It's Chinese New Year, so let's celebrate with a brief horoscope and a bunch of songs!
According to the Chinese zodiac, January 31 marks the beginning of the Year of the Horse, so we've put together a list of some of music's most popular songs about horses in honour of that.
Predictions for this Year of the Horse -- known specifically as the Year of the Wooden Horse -- include promises of adventure and romance. The songs on our list have a bit of that in them, as well.
In astrology, horses (aka people born in Horse years like 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002 and 2014) are generally hard workers and good with their money. They exude raw sex appeal and form romantic bonds easily but are sometimes afraid of intimacy. They're witty and are often known as the life of the party, but they can also be impulsive.
In popular music, actual horses tend to represent a lot of the same things. Artists like The Rolling Stones, PJ Harvey, and U2 have all sung about horses as a way to express their wanderlust, their longing, and their love. Katy Perry and Big & Rich have, in their own way, used horse songs to talk about sexy times. And Toby Keith has sung about getting his horses drunk. We’re not really if last one really has much to contribute grander horse theme, but we included it anyway.
So Happy New Year! Here are twelve of music's best – or at least most notorious – songs about horses.
The Rolling Stones - "Wild Horses"
In this classic from 1971's "Sticky Fingers" album, Mick Jagger sings of his loneliness on the road and a desire to be with his unnamed lady friend so strong that even wild horses couldn't drag him away. Lesser men may have stopped there, but Mick goes on to promise that they'll actually manage to ride those mighty untamed beasts some day by the end of the song.
America - "A Horse With No Name"
Folk rock band America scored their biggest hit with this song about out in the desert on a nameless horse from their self-titled debut album in 1972. Presumably the narrator could have taken a moment out of his journey through the desert on a horse with no name to give some sort of moniker to the poor creature who was hauling him out of the rain, but then that might have taken time away from more important observations like "the heat was hot."
Toby Keith ft. Willie Nelson - "Beer For My Horses"
According to vet Dr. Joyce Harman on Equisearch, <a href="http://www.equisearch.com/horses_care/nutrition/feeds/horse_alcohol_consumption_122007/" target="_blank">it's perfectly fine to give beer to your horses</a>. It won't harm them and you'd go broke long before you'd manage to get your equine drinking buddy even moderately wasted. In other words, Toby Keith ordering beer for his horses is pretty much the least objectionable thing that happens in his 2003 ode to vigilante justice and lynching.
Katy Perry ft. Juicy J - "Dark Horse"
"So you wanna play with magic / Boy, you should know what you're falling for / Baby do you dare to do this? / Cause I'm coming at you like a dark horse" sings pop star Katy Perry on this track from her 2013 album, "Prism." Apparently she imagined herself as a seductive witch of love when she wrote this song, and the line does sound appropriately sexy and menacing... so long as you pretend that the phrase "dark horse" actually means "a horse that is dark and scary and possibly arousing" and not "an underdog that no one expects to win."
Taylor Swift - "White Horse"
Country pop darling Taylor Swift is actually eschewing the notion of princesses, fairy tales and knights on white horses in the lyrics to her 2008 single from the album "Fearless." But really, how convenient is it for pop culture’s virgin/whore complex that the blonde, innocent, Betty-esque Swift has a song called "White Horse" while the black-haired, exploding-boobed Veronica-type Katy Perry has one called "Dark Horse"?
Buck 65 - "Killed By A Horse"
Granted, this track from folk rapper and Canadian treasure Buck 65's "Talkin' Honky Blues" album is an instrumental and, as such, doesn't actually have anything to say about horses beyond its title, but we wanted to include it for two reasons: 1. We love Buck 65; 2. Sometimes it's important to take a break from all of the riding of wild horses that goes on in popular music to remember that even the tamest horse can be deadly in the hands of an improperly trained human. Or in the fickle hands of fate.
Corb Lund - "Losin' Lately Gambler"
Here's a fun way to demonstrate the difference between new and old country music: New country star Toby Keith sings about giving his horses some celebratory beer after a day of hanging bad people from trees. Alberta's own Corb Lund, on the other hand, sings this 2009 track from the perspective of an uneducated layman who wants the horse doctor to hurry up and come over so that he can pilfer his horse's tranquilizers.
U2 - "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horse"
"Who's gonna ride your wild horses?" Bono asks a dangerous and honest former lover in the fifth single from 1991's "Achtung Baby," willfully oblivious to the fact that The Rolling Stones already promised to get around to that eventually in "Wild Horses."
PJ Harvey - "Horses In My Dream"
Alternative music icon Polly Jean Harvey is talking about the actual animals when she says that she has horses in her dreams on the penultimate track from the 2001 Mercury Prize-winning "Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea." She is not singing about Patti Smith's "Horses," the seminal album to which "Stories" was occasionally compared when it came out in 2000.
Big & Rich - "Save A Horse [Ride A Cowboy]"
It was the horse song that launched a thousand winks, nudges and merch items and, perhaps, the horsiest song of all time. 2004’s "Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy," from the album "A Horse Of A Different Color" (which was recorded at Dark Horse studios) tells the story of Big & Rich arriving in Nashville, causing a ruckus, riding around on actual horses as all the girls start chanting the now infamous double entendre about horses and cowboys. Sadly, the lyrics contains no references to Catherine The Great.
Timber Timbre - "Beat The Dead Horse"
According to the Cambridge dictionary, beating or flogging a dead horse means "to waste effort on something when there is no chance of succeeding." Canada's favourite Lynchian gloom-pushers Timber Timbre push that idiom far past its usual, semi-gruesome connotations, turning the phrase into this lurid and almost Carnivale-esque tune about compulsion, the devil and "beat[ing] the dead horse back to life" from 2007's "Medicinals."
Shakira - "Poem To A Horse"
Given Shakira's playful use of language and imagery (this is the same singer who felt lucky that her breasts couldn't be compared with mountains in "Wherever Whenever," after all), you'd be forgiven for thinking that "Poem To A Horse" is actually addressed to a horse. It's not, though. It's actually a song to a disinterested pot head, and the title comes from the slightly awkward simile "So what the point of wasting all my words / if it's just the same or even worse than reading poems to a horse." Actual horses who are disappointed in this turn of events can always take solace in the oddly erotic "train like a horse" bit from "Objection (Tango)," though.