There have been many, many attempts to categorize Shakespeare references in modern popular music, but I’ve yet to find anything I’d consider the master list.
But since we haven’t done it for awhile, and this attempt seems new, I give you Shakespeare in Song, Categorized by Play, on The AWL.
The choices in this list are interesting, ranging for instance from the background noise in The Beatles’ “I am the Walrus” coming from King Lear, to David Bowie’s habit of carrying a skull when he sings “Cracked Actor.”
References to Sting (“Nothing Like The Sun” being a pretty obvious one) are nowhere to be found. Likewise no Dire Straits (“Romeo and Juliet”).
I think the task is just too difficult. Is it a Shakespeare reference every time somebody says Romeo? Or Juliet? I’d love it if somebody made a list of songs that contained actual Shakespeare text as lyrics. That’d be a great start. Then we can go from there and debate whether Led Zeppelin’s “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold” is or is not a Merchant of Venice (“all that glisters is not gold”) reference.