Inspirational songs to listen to

Need a musical boost?

Inspirational songs to listen to

They say music can calm the most savage beast and it’s true that the tunes you hear can play a massive part in your mood.

From getting you pumped up to smash your workout, or the perfect blend of chilled ambience to get you relaxing, there truly is a song for every vibe imaginable.

We’ve got our favourite playlists and we’re sure that you’ve got yours, too.

Looking to get some inspiration and give put a spring back in your step?

Add these songs to your playlist and you’ll experience a lift in no time.

30. 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 fans in the process

29. Started from the Bottom – Drake

Once upon a time, Drake was just like you, arguing with his mum and sitting in traffic. Now he wears all the chains – even when he’s doing the washing up – to remind him how far he’s come. After listening to this for a few minutes, you'll feel like you and your crew can go that far too.

28. 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 summer. There are loads of cover versions knocking around, but – surprise surprise – the joyous original still wins hands down

27. 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 resilience people. And don't listen to the version he performed at One World Together At Home.

26. Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson

‘What doesn’t kill you / makes you stronger,’ sings the first ever winner of ‘American Idol’ on this 2012 hit, which takes lyrical inspiration, believe it or not, from Friedrich Nietzsche. This one is all about dusting yourself off and getting the back out there, no matter what.

25. 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.

24. 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 punching people, okay?

23. Flawless – Beyonce

Sampling Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s inspirational feminist call to arms, there are many layers to ‘Flawless’ and just too many motivational lines to count. The overriding message, however, rings clear and true: ladies, you’re flawless – and you shouldn’t be defined by a relationship.

22. 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. Sound familiar expats?

21. True Colours – Cyndi Lauper

This simple, stripped-down ode to being your best authentic self has been striking a chord with outsiders for over three decades. Try listening to this one and not singing along, go on, we dare you.

20. 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.

19. 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.

18. Touch the Sky – Kanye West

The rapper has a few inspirational songs under his belt, but Touch the Sky – with its Evel Kneivel-inspired video and aspirational lyrics – is up there as being one of the most uplifting, motivational tunes of all time, sung by someone who knows a thing or two about self-motivation.

17. The Show Must Go On – Queen

The final track from Queen’s 1991 album Innuendo was recorded when Freddie Mercury was gravely ill. Guitarist Brian May reportedly had concerns about whether Mercury would be able to sing the song, who, in the end, delivered a stellar performance. Nailed like a true icon.

16. Wham Rap (Enjoy What You Do) – Wham!

A rap about life with no money might not sound particularly inspirational, but if your job is grinding you down, this one is sure to lift your spirits. ‘Do you enjoy what you do? If not, just stop / don’t stay there and rot,’ the late, great George Michael sings in the chorus. A lesson in sticking it to the 9-5 routine.

15. Unwritten – Natasha Beddingfield

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 Beddingfield a Grammy nomination and helped her break the US – oozes encouragement and champions the possibilities of a fresh start.

14. 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.

13. Live Forever – Oasis

This 1994 hit is a brazenly optimistic indie anthem full of arrogant Mancunian swagger from one of the 1990s' best albums. It’s Oasis at their brilliant best and we can’t get enough of the music or the brilliant wave of nostalgia that washes over us when we hear anything from Definitely Maybe.

12. Paper Planes – M.I.A

M.I.A. has never been an artist to play by the rules. Paper Planes – her crossover hit from second album Kala – was unlike anything in the charts at the time. It’s an out-and-out ode to being packed full of sociological references that show the artist as the carefree, genre-bending and unquestionably intelligent performer she is.

11. I’m The Best – Nicki Minaj

It’s the standout track from her first album, Pink Friday. Looking back now, it’s obvious at this point that Minaj knew she was about to become the globe-smashing star she is today – and it’s this level of self-belief that we all should aspire to have.

10. Unstoppable – Santigold

This Diplo-produced track became massively popular after it soundtracked a viral video back in 2009: one guy dancing enthusiastically on his own at Sasquatch! Festival, as Santigold plays a live version of the song. This one dude gradually inspires hundreds of others to rush towards him and join in the fun, inadvertently starting a huge dance party. Great, uplifting vibes, pure and simple.

9. So What? – Pink

Pink’s powerful message to her ex-husband (they had separated at the time) was praised by critics for its empowering message. It’s not hard to see why. The song is full of aggressive swagger and is definitely one to scream along to if you’ve had a bad day: ‘I got a brand new attitude and I’m gonna wear it tonight / I wanna get in trouble, I wanna start a fight.’ A pretty clear statement of intent. But don’t start fights, please.

8. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen

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

7. Can’t Hold Us Down – Christina Aguilera

Ladies, if you’re sick and tired of double standards, you’ve got two allies here. This song is a mega-bold statement on femininity, with a brilliant accompanying video that features men getting their comeuppance.

6. Sheila Take A Bow – The Smiths

We know what you’re thinking: Morrissey, really? Well, the answer lies in listening closely to Mozza’s lyrics. As well as the typically sardonic humour, you’ll also hear flashes of inspiring pep talks, too. Who’d have thought it?

5. Don’t Give Up – Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush

Elton John famously said that this song is the one that saved his. Though Peter Gabriel’s verses are those of despair, Kate Bush provides an optimistic counterpoint with words of hope and encouragement: Don’t give up / you’re not beaten yet.

4. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger – Daft Punk

Even the title of this dance duo’s repetitive electro-banger is seriously motivational. It’s been hijacked a bit by gym bros, but don’t let that stop it from picking you up when you need a lift. For extra motivational kudos, the track was later sampled by Kanye West on his 2007 hit Stronger.

3. Express Yourself – Madonna

One of Madonna's very best pop songs is also a feminist classic. Empowerment has always been a core theme in La Ciccone's work, and it comes to the fore in this funk-fuelled floor-filler written as an homage to Sly & The Family Stone.

2. 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.

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?), 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?

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