If you’re feeling blue and looking for happy, upbeat songs to lift your spirits, look no further! We’ve compiled a list of the best happy music of the last 50 years.
From classic hits to modern-day bops, these happy songs will have you tapping your toes and singing along in no time. So, pump up the volume, and let’s get happy!
What Makes A Song Happy?
A happy song makes you feel good and brings a smile to your face. Happy songs often contain elements that make you want to get up and dance, whether it’s an upbeat rhythm, inspiring lyrics, or a catchy chorus. Happy songs can be nostalgic and timeless, or they can be the latest chart-topping hits. Regardless, happy music has the power to lift your mood instantly.
Why Listen To Happy Music?
Positive psychology research has shown that listening to upbeat music can effectively increase happiness, especially when you have an intention to become happier. Listening to happy music can help you tap into positive emotions, create a more optimistic outlook on life, and reduce stress.
How much music do you need? The British Academy of Sound Therapy recently stated its musical recommended daily allowance:
- For happiness and to feel uplifted, listen to 9 minutes of music with a driving rhythm, fast tempo, and happy lyrical content.
- Aim for 13 minutes of music with a slow tempo, a simple melody, and no lyrics to feel more relaxed.
- 13 minutes is also the optimal amount of time to listen to music to help you concentrate and to listen to sad music to help you process or release sadness.
The bottom line is: if you’re looking for an excellent happiness hack to quickly bring more joy into your life, listen to happy music!
The Best Happy Music Of The Last 50 Years
The happy music of the last 50 years is a treasure trove of classics, from classic rock to hip-hop, folk to funk, and everything in between.
It was a challenging but fun task to choose the one song from each year that we found to be the most impactful and memorable for us personally. Here are our picks for the best feel-good songs from 1972 and beyond, ready to lift your spirits and get you moving.
Click on the song title to listen to it on YouTube!
This infectious, funk-soul classic has earned admiration for its catchy hook and soulful sound, with the song becoming a staple of classic rock. Through its electrifying performance, uplifting message about not letting superstitions hold you back, and stellar production, “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder is the perfect start to your happy music playlist.
With its bopping rhythm and endearing playfulness, Elton John’s classic hit “Crocodile Rock” is an instant mood booster. The song was released in 1972 and quickly climbed to the top of the charts in early 1973 for several weeks. Five decades later, this jukebox classic continues to be enjoyed by fans of all ages.
“The Loco-Motion” was initially recorded and released by Little Eva in 1962, quickly becoming a number-one hit. Grand Funk Railroad re-recorded it in 1974, giving it its signature spin, and this updated version also reached number one. To this day, “The Loco-Motion” remains an inspiring rock anthem for its upbeat spirit and attitude of freedom.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is an iconic song by the British rock band Queen. It is considered one of the greatest rock songs of all time. The music is known for its distinctive structure. With no refraining chorus, it contains six distinct sections that blend different musical styles, such as progressive rock and operatic flourishes. As the song progresses, you can’t help singing aloud and feeling great.
1976: “Dancing Queen” by ABBA
“Dancing Queen” by ABBA combines elements of funk, disco, and pop music to create a positive energy that oozes everywhere. The lyrics encourage you to let loose, have fun, and celebrate love and friendships. If you’re looking for the best upbeat song to lift your spirits, look no further than this timeless tune to put you in a good mood.
The combination of catchy music, uplifting lyrics, and the Bee Gee’s signature sound makes “Stayin’ Alive” one of the most beloved tunes from the 1970s. The song has been featured in many movies, television shows, and commercials, proving its staying power. Whether it’s disco night or a sunny day in summer, “Stayin’ Alive” is sure to get your feet tapping and put a smile on your face.
Inspired by the Y.M.C.A.’s impact on society, this classic disco track offers a light-hearted look at the organization and its positive influence on young people through its outreach activities. An energetic, jubilant tune with a memorable chorus, “Y.M.C.A.” by Village People continues to fill dance floors everywhere more than 40 years after its original release – a testament to its lasting appeal!
The inspirational song “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge has become a music staple since its release in 1979. The uplifting track continues to inspire today due to its upbeat timeless sound and empowering message of togetherness and unity.
“It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me” by Billy Joel is a timeless classic that has solidified itself as an iconic single of the rock era. In addition to its immense commercial success, the song has been widely praised for its lyrical content and musical composition. It features a classic rock style, an upbeat vibe, and clever lyrics that pay homage to popular artists from numerous genres, such as classical, jazz, metal, and hip-hop.
1981: “Mickey” by Toni Basil
Toni Basil’s winning performance of her song “Mickey” on American Bandstand caused it to take off with audiences across America and eventually worldwide. This fun song resurfaced as a classic pop culture hit when it was featured in the 2004 hit teen flick “Mean Girls.” As one of the most well-known pop songs, you’ll enjoy singing along to it when you hear it!
1982: “Gypsy” by Fleetwood Mac
“Gypsy” by Fleetwood Mac is a beloved classic rock hit inspired by singer Stevie Nicks’ life experiences. The song continues to move music listeners of all ages with its message of freedom and fearlessness. Whether you’re familiar with “Gypsy” or just discovering it, this tender, sweet ballad will surely bring a happy tear to your eye.
If you need a pick-me-up song, this is it! “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves features a catchy chorus, an incredibly memorable melody, and joyous lyrics reflecting an optimistic outlook. It’s been included on several soundtracks, from “Coyote Ugly” to “Glee.” It is often recognized as one of the most uplifting pop songs of all time.
The unique blend of rock and pop in Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” made it an instant classic when it was released in 1984. Featuring a feel-good melody, catchy chorus, and signature guitar riff, “Footloose” was adopted as the theme song for the movie of the same name, leading to its enduring popularity.
1985: “Take On Me” by A-ha
With its unforgettable electric synth and drum machine-driven beat, “Take On Me” by A-ha has remained an international sensation since its release in 1985. Its accompanying music video featured groundbreaking rotoscoping (pencil-sketch animation combined with live-action footage) to create a unique, modern art style that further boosted its popularity. Watch the video and happily sing along!
To this day, “Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi remains one of the most popular classic rock songs. Its catchy lyrics, inspiring message about hope and resilience, and captivating guitar solos continue to uplift and inspire people of all ages. Consider listening to this when you’re at home so you can shout, “Woah, livin’ on a prayer!” as loud as you want.
The exciting blend of upbeat pop and soulful R&B in “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston made it an instant classic. It’s easy to see why – the infectious chorus, energetic production, and empowering lyrics make this song a timeless anthem for embracing self-expression. You’ll want to get on the dance floor as soon as you hear it!
Certain songs have a je ne sais quoi that renders them instantly recognizable and iconic. Such is the case with “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin, the first a cappella song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” is a happy-go-lucky anthem urging listeners to stop worrying and instead focus on the things that make them happy. It’s one of the happiest songs of the last fifty years!
Janet Jackson’s “Escapade” is a dynamic, funky track, with horn stabs and rolling bass lines that make it an excellent tune to dance to. The song has become a classic for its upbeat energy and feel-good vibes, fueled by Janet’s powerful vocals and vibrant melodies. Plus, Janet’s smile is contagious!
1990: “Vogue” by Madonna
Expertly blending hustle, deep house, and glamour pop elements with mesmerizing vocals from Madonna, “Vogue” is the perfect happy song for any occasion. Its infectious beats and empowering lyrics encourage you to “strike a pose” and celebrate your individuality. It’s an enduring anthem full of inspiration and joy.
“Good Vibrations” is the epic collaboration between Loleatta Holloway and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Combining Loleatta’s powerful vocals with Marky Mark’s infectious energy, the song is an uptempo party anthem that brings out happy vibes whenever and wherever it’s played.
“These Are Days” by 10,000 Maniacs is a folk-rock classic that transports you to a serene and peaceful atmosphere. The song’s simple yet heartwarming lyrics encapsulate the beauty of embracing everyday moments and will take you on an emotional journey through nostalgia and reflection.
Written in D.J. style, “Whoomp!” by Tag Team has a simple, catchy melody that resonates with music lovers everywhere. It’s an iconic hip-hop classic widely known for its unique sound and style. The happy-go-lucky vibe of the song and its memorable chorus will instantly put you in a great mood!
Since its release in 1994, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey has topped charts worldwide and sold over 16 million copies. It is one of the best-selling singles of all time. The heartwarming lyrics of the song have captivated audiences for years, emphasizing the importance of love and togetherness during the holiday season.
The hit R&B single “This Is How We Do It” from Montell Jordan captures a masterful combination of soul, jazz, and funk music with a 90s hip-hop style. Uplifting and melodic, the song is an ode to personal empowerment with a celebration of living life to the fullest, no matter how hard times might be.
“No Diggity” is an infectious hit that immediately gets everyone in the mood to groove. With its undeniable soulful rhythms, classic hip-hop beats, and slick lyrics by Blackstreet and Dr. Dre, the song has become a mainstay of happy music for over 25 years.
Chumbawamba’s clever use of wry humor and infectious melodies made “Tubthumping” an instant classic. The happy-go-lucky song celebrates the spirit of resilience and determination while at the same time poking fun at everyday obstacles and empowering you to stand up against injustices of all kinds.
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” is a well-known R&B classic, with fans around the world feeling an emotional connection to its combination of upbeat melody and powerful lyrics. Its simple yet effective instrumentation merge perfectly with Lauryn Hill’s emotive vocal styling. For many listeners, this beloved song conjures nostalgia and fond memories, and it may do that for you too!
The irresistible combination of Latin rhythms, slick production, and Ricky Martin’s powerful vocals make “Livin’ La Vida Loca” a happy music classic. With its infectious beat and upbeat tempo, this song is the perfect way to get the party going and lift your spirits.
2000: “Beautiful Day” by U2
A global hit for U2, “Beautiful Day” remains an inspiring and timeless reminder that every day can be beautiful no matter what lies ahead. The uplifting lyrics, heartfelt vocals, and joyful melodies of the song evoke feelings of hope, renewal, and optimism. Sing along – “It’s a beautiful day!” – and let the happy music fill your soul.
“Whenever, Wherever” is an uplifting pop song by Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira. The song’s lyrics explore themes of fate and love that emphasize how powerful and ever-present these emotions can be in your life. Your destiny is waiting whenever and wherever you choose to look for it!
The groundbreaking 2002 single “Work It” by Missy Elliott served as her defining moment and the anthem of a generation. More than 20 years later, “Work It” lives on as an energetic celebration of creativity and hard work.
2003: “Hey Ya!” by Outkast
Outkast’s chart-topping hit “Hey Ya!” has been delighting listeners for two decades with its upbeat energy, clever lyrics, and vibrant rhythms. If you want to delight your eyes in addition to your ears, check out its fun music video showing Andre 3000 playing eight versions of himself in the band.
“Somebody Told Me” by The Killers is an infectious rock hit with catchy melodies and fun guitar riffs that make you want to sing along. Its popularity comes from its relatable themes of love and relationships, the driving power of its rhythm, and its happy-go-lucky attitude.
The combination of rock, rap, and electronic elements helps make “Feel Good Inc.” by Gorillaz a unique song loved by all ages. The lyrics explore themes of identity and freedom, while the jubilant horns and rap breakdown keep things lively throughout. As soon as you hear the laughter at the beginning of the song, you know it’s going to be a good time.
“Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley is a beloved, classic hit that never fails to put fans in a good mood. Its upbeat tone belies its powerful lyrics, which reflect on the everyday struggles of life and love. Coupled with smooth production and soulful vocals, “Crazy” is an infectious song that will have you humming along in no time.
With its party-like energy and perfect blend of dancehall, reggae, and European synth-pop styles, “Don’t Stop The Music” by Rihanna makes for an upbeat and inspiring track that will quickly put you in a great mood.
Influenced by 1980s electro-pop music, “Just Dance” by Colby O’Donis and Lady Gaga is a happy, chart-topping song about having fun. The song’s message is simple – forget your troubles and just dance.
From its upbeat guitar riffs to its fun and inspirational lyrics, “I Gotta Feeling” immediately puts you in an unforgettable party atmosphere. The track is an excellent example of the type of energetic, upbeat music for which The Black Eyed Peas is known, cementing its place in modern pop music history.
In “Good Life” by OneRepublic, the band’s lead vocalist Ryan Tedder sings about his appreciation for life and reinforces his positive outlook throughout the track. The uplifting song is packed with happy synth-pop sounds and energizing guitar riffs, making it a great addition to any happy music playlist.
“Party Rock Anthem” is a modern party anthem that celebrates life and encourages everyone to let go of their worries and enjoy themselves. With its vibrant beats, catchy hooks, and unique rap, LMFAO created an unforgettable hit that continues to be a go-to song to get any party started!
“Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen quickly gained popularity for its upbeat sound and catchy chorus, but there was more to its success than that. Its light-hearted lyrics and music video made it fun for listeners to sing along. Its cunning catchphrase, “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy!” made it an instant hit – you’ll find yourself saying it too!
The song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams has become an international anthem for joy and positivity. Released in 2013 from the movie “Despicable Me 2,” it has charted in several countries worldwide and gained a strong following. The song’s message is clear: enjoy life and seize every opportunity with a smile on your face.
“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift is a powerful anthem that tells you to ignore the haters and never allow someone else’s opinion to prevent you from pursuing your goals. Its upbeat tempo and catchy lyrics make it a happy and uplifting song that will always put you in a good mood.
The critically acclaimed song “Uptown Funk” by Grammy award-winning English producer Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars is one of the biggest crossover hits of the decade. Combined with playful funk beats, a soulful chorus, and Bruno’s unforgettable charisma, this song will keep listeners, including you!, grooving for many years to come.
Justin Timberlake released “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” in 2016 as part of the soundtrack for the animated movie “Trolls.” The uplifting track quickly became a fan favorite, topping numerous music charts worldwide and receiving multiple awards. And no wonder – the song is packed with happy vibes, positive lyrics, and upbeat production that make it impossible not to dance along.
“Feel It Still,” the breakout song from the multi-Grammy Award-winning band Portugal. The Man, is a euphoric sunshine anthem full of funky soul. The catchy tune, clever lyrics, and infectious groove of the song make it immediately memorable and an easy crowd-pleaser. From its sing-along chorus to its earworm-worthy bass line, “Feel It Still” is a song you’ll want to listen to again and again.
The unique mix of rap, reggaeton, and Latin influences in “I Like It” by Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and J Balvin made it a groundbreaking crossover hit. With its happy and upbeat lyrics, combined with its infectious melodies, this song is an ideal choice for happy music lovers all over the world.
2019: “Juice” by Lizzo
“Juice” by Lizzo is a lively, soulful anthem with an infectious beat. The track emphasizes self-love and the empowerment of individuality in a carefree and joyous atmosphere. With its happy vibes, powerful message, and captivating chorus, “Juice” is sure to make you feel happy no matter what life throws your way.
“Levitating” by Dua Lipa is an uptempo, upbeat pop song that you can’t help but dance to. This song serves as a reminder that sometimes there’s nothing more enjoyable than letting go and just having fun with those around you – cue some seriously good vibes!
2021: “Butter” by B.T.S.
With its distinct blend of electro-pop and funk influences, infectious chorus, and signature slick dance moves, “Butter” is just as smooth as its title implies. In this dreamy tune, K-pop sensation B.T.S. reminds us to appreciate good moments before they fade away.
With its wavy synths and infectious vocal flow, “I Like You (A Happier Song)” by Post Malone and Doja Cat makes for a lovely pop music experience. The duo cleverly delivers a happy and lighthearted message about self-acceptance, perfect for these modern times.
There you have it – our list of the best happy songs of the last 50 years!
Music truly is one of the greatest gifts that life has to offer. It has a powerful effect on the mind and body and can lift your spirits, giving you hope and strength to get through hard times. So choose happy music that fills you with happy emotions like joy, enthusiasm, humor, and love.
No matter what genre of music you prefer, there are so many happy songs that can make your day brighter and better. We hope our list helps you create a happy music playlist that leads you to a little dose of happy every day.
Happy listening! 🙂