Feel-good music

Shereen D’Souza picks the songs that never fail to pick her up Discuss this article

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1 Lose Yourself – Eminem
Putting all the memes about ‘Mom’s spaghetti’ aside, if you’ve ever felt like the underdog (and who hasn’t at some point in their life?), then Lose Yourself is for you. It’s all about seizing the moment and giving it all you’ve got, plus a bit more – and what’s more inspirational than that?

2 Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield
This uplifting smash hit from 2004 encourages us to admit that we make mistakes, learn from them and then ‘Live your life with arms wide open’. Every line of this tune – which earned Bedingfield a Grammy nomination and helped her break the US – oozes encouragment and champions the possibilities of a fresh start.

3 Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
Yet more survivors, this time providing the tune that got Rocky Balboa out of his rut and back in the ring. We defy you to hear those thudding, opening guitar chords and not feel 110 percent ready to deal with whatever nonsense the day throws at you. Just like Rocky, you got this – just don’t start randomly punching people in the street, okay?

4 (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher – Jackie Wilson
Possibly the greatest feelgood song of all time, this tune is three minutes of pure happiness and will fling you straight into 2018. There are loads of cover versions knocking around, but the joyous original still wins hands down.

5 Firework – Katy Perry

When explaining the message behind Firework, Perry said: “I really believe in people and I believe that people have a spark to be a firework.” It’s an empowering message to her fans – the only person in charge of your goals is you, and that same person has the power to change things. No excuses.

6 Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

The Boss’ defining 1975 album Born to Run was the one that catapulted him to stardom, and its title track remains inspirational, also being the highlight of his epic live show. Written as a love letter to a girl named Wendy, it’s all about running away – which initially doesn’t sound too inspiring, until you realise it’s also about starting all over again with a fresh outlook. Plus it has a killer sax solo.

7 I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor

Another number that proves life goes on after a break-up, this ultimately empowering disco anthem is a classic motivational tune. Gaynor later used it as the backdrop for a 2013 anthology of inspirational stories called ‘We Will Survive’. Destiny’s Child may have shouted about it the loudest, but GG was the original survivor.

8 Encore – Jay Z
An unapologetic list of the rapper’s attributes and achievements, Encore was called one of his “happiest cuts” by one critic. Crucially, it’s also a warning to other rappers that might follow in his path: Jay Z is the greatest, and he knows it. Sometimes, all you need to be inspired is your bad self. No time for modesty here. Good thing, given it’s Jay Z.

9 I’m Still Standing – Elton John
A seriously up-tempo song, I’m Still Standing is all about triumph in the face of adversity. Although it was written as a post-break-up anthem, many of Elton’s fans see it as a statement of the singer’s toughness. Learn from that steely resiliance, people!

10 Heroes – David Bowie

From the second album in his ‘Berlin Trilogy’, this is one of Bowie’s signature songs. Over the years, it’s become associated with optimism and hope – some even associate it with playing a part in the fall of the Berlin Wall, after Bowie performed it live in front of the Reichstag in 1987, in an emotionally charged concert. Powerful stuff.

11 Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Originally recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell in 1967, this Ashford and Simpson-penned song was covered by Diana Ross three years later, becoming a hit. The original, however, is still the most uplifting version, full of hope and determination, proving that love can conquer anything that stands in its way.

12 New York, New York – Frank Sinatra
‘If I can make it there / I’ll make it anywhere’ – Sinatra’s defiant 1979 cover of the theme song from the Martin Scorsese film of the same name (the original was by Liza Minnelli) is all about shaking off the shackles of your old, small-town life and making it big in the city.

13 Survivor – Destiny’s Child
A true lesson in resilience from Queen Bey and co, this classic is a motivational poster turned into an R&B banger. The song came off the back of problems within the group, but it silenced their critics and inspired their fans in the process.

14 Express Yourself – Madonna
Madonna at her absolute inspiring best. When the Queen of Pop urges you to feel free enough to show your true feelings in a relationship and never go for ‘second best’, you should do it. Right away. Bring on the new year.

By Shereen D’Souza
Time Out Doha,

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