I could make an argument that the letter Z is the most underappreciated letter in the entire alphabet. It is just there, waiting, hanging around at the end and so distastefully treated that Americans and British people even pronounce it in different ways.
Thankfully for the poor letter Z, there are a number of fine songs that use it as the first letter. These songs span a number of genres and if we missed any don’t be afraid to comment on your favorite below.
So without further ado, here is my list of the best songs that start with the letter Z!
1. Zooropa – U2
The title track of U2’s eighth studio album, Zooropa starts with two minutes of gradually building sound before The Edge strides in with his famous guitar tone. This isn’t like your usual U2 song. There is much more experimentation here as it leans towards alt-rock and even elements of electronica.
“Zooropa” is a U2 song that even the band’s harshest critics can appreciate as it builds to a fun crescendo at the end of its six-minute plus journey.
2. Zombie – The Cranberries
There are many people who will see this as the ultimate “Z” song. The powerful vocals of the late, great Delores O’Riordan carry this protest anthem to an ethereal level that few songs have ever matched. The fact that it has over 1.2 billion YouTube views says everything about the enduring legacy O’Riordan built here.
It is also a song that has a masterful cover version as Bad Wolves updated “Zombie” with a metal edge that almost hits with the emotional power of the original.
3. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
Prime Bowie doing prime Bowie things. This song is off Bowie’s fifth album which is part pure, wild concept, part rock opera.
I love the revving bass in this song that threatens to explode pre-chorus and how it flexes with the unique tone of Bowie’s voice. Really, any song about a bisexual alien rock star is likely to feature highly on any list I write.
4. ZEZE – Kodak Black (Feat. Travis Scott & Offset)
And now for something completely different.
This song goes hard. The beat drives it, but it is the steel drums that roll underneath the lyrics that give “ZEZE” such a different vibe to your typical late 2020s rap. It is a summer vibe and it feels as fresh now as it did when it was released.
Collabs can sometimes be too much, but Travis Scott and Offset add enough to this one without taking away from the lyrical style by trying to outdo each other.
5. Zeus – Eminem
Eminem loves himself a name drop. “Zeus” is another of Em’s tunes that was important to the great rapper at the time it was written.
The lines that always stand out to me in “Zeus” are the ones that Em spits to apologize to Rihanna about previous lyrics regarding her relationship with Chris Brown. Eminem is always full of surprises and this one really came out of left field when it was unleashed on the world.
I also love the symbolism between the rap God and the King of the Greek Pantheon that is all over this song.
6. Zero – Chris Brown
This is Chris Brown’s take on a classic breakup song. Many critics and thinkers point to this being the ode to Brown’s failed relationship with actress/model Karrueche Tran based on the timing of when this tune was written.
“Ask how many nights I’ve been thinking of you, zero.” Savage.
The whole song is pretty savage actually, something that works as the lyrics – which are pretty sad – clash with the funk/electric beat. Sad songs set to upbeat music are always a trip, and this is another example of a song to listen to when you just need to get over an ex and move on.
7. Zack and Codeine – Post Malone
This is a weird title for a song that is basically about the excess of Post’s life at this point. Success is hard and this is far from the first song to encapsulate how hedonism can change an artist, especially when the success is sudden.
It may, however, be the first song about the subject to have a title that is a play on words from a Disney Channel show (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody).
8. Zero – The Smashing Pumpkins
This song just slaps you in the face from the opening guitar line and never lets up. The Smashing Pumpkins have had some bangers through the years and this is widely regarded as their best song for a reason.
There are no less than six rhythm guitars dripping with grungy angst in play here and the instantly recognizable riff is one of my favorites in the entire genre. Billy Corgan’s vocal performance elevates this to the next level.
9. Zanzibar – Billy Joel
This song is one that could only be written and performed by Billy Joel. It is all over the place in the best way, and I love the keyboard section into the trumpet solo that really doubles down on the late 70s jazz vibes that Joel is playing with at this stage of his career.
More than anything, this tune makes me want to have a tab at “Zanzibar” and grab a drink with Joel. The fact there isn’t a chain of sports bars with that name is criminal.
10. Zendaya – Cozz (Feat, J. Cole)
An ode to Cozz, achieving his dream of becoming a rapper through the lens of people who influenced both him and J. Cole’s careers. The collab is named after the actress/singer Zendaya, not because of any pre-existing relationship, but because Cozz once told his studio head that “Zendaya’s kinda fire.”
This song slaps too. I love how it is produced. You cannot help but nod your head to the beat as Cole pulls the best out of Cozz lyrically and emotionally.
Justin is an audio engineer with years of experience in the field. He has been creating and playing music his entire life, but he really found his passion for engineering when he was introduced to Logic Pro at age 10. Justin has spent countless hours perfecting his craft and now works as a freelance engineer out of Boston, MA.