Best Songs About The Jungle

No two songs about the jungle are the same; some incorporate animal sounds, while others are about metaphorical jungles rather than literal ones.

Some songs are playful, and others convey meaningful messages. All of them are fascinating in their own right. Here are some of the best songs about the jungle.

“Jungleland” by Bruce Springsteen

Song Year: 1975

Springsteen’s jungle is an atypical one. “Jungleland” is peopled not with animals, but with society’s misfits.

Even so, their names evoke the jungle. You half expect “Barefoot Girl” and “Magic Rat” to start swinging through the trees and slithering through tall grasses.

“Jungleland” has more nuance than that. It uses intricate orchestration and a compelling narrative to explore New Jersey’s Street life and the problems people living there face.

It’s a surprising song in more ways than one and incredibly moving.

“Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns ‘N Roses

Song Year: 1987

Guns ‘N Roses’ single “Welcome to the Jungle” is another song about the jungle that isn’t really about jungles.

When Axl Rose wrote it, he wanted to explore the darker side of Los Angeles. The city became a metaphorical jungle in the song and enabled Rose to explore how the search for fame and glamor goes amok for so many people.

 “Pools” by Glass Animals

Song Year: 2014

One of the most striking songs about the jungle is “Pools” by the Glass Animals. As the song starts, the band uses a variety of sounds and instruments to evoke animals waking up.

But it doesn’t stay somnambulant for long. “Pools” quickly picks up the pace, and the result is a piece with a vibrant and frenetic jungle sound.

“Jungle Love” by The Time

Song Year: 2001

This song about the jungle was one of the first songs produced by the short-lived band The Time.

It’s also one of their most popular pieces. “Jungle Love” was so successful that Prince, a former member of The Time, later used it as part of the soundtrack for the film Purple Rain.

Popular though “Jungle Love” was, it wasn’t subtle. It’s an unapologetic expression of carnal love. It’s a bit dangerous, a bit flirtatious, and full of jungle sounds that underscore the melody.

“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by The Tokens

Song Year: 1961

‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ is one of the most successful and recognizable songs about the jungle ever recorded.

Regrettably, the song’s creator, Solomon Linda, did not enjoy any of the success. Linda recorded the song as “Mbube.” It was a traditional Zulu song and would have fallen into obscurity if folk collector Alan Lomax hadn’t discovered the song.

Lomax gave the song to Pete Seeger, who recorded it with The Weavers as “Wimoweh,” and that’s how most North Americans know it.

But Seeger wasn’t the only person to see the brilliance behind the music, and The Tokens version quickly outperformed others.

“Stranded in the Jungle” by The Cadets

Song Year: 1956

There are elements of the story told in “Stranded in the Jungle” that devotees of the hit TV show Lost will recognize. A plane crash strands a young man in a jungle. He then spends years trying to return to the woman he loves. She, meanwhile, has given him up for dead.

But the Cadets recorded “Stranded in the Jungle” back in 1956, long before Lost was on anyone’s horizon.

The song is deservedly well-remembered. It’s jazzy and catchy, and it only takes a minute for anyone to pick the melody up.

“Run Through the Jungle” by Creedence Clearwater

Song Year: 1970

Like other songs about the jungle on this list, Clearwater’s “Run Through the Jungle” opens with several sounds that immediately invoke a jungle atmosphere.

Because the song debuted in the 1970s alongside a plethora of anti-war songs, many people perceived the song as another of the musician’s protests against the Vietnam War.

But talking about “Run Through the Jungle” after the fact, songwriter John Fogerty clarified his song’s message. It wasn’t about Vietnam; It was about gun availability in America. 

“Jungle” by The Electric Light Orchestra

Song Year: 1977

The Electric Light Orchestra’s “Jungle” is another song about jungles that uses the jungle metaphorically.

In the song, the speaker becomes increasingly aware that animals have a better appreciation for the earth than man. Despite all our evolution, we still don’t grasp the joy or beauty at our fingertips. Worse still, the prospect of that beauty vanishing doesn’t phase us.

“Concrete Jungle” by Bob Marley

Song Year: 1973

“Concrete Jungle” is another song about the jungle, but this one is famously open to interpretation.

Many listeners see the titular concrete jungle as a reference to Marley’s upbringing in a Jamaican ghetto. But others see it as even more metaphorical. They argue it represents the mental jungles we find ourselves in when we end up on a path that’s not right for us.

However, you interpret “Concrete Jungle” its an undeniably moving composition.

“Jungle” by The X Ambassadors and Jamie N Commons 

Song Year: 2015

“Jungle” is a cross-continental collaboration between the American rock band X Ambassadors and British rocker Jamie N Commons.

It combines a heavily percussive sound with softer humming and belting vocals. It’s an unlikely but effective mix. Discussing the song after the fact, one of the contributors admitted the “Jungle” of the title was more symbolic than literal.

They wanted to create an artistic sound that would resonate with listeners who hadn’t enjoyed privileged upbringings. 

The song also takes inspiration from the experiences of a partially-sighted band member’s struggles while living in New York.

“Jungle Fever” by Stevie Wonder

Song Year: 1991

“Jungle Fever” is, first and foremost, a love song. Like many of the songs about jungles discussed here, the idea of ‘jungle fever’ describes an unconventional lifestyle.

Here, it’s a mixed-race relationship that comes under scrutiny. Wonder writes movingly about the struggles the couple faces. But none of this adversity diminishes their ‘jungle fever’ or love for one another.

“Bungle in the Jungle” by Jethro Tull

Song Year: 1974

Incredibly, there’s more than one concrete jungle on this list. Jethro Tull juxtaposes a variety of images, not least city life with that of a concrete jungle. But he also sets up contrasts between solace-craving introverts and city-dwellers. In particular, he compares those introverts to kittens and monkeys.

Tull also contrasts the order of daylight with a bustling nightlife.

It’s a sensational song that rightly received acclaim following its release.

“Ruff in the Jungle Bizness” by Prodigy

Song Year: 1992

The Prodigy’s “Ruff in the Jungle” is a song about jungles that immerses the listener in jungle sounds.

The rhythm and lyrics combine to recreate the jungle. As the song escalates, it encourages listeners to feel the jungle pulse of the song. It’s not hard to do. The clever orchestration and rhythmic arrangement bring the jungle into your living room.

“Jungle Beat” by George Burns

Song Year: 1967

No list of songs about jungles would be complete without mentioning George Burns’ musical score for The Jungle Book.

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s book of the same title, the music tells the story of Mowgli, raised by animals in the heart of the jungle.

Burns’ score is appropriately lush, wild, and evocative, and Jungle Beat is an excellent example.

“I Wanna Be Like You” by Louis Prima and Phil Harris

“I Wanna Be Like You” by Louis Prima and Phil Harris

Song Year: 1967

Sometimes called “The Monkey Song,” this is another example of Burns’ work on The Jungle Book.

Here composer and lyricists Richard and Robert Sheerman playfully explore the concept of “monkey see, monkey do.”

As the song progresses, Mowgli increasingly apes the behavior of the jungle animals around him. It’s fun, it’s playful, and it’s a perennial favorite with kids.

“Jungle Night” by Kiki and Kika

Song Year: 2021

In “Jungle Night,” the speaker and friends want to experience the jungle. But it’s not a song about the jungle in a literal sense.

Instead, it’s about having a good time. As the speaker grows more confident and loose-limbed, their dancing becomes wilder. It creates a sense of being in the jungle and behaving with the unembarrassed nature associated with animals.

In this song, jungle nights are for dancing, and once they get going, the people have as much fun regressing to a more animalistic state as Mowgli ever did.

“Jungle Boogie” by Kool and the Gang

Song Year: 1973

“ungle Boogie” is an example of a funk song about jungles.

Kool and the Gang wrote the song in 1973 and released it on their album, Wild and Peaceful.

It was such a success that many other artists performed versions of the song. It also became an integral part of several feature films, most notably Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

It combines several jungle-adjacent themes discussed in other songs on this list. Notably, when “Jungle Boogie” talks about “getting down,” no one is dancing. They’re taking cover.

It’s a powerful portrayal of urban life and the social disparities it creates.

“Jungle Song” by Aqua

Song Year: 1998

Aqua’s “Jungle Song” is a playful and exuberant song designed to get you dancing.

It’s fast-paced and upbeat, and it also quickly becomes absurd if you pay too much attention to the lyrics. It whimsically recapitulates the love story of Tarzan and Jane.

Throughout the song, it intersperses references to jungle animals like monkeys and elephants. And it neatly sidesteps the more explicit side of the romantic relationship by reducing it to so many nonsense words like “funky.”

“Watermelon Man” by Herbie Hancock

Song Year: 1962

Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” isn’t as obviously a song about jungles as others on this list.

Indeed, Hancock is best known for the score he wrote for the film Blow Up.

Hancock wrote “Watermelon Man” during a time of creative difficulty. He was experimenting with different jazz styles, and the experiment culminated in the wild and wonderful “Watermelon man.”

Intentionally or not, it creates a spectacular sense of the jungle. It’s full of strange and wonderful animal sounds. It’s also a masterclass in how varied and complex jazz harmony can be.

Musically speaking, it’s as wild and wonderful as any jungle.

“Jungle Hop” by The Cramps

Song Year: 1981

 “Jungle Hop” is another song about the jungle designed to get you dancing.

It’s a fast-moving song that starts by transporting listeners to Africa, where everyone plans to dance through the night.

As the song progresses, it mentions animals, like the giraffe. But it also quickly becomes apparent the raucous dancers want to do more than dance.

“Monkey Man” by The Rolling Stones

Song Year: 1969

Keith Richards and Mick Jagger collaborated on “Monkey Man” in 1969.

Its lyrics famously perplexed listeners because they are full of plays on words and encoded messages. Many attempts to parse “Monkey Man” led to people concluding the song was covertly about illicit drug use.

But according to the artists, it was at least partially a tribute to Mario Schifano.

However you interpret “Monkey Man,” it’s not an obvious song about the jungle. But its wild monkey antics earn it a place on this list.

“Jungle Boy” by John Eddie

Song Year: 1986

John Eddie’s “Jungle Boy” went straight to the top of the charts when it was first released. Like many songs about the jungle, the jungle is another metaphorical landscape.

The speaker talks about feeling trapped by the confines of home life and longing to be wild and independent.

The lyrics also explore a fractious relationship. The young couple in the song seems happy, but their parents disapprove of the match. This adds to the sense of constraint the speaker struggles with.

The lyrics make frequent references to wildness and cages. The “Jungle Boy” of the title is the speaker himself, doing what he can to live the life he wants with the woman he loves. Even if that means deserting society as he knows it.

“Jungle Rock” by Hank Mizell

Song Year: 1976

Jungles and dancing combine in “Jungle Rock.”

Whereas other songs on this list deal primarily with metaphorical jungles, Mizell’s jungle is real. As he walks through it, he encounters various animals dancing.

The lyrics are incredibly playful. Mizell has fun weaving in familiar dance language, like, “cutting a rug” and “bop.”

And his animals are wonderfully anthropomorphized.

The wordplay is clever, the pace is fast-moving, and the melody’s catchy. Listen to this song, and you’ll soon find it’s not just the jungle animals dancing.

“The Elephant from Carnival of the Animals” by Zoltán Bíró

Song Year: 2008

Classical music doesn’t have many songs about the jungle. But Saints-Saens did write fourteen movements dedicated to a variety of jungle animals.

In “The Elephant,” you can hear the slow, ponderous step of the elephant as it ambles through the jungle. There’s also a swaying rhythm to this piece that echoes the movement of the elephant’s long trunk and ears.

Saint-Saens also cleverly uses the bass to add a rich, heavy-sounding tonality to the piece. It’s often comedic and popular with young listeners.

“I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” by Elton John

Song Year: 1994

“I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” isn’t a song about jungles in the technical sense. But it does prominently feature jungle animals.

It first appeared in Disney’s The Lion King, where Jason Weaver sang it. He was playing the part of lion cub Simba, and it quickly became a song beloved by the generation that grew up hearing it.

In the song, an exuberant Simba sings about his enthusiasm to someday rule the jungle. He doesn’t understand that the only way for that to happen is for him to lose his father. That gives it a touch of poignancy that children miss, but discerning adult listeners can’t help catching on to.

Despite this, it’s an essentially optimistic song.

Elton John’s 1994 rendition gives this popular song a bit more musical heft, even as it retains the irrepressible fun and energy of the original.

“Tarzan Boy” by Baltimora

Song Year: 1985

Baltimora didn’t have many hits, but the one it did have left an impression on their audience. The band is best known for the song “Tarzan Boy.”

Like Mowgli, Tarzan grows up in the jungle. In this song, he encourages listeners to abandon the clutter, bustle, and stress of city living for the simpler, if wilder, jungle lifestyle.

A significant part of the song’s appeal comes from the fantasy it paints. We all long to shuck our responsibilities and live a carefree existence. Unlike Tarzan’s boy, few of us act on that instinct.

“Jungle Jamboree” by Duke Ellington

Song Year: 1961

Let’s end with an instrumental song about the jungle. Piano-great Fats Waller collaborated with Harry Brooks to write “Jungle Jamboree.”

Here it’s performed by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra.

Waller was famous for complex and unexpected jazz improvisations, and that’s vastly apparent when listening to “Jungle Jamboree.”

It’s a jazzy romp through the jungle, packed with nuanced and unlikely harmonies.

As you listen, keep an ear on what different instruments are doing and the sounds they create to create a jungle atmosphere.

Top Songs About The Jungle, Final Thoughts

By now, you have a sense of how wildly different songs about jungles can be. They span a variety of musical styles and genres.

What they have in common is the impression they make on the listener. Whether they’re jungle songs to dance to or jungle songs with a message behind them, almost all have catchy melodies that leave you singing.

Hopefully, you rediscovered an old favorite on this list of songs about the jungle, and maybe you even found a few new favorites.

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