influenced Wonder as a child. Other noteworthy influential artists mentioned in “Sir Duke” include Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.
The song features fantastic trumpet playing techniques of Steve Madio and Raymond Maldonado. It was top-ranked on the US Billboard Hot 100 and Black Singles chart and peaked at number two on the UK Singles chart.
“Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba
Song year: 1997
Ask anyone for the name of this smash hit by Chumbawamba, and they’ll likely sing you the chorus instead. While the song’s title, “Tubthumping,” is unusual, the word means voicing your opinion in an aggressive manner and perfectly describes the band’s anarchist stance on various social and political subjects.
Though the band’s been around since the 80s, “Tubthumping” introduced them to the world, as the song topped charts in numerous countries. It peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the UK Singles chart.
The distinctive trumpets in the song are from the musical arrangement Trumpet Voluntary, also known as The Prince of Denmark’s March.
“Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” by Us3
Song year: 1993
“Cantaloupe Island” is all about feeling good and appreciating the sounds and vibes of incredible jazz music. The song features mesmerizing trumpet stylings of Gerard Presencer.
Though the song didn’t find much success initially in the band’s native UK, it was positively received in the US, where it ranked top ten on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America a year after its release. In addition, Slant Magazine placed it at number 76 on their list of the best singles of the 90s.
“Knights of Cydonia” by Muse
Song year: 2006
“Knights of Cydonia” by Muse is a song that grabs you at the start and refuses to let go. The fabulously spooky song beginning is a call-back of the five-tone musical phrase from the film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
The vocals from the lead singer Matt Bellamy are aggressive and reverberating, spotlighting his higher and lower ranges. Layered on top of the vocals are both synthesized and live trumpet parts to add more coatings to this song than can be fully appreciated.
The song’s message is to guide people to stand up for themselves. Inspired by unethical and corrupt political leaders, “Knights of Cydonia” was voted number eighteen in 2009’s Hottest 100 of All Time countdown by Triple J.
“High Hopes” by Panic and the Disco
Song year: 2018
“High Hopes” is an exceptional model of the effective use of brass horns and music enthusiasts’ adoration with trumpets particularly. The immediately recognizable piccolo trumpet plays throughout this hit song.
Peaking at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100, the band’s highest-charting song has everything from well-placed brass sections to incredible vocals.
Pop Songs With Trumpets, Final Thoughts
Trumpets have a distinct ability to take sounds and emotions to a crescendo, and these pop songs exemplify that in many ways. So whether you’re in the mood for joyous or somber tunes, consider adding a few of these pop songs with trumpets to your playlist.