Harry Styles joined an exclusive club of pop superstars with the release of his single “As It Was” April 1. With lyrics in which he casually drops his own name, Styles continues a storied tradition of chart-toppers who find a way to mention themselves.
While hip-hop is riddled with self-referential lines — Eminem‘s 1999 smash “My Name Is” is essentially an ode to the rapper’s multiple personas — the practice is a bit less common in the mainstream pop world.
Of course, hip-pop cross-over maestro Lil Nas X made the practice perfect in April 2021 with the title track to his most recent album, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” The song launched at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and put the rapper’s real name — Montero Lamar Hill — right up front in the title, though not in the lyrics.
Shakira also gave it a shot on her 2005 global smash “Hips Don’t Lie,” in which she made her name into an incantation in the first verse, but outsourced the self-love to Wyclef, who intones, “No fighting/ We got the refugees up in here (no fighting)/ No fighting/ Shakira, Shakira,” then going on to name-check the topliner no less than 10 times total.
And rockers aren’t immune to naming themselves in tunes, either. Just a sampling of bands who’ve put their names in the title (or the lyrics): Bad Company (“Bad Company”), Black Sabbath (“Black Sabbath”), Talk Talk (“Talk Talk”), Bo Diddley (“Bo Diddley”), Wang Chung (“Everybody Have Fun Tonight”) and Metallica, who bellowed “Hotel rooms and motorways, life out here is raw/ But we’ll never stop, we’ll never quit, ’cause we’re Metallica!” on “Whiplash,” a tribute to their hard-charging fans on their 1984 debut, Kill ‘Em All.
Check out our breakdown of 15 iconic self-referential pop tracks.