Mother’s Day is this Sunday (May 8), and you know what that means: It’s time to shower the woman who raised you with flowers, chocolate and handmade “free massage” coupons. I’m giving my mama flowers, and I felt pretty good about that–until I realized how many singers wrote full songs for their mothers. I might as well give her weeds, because flowers are s–t compared to a Spice Girls harmony.
The British girl group is just one of many acts who crafted tunes for their mothers. These nine are our favorites. Because you’ll never create anything this special for your mom, give everything up and just listen to the below songs with her. It’s the least you can do, you failure! (Don’t worry, I–a failure–will do the same thing, too.)
Spice Girls, “Mama” (1996)
The breezy pop tune is one of the softer moments on the Spice Girls’ debut album Spice (1996). “We wrote ’Mama’ when I was going through a bad phase with my mum,” Melanie Brown (Scary Spice) explained in Real Life: Real Spice The Official Story. “The sentiments are really that your mum’s probably the best friend that you’ve got. Whether she’s an over-protective mother or a bit of a landmine, she probably knows you better than yourself in some ways.”
The Beatles, “Let It Be” (1970)
Paul McCartney got the inspiration for “Let It Be” after he dreamed about his mother while The Beatles were recording their self-titled 1968 album. Thank God he did. “Let It Be” not only became the name of the band’s 1970 album, its title track is now a quintessential Mother’s Day tune.
Train, “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” (2001)
This early 2000s staple is inspired by Train lead singer Patrick Monahan’s mother, who passed away from cancer. “The process of creation wasn’t easy. I just couldn’t figure out what to write, but then I woke up from a dream about a year after my mother passed away with the words ’back in the atmosphere…It was just her way of saying what it was like – she was swimming through the planets and came to me with drops of Jupiter in her hair,” Monahan said on VH1’s Behind the Music.
Madonna, “Promise to Try” (1989)
The ballad, which appears on Madge’s Like a Prayer (1989) album, addresses her mother’s death. “Does she hear my voice in the night when I call?” Madonna sings on the track. “Little girl, don’t you forget her face/Don’t let memory play games with your mind/She’s a faded smile frozen in time.”
Backstreet Boys, “The Perfect Fan” (1999)
BSB member Brian Littrell is one of two co-writers on this cheesy ballad, which is a tribute to supportive mothers around the world. “Mom you always were the perfect fan,” the boys sing. D’awww. C’mon, y’all. It’s cute.
Taylor Swift, “The Best Day” (2008)
Turns out, Swift’s best love song is about her mother. Cue the tears.
Christina Aguilera, “Oh Mother” (2006)
This heartbreaking tune details the abuse Aguilera’s father inflicted on her mother. Not exactly an uplifting ode, but one nonetheless.
Kanye West, “Hey Mama” (2005)
The death of West’s mother is arguably a major part of the rapper’s psychology, and this song explains why. It contains some of West’s most affectionate lyrics to date. “Forrest Gump mama said, life is like a box of chocolates/My mama told me go to school, get your doctorate,” he raps.
Beyoncé, “Ring Off” (2014)
These days, no music list is complete without a Bey cut. “Ring Off” praises Bey’s mom Tina Knowles for ending her dysfunctional marriage to hubby Matthew and turning over a new leaf. “Mama, I understand your many sleepless nights / When you think about father / and how you tried to be the perfect wife… I wish you didn’t hurt at all,” she sings. In a way, it’s a weird follow-up to “Single Ladies.”
Watch Queen Latifah praise the compassion and strength of her glorious mother, Rita Owens, as part of VH1’s Dear Mama special. Even after Owens’ Scleroderma diagnosis in 2013, she remains joyful and appreciative. “Everyday is a gift,” Owens said. “Life is for the living–even when it’s difficult! … We both know I believe in miracles. We’ll be talking about this in 10 years and remembering how scared we were and we came through yet another crisis.”
Let this mother-daughter duo lift you up and give you life. Hit play and try not to cry. There will be much more to come when Dear Mama airs this Sunday, May 8 (THAT’S TOMORROW, FOLKS) at 9/8c on VH1!