31 Best Uplifting Songs to Put Some Pep in Your Step

How are you feeling today?

If you’re sad, these inspirational songs can improve your mood! And if you’re feeling good, these songs can be the perfect soundtrack for your day.

All of the tracks on this list have great energy, using horns, drums, strings, and more to create an amazing vibe. So let’s dance, run, and jump around to the best uplifting songs!

(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher – Jackie Wilson

The lively horns and joyous vocals in this Jackie Wilson tune will lift you up, just like the love Wilson gets from his partner. The power of love is clear in this song with lyrics like “your love, lifting me higher than I’ve ever been lifted before.” Even on a bad day, being cared for can lift spirits and inspire hope.

Related: Hear this song on our 60s songs list.

The Sound of Sunshine – Michael Franti and Spearhead

Nice weather and the shining sun can easily make you happy and grateful. That feeling of closing your eyes against the warm sun is so peaceful, and ‘The Sound of Sunshine’ bottles that feeling in song form. Even when you go through stormy times, you know that sunlight will shine down on you soon.

Related: See more songs with lyrics about sunshine.

Valerie – The Zutons

Horns, electric guitar, drums, and gritty vocals are the perfect recipe for an uplifting song. The Zutons sing about feeling down and longing for a girl, Valerie, to come and make them feel better. They sing to her, asking, “stop making a fool out of me. Why won’t you come on over, Valerie?”

Related: Listen to more on our cover songs playlist.

One Day Like This – Elbow

‘One Day Like This’ is a song about the most beautiful day imaginable. Gorgeous strings and passionate vocals set you up to experience one yourself. Elbow talks about a day so flawless that it can carry them through the rest of the year, no matter what kind of difficulties the year brings.

Related: Want to start over? Here are the best songs about a new day.

No Diggity – Blackstreet ft. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen

One of the biggest R&B songs of all time, this chill track is all about attraction. ‘No Diggity’ works as a way to say “definitely” or “for sure,” which is how we feel when thinking about being with someone we’re attracted to. A steady beat gives these artists room for vocal adlibs, fun piano, and truly iconic lines.

Related: Check out our playlist of pop songs.

I Like It Like That – Pete Rodriguez

The clapping rhythm, growling vocals, and building horns make this song an immediate (and welcome) earworm. It’s repetitive and catchy, inviting you to get up and sway to the beat. Pete Rodriguez sings about feeling good because his life is how he wants it. Cardi B later sampled this song in her 2018 hit ‘I Like It.’

Perth – Beirut

The instrumentation in ‘Perth’ is upbeat and dynamic, but don’t listen too closely to the lyrics unless you’re ready to feel introspective and melancholy. There aren’t many lines in this song, but each is vivid and poetic. The verse “last night I combed the earth, you saw me at my worst, ragged tires burn for miles, I ran until it hurt” tells us our narrator is suffering and trying his best to escape.

Levels – Avicii

Avicii is one of the best EDM artists and producers of all time, and you are almost guaranteed to hear at least one of his songs on any night out. ‘Levels’ is popular due to its jumping beat and a vocal sample from Etta James. There’s nothing like belting “oh, oh, sometimes, I get a good feeling” to get you in a positive headspace and get you on the dance floor.

Related: This song features on our playlist of popular EDM songs.

Stay With Me – The Faces

Intense electric guitar and Rod Stewart’s distinct vocal rasp make ‘Stay With Me’ a fun rock song about a one-night stand. Stewart asks this woman to stay with him for the night, but he hopes no one develops any real feelings because he wants her gone in the morning. At least he offers to pay the cab fare!

Related: Rock out with these famous rock and roll songs.

It’s Not Right But It’s Okay – Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston finds out her man has been cheating on her in this R&B tune with a great beat. She’s angry and upset but immediately knows what she has to do—kick him out and move on. She knows her worth and what she deserves, and even though this was an awful thing to go through, she is confident she’ll be okay, singing, “it’s not right, but it’s okay. I’m gonna make it anyway.”

I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) – Four Tops

Four Tops sing about hopeless devotion in this soulful song from the 60s. Love can be so consuming, making you want to sing to your partner, “you know that I love you. I can’t help myself.” It’s like that person is just so amazing you have no choice but to love them.

Related: Here are some more of the best cake cutting songs.

Imitation of Life – R.E.M.

Ambient guitar and upbeat drums mask the somewhat heavy lyrics of ‘Imitation of Life.’ R.E.M. talks about the facade often present in Hollywood. There are fake people, fake stunts, and fake relationships—the industry tries to imitate life to make it more entertaining. The music video is actually one 20-second shot played over and over, zooming in on different people as they each imitate their own versions of life.

Related: Find more songs that relate to life.

Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra

Not many songs can instantly put you in a good mood, but ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ is one of them! A rainy day has finally ended, and this song is about the sudden gratitude for blue skies and bright sun. Electric Light Orchestra sings directly to the cloudless sky, saying, “hey there, Mr. Blue, we’re so pleased to be with you.”

Related: Fly high with more song lyrics about the sky.

Just Dance – Lady Gaga ft. Colby O’Donis

No matter how troubled you feel, dancing is always an outlet you can turn to. Even though it can feel silly, jumping around to your favorite songs can be a great way to release tension and get some endorphins. Try it out with ‘Just Dance,’ an electronic pop track full of energy. Lady Gaga is having an overwhelming night out, but she knows she’ll be alright if she keeps dancing. “It’s alright, just dance, gonna be okay.”

Related: Head over to our list of good prom songs.

Just a Gigolo – Louis Prima

The swaying jazz take on ‘Just a Gigolo’ was a big hit for Louis Prima, who goes back and forth between feeling sorry for himself and dreaming of a love-filled future. A “gigolo” is a male prostitute, and Prima seems lonely because of his surface-level connections with women. He fantasizes about having a girlfriend, saying, “I’ll sing her sweet love songs all of the time.”

Related: Listen to more of The Suicide Squad songs.

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson

‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’ has an instantly recognizable synth riff and tapping instrumentation that carries you through the song. Michael Jackson had a talent for creating great music to dance to, and in this song, he encourages you never to stop dancing until you’ve had your fill. It’s a great mentality for anything in life: don’t give up until you feel satisfied.

Related: You won’t be able to get enough of these famous disco songs.

I’m a Believer – Smash Mouth

Originally by The Monkees, ‘I’m a Believer’ came back to the public’s attention when Smash Mouth recorded it for the Shrek soundtrack. It’s about losing faith in love because you can’t seem to find it. But then you see them—”the one”—and you know you were wrong. The line “and then I saw her face, now I’m a believer” describes that love at first sight feeling that changes everything.

Related: Enjoy our playlist of songs in Shrek.

I Got a Woman – Ray Charles

Ray Charles’ gospel-like vocals lay perfectly over the grooving horns in ‘I Got a Woman.’ Charles is beyond grateful for this woman, praising her generosity and support when he’s in need. Her love is steady and freely given, shown by lines like “she’s there to love me both day and night.”

Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles

This peaceful acoustic ballad shines a glimmer of light in dark times that seem to stretch on forever. The acoustic guitar part was actually written on one of Eric Clapton’s guitars, which is probably why the guitar riffs steal the show. The song is about sorrows during an icy winter, and The Beatles reassure us that the snow is melting and better times are coming soon with “here comes the sun, it’s alright.”

Related: This song is on our playlist of modern acoustic guitar songs.

Wake Up Little Susie – The Everly Brothers

‘Wake Up Little Susie’ is a cute song that tells the story of a young couple who fell asleep at a drive-in and accidentally stayed out way past curfew. The couple stresses over how they will explain this to their parents because they know they are in deep trouble.

Related: Here’s our list of the best 50s music.

Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

Building piano and rejoicing vocals guarantee a good time while listening to this song. Freddie Mercury sings about his unstoppable zest for life, using vivid imagery like “I’m a shooting star, leaping through the sky like a tiger” to give us an idea of how good he is feeling.

Related: Having a good time? Listen to these songs about memories and good times.

I Like to Move It – will.i.am

‘I Like To Move It’ is often considered an unofficial theme song for the Madagascar movies, which are about a group of animal friends who escape the zoo and go on adventures. The song repeats its title many times, effectively getting you in the mood to move just like King Julian and his lemurs in the movie!

Related: You’ll love our list of appropriate songs for school.

Upside Down – Jack Johnson

Originally written for the feel-good movie Curious George (who is a sweet monkey often hanging ‘Upside Down’), this song is the epitome of relaxation. Jack Johnson’s soft vocals pair beautifully with the gentle drums and guitar for the track’s message about self-confidence and determination. No one can tell you what you can’t do or can’t dream—that’s up to you to decide. “Who’s to say what’s impossible and can’t be found?”

Related: See our Jack Johnson song list for more great songs.

I Got You (I Feel Good) – James Brown

James Brown and the saxophone have a conversation in this iconic song, switching off between Brown’s lyrics and the sax riffs. Brown has a powerful voice and a satisfying rasp that makes screaming “I feel good” so fun. It seems he’s feeling good because of love, with lines like “when I hold you in my arms, my love can’t do me no harm.”

Related: Have a great day with these ultimate feel good songs.

This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You) – The Isley Brothers

Instrumentally, this song is inspiring and joyful. Lyrically, not so much. The heartfelt vocals of the song make it clear how deeply the narrator is pining for a girl who has left him. He just can’t move on, singing, “if you leave me a hundred times, a hundred times, I’ll take you back.”

Related: Find this song on our list of Motown classic songs.

American Boy – Estelle ft. Kanye West

British singer Estelle sings about wanting her American boyfriend to show her all the sights of the US. She says, “take me to New York; I’d love to see LA,” but we can tell the real appeal of these places is being there with her man. Kanye West chimes in with some addictive rhymes, adding a unique sound to the track.

Related: You’ll want to hear these 2000s R&B songs.

People Everyday – Arrested Development

‘People Everyday’ was heavily inspired by the Sly & The Family Stone song, ‘Everyday People.’ Arrested Development raps about how people’s understanding of culture can vary from place to place, even from family to family. Even though this isn’t inherently bad, it easily becomes a problem when people start judging or mocking others for their differences. The remix of this song became an even bigger hit, adding more melodic sections and a slightly adjusted beat.

Related: Go to our playlist of the top 90s hip hop songs.

Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown – Jim Croce

Spirited piano and swinging melodies make this song a terrific one. Jim Croce tells the story of Leroy Brown, “the baddest man in the whole damn town.” Brown is a mean man with a huge ego that helps him get the ladies. This kind of narrative song is always fun to sing because it makes you feel like you’re part of the story.

Related: Listen to more windy city songs on our list of best songs about Chicago.

Rosanna – Toto

‘Rosanna’ is about lost love, and despite the regretful lyrics, this song has a very happy feel to it with its jumping horns and piano. The narrator remembers his past love, Rosanna, who slipped through his fingers. She haunts him with memories of what they could’ve been, and he admits that even now, “all I wanna do in the middle of the evening is hold you tight.”

Related: Here is our yacht rock songs list.

Pressure Drop – Toots and the Maytals

This classic reggae song has a uniquely relaxed take on being wronged. Rather than letting anger and plots of revenge consume your thoughts, Toots and The Maytals prefer to let karma do its work. They sing to the person who crossed them, saying, “pressure drop, a drop on you,” will come around eventually.

Related: Chill out with the best reggae songs.

Hung Up – Madonna

Madonna is great at creating those electronic dance songs that get you feeling good. ‘Hung Up’ is about the anticipation of having a crush. Waiting for them to call or being excited to see them can have you feeling “hung up” on the person, but you like them so much you honestly don’t care!

Related: Go back in time with the most popular songs of the 2000s.

More of the best uplifting songs:

  • Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger – Daft Punk
  • I’m Still Standing – Elton John
  • Girl on Fire – Alicia Keys
  • I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
  • Fight Song – Rachel Platten
  • Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
  • Heroes – David Bowie
  • What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
  • Can’t Stop the Feeling! – Justin Timberlake

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About Ged Richardson

Ged Richardson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ZingInstruments.com. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, PremierGuitar, Hallmark, Wanderlust, CreativeLive, and other major publications. As an avid music fan, he spends his time researching and writing about new and old music, as well as testing and reviewing music-related products. He's played guitar in various bands, from rock to gypsy jazz. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, where he geeks out about his favorite bands.

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