10 songs that prove that mother knows best

For all that it pretends to be about casting off parental controls and getting wild and free and crazy on the dancefloor, pop music likes mums. It likes to quote their advice, pay tribute to their endless patience and, on occasion, use them to start fights with rivals.

So, as it's Mothering Sunday, here are a few of the songs that make good use of the saintly figure of a wise mother, like Justin Bieber's mum Pattie Mallette (see above). Sometimes they are encouraging, sometimes chastising, but you ignore their wisdom at your peril. Now, go and clean behind your ears, tuck your shirt in, and have a listen:

Born This Way by Lady Gaga

If the lyrics to this song are to be believed, the principal reason why Lady Gaga is as driven in her quest to be the most singular pop star in fame's firmament is that she was told to do it by her mum. Born This Way has a lot to say about love and life, and begins with Lady Mama telling her daughter that, "We are all born superstars." She adds, "There's nothing wrong with loving who you are," before putting lipstick on her daughter while using a mirror, which is just one of those miraculous skills good mums have, apparently.

Mamma Knows Best by Jessie J

Bad news, Jessie J's significant other, you are dumped. And not only have you been kicked to the kerb, but she's heading back to her parents for some much-needed TLC, because they're the people that know how to make her feel better after what you did, and it's all your fault. "Mama knows best when times get hard," Jessie sings, lamenting the fact that her relationship has gone south, "And papa always has a joke to make me laugh." As for you, you can just "bow out, leave", "take your bags and go," while Jessie's mum (presumably) orders a takeaway pizza and her daughter's favourite ice cream.

Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton

This is a story about poverty, the love of a caring parent and the cruelty of children. In it, Dolly Parton's mum makes her a coat from a box of old rags she had been given. They had no money to buy her a coat, her clothes were threadbare, so this was an inspired solution to a pressing problem, and the jibes of her wealthier classmates fell on deaf ears, as Dolly sings, "I couldn't understand it, for I felt I was rich / And I told them of the love my momma sewed in every stitch." And still they kept laughing, the rotten swine.

Love Yourself by Justin Bieber

Has there been a better put down in a recent pop song than this from Love Yourself? "My mama don't like you, and she likes everyone." It's a beautifully concise way to say the subject of the track is beyond the bounds of normal humanity, because mums are, by definition, nurturing sorts. Granted, they are also prone to treating the romantic partners of their children with suspicion and occasional hostility, so it's not as if there are never grounds for appeal. Still, once the love of your life is siding with his mum over you, you know it's over.

Shop Around by The Miracles

On a similar note, this is a song that Justin Bieber's mama would understand well. Smokey Robinson's lyric describes his mother telling him not to get caught up with the first girl he sets his eyes upon, to "keep your freedom for as long as you can", and to "try to get yourself a bargain, son / Don't be sold on the very first one" because "pretty girls come a dime a dozen". It is, in other words, a song written by a man who claims that he's allowed to play the field, because he's got a note from his mum.

Ms Jackson by Outkast

At the other end of the telescope from Smokey's mother, Andre 3000 from Outkast wrote a song apologising to Erykah Badu's mother Kolleen Wright for his part in the breakup of their relationship. Lyrics such as, "She doing things like having her boys come from her neighborhood to the studio trying to fight me," suggest it was an apology that was long overdue, but it was sincere and Kolleen soon realised that while no man would ever be good enough for her children, this one had been good enough to make amends.

Mama Told Me by Big Boi

Andre 3000 may have had his say on mothers, but this is where his rap partner Big Boi looks back at his own and how her advice shaped him. As Kelly Rowland sings in the song's chorus: "Be careful how you play your cards / Be true to self and you'll go far / Try not to break too many hearts." All good advice, although Big Boi does go on to say, "Mama used to say take your time / Well, I'm a pickpocket when I design rhymes," the kind of reckless naughtiness that can only mean a speedy trip to the naughty step and no pudding.

Does Your Mother Know by ABBA

The spectre of a reproachful mum is enough to ward off the attentions of a girl too young to be making goo-goo eyes at a fully grown man like Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA. He's concerned that her feelings are making her do things she's not emotionally prepared for, and would rather hand her back to the safe and caring embrace of her family than take things any further, thanks all the same. Extra points are awarded for creating a song that also works as an anthem to early gay experiences.

Mama Told Me Not to Come by Randy Newman

Another song about innocent people in a scary situation, Mama Told Me Not to Come is one of Randy Newman's spiky character studies, sung by a scared square at a swinging party where they drink whiskey with water in it (the horror!) and sugar in their tea. It's also a little stuffy with smoke and perfume and his girlfriend has just passed out, just like his mother warned him: "That ain't no way to have fun, son." Of course, some of this disquiet gets lost when the song is put through the meaty voicebox of Tom Jones, who covered it with the Stereophonics in 2000.

Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J

It might be worth having a word with Ondrea Smith, mother of LL Cool J, to find out exactly what the conversation was that ended with her instructing him to knock out everyone else in the rap game. He seems pretty sure she told him to do it, but why? Did she think other rappers had stolen his lunch money, or said something mean about his sister? And what excuse could he offer her for a line like "I think I'm gonna bomb a town"? That's just big talk, mister. Now go to your room and think about what you've done.

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