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Best Feel Good Songs: 10 Upbeat Tracks To Guarantee Happiness
mohamed hassan
List & Guides

Best Feel Good Songs: 10 Upbeat Tracks To Guarantee Happiness

From poppy summer anthems to funk-ridden outbursts of euphoria, the best feel-good songs can’t fail to bring a smile to the face.

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Whether you’re planning a party, celebrating a win, or just looking for a reason to smile while the world throws its worst at you, the best feel-good songs are guaranteed to boost your endorphin levels. Expect sunshine pop, proto-funk and no shortage of reasons to be happy.

Best Feel-Good Songs: 10 Upbeat Tracks To Guarantee Happiness

10: Haircut One Hundred: Fantastic Day (1982)

An undeniable sense of optimism came with some of the bands that followed in the wake of New Wave and synth-pop. The likes of Orange Juice, New Musik and XTC all displayed intelligent production and a rejection of fatalist Britain, but so did the less well-remembered Haircut One Hundred – in their own, almost family-friendly way. Despite hefty competition from other songs on their debut album, Pelican West (not least Love Plus One and Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)), Fantastic Day remains the pinnacle: an oh-so-sweet depiction of a British summer day, timeless in its meaning.

9: Radio Futura: Escuela De Calor (1984)

Video-game shredders who picked up Guitar Hero’s fourth instalment will be familiar with this scorching Mediterranean fun-fest. Escuela De Calor was included in Guitar Hero World Tour, where it shared space with more obviously mammoth tracks such as Beastie Boys’ No Sleep Till Brooklyn and Michael Jackson’s Beat It. Beating all to our list of the best feel-good songs, however, this Radio Futura number is a funk-ridden, sunny-side-up wonder with piercing drums and an unmistakable guitar riff. Feeling quite out of place for the mid-80s, it’s easier to imagine the song as some kind of underground Spanish summer anthem from ten years earlier.

8: Katrina And The Waves: Walking On Sunshine (1983)

Katrina and co’s signature track cemented its place among the best feel-good songs of all time after appearing in the 2000 film adaptation of High Fidelity, during a scene in which a cheerful Barry Judd (Jack Black) bursts into the record store and usurps Belle And Sebastian with his own upbeat mixtape. Store owner Rob Gordon (John Cusack) is a pretentious know-it-all who orders his record collection autobiographically, which explains why his character fails to even smile when the song comes on. Though it has been featured in countless other films – not least the 2014 jukebox musical it lent its name to – and is a regular in adverts, Walking On Sunshine never fails to lead listeners to happy places.

7: Ronan Keating: Life Is A Rollercoaster (2000)

Thanks to the distinctive songwriting of Gregg Alexander, of New Radicals fame, ex-Boyzone member Ronan Keating had a unique weapon in his arsenal as he launched his solo career. An unashamedly upbeat hit full of the kind of optimism and self-assurance that many carried into the early 21st century, Life Is A Rollercoaster allowed Keaton to show off his impressive vocal ability thanks to Alexander’s signature stratospheric choruses and a bridge that makes the song all the more sanguine.

6: The Foundations: Build Me Up Buttercup (1968)

Another cut whose status among the best feel-good songs is due in part to its film use, The Foundations’ Build Me Up Buttercup got a new lease of life when it played over the end credits of There’s Something About Mary while the cast frolicked about in various locations seen in the film. As loved-up anthems go, Build Me Up Buttercup is a classic that focuses on preventing a break-up (namely through its sickly-sweet lyrics and harmonies). Its appeal wasn’t lost on its audience at the time of is original release, either. The Foundations became the first multi-racial act to score a UK No.1 single in the 60s.

5: Fleetwood Mac: Everywhere (1987)

Younger fans might know Everywhere from a 2013 advert by telecoms giant Three, which featured the song playing while a pony pranced and moonwalked along a cliffside. Their #DancePonyDance ad campaign was a smash, no doubt thanks to the liberating mood of Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 hit. Everywhere is the third track on the Tango In The Night album, which took a departure from the group’s classic rock predecessors Rumours (1977) and Tusk (1979) in order to build upon the softer, poppy sound delivered on 1982’s Mirage. Airy and bright, Everywhere remains a standout among the best Fleetwood Mac songs.

 

4: Paul Simon: You Can Call Me Al (1986)

You Can Call Me Al’s popularity lies largely in its music video, which features a towering Chevy Chase miming the more vertically challenged Paul Simon’s playful words. There’s a little Penn & Teller going on here, as Simon himself refrains from singing – at least until the chorus. His contribution to the video is a childlike playing of instruments, including a penny whistle, a drum and a slap bass segment. With Simon experiencing something of a midlife crisis while writing the song (as referenced in the lyrics), he decided to turn it on its head, backing away from the pessimism of middle age and playing-up the carefree feelings of infancy.

3: The Rolling Stones: Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1968)

“I was born in a crossfire hurricane,” Mick Jagger declares at the start of the unstoppable Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Creating his own sonic storm, guitarist Keith Richards’ explosive riff ensures the song is suitable for many a joyous occasion – bombing around in fast cars, embarking on drunken escapades, or quitting that toxic workplace you’ve hated for so long. With a punchy underbelly rippling underneath their psych-blues mastery, The Rolling Stones ensured that Jumpin’ Jack Flash will forever leap from the speakers as one of the best feel-good songs of all time.

2: The Cure: Just Like Heaven (1987)

While not exactly known for being a “happy” outfit, The Cure would never limit themselves to the gothic undertones synonymous with their name. Just Like Heaven appeared on their 1987 album, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, which offered further glimmers of hope in the likes of the danceable Hot Hot Hot!!! and the bouncy Why Can’t I Be You? One of the group’s best-known songs, Just Like Heaven went on to be covered in wildly different fashions, from Dinosaur Jr’s fuzzy rendition to Katie Melua’s sombre, stripped-back version.

1: James Brown: I Got You (I Feel Good) (1965)

James Brown had a special ability to make people dance, and with songs like I Got You (I Feel Good) it’s not hard to see why. Topping our list of the best feel-good songs of all time, this 1965 hit remains Brown’s highest-charting effort and has appeared in countless films, TV shows and adverts. Due to its worldwide fame, it has become a go-to for everything from weddings to sports celebrations (football team RB Leipzig blast it whenever they score), and, a decade after its release, emerged as a building block of an entirely new musical genre when hip-hop artists began lifting Brown’s squeals for their own work. As The Godfather Of Soul put it in 1968: I got the feelin’ – and I Got You is perhaps his best attempt at sharing it with just about everyone.

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