We all wear masks. Whether it’s to protect ourselves, or to hide our true selves from the world, we’ve all donned a mask, literally and figuratively, at some point in our lives. And what better way to express the complex emotions that come with wearing a mask than through music?
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at 20 songs about masks, ranging from the light and fun to the dark and serious. These songs express a wide variety of emotions and no matter what your feelings about masks may be, there’s sure to be a song on this list that speaks to you.
1. “Mask” by Bauhaus
Starting off our list is “Mask” by gothic rock legends Bauhaus. This song is an ode to the mask as a tool of self-expression, and how we pretend to be someone else when we put one on.
The lyrics talk about how the mask can both liberate and imprison us, depending on how we use it. You can find it on his album of the same title.
2. “The Blue Mask” by Lou Reed
Lou Reed is a bit of an enigma, and “The Blue Mask” is one of his most enigmatic songs. It’s a dark and mysterious track off of his album of the same name, and it’s believed to be about Reed’s experiences after leaving the band Velvet Underground. It was released in 1982.
3. “Behind the Mask” by Fleetwood Mac
This next track by Fleetwood Mac is a bit more upbeat than the last two. “Behind the Mask” is about how we put on a brave face to the world even when we’re going through tough times. It was released in 1990 and can be found on his album of the same title.
4. “Make Me a Mask” by Fleetwood Mac
Here’s another track by Fleetwood Mac, this time from their 1992 25 Years – The Chain album. “Make Me a Mask” is a haunting ballad that reflects on the idea of wearing a mask to protect oneself from the outside world. The lyrics are full of imagery, making it a beautiful and evocative song about the nature of masks.
5. “Behind the Mask” by Eric Clapton
“Behind the Mask” was sung by Eric Clapton and was released in 1987. The song has been covered by many artists, including Michael Jackson.
“Behind the Mask” is unsettling and enigmatic, focusing on how individuals put up a facade rather than revealing their authentic selves.
6. “The Mask” by Fugees
Next on the list is a track called “The Mask” by the Fugees. It’s a rap song that was released in 1996 as part of the album The Score.
The mask referred to in the title is likely a metaphor for the persona that one puts on to cope with the struggles of life. The lyrics speak to the idea of putting up a front and pretending everything is okay when it’s not.
7. “Behind the Mask” by Michael Jackson
This next song on the list is a cover of a track originally performed by Japanese rock band Yellow Magic Orchestra. The song was written by Ryuichi Sakamoto and was released in 1980.
Michael Jackson’s cover was recorded during one of his best-selling album Thriller sessions. You can still listen to it on all music platforms.
8. “Mask Off” by Future
“Mask Off” is a tale of Future’s journey from humble beginnings to a life of luxury, highlighting both the good and bad experiences along the way.
The lyrics are full of references to drug use, which is a theme that often appears in Future’s music. The song was originally released in 2017 and quickly became a fan favorite.
9. “Mask” by Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop is a punk icon and this song is one of his most famous. It was released in 2001 as part of the album Beat ‘Em Up.
The lyrics explore the idea of wearing a mask to protect oneself from the outside world. Iggy Pop has said that the song is about how we all have different masks that we wear depending on the situation.
10. “Put On Your Mask” by Baby Joy Joy
A song about masks wouldn’t be complete without a track for the kids. “Put On Your Mask” is a fun and catchy song by Baby Joy Joy that encourages kids to put on their masks when they go outside.
The song was released in 2021 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a reminder that we all have to do our part to keep ourselves and others safe.
11. “Cynthia Mask” by Robyn Hitchcock
Robyn Hitchcock’s song Cynthia Mask was released in 1990. The song is about a woman who pretends to be someone she’s not.
The lyrics suggest that she’s hiding her true self behind a mask of make-up and false smiles. Cynthia Mask is a haunting and atmospheric song that perfectly captures the feeling of being trapped in a persona.
12. “Ski Mask Way” by 50 Cent and Eminem
A collaboration between two of the biggest names in rap, “Ski Mask Way” is a song about being on the run from the law.
The lyrics tell the story of a man who has to wear a ski mask and just get away with everything quickly. The song was released in 2005 and was a huge hit with fans of both 50 Cent and Eminem.
13. “A Ritual Mask” by Peter Hammill
From the album Loops and Reels, “A Ritual Mask” is a song about how we all wear masks in our everyday lives.
The lyrics explore the idea of how we put on different faces for different people and how we’re all just pretending to be something we’re not. It’s a deep and thought-provoking song that makes you question your own life and choices.
14. “Dead Skin Mask” by Slayer
Slayer is a thrash metal band from California, and “Dead Skin Mask” is from their 1990 album Seasons in the Abyss.
The song is about Ed Gein, a serial killer who wore the skin of his victims as masks. This might be the darkest song on our list, but it’s also one of the most interesting, delving into the mind of a madman.
15. “Take Off the Mask” by Clinton Fearon and the Boogie Brown Band
Released in 1994, “Take Off the Mask” is a reggae song with a message of self-acceptance. You can find it on the Disturb the Devil album by Clinton Fearon and the Boogie Brown Band.
In the lyrics, Fearon asks why we try to hide our true selves behind masks, when we should be proud of who we are.
16. “The Man in the Iron Mask” by Billy Bragg
A song about the French Revolution? Yes please! “The Man in the Iron Mask” by Billy Bragg is from his 1983 album Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy.
The lyrics tell the story of a man who is willing to risk everything for the woman he loves, even if it means wearing an iron mask to hide his identity.
17. “Marty Beller Mask” by They Might Be Giants
“Marty Beller Mask” is a fun, upbeat song by They Might Be Giants, from their 2011 album Raises New and Troubling Questions.
The song is about how we all wear masks in one way or another, to protect ourselves or to hide our true feelings. But sometimes, it’s okay to take off the mask and be yourself.
18. “Long Black Veil” by Dave Matthews Band
A song that is eerily relevant to the current situation, “Long Black Veil” is a haunting ballad about a man who is accused of a crime he didn’t commit.
Wearing a mask to disguise his identity, the protagonist is forced to watch as the woman he loves marries someone else. You can find it on their Listener Supported album.
19. “Under the Mask of Happiness” by Graham Parker
Graham Parker is a master of social commentary, and this song is no exception. “Under the Mask of Happiness” is a biting indictment of those who pretend to be happy when they’re really not.
It’s a dark, cynical view of human nature, but it’s also strangely catchy. You can find it on his The Mona Lisa’s Sister album.
20. “Beautiful Gas Mask” by The Mountain Goats
Finishing off our list is “Beautiful Gas Mask” by The Mountain Goats. This song is a little more light-hearted than the others on this list, but it’s still about masks in a way.
It’s about war, and how the masks that soldiers wear protect them from the horrors they see. But it’s also about how those masks can’t protect them from the memories of what they’ve seen. You can find it on their All Eternals Deck album.
There you have it, a list of songs about masks. Whether you’re looking for something to help you deal with the current situation, or you’re just interested in songs about masks, we hope you found something on this list that you enjoy. Thanks for reading!