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The Use of Sunflowers in Music

A flower that has dominated the music scene for quite some time are roses. From artists like Hayley Williams (“Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris”) to bands like Of Monsters and Men (“Wild Roses”), many musicians have written songs that mention the romantic plant. But, there seems to be a new flower in the garden. Helianthus annuus, also known as the common sunflower, has made appearances on recent songs like Harry Styles’ “Sunflower, Vol. 6” and Post Malone & Swae Lee’s “Sunflower”. The symbolism behind this plant fits in well with the message behind those songs, and more artists have been incorporating it to their work. Here’s a look at why sunflowers are being used more often in music.

Ever wonder why Helianthus annuus is called a sunflower? It’s because of its direction toward the sun. According to the National Sunflower Association, during the bud stage, a sunflower will follow “the movement of the sun across the horizon.” Many interpret this trait as loyalty, since this is a common pattern many sunflowers follow, and positivity because the plant is looking at the brighter side of life. Musicians may opt to add sunflowers into their love songs because of this, like in Frank Sinatra’s “Sunflower”.

A noticeable feature seen on a sunflower is its color palette. It primarily consists of yellow and brown shades, which are bright and warm-toned. This is fitting for the flower since it blooms during the summer months. Because of this, many people associate the sunflower with the season, which can be a reminder to happier, carefree days of being outside and enjoying the warm weather. This can also translate to youthfulness and vitality. Songwriters referencing sunflowers may allude to the nostalgic feeling of those brighter days, such as Harry Styles’ “Sunflower, Vol. 6”.  

Another reason behind the plant’s usage in music is due to its symbolism of rebirth and nourishment. Sunflowers contain lots of seeds, which can be eaten or used to replant more sunflowers. When artists sing about not feeling confident or having negative thoughts, they mention the plant as an object that will aid their troubles. Having the sunflower in a song can mean there’s hope to start over again from scratch or to grow and develop from the existing negativity, like Dizzy’s “Sunflower”.

It’s no wonder why artists are incorporating sunflowers into their songwriting. The reason why musicians are using this flower instead of others is because of its human-like characteristics and it’s recognizable to audiences. There’s so much meaning behind the plant and the context it’s placed in. To discover more songs about sunflowers, here’s a playlist that mentions the golden flower. Enjoy!

Selena is a senior at Rutgers University majoring in Journalism & Media Studies and minoring in American Studies. She enjoys writing, attending concerts, traveling, and creating crafts.
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