When you think of Yom Kippur, bops might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But I’m here to tell you this somber Jewish holiday is ripe for some musical accompaniment. Why? There just so happens to be a lot of songs out there about being sorry and asking for forgiveness, because apparently those are very common human emotions.
So, as you work up the nerve to apologize to those you’ve hurt this past year, give our “Yom Kippur Jams” playlist a spin and get into the holiday spirit.
Below, a run-down of some favorites on the list, in no particular order:
Honorable mention: Ben Platt and Molly Gordon’s Yom Kippur song.
This one isn’t on the official Spotify playlist because it’s not on Spotify. It is literally a 5-second song that Ben posted on his Instagram story last year and it’s been stuck in my head ever since.
1. “Sorry” by Justin Bieber
An obvious choice for obvious reasons. Choice lyrics: “I know you know that I made those mistakes maybe once or twice/By once or twice I mean maybe a couple of hundred times/So let me, oh let me redeem, oh redeem, oh myself tonight/’Cause I just need one more shot at second chances“
2. “Sorry” by Beyoncé
Perhaps more of an anti-Yom Kippur song, Beyoncé is decidedly not sorry in this one, but that’s an important thing to remember, too: We don’t need to apologize for things that we’re totally not sorry for. Choice lyric: “Now you want to say you’re sorry/Now you want to call me crying/Now you gotta see me wilding/Now I’m the one that’s lying/And I don’t feel bad about it/It’s exactly what you get”
3. “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” by Eminem
This one comes with a parental advisory warning, which I think means you must be cautious before blasting it in front of your parents. But it’s actually about apologizing to one’s mama, and is among Eminem’s more sincere raps. Choice lyric: “I said, I’m sorry mama/I never meant to hurt you/I never meant to make you cry/But tonight I’m cleanin’ out my closet”
4. “Oops!…I Did it Again” by Britney Spears
Oops! Britney led someone on and made them think she was like, into them. Happens to the best of us. Choice lyric: “Oops, I did it again/I played with your heart, got lost in the game/Oh baby, baby/Oops, you think I’m in love/That I’m sent from above/I’m not that innocent”
5. “Criminal” by Fiona Apple
Here we have another icon apologizing for playing with a poor man’s heart. It’s nice that she’s apologizing, though honestly, Fiona Apple could do whatever the hell she wants to do with my heart. Choice lyric: “Don’t you tell me to deny it/I’ve done wrong and I wanna suffer for my sins/I’ve come to you cause I need guidance to be true/And I just don’t know where I can begin”
6. “If I Could Turn Back Time” by Cher
Yet another icon that made an ex-lover cry. In this one, Cher’s crying out for a time machine. Choice lyric: I don’t know why I did the things/I did I don’t know why I said the things I said/Pride’s like a knife it can cut deep inside/Words are like weapons they wound sometimes.”
7. “Ms. Jackson” by OutKast
We should all probably be apologizing to our partners’ mothers. Choice lyric: “I’m sorry Ms. Jackson (oh), I am for real/Never meant to make your daughter cry/I apologize a trillion times”
8. “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago
Chicago is right: Apologizing is really hard! Choice lyric: Hold me now/It is hard for me to say I’m sorry/I just want you to know/Hold me now/I really want to tell you I’m sorry/I could never let you go”
9. “Apologize” by OneRepublic ft. Timbaland
An important addition to the Yom Kippur liturgy, this song is a reminder that just because someone apologizes to you, that doesn’t mean you have to forgive them. Choice lyric: “They tell me that you mean it/Then you go and cut me down/But wait/You tell me that your sorry/Didn’t think I’d turn around/And say/That it’s too late to apologize”
10. “All Apologies” by Nirvana
My ’90s kids card may have been rebuked if I didn’t include this one. Choice lyric: “What else should I be/All apologies/What else could I say/Everyone is gay/What else could I write/I don’t have the right/What else should I be/All apologies”
Hungry (pun intended) for more Yom Kippur tunes? Check out and subscribe to the whole playlist on Alma’s Spotify. May you have an easy, meaningful, and musical Yom Kippur!