The future of music

30 Best Songs About Overcoming Obstacles, Challenges & Hard Times

December 14, 2023
Songs about overcoming

I’ve curated a powerful collection of the best songs about overcoming obstacles, challenges, and hard times, each track a testament to resilience and hope.

This article offers a musical journey that inspires strength and perseverance, reminding us of the power within to triumph over adversity.

Top songs about overcoming obstacles, challenges & hard times

  • “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
  • “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift
  • “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child
  • “Rise” by Katy Perry
  • “I’m Moving On” by Rascal Flatts
  • “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.
  • “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera
  • “Carry On” by Fun
  • “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey

1. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

Right off the bat is a song everybody associates with life’s obstacles. 

Gloria Gaynor’s female empowerment anthem has gained much attention for its powerful message about overcoming tough times.

The song reflects the singer’s troubled love life and ultimate breakup.

But the strong message resonates with anyone facing a difficult situation. 

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

No song emphasizes the “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” mantra like Kelly Clarkson’s anthem.

It stresses the need to remain stronger in adversity and rise above life’s obstacles. 

When the going gets tough, and you have nowhere to run, unleash your inner warrior because it gets better. 

3. “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Celebrity life can be overwhelming. 

That’s why Taylor Swift had to call out all the haters for their continued negativity and false rumors about her life.

Upbeat, catchy, and inspiring, Taylor’s song reminds everyone to keep pushing and never succumb to negative energy. 

There are many ways to kill a rat.

And if this is Swift’s way of dealing with the haters, who are we to question her? 

4. “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child

Only a few artists can match Queen Bey’s creativity, status, and innovation.

But long before Beyoncé became the undisputed Queen of femme pop, she was part of Destiny’s Child, a girl band that ruled the 90s music scene with hits like “Independent Women Part 1.”

Their 2001 breakup anthem addresses the need to stand taller in the face of obstacles. 

The song is about moving on, and Beyoncé has previously explained that “Survivor is basically about surviving different situations.”

The commercial hit marked an important milestone in the girl group’s career.

It peaked at #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and won a 2002 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. 

5. “Rise” by Katy Perry

Katy Perry’s mid-tempo song has a strong message of overcoming. 

The song became NBC’s anthem at the 2016 Rio Olympics because it stresses mental fortitude.

6. “I’m Moving On” by Rascal Flatts

Another classic breakup song about moving on. 

This mid-tempo ballad finds the narrator pondering his troubled life. 

But he isn’t complaining. 

He’s moving on because he’s faced worse demons before. 

While this could be a breakup, the lyrics suit any situation where the listener wants to keep going. 

7. “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.

Everybody hurts, that’s for sure.

But what matters most is how you handle it. 

R.E.M.’s teenage anthem was meant to save the young generation from depression.

But it has since become a universal anthem for anyone trying to get over the bad times. 

The beautiful melody, the powerful message, and the brutally honest lyrics hit right where they should.

8. “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera’s song about overcoming adversity blends rock and roll and arena rock elements and is heavily influenced by Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain.”

The song is about becoming stronger after a breakup. 

That’s how you overcome life’s obstacles. 

9. “Carry On” by Fun

Fun’s song has pretty straightforward lyrics anyone can sing along to.

It is about pulling through the tough times. 

“Carry On” has become one of the best songs about overcoming obstacles, challenges, and hard times. 

Ruess’ faint vocals paint a sad picture at the beginning as he contemplates suicide. 

Then, Jack Antonoff joins with his guitar before the band comes together for a large chorus. 

10. “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey

“When You Believe” is a powerful ballad with inspiring and comforting lyrics.

The song’s message is that we can achieve everything if we believe in God. 

It peaked at #15 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and received positive reviews from music lovers thanks to the relatable message.

11. “Courage Is…” by The Strange Familiar

“Courage is when you’re afraid/But you keep on moving away/Courage is when you’re in pain/But you keep on living anyway.”

The Strange Familiar sings about the courage to keep going regardless of circumstances. 

12. “Dreams” by The Cranberries

The Cranberries’ debut single was part of their 1993 studio album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?

And dreams, in this case, refer to lead singer Dolores O’Riordan’s first love encounter.

The lyrics have since taken a different meaning, with the consensus being that life can be overwhelming, but every dream is achievable

This is an upbeat tune to put you on the path toward a more fulfilling life. 

13. “Don’t Look Down” by Idina Menzel

The “Frozen” singer gave us a mournful song perfect for any playlist of the best songs about overcoming adversity. 

Idina’s magical voice strikes everyone from the first time you listen to the song. 

But that’s not all. 

The powerful message also resonates with anyone pursuing their goals, encouraging them to keep their eyes on the target. 

14. “The Show Must Go On” by Queen

You may recall Freddie Mercury’s battle with HIV/AIDS complications towards the end of his enviable career.

And Queen released this song in 1990 on the back of Freddie’s deteriorating health. 

The song is best described as a ‘celebration of life.’

And it was special for the band for many reasons. 

“The Show Must Go On” explains that life must continue, no matter the circumstances. 

Through this song, Freddie showed the world that the only limit is our minds.

15. “Hold On” by Kansas

Hello, 70s music lovers.

Do you remember the celebrated American rock band that released “Dust In The Wind” and “Carry On My Wayward Son?”

“Hold On” was Kerry Livgren’s humble plea to his wife to turn to Christianity. 

And he succeeded, with the couple dedicating their life to Christ.

This song is great for self-reflection as you seek answers to life’s challenges. 

16. “Rain On Me” by Lady Gaga ft. Ariana Grande

Lady Gaga uses rain metaphorically to represent her tears.

“Rain On Me” is an empowering anthem about the hardships faced by the two artists throughout their careers. 

The feel-good song is about overcoming painful moments, with an inspiring message about acknowledging your emotions. 

17. “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey 

You need this one to awaken your inner warrior. 

And it’s hardly surprising Journey’s song never misses in any list of the best songs about overcoming obstacles. 

18. “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus released an inspirational ballad about the tough journey that promotes mental fortitude.

The song is about having the courage to pursue what you want, no matter the obstacles. 

It preaches self-belief and the resilience to overcome hardships to achieve your goals. 

19. “My Way” by Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” is one of the most popular songs from the 1960s.

It is about staying true to your journey despite the opposition, rejection, and doubts.

It is a song about self-determination for those who want to live on their terms.  

Many artists, including Elvis Presley, Dorothy Squires, and Sid Vicious, have covered the song. 

20. “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

When a catchy chorus blends with a powerful message, you get one of the best songs for overcoming obstacles. 

And that’s what defines Rachel Platten’s pop rock song. 

The lyrics are easy to sing along to and inspiring enough to help you overcome tough times. 

The song is about resilience and can heal your heart when fighting tough battles. 

21. “I Made It (Cash Money Heroes)” by Kevin Rudolf

Nothing screams “we made it” like Kevin Rudolf’s first single from his second studio album. 

In his words, Kevin explains that he “wrote the song to let fans know I started from nothing and built my dream from scratch.”

The same can be said about Cash Money Records, starting from a simple setup to become one of the most popular record labels of the 2000s and 2010s. 

The song’s message is that we can achieve anything if we don’t let obstacles stand in our way. 

22. “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi’s song isn’t just about overcoming obstacles.

It is a perfect tune for those who want to create their path and live their lives to the fullest.

This group understands that even with the self-determination to do things their way, they must be ready to face obstacles.

Jovi follows in the footsteps of Frank Sinatra, committed to creating their paths despite the strong opposition. 

23. “Roar” by Katy Perry

Katy Perry is known for her sexually suggestive songs that often reflect her personal life.

But in “Roar,” the American singer chose a unique path, encouraging those who’ve been knocked down by life’s struggles to give it another try. 

“Roar” is about overcoming challenging times and getting back on your feet even when all looks lost.

“I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter/Dancing through the fire/’Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar.” 

24. “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John

Another breakup song on this list.

Elton John sings about moving on after a breakup. 

The up-tempo song is widely known for its harsh lyrics.

But the universal message is to stand tall in the face of adversity.

The Rocket Man preaches resilience in this song to help you overcome the hard times. 

25. “Titanium” by David Guetta ft. Sia

We can all predict the outcome when a celebrated French Dj collaborates with a famous Australian pop singer.

That’s why everybody got excited with the rumors about a potential David Guetta-Sia collaboration. 

Then, they delivered “Titanium,” a masterpiece and an anthem for overcoming obstacles. 

The song is about standing strong no matter what the world throws your way. 

The only true way to win is if you never back down. 

26. “Float On” by Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse’s lead singer, Isaac Brock, was mourning two close friends when the band released this song.

He needed reassurance that the dark moment would pass and he would regain his smile. 

The inspiring song brings hope, assuring that everything gets better.

The lyrics were meant to send a positive message in trying times. 

27. “The Comeback” by Danny Gokey 

Danny Gokey has had many setbacks, from losing his record contract to losing his wife and struggling to launch his music career. 

But his light has always shone brightly throughout the dark, making him an inspiring figure in pop music. 

His comeback song encourages us to keep pushing in tough times. 

Whenever you feel like giving up, insert your name here and say, “___here’s your comeback.”

28. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel

Bridge Over Troubled Water” is one of the folk duo’s best songs, having topped the US and UK charts and winning 5 Grammy Awards.  

The lyrics describe someone going through a difficult moment in life. 

He’s emotionally exhausted but still dreams of better days, trusting a force to see him through the dark moment. 

29. “Up” by Shania Twain

A Shania Twain-only playlist would excite any music lover.

That’s why she’s one of the best-selling female artists of all time. 

Most of her songs have turned out to be era-defining. 

And some laid the groundwork for upcoming artists who adored her work.

In “Up,” the protagonist is frustrated at her current struggles. 

She’s going through a difficult moment but acknowledges that she must push on no matter how bad it gets. 

The chorus emphasizes the need to keep moving to get over the difficult moments. 

30. “Hero” by Mariah Carey

Let’s finish with a personal ballad about finding inner strength in hard times.

Mariah Carey recognizes that everyone has to be their hero to conquer their biggest fears and sail through life’s storms. 

It is more about becoming prepared for whatever life throws your way without whining. 

“Hero” is one of the most inspiring hits and one of the best songs about overcoming obstacles. 

And Mariah has performed it at special events and concerts, including Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration ceremony. 

Best Songs About Overcoming Obstacles, Challenges & Hard Times – Final Thoughts

It’s easy to feel sad, exhausted, and even give up when things don’t go your way.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Part of living is recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and acknowledging when things don’t favor you.

And the first step towards a fulfilling life is pulling through the tough times. 

While bad luck might be here now, a great playlist can put you in the right mood, showing you that good things might be coming sooner than expected.

That’s our list of the 30 best songs about overcoming obstacles.

Surely, there must be a song to uplift your mood when the going gets tough. 

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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