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Best Feel Good Songs: 20 Upbeat Tracks To Guarantee Happiness
List & Guides

Best Feel Good Songs: 20 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

20: Sugar Ray: Every Morning (1999)

A freewheeling blend of acoustic alt-rock and flamenco pop, Sugar Ray’s 1999 single Every Morning is an instant mood-setter among the best feel-good songs. Evoking feelings of a lazy summer’s day, the song sees singer Mark McGrath lyrically recount a lovestruck tale of lustful temptation with a leisurely swagger that will get your head nodding like that of an excitable dog. A huge hit on commercial radio, Every Morning sold over 500,000 copies in the US, peaking at No.3 on the Hot 100 thanks to a carefree and cheery vibe that is as seductive as it is infectious.

19: 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.

18: The Staple Singers: I’ll Take You There (1972)

Legendary gospel turned soul group The Staple Singers scored themselves a US No.1 hit in 1972 with their arms-aloft anthem I’ll Take You There. Driven by an unmistakable funk bassline played by David Hood, the song’s joyous call-and-response vocals between Pops Staples and his daughters, Mavis, Cleotha and Yvonne, fully captures the rapturous euphoria of a church service in the Deep South. Perfect for lifting the spirits, this is inspirational soul music at its finest, with lyrics that transport you to a higher plane where pure happiness awaits (“I know a place/Ain’t nobody worried/Ain’t nobody crying”). Better yet, you can dance to it. Amen to that.

17: 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.

16: 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.

15: Spandau Ballet: Gold (1983)

A 24-carat anthem from the New Romantic era and an enduring karaoke favourite, Spandau Ballet’s 1983 hit Gold is audio bling for the soul. Full of Martin Kemp’s funky slap bass and Tony Hadley’s soaring vocals, it’s a sparkling floor-filler among the best feel-good songs, with saxophone flourishes that capture the feeling of parading down the street in your confident prime (“Always believe in your soul/You’ve got the power to know/You’re indestructible, always believing/You are gold”). Mining a rich seam of creativity, Spandau Ballet successfully pushed themselves to the forefront of the Second British Invasion like bandits brandishing newfound loot.

14: 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.

13: The B-52’s: Love Shack (1989)

From the razzamatazz vocals of Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson to the wildly silly lyrics about a rockin’ Atlanta party pad, The B-52’s 1989 hit, Love Shack, oozes pure campy fun. Deliciously funky, the song grooves along with ever-so-slightly unhinged brio, bursting with boundless energy and a rubbery bassline that will leave you giddy from the get-go. Truly irresistible and packed with quirky energy, Love Shack peaked at No.3 on the US Hot 100 and saw The B-52’s close the decade with an effortlessly cool addition to the best feel-good songs.

12: 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.

11: David Bowie: Golden Years (1975)

Tapping into his love of funk and R&B during his mid-70s “plastic soul” period, David Bowie ensured Golden Years would be a true tour-de-force among the best feel-good songs. Apparently written with Elvis Presley in mind, it’s no surprise that the song has an air of Las Vegas bombast, fusing the nimbleness of Philadelphia soul with the in-your-face strut of classic rock’n’roll. Bowie’s charisma is on another level as he commands the funk-fuelled groove like a true bandleader, imploring his lover to revel in their “golden years”. Carlos Alomar and Earl Slick’s shimmering guitar riffs and George Murray’s sublime bass work still sound utterly timeless.

10: 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.

9: Dua Lipa: Levitating (2020)

With its throbbing, four-on-the-floor disco energy, Dua Lipa’s Levitating will leave you in a gravity-defying swirl of dizzying suspense. “It’s the feeling when love makes you feel like you’re levitating,” Lipa explained in an interview with Apple Music. “It’s otherworldly.” Transporting listeners to a dimly-lit discotheque where it’s impossible to not get lost in the groove, the song blends contemporary pop with Chic-inspired funk, its retro-futuristic synths and stuttering guitars perfectly elevating even the darkest of moods. A true earworm that rapidly became a TikTok favourite, Levitating is an instant classic that belongs in the gold-plated annals of the best feel-good songs.

8: Daryl Hall And John Oates: You Make My Dreams (1981)

Call it a guilty pleasure if you like, but nobody can deny how intoxicatingly upbeat the pop/R&B crossover You Make My Dreams, by Daryl Hall and John Oates, truly is. Propelled by an unshakeably funky bassline and bubbly keyboards, the song sees Hall joyfully profess devotion to a lover while Oates delivers unashamedly buoyant guitar licks. Brilliantly mixing elements of rock, R&B and new-wave pop into a delectable chocolate box of sweet elation, You Make My Dreams ranks among the best feel-good songs for unleashing an endorphin rush of pure bliss every time you hear it.

7: Madonna: Into The Groove (1985)

Equal parts funky and robotic, Madonna’s potent call to the dancefloor Into The Groove became the “Queen Of Pop”’s first-ever UK No.1 back in 1985, and for good reason. This synth-pop classic is an electrifyingly punchy anthem from start to finish, forever immortalising itself as one of the best feel-good songs thanks to Madonna’s flirtatious yet assertive vocals and a four-to-the-floor drum-machine groove that simply commands you to dance. Even today, listeners are powerless to resist Into The Groove’s funky thrall, its bombardment of pop-enamoured ecstasy forcing even the most reluctant wallflower to surrender to the rhythm.

6: 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.

5: Chic: Good Times (1979)

A masterclass in sophisti-funk from disco masterminds Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, Chic’s 1979 party-starter Good Times is as revolutionary as it is miraculous. Boasting one of the most instantly recognisable and influential basslines in pop history, the song also sees Rodgers flex his funky guitar licks with unflappable panache against a backdrop of rapturous strings, creating a cultural touchstone that’s been sampled and interpolated countless times. From Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust to Blondie’s Rapture, Good Times even played a seminal part in hip-hop history when The Sugarhill Gang sampled it on their landmark hit Rapper’s Delight. Nothing, however, comes close to matching the feel-good majesty of Chic’s pitch-perfect original.

4: 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.

3: 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.

2: Queen: Don’t Stop Me Now (1979)

A glorious celebration of hard-grooving hedonism, Queen’s 1979 single Don’t Stop Me Now is an exuberant gallop through Freddie Mercury’s rock’n’roll party-boy lifestyle that ranks among the best feel-good songs ever written. Propelled by a furiously energetic tempo and with a touch of vaudeville-style piano, this song delivers a rush of electrifying excess, with pleasure-seeking lyrics that see Mercury speak of living his life to the fullest (“I’m burning through the sky, yeah/Two hundred degrees, that’s why they call me Mister Fahrenheit”). With Mercury’s vocals soaring to the stratosphere, Don’t Stop Me Now offers irresistible encouragement to barrel ahead into extravagance without hitting the brakes.

1: Ray Charles: What’d I Say (Parts 1 And 2) (1959)

Blurring the lines between gospel, R&B and rock’n’roll, Ray Charles’ six-minute masterpiece, What’d I Say, laid the foundations for soul music. Released in 1959, this game-changing two-part single sees Charles imbue erotic longing with evangelistic fervour, improvising lyrical come-ons that are quickly echoed by his backing singers, The Raelettes, with raucous call-and-response interjections. Sounding like an ecstatic church service erupting into a wild party, What’d I Say’s juxtaposition of the secular and the spiritual was positively riotous, revolutionising popular music with a joyous groove full of jazzy Wurlitzer trills and rasping horns. No other recording comes close to capturing the pure delirium of being overcome with passion, which is why What’d I Say tops our list of the best feel-good songs of all time.

Looking for more? Check out the best inspirational songs.

Original article: 7 April 2021

Updated: 27 April 2024. Words: Luke Edwards

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