Though Grace Kelly is renowned for both her onscreen roles and royal patronage of the arts, her impact on the world of music is less well-known. For instance, how many people know that Grace is the only sitting royal to have a record go platinum? Her and Bing Crosby’s recording of “True Love,” which they sang in High Society, Grace’s last major Hollywood film, climbed the charts even after she left the film industry to marry Prince Rainier. More understood, perhaps, is Grace’s influence on popular music in the past few decades. The mere mention of her name conjures up an image of history-making elegance and style, and references to Kelly have permeated some of our most iconic songs. As you ready your playlists for summer, try adding these certified bops that make reference to our favorite Princess.
Grace Kelly by MIKA
This art-pop gem, turning 15 this year, was the breakout hit for singer-songwriter Michael Penniman. He wrote this song out of frustration with the music industry, which wanted him to change his sound to fit the mainstream. Grace features prominently in the chorus as the singer laments having to change himself to fit the expectations of another. Some listeners speculate that the Kelly reference here speaks to how she left Hollywood once she married into the royal family--a pretty decisive change. Additionally, the intro and outro dialogue--a quirky feature that speaks to MIKA’s unique vision--is inspired by dialogue in The Country Girl, the 1954 film for which Grace won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Though Penniman worried about his style would be received by the industry and wider world, by keeping his distinctive vocals, production, and flair for the dramatics he gained the biggest hit of his career and one of the most enduring songs of the late aughts. The song is still popular to this day--just this year, he hosted the Eurovision finale and sang this song there. Additionally, the song has recently gained traction on TikTok, where people attempt to sing the song’s chorus in a variety of pitches—check out Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell attempting the challenge here! The perennial popularity of this energetic track will help keep the legacy of Princess Grace alive for generations to come.
Vogue by Madonna
Grace was name-dropped in another chart-topper a few decades before--this one from one of the biggest pop stars the world has known. Inspired by New York City’s ballroom subculture, this song brought a whole new style of dance and artistry to the mainstream. In the latter part of the song, Madonna lists many Old Hollywood stars who embody the glamor and pageantry of ballroom and voguing, with Grace among them (right between Jimmy Dean and Jean Harlow!). Vogue as a genre of dance and performance was actually named for the high-fashion magazine, a publication whose cover Grace appeared on multiple times throughout her life. This song, as with many in Madonna’s career, started a conversation that has been ongoing for decades--one which Grace Kelly plays a small but crucial role.
We Didn’t Start The Fire by Billy Joel
This iconic rock song pulls off a feat no mainstream track has before or since--expertly fitting over one hundred historical events (in chronological order, no less!) into under five minutes. While the song asks its listeners to consider the pace and toll of history, its infectious beat and anthemic chorus make it one that can be enjoyed on multiple levels. Here, reference is made to Grace Kelly not just as a style icon, but as a benchmark of 20th-century history. Her name is mentioned around the fourth verse in the section describing events from 1956. This was the year that Kelly starred in her last major film role (in High Society) and married Prince Rainier. These were both huge milestones in the life of one of the most well-known women in America, and in this song it is proven that she was more than a movie star, but someone whose life and work defined a crucial period of American history. In fact, whenever Billy Joel plays Madison Square Garden, Grace can be seen briefly on the JumboTron during this song, looking across the fans who know at least a slice of her important history.