Recently I’ve been working on curating a ‘power playlist’—a collection of songs that I can count on to lift me out of a slump, get me motivated, and have me feeling like I can take on the world.
I asked my Instagram hive to share songs that instantly raise their mood. I got an overwhelming amount of answers, with songs I knew well, and songs I didn’t know at all.
I can’t pinpoint exactly what magical element all these songs posses, but I know that it’s definitely more than just an upbeat major chord progression. I’ve had an incredibly positive and productive past few days, which I attribute to this playlist (and okay, also the fact that we’re finally getting some sunshine in Toronto).
My favourite part of this research project was discovering what these songs have in common. While they all hold the ability to elevate mood, the subject matter isn’t so simple: most of these aren’t love songs or songs about happiness. They are about struggle, and finding balance. How lovely.
It’s officially June, which is the sixth month of the year. We’re half way through, isn’t that wild? Here are 6 Songs to Instantly Elevate Your Mood:
- Truth Hurts- Lizzo
Okay, this one is an easy first, and not only because it was suggested by more than 5 of my friends. Thanks ladies! I’ve officially found my go-to song when I need to feel like a badass. I recognized this song from the iconic scene in Netflix’s Someone Great where Jenny, Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez, dances around in her PJs post-breakup. It worked for her (well, sort of), and it will work for you. If you like “Truth Hurts” also listen to “Juice” by Lizzo.
We don’t fuck with lies, we don’t do goodbyes
We just keep it pushing like aye yi yi
- You Get What You Give- New Radicals
I was hoping someone would suggest this as I was ready to throw it on the list myself. This song speaks for itself, so have a listen. The New Radicals’ “Get What You Give” was sampled last year (20 years after the original release—talk about timeless) by Felix Cartal to create a techno-pop hit of the same name, using the title lyric to create a super catchy hook. While I guarantee that you heard this remix at a few parties last summer, I do feel that the original is more powerful, youthful, and rebellious in spirit. If you like Blink 182’s “All the Small Things”, you’ll like this song. Also, the music video features dogs, and a 1998 shopping mall.
This whole damn world, could fall apart
You’ll be ok, follow your heart
- Light On- Maggie Rogers
I think I might have to thank Maggie Rogers’ entire Heard It in a Past Life album for most of my creative inspiration this year. This track is guaranteed to get you moving, maybe even as much as Maggie in her live performances. This song navigates the struggle to be happy amidst change and accelerated success. Prior to releasing “Light On”, Maggie tweeted:
“This is a song about gratitude. It’s the most vulnerable I’ve ever felt in a song. It’s about how overwhelmed + scared I was during all that change, but mostly about all the light you gave me when I couldn’t always find it for myself”.
How sweet is that? Also, if you want some added joy in your life, watch Maggie’s live performance for La Blogothèque in Paris. Watch until the end, it gets overwhelmingly cute and wholesome. Also check out the links below a video of me performing this song.
And I am finding out
There’s just no other way
That I’m still dancing at the end of the day
- Shotgun- George Ezra
George Ezra’s vocals in this song are simple, smooth, and flirty, and the song features a trombone, which is an automatic win for me. This is the perfect song to blast while driving down a sunny highway with the windows down—it’s right there in the lyrics. “Shotgun” is a straight-up, feel-good cocktail made up of adventure and liveliness (probably shaken in a dazzling rose gold cocktail shaker). Go to 2:00 on George Ezra’s BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge performance to see how much fun this song truly is.
There’s a mountaintop that I’m dreaming of
If you need me you know were I’ll be
I’ll be riding shotgun underneath the hot sun
Feeling like a someone
- Roll Up Your Sleeves- Meg Mac
While this may be the slow burn of the list, Meg Mac’s motivating folk tune will surely get you feeling like you can take on the world. This song was suggested by a fellow musician friend. About 10 seconds into my first listen of “Roll Up Your Sleeves”, I almost decided that it wasn’t uplifting enough. But then, the chorus happened. And I think I actually said out loud: “Wow. Okay. I needed this.” If you haven’t heard the song before, listen to Meg Mac’s live version for 89.3 The Current. Her live performance is identical, if not better, than the record.
Roll up your sleeves
And face the faces looking right back at me
It’s easier to leave it all
It’s easier to fake it, oh oh
- Dog Days Are Over- Florence + the Machine
If the video that circulated a few years ago of Florence Welch singing this song to a fan in the hospital doesn’t convince you of how much power “Dog Days Are Over” holds, I don’t know what will. Well, I don’t know…maybe the Glee Version? Florence’s voice is especially haunting on this track as she sings of struggle, pain, and survival, like most of the band’s songs. While interpretations of these lyrics vary from ‘a girl afraid of love and happiness’, to ‘a girl trying to escape an abusive partner’ (I know, I’m sorry), to my favourite, “a song about the apocalypse but in a positive light”, the key to this song is the underlying passion and emotion; “Dog Days Are Over” is written and performed so intricately that it is accessible to countless interpretations. Whatever your take on the lyrics are, this song’s ability to move and motivate is undeniable.
Happiness, hit her like a train on a track
Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back
That’s all from me today. Thanks for reading, lovelies! I hope you have an incredible, positive, and inspired rest of your week!
Someone Great Dancing Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIMLMXW1JdE
“You Get What You Give” Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL7-CKirWZE
“Light On” for La Blogothèque: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVLDxmjeyVo
Laila Covering “Light On”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jp7sXJSZ1PY
“Shotgun” for BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxG44-EpfhI
“Roll Up Your Sleeves” for The Current: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDwdZM6W1oc
Florence Sing to a Cancer Patient: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HuYEOO2r1g
Let’s Connect on Instagram! https://www.instagram.com/lailakharouba