The future of music

60 Best Inspirational Songs (Motivational Hits)

November 7, 2023
best inspirational songs

I’ve compiled the most inspirational songs with empowering lyrics that will uplift your spirit.

This feel-good playlist features heartening hits across genres from artists like Katy Perry, Eminem, and Bill Withers.

Table of Contents

Top picks of inspirational songs

  • “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
  • “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
  • “Beautiful Day” by U2
  • “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
  • “Hall of Fame” by The Script
  • “Get Up, Stand Up” by Bob Marley
  • “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John
  • “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts
  • “You Only Live Once” by the Strokes

1. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

A popular disco anthem, “I Will Survive” was certified Platinum by the RIAA after Gloria Gaynor released it in 1978.

Lyrically, the song describes the narrator’s discovery of personal strength following an initially devastating breakup.

The inspirational song is also recalled as a symbol of female empowerment and the Library of Congress deemed it to be “culturally, historically, or artistically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Recording Registry.

2. “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson

Clarkson released this good motivational song in 2011, and it became her third song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart, staying at the top for three weeks as her longest-running number-one single.

The lyrical content of this inspirational song explores themes of empowerment and recovery following a heartbreak, with the chorus inspired by a Friedrich Nietzsche quotation: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

3. “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey

It is said that writer Cain had chosen this motivational song’s title from encouragement his father gave him as a struggling musician living on Sunset Boulevard. 

A worldwide hit in 1981, “Don’t Stop Believin’” became the group’s signature song and has continued at the top over the years.

Decades after its release, it became the best-selling digital track from the twentieth century, with over seven million downloads!

4. “Beautiful Day” by U2

This motivational song by Irish rock band U2 helped to launch their album to multi-platinum status.

The sound harkens back to the group’s previous sound, but Edge’s guitar was a subject of debate as the band disagreed on whether he should use a sound similar to that from their early career in the 1980s. 

Lead vocalist Bono explained that the inspirational song is about losing everything but still finding joy in what one has.

5. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

Many people know this motivational song as the theme song for the 1982 film Rocky III, which was released a day before the single.

The song was written by guitarist Frankie Sullivan and keyboardist Jim Peterik, and was recorded at the request of writer Rocky III star and director Sylvester Stallone, after Queen denied them permission to use “Another One Bites the Dust”.

6. “Hall of Fame” by The Script

“Hall of Fame” is an inspirational song, by Irish pop-rock band the Script featuring rapper of The Black Eyed Peas, about following dreams and making an impact on the world.

The Script frontman Danny O’Donoghue first met while they were both judges for The Voice UK, with O’Donoghue saying: “we went to the recording studio and an hour and a half later we had the song in its entirety.”

7. “Get Up, Stand Up” by Bob Marley

Written by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, this motivational song was recorded and played live by Bob Marley and the Wailers, and by Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.

“Get Up, Stand Up” is considered one of Marley’s greatest songs – and there’s been many!

In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked it number one on their list of the 50 greatest Bob Marley songs, while The Guardian ranked it number two on their list of 30, making it one of the best reggae songs of all time.

8. “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John

This inspirational song, by the one and only Elton John, became a huge hit across the world.

Helped by a video promoting the song on MTV, “I’m Still Standing” peaked at number 1 in Canada and Switzerland, number 4 in the UK and number 12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

9. “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts

This motivational, uplifting song was written by David Crane, Marta Kauffman, Michael Skloff, and Allee Willis as the main theme song to the NBC sitcom that we all know and love, Friends (1994 to 2004).

Warner Bros. Television selected the only available band on Warner Bros. Records to record it: the Rembrandts.

The song is uplifting and reminds us of the importance of being there for your friends!

10. “You Only Live Once” by the Strokes

When this motivational song was released as a single, the Strokes launched Operation You Only Live Once, prompting all of their fans to call and request the single on radio stations.

Their goal was to try to get out the word of the new single as fast as possible, with The Strokes’ Myspace page asking all users to put the song in their profile in an attempt to spread the single among the online community.

11. “Live Forever” by Oasis

This is another motivational song by rock band Oasis, with Noel Gallagher writing the song in 1991 before he joined Oasis.

Live Forever” features an optimistic outlook that contrasted with the attitude of the grunge bands popular at the time.

The song was the first Oasis single to enter the top ten in the United Kingdom, with lead singer Liam Gallagher declaring it his favorite Oasis song in 2017.

12. “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk

“Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” is a motivational song by French duo Daft Punk, released in October 2001.

A live version of the inspirational song was released as a single in 2007, winning a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording in 2009.

In 2011, NME placed it at number 132 on its list  of the “150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years”.

13. “The Funeral” by Band of Horses

This motivational song was written by the band members of alternative rock group Band of Horses in 2006.

In August 2009, Pitchfork Media named “The Funeral” the 67th greatest song of the 2000s.

The video tells the story of a man whose dog has died. Saddened by his loss, the man drowns his sorrows in alcohol, before crashing head-on into a delivery truck while driving under the influence.

14. “I’m So Excited” by The Pointer Sisters

Jointly written and composed by the sisters in collaboration with Chris Christian in 1982, the motivational pop song reached number 30 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

In 2001 the song was inducted, by the RIAA and National Endowment for the Arts, into Songs of the Century.

The list intended to “promote a better understanding of America’s musical and cultural heritage” – “I’m So Excited” definitely deserves its spot!

15. “Wake Me Up” by Avicii

Avicii introduced this motivational song for the first time live on stage at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, but the experimental first-try allegedly confused and angered a section of the electronic dance festival community.

Nonetheless, Avicii achieved critical and commercial success with the release of the single worldwide, with the good inspirational song being named as the highest charting dance track of the decade (2019).

16. “Get Ur Freak On” by Missy Elliott

This empowering song was written and produced by Elliott and Timbaland for Missy’s third studio album Miss E… So Addictive (2001).

Based on heavy bhangra elements, a popular music and dance form from the Punjab state of India, “Get Ur Freak On” became an international success.

The motivational song reached the top 10 in both the Netherlands and the UK, empowering women from across the globe.

17. “Times Like These” by Foo Fighters

The lyrics of this good motivational song discuss how Dave Grohl, primary singer/guitarist/writer and founder of the Foo Fighters, felt during the band’s three-month hiatus.

Grohl felt “like I wasn’t entirely myself” while away from the band, who took a break following the tense and unsatisfying first recording sessions for One by One.

18. “Can’t Hold Us” by Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis

This 2011 motivational song about breaking the limits was a sleeper hit, gaining more attention in 2012 and 2013.

It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ second number-one hit in the US.

The music video was nominated for Best Music Video at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards in 2014, but unfortunately missed out.

But, the song earned the title of “The Most-Streamed Song of 2013” by Spotify!

19. “Whatever It Takes” by Imagine Dragons

“Whatever It Takes” is a motivational song by pop rock band Imagine Dragons, and was released in 2017 as a promotional single through Kidinakorner and Interscope.

A commercial success, this inspirational song was the official theme song for WWE’s PPV event Battleground, in addition to its inclusion in the video game Madden NFL 18.

20. “Can’t Stop” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

This motivational song by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers was released in 2003 and is well-loved around the world.

The song was the band’s eighth number one on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, spending three whole weeks topping the chart.

“Can’t Stop” performed moderately well on international charts as well as on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and Mainstream Rock charts.

21. “Ready to Start” by Arcade Fire

“Ready to Start” is a single from Arcade Fire’s third album “The Suburbs”, released in 2010.

The band performed the motivational song as their second performance at the 53rd Grammy Awards, immediately following The Suburbs winning Album of the Year.

The band even performed the song at the Brit Awards several days after the Grammys – it’s definitely popular!

22. “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles

This motivational song by the Beatles, from their 1969 album Abbey Road, was written by George Harrison and is one of his best-known compositions.

Harrison wrote the song at the country house of Eric Clapton, where he had chosen to play truant for the day to avoid a meeting at the Apple Corps organization.

Lyrically, it reflects his relief at the arrival of spring and the respite he was experiencing from the band’s business affairs.

23. “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga

“Born This Way” is an inspirational song by Lady Gaga, and was written by herself and Jeppe Laursen.

The track was developed while Gaga was on the road with the Monster Ball Tour and is said to be inspired by 1990s music which empowered women, minorities and the LGBT community. 

Gaga explained that “Born This Way” was her freedom song, and it is the freedom song of many others, too!

24. “Walking On Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves

This inspirational song was written by Kimberley Rew for British rock band Katrina and the Waves’ 1983 debut album.

The album’s second single, this motivational song reached number 4 in Australia, number 9 in the United States and number 8 in the United Kingdom – it truly was an international hit!

It was the band’s first American top 40 hit, and their biggest success in the UK until 1997.

25. “Halfway Gone” by Lifehouse

This motivational song was a worldwide commercial success, charting in Canada, the United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

The accompanying music video for “Halfway Gone” portrays lead singer Jason Wade singing most of the lyrics in a park, and also features band cohorts and various people lip-syncing the lyrics as the song plays.

26. “Everlong” by Foo Fighters

This motivational song was released in 1997 as the second single from their album, The Colour and the Shape.

“Everlong” was the last song ever performed live by former drummer Taylor Hawkins before his death in March 2022, and it remains a signature song for the band.

As a result of Hawkins’ death, streams of the inspirational song increased and charted on the Billboard Global 200 at #123, the band’s first appearance on the chart.

27. “Now I’m Here” by Queen

This motivational song by rock band Queen, written by lead guitarist Brian May in 1974, is noted for its vocal harmonies and hard riff.

In the UK, the inspirational song reached number 11 on the charts and was a live favorite, performed at virtually every concert from late 1974 to 1986!

28. “A Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay

Coldplay co-wrote and co-produced this motivational song with Avicii, and it was recorded at The Bakery and The Beehive in North London.

The inspirational song garnered positive reviews from music critics and charted inside the top 10 in over 16 countries such as Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States!

It truly was a worldwide success, and is easily Coldplay’s best-known song.

29. “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child

“Survivor” is one of the best motivational songs ever, recorded by Destiny’s Child for their 2001 studio album of the same title.

The motivational song was inspired by a joke that a radio station had made about the fact that three members had already left the group, comparing the band to the US reality game show Survivor.

Beyoncé was inspired to take the negative comment and turn it into a positive, and she certainly succeeded!

30. “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

This inspirational song was written, composed and performed by singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.

The uptempo dance-pop song, about Swift’s indifference to her haters and their negative view of her image, aims to inspire us all to be ourselves no matter what other people say!

31. “One Day” by Matisyahu

This motivational song, with reggae influences, lyrically expresses a hope for an end to violence, and a prayer for a new era of peace and understanding.

Being interviewed by Spinner, Matisyahu said: “‘One Day’ is the song I’ve been wanting to make since I started my career. It is an anthem of hope with a big beat, the kind of song that makes you bob your head and open your heart at the same time.”

32. “A Little Less Conversation” by Elvis Presley

This 1968 motivational song, by the great Elvis Presley, was written by Mac Davis and Billy Strange and originally performed in the film “Live a Little, Love a Little”.

The inspirational song became a minor hit in the United States when it was released as a single, but a later 2002 remix by Junkie XL became a worldwide hit.

The remix topped the charts in nine countries and was awarded certifications in ten countries!

33. “Livin’ On a Prayer” by Bon Jovi

Known as the band’s signature song, it gave them their first number 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and their second consecutive number 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit.

In 2013, it was certified triple platinum after topping fan-voted lists and re-charting around the world decades after its release.

The official music video has over 936 million views on YouTube as of July 2022, which is pretty amazing if you ask me!

34. “Rise Up” by Andra Day

Andra Day is a Grammy-nominated artist who’s had many hits, and this inspirational song is no exception.

The talented singer-songwriter was asked to perform her hit motivational song “Rise Up” during “The Parade Across America” inauguration parade for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in January 2021, hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn. 

35. “Dream On” by Aerosmith

Written by lead singer Steven Tyler, this motivational song was Aerosmith’s first major hit and became a classic rock radio staple.

Released in 1973, the inspirational song peaked only at number 59 on the Billboard Hot 100 but was successful in the band’s native Boston, where it was the number one single of the year on WBZ-FM.

36. “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

This motivational song was written by Bob Thiele (“George Douglas”) and George David Weiss, first recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1967.

It topped the pop chart in the UK but performed poorly in the US because Larry Newton, the president of ABC Records, disliked the song and refused to promote it!

After it was heard on the film “Good Morning, Vietnam”, it was reissued as a single and rose to chart fame once again.

37. “Hello Hurricane” by Switchfoot

Switchfoot lead singer and songwriter Jon Foreman discussed this motivational song with New Release Tuesday:

“This is a subject matter that I speak of with holy reverence. Having grown up on the East Coast I know firsthand of the houses lost, of the dreams turned into nightmares. I take my shoes off and recognize that this is a matter that is dear to our nation, especially of late- with every passing hurricane season.”

38. “Way Back When” by Kodaline

Kodaline Guitarist Mark Prendergast wrote this nostalgic, motivational song over lunch with a childhood friend:

“The song’s about growing up together, looking back at our childhoods and the freedom we didn’t know we had.”

“You get a little older and you know so much more. It’s best to remember those days in a happy way.”

Vocalist Stephen Garrigan discussed the inspirational song: “A friend of ours passed away. You’re looking back and celebrating your friends.”

39. “Wavin’ Flag” by K’NAAN

“Wavin’ Flag” is a motivational song by Somali-Canadian music artist K’naan from his album Troubadour.

The inspirational song was originally written for Somalia and the aspirations of its people for freedom.

After an earthquake in Haiti in 2010, a remake of the song by a supergroup of Canadian artists, credited as Young Artists for Haiti, became a charity single in Canada and reached number 1 on the Canadian Hot 100.

40. “All I Want” by Kodaline

A motivational song by Dublin-based alternative rock quartet Kodaline, “All I Want” was taken from their 2013 album In a Perfect World.

Released as the fourth single from the album, the inspirational song reached number 15 in the Irish Singles Chart.

It also charted on the UK Singles Chart, but never made it past number 67.

41. “Started From The Bottom” by Drake

This hit motivational song, by Canadian hip hop artist Drake,was  released as the first single from his third studio album Nothing Was the Same.

An inspirational song about working your way up the ladder of success, it features a sample of the ambient piece “Ambessence Piano & Drones 1” by Bruno Sanfilippo, and peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100.

42. “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay

Viva la Vida” (Spanish for ‘Long Live Life’) is a motivational song by rock band Coldplay.

Written by all members of the band in 2008, the lyrics to the song contain historical and Christian references.

The inspirational song topped the UK Singles Chart and Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band’s first number-one single in both the US and UK!

It went on to win the Grammy for Song of the Year in 2009.

43. “Firework” by Katy Perry

This 2010 hit is a dance-pop self-empowerment anthem with inspirational lyrics, and Katy Perry said that she felt it was an important song for her on the record.

The motivational song was commercially successful, selling over 1 million copies in the UK.

It was certified 12x platinum by the RIAA for selling over 12 million copies in the US – wow!

44. “Dance With Somebody” by Mando Diao

“Dance with Somebody” is a motivational song by the alternative rock band Mando Diao.

It was released in 2009 as the lead single from their album “Give Me Fire”, with a segment of the inspirational song as the theme song for the twelfth season of Dancing With The Stars!

The music video that helped the song shoot to popularity was directed by Matt Wignall and Vern Moen.

45. “Heroes” by David Bowie

This is the motivational title song from Bowie’s 12th studio album, co-written by himself and Brian Eno.

Like some of his other album tracks, David Bowie improvised lyrics while standing at the microphone!

An art rock song that builds throughout its runtime, the inspirational song concerns two lovers, one from East Berlin and the other from the West.

Under constant fear of death, they dream they are free, swimming with dolphins.

46. “Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgendwann” by Nena

“Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann” (German for “somehow, somewhere, sometime”) is a 1984 motivational song written and recorded by the band members of Nena.

It was included on the band’s 1985 album “Feuer und Flamme” and was a huge commercial success in Europe.

Many foreign language versions of the inspirational song have appeared, most notably the English “Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime”.

Its various incarnations have charted over a 37 year period and in three different languages!

47. “Jubel” by Klingande

“Jubel” (“cheers”, “jubilance” in German), an inspirational song by French duo Klingande, features uncredited vocals by Lucie Decarne and saxophone by British musician Snake Davis.

It was released in 2013 and reached number-one in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Switzerland – impressive!

The motivational song also reached number three on the UK Singles Chart in 2014, and became the number-one song of 2014 in Slovenia.

48. “Going Underground” by The Jam

“Going Underground” is an inspirational song by music group The Jam, released in March 1980.

It debuted at number-one in the UK Singles Chart, spending three weeks at the top and receiving positive feedback.

The motivational song was the first of four number-one singles that the band achieved throughout their career, and definitely played a hand in their success.

49. “This Is the Life” by Amy Macdonald

This motivational song was released in 2007 in the UK, and in 2008 in most other European countries.

It became Macdonald’s most successful single to date, topping eight European singles charts and reaching the top 10 on nine other European lists!

The music video consists of pictures of Macdonald and her friends’ night out, creating a happy narrative.

50. “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyoncé

Run the World (Girls)” is a motivational song recorded by American singer (Queen!) Beyoncé in 2011.

The empowering, inspirational song’s development was motivated by Beyoncé wanting to do something different: a mixture of different cultures and eras, a new sound, and a message which would give women around the world strength.

51. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys

This motivational song by rock band the Beach Boys was the opening track from their 1966 album Pet Sounds.

Written by Brian Wilson, Tony Asher, and Mike Love, it received positive acclaim for its sophisticated Wall of Sound-style arrangement and refined vocal performances, and is still regarded among the band’s finest songs.

With its juxtaposition of joyous-sounding music and melancholic lyrics, it is considered a formative work of power pop and progressive pop.

52. “Pyramid” by Charice

“Pyramid” is a motivational song by Filipino pop and R&B singer Jake Zyrus, credited under his pre-gender transition name Charice.

The inspirational pop ballad features vocals from British Virgin Islands singer Iyaz, and has lyrics that metaphorically describe the strength of a relationship.

It reached number 56 on the US Billboard Hot 100, making Zyrus the second Filipino singer to enter the chart, and also topped the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

53. “Do You Want To” by Franz Ferdinand

This motivational song is the lead single from Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand’s 2005 studio album, “You Could Have It So Much Better”.

The inspirational song charted at number four on the UK Singles Chart and, in the US, it peaked at number 9 on the Modern Rock chart.

In February 2006, the single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and also reached the top spot on the UK Indie Chart. 

54. “There Goes The Fear” by Doves

This alternative rock song was released in 2002 (it was released and deleted in the same day) and charted at number three on the UK Singles Chart.

When asked in an interview as to why the single was released and deleted on the same day, Jez Williams stated, “It was to do something different from the norm. Just wanted to try something different really. I can’t remember exactly whose idea it was.”

55. “Drive” by Incubus

“Drive” is a motivational song by rock band Incubus, released in 2000.

It is the band’s biggest hit and breakthrough single, topping the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in 2001.

It was a worldwide success, reaching number four in Portugal, number 13 in New Zealand, number 34 in Australia, and number 40 in the United Kingdom. 

In 2001, the inspirational song won a Billboard Award for Modern Rock Single of the Year!

56. “Jump Around” by House of Pain

This 1992 hit song by hip hop group House of Pain was produced by DJ Muggs of the hip hop group Cypress Hill, who has also covered the song.

It peaked at number 3 in the US and number 8 in the UK, becoming a sleeper hit in 1993.

The song is popular among dancehall DJs and is widely regarded in the UK as a club classic!

57. “The Final Countdown” by Europe

This is a motivational song by Swedish rock band Europe, released in 1986 and written by lead singer Joey Tempest.

It was based on a keyboard riff he made in the 1980s, with lyrics inspired by David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”.

The music video is iconic, with a staggering 1 billion views on YouTube!

It features footage from their concerts at the Solnahallen in Solna, as well as extra footage of the sound checks from Stockholm.

58. “Jump In The Pool” by Friendly Fires

This is a motivational single by English Indie Rock band Friendly Fires, taken from the band’s self-titled debut album in 2008.

It is the theme tune to the BBC’s Final Score for the 2009/10 Football Season, and has been used as an introduction to the show for many years.

The inspirational song appears on BBC Radio 1’s “Live Lounge 4” album, thanks to singer LENKA’s cover.

59. “Legendary” by Welshly Arms

“Legendary” is an inspirational song by blues rock band Welshly Arms.

It was released in 2016, with the music video being released the following year.

The motivational song was certified platinum in Germany for the sale of 400,000 units, and performed very well on charts globally.

60. “One Day / Reckoning Song (Wankelmut Rmx)” by Asaf Avidan & The Mojos

The original version of this song was written by Asaf Avidan and was performed by Asaf Avidan and the Mojos.

A remixed version of the song credited as “One Day / Reckoning Song (Wankelmut Rmx)” was produced by German DJ Wankelmut and became an enormous commercial success in many European charts, including number one positions in Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Germany!

It also charted in Poland, France, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Luxembourg and Romania.

Best Inspirational Songs – Final Thoughts

When you’re feeling down on your luck, be sure to check out this list of the best motivational songs of all time.

These empowering, uplifting, and inspiring artists have produced some of the best music over the decades, and we definitely owe them a big thanks!

I hope you now feel motivated to become your best self, and achieve your dreams.

Similar Playlists:

Songs About New Beginnings

Songs About Bravery

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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