Music can be such a powerful tool. Whether you’ve just had a break up and want to sit on a bus and stare longingly out the window, listening to the saddest song on your playlist or you’ve just got a promotion at work and want to scream your favorite song full blast from your car, there is a song to fulfill every emotion, and an artist who speaks to them.
Sometimes in life, we just need a little hope. The songs which make hairs raise on your arms, and the ones which you have to replay, because you weren’t sad enough the first time you listened, are the ones which speak to you.
Here is a list of 20 songs which are each powerful in their own way. From songs which make you feel like you’re able to face another day, even when you’re at your lowest, to the ones which help you embrace who you are. Added will be some hopeful quotes from each song.
Songs about hope
1. Bob Marley – Three little birds
Bob Marley wrote the song Three little birds whilst in the company of a long term friend Tony Gilbert, who said Marley was partly inspired by birds who would visit his home.
He elaborated “Bob got inspired by a lot of things around him and was an observer of life”.
Rise up this mornin’
Smiled with the risin’sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Sayin’, this is my message to you.
2. Don’t Stop Believing – Journey
Released in 1981, Don’t stop believing was featured on Journey’s seventh album Escape It was inspired by keyboard player Jonathan Cain’s father, who used to tell him to “don’t stop believing” when he was unemployed and a struggling artist in Los Angeles.
The song became a hit and was even reinvented in 2009 on the popular TV show. Glee’, making the song grow even more in popularity.
Some will win, Some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues Oh,
the movie never ends It goes on and on, and on, and on
3. Lean on me – Bill Withers
Released in 1972. Lean on me was written, sung and recorded by Bill Withers, an American singer-songwriter. Bill Withers’ grew up in the coal mining town of Slab Fork. West Virginia, in a run down house in the poor part of the town. It was his childhood which inspired his song, which he wrote after moving to Los Angeles.
Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow
4. I want to break free – Queen
Released in 1984, I want to break free, written by bass guitarist John Deacon, was inspired by the women’s liberation movement and is based on the male perspective. The “breaking free” cry is also a hint of the oppression of the LGBT movement back when the song was released.
The world has since become more accepting, but when the song was released, there was a lot more discrimination against anybody who wasn’t straight’. The music video was actually banned in North America due to being too controversial.
I want to break free
I want to break free
I want to break free from your lies
You ‘re so self satisfied I don’t need you
I’ve got to break free
God knows, God knows I want to break free.
5. Here comes the sun – The Beatles
Released in 1969, Here comes the sun, was written by George Harrison, and was inspired by the long winters in England which Harrison thought went on forever.
In a BBC interview, Harrison said “It was just a really nice sunny day, and I picked up the guitar, which was the first time I’d played the guitar for a couple of weeks because I’d been so busy. And the first thing that came out was that song. It just came. And I finished it later when I was on holiday in Sardinia.”
Here comes the sun do, do, do
Here comes the sun And I say it’s all right
6. Shake it out – Florence and the machine
Released in 2011. Shake it out. Florence Welch says “is about getting through something or seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
It’s one of those songs which is universal, and can be applied to so many situations. It’s joyful inspiring, and full of hope.
Our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues strong
But ifs always darkest before the dawn
7. Walking on sunshine – Katrina & The Waves
Released in 1983, Walking on sunshine is considered a one-hit-wonder in the United States. It was written by Kimberly Rew guitarist who founded Katrina & the Waves.
At first, it was scrapped by the band as they all thought it wasn’t their vibe, and found it irritating. It has since been featured in several films, including Look Who’s Talking (1989). and Bean, the movie (1997). It’s a genuinely catchy, feel good tune.
I used to think maybe you loved me now baby I’m sure
And I just cant wait till the day when you knock on my door
Now every time I go for the mailbox, gotta hold myself down
Cos I just wait till you write me your coming around
I’m walking on sunshine
8. Livin’ on a prayer – Bon Jovi
Released in 1986, Livin’ on a prayer became a No. 1 hit that went on to become the band’s signature song — tells the tale of Tommy and Gina a working-class couple who struggle to make ends meet and vow to “hold on to what we’ve got.” It’s a song which a lot of people can relate to in times of struggle.
She says, we’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got
It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot for love
We’ll give it a shot
9. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
Released in 1975. Born to run was written by Springsteen in his New Jersey home in early 1974. It was the first song Springsteen wrote for a studio production instead of a live performance. It’s a song which captures the spirit of being able to do anything, and go anywhere in your youth, and not feeling tied to any commitments.
Springsteen has since been the inspiration behind the film Blinded by the light’ released in 2019. It was inspired by the life of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor and his love of the works of Bruce Springsteen, whose music helped him through many challenges in life.
He has seen him over 1 50 times in concert, and is a fine example of how music can play such an important role in our lives.
Oh, baby this town rips the bones from your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we’re young
10. Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
Released in 1988, Don’t worry be happy, was inspired by Indian guru Meher Baba. McFerrin explained that he saw a poster of Meher Baba with the phrase and thought it was “a pretty neat philosophy in four words.” It’s a simple song, with a lot of meaning.
In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy
Don’t worry, be happy now
11. What a wonderful world – Louis Armstrong
Released in 1967, What a wonderful world was written for singer Louis Armstrong, by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss.
It was inspired by Armstrong’s ability to bring people of different races together and was released at a time in which America saw curfews as race riots spread from Newark and Detroit to over 100 cities.
I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom
For me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world
12. Bridge over troubled water – Simon & Garfunkel
Released in 1970, Bridge over troubled water was written by Paul Simon. It was released at a time when racial tensions were erupting across the US.
Simon struggled finding words for the song, after a promising start, and was listening to a gospel song by Swan Silvertones which sang “I’II be your bridge over deep water/lf you trust in my name’, and said Well. I guess I stole it.”
When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
13. Eye of the tiger – Survivor
Released in 1982, Eye of the tiger was written by Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik. from the band Survivor’.
They were inspired by the trials and tribulations the band faced in the music industry, but it is a song which is about facing your fears, and trying your best. It was used in the film Rocky 3, which is just about that.
So many times it happens too fast
You change your passion for glory
Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive
14. R.E.M – Everybody hurts
Released in 1992, Everybody hurts was written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe of R.E.M. Simply put, it was written to prevent people from taking their own lives. It describes that everybody feels weak, sometimes, but how we will get through those times.
Don’t let yourself go
‘Cause everybody cries
Everybody hurts sometimes
15. Black Eyed Peas – Where is the love?
Released in 2003, Where is the love? is about the state of post 9/11 world, which all but calls for US withdrawal from Iraq. Group member Ron Fair started writing it late in 2001, and another member, Will.i.am., added the socially conscious lyrics.
The lyrics can relate to many different situations regarding injustice, and is about love and acceptance.
But if you only have love for your own race
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate, yeah
16. Lady Gaga – Born this way
Released in 2011. Born this way. the song and album, was inspired by Carl Bean, a gay, black, religious activist who preached, sung and wrote about “being born this way.” It is a song about being proud of who you are. regardless of colour, or sexuality.
No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, trans gendered life,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to survive.
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to be brave.
17. I will survive – Gloria Gaynor
Released in 1978, I will survive Is a song about female empowerment, and moving on after a break up. It was written by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris.
Over the years, it has taken on meaning for people who have overcome just about anything.
Go on now, go walk out the door
Just turn around now
‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore
Weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye?
Did you think I’d crumble?
Did you think I’d lay down and die?
18. Faith – George Michael
Released in 1987. Faith was Michael’s first solo album, and second single as a solo artist (after “I want your sex”). He was previously a member of the pop duo Wham!, and was trying to change his image to appeal to adults rather than youths.
In the video, he appeared with stubble, a biker jacket, and strategically torn Levi’s. When Michael released his album, he explained the reason he chose the song as his title track, saying It represents the way I feel at the moment.
“It’s kind of another word for my hope and optimism. You know, faith to me is just really such a strong word and the more I got into the idea of the song being the single, the more I liked the idea of using it as the title track.”
I’ll just have to wait
Because I’ve got to have faith
I gotta have faith
I’ve got to, got to, got to have faith
19. Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson
Released in 1988. Man in the Mirror, is about making a change and realizing that it has to start with you. It was written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard, and is one of two songs on the Bad album which wasn’t written by Jackson.
When Jackson asked Garrett where she got the idea for the song, she replied that she asked God for it.
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
20. One love – Bob Marley & The Wailers
Released in 1965. from their 1977 album Exodus, One Love Marley wrote this song amid the turmoil of the Jamaican elections in December 1976, remembered as some of the most violent times in the country. Some of the lyrics are about oppression and how sinners will pay for their evil deeds in the end.
Let them all pass all their dirty remarks (one love)
There is one question I’d really love to ask (one heart)
Is there a place for the hopeless sinners
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own?
Top 10 Motivational Songs
May it is a hormonal imbalance or a series of unexpected turns of events, there’s a point in our life where we’re crestfallen. Do you know that part where the main character sees no point in striving on or loses all its faith in their potential? Yes, we’ve all been there before.
Most people talked to their loved ones to lift their spirits, while others watch a film for a distraction. But I say nothing as a “Nothing Can’t Stop Me Now” playlist is enough to re-ignite the fire in your soul.
So, let’s dive headfirst in the Top 10 Motivational Songs and get lost in this sea of adrenaline-pump symphonies.
- Fight Song by Rachel Platten
- Mean by Taylor Swift
- Stronger by Kelly Clarkson
- High Hopes by Panic! At the Disco
- The Climb by Miley Cyrus
- Try Everything by Shakira (Zootopia)
- Fireworks by Katy Perry
- This is Me by Keala Seattle (The Greatest Showman)
- Sweeter than Fiction by Taylor Swift
- Drag Me Down by One Direction
There are many reasons we might all need a little hope, and music can be so powerful, almost like listening to a wise friend. Whether you’re young, old. rich. poor. gay. straight, black or white, there is a song with words of wisdom for every person.
There’s a saying people say ‘Music has saved me.” and for a lot of people, as cheesy as it sounds, that is true. Sometimes, when there is nobody to talk to. hearing your favourite song can be very comforting, and words can be powerful enough to change your outlook and perspective of life.
The songs you have on repeat, the ones you sing in the shower whilst using a shampoo bottle as your microphone; those songs are special.
So next time you’re listening to a song really listen, and understand the meaning behind it. You’ll find that every song is a story within itself, but often, you can decode them and relate them to your own life and personal experiences. What one song means to one person, might mean something completely different to another.
The song might not even have a deep meaning behind it. but to you. it could mean the world, and that’s the powerful thing about music.
And who knows? Maybe one day, you’ll write a song of your own. which could help people face their challenges. If not. you can stick to being the one who screams the lyrics to your favorite songs at family function discos!