Today is National Sickie Day (February 6). Whether you’re conning your boss for a three day weekend or actually laid up in bed feeling terrible these songs will make you feel better. Here’s 50 of the most uplifting songs of all time, starting with The Strokes’ ‘Someday’. The definition of the word ‘insouciant’, ‘Someday’ is louche and irresistible. Shrug it off, Casablancas insists, and have another beer.
49. Don Henley, ‘Boys Of Summer’. “A little voice inside my head said don’t look back, you can never look back”.
Henley’s 1984 yacht rock classic might be tinged with sorrow (“Those days are gone forever…”) but it also surges with a kind of battered optimism.
48. Friendly Fires, ‘Paris’. The aural equivalent of a high school yearbook, ‘Paris’ is a song about hopes, dreams and friendships. With a killer chorus. Listen to our Spotify playlist of all these tracks here.
47. Blind Melon, ‘No Rain’. This California group are best remembered for their chilled out 1993 single. So laid back, it’s horizontal, ‘No Rain’ pledges that everything’s going to be alright – promise. Sadly, Blind Melon’s time in the sun was short-lived. Singer Shannon Hoon died of an overdose in 1995.
46. Van Halen, ‘Jump’. OK, so it’s about suicide (singer David Lee Roth said the lyric was inspired by watching a TV news report about a man about to leap from a bridge), but hey, how could you hear that synth riff and not punch the air?
45. Boston, ‘More Than A Feeling’. Though we may never know who ‘Mary Anne’ is, ‘More Than A Feeling’ is a song about being excited about a song. Self-referential AND uplifting. Plus, it might sound pretty simple, but it took writer Tom Scholz five years to complete. Just as well he persevered.
44. David Bowie, “Heroes”. Post-London 2012 we associate this song with sporting triumph, but it was originally inspired by producer Tony Visconti’s illicit affair with backing vocalist Antonia Maaß, which Bowie watched unfold while writing the song. Oh, and note the double quote marks. They’re deliberate. Implication being: are real people ever truly heroes?
43. ELO, ‘Mr Blue Sky’. “Sun is shining in the sky, there ain’t a cloud in sight”. This prog-pop masterpiece is one of Paul McCartney’s favourite songs. No surprise as it’s the best song The Beatles never wrote. Fun fact: The song was played as a wake-up call to astronaut Christopher Ferguson during the final mission of Space Shuttle Atlantis.
42. Fun. , ‘We Are Young’. A song about the morning after the night before. We’ve made mistakes, goes the message. But so does everyone. So let’s enjoy ourselves! Staying just the right line of emo gloopiness, it’s a track tailor-made for drunken teenage singalongs.
41. Sigur Ros, ‘Hoppipolla’. The track that launched a thousand advert-imitations. Calming and soothing, like a cup of tea and a hug at the same time. The fact it’s become almost a parodic byword for ‘epic’ shouldn’t blind you to the song’s startling power to push your positivity buttons.
40. Nirvana, ‘Son Of A Gun’. This Vaselines cover is snot punk to the max, and the closest Kurt Cobain ever came to singing a melody you might reasonably describe as ‘jaunty’. Listen to our Spotify playlist of all these tracks here.
39. Queen, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’. A cut from Queen’s 1978 album, ‘Jazz’. If you can make it to the pre-solo, “don’t stop me don’t stop me, hey hey hey” bit of this song without grinning, then we don’t want to know you.
38. Flaming Lips, ‘Do You Realize??’. For a song about death, ‘Do You Realize??’ is incredibly uplifting. Acceptance brings peace, it seems. Best listened to while dressed in a monkey costume and rolling around your kitchen floor encased in a giant rubber ball.
37. AC/DC , ‘Back In Black’. From the moment the classic riff kicks in, everything changes. It doesn’t matter if you’re posting a letter, or cutting the grass – with this as a soundtrack you’re a badass.
36. Janelle Monae, ‘Tightrope’. Monae might be urging caution in the lyrics to ‘Tightrope’, but her vocals are exercising anything but. Get on up!
35. Jackie Wilson, ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher’. It’s impossible not to feel better after listening to this. You could play ‘…Higher And Higher’ to a rock and it would start tapping its toes happily (though we’ve not tested this hypothesis under laboratory conditions).
34. No Doubt, ‘Just A Girl’. For all those who think that Gwen Stefani is just Vivienne Westwood and Harajuku, check out this track from 1995, the band’s breakthrough single. On this track, she goes hard. Plus, it’s pretty much the closest thing you can get to The Nineties, distilled into three minutes.
33. Beta Band, ‘Dry The Rain’. Clocking in at just over six minutes long, ‘Dry the Rain’ builds up a chugging slacker-pop riff so potent that by the time that the trumpets come in, you’ll be bursting with what’s known in the medical community as ‘good vibes’.
32. Iggy Pop, ‘The Passenger’. Can you believe that this track was originally a B-side? Powered by a loping rhythm that evokes the feeling of strutting down the street, it’s a paean to feeling young and invincible.
31. Passion Pit, ‘Sleepyhead’. It’s all about the build up to the moment at 1.20, when a zig zagging synth runs across the track like someone rolling down a hill. Pure joy.
30. Bon Jovi, ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’. “WOOOAH, WE’RE HALFWAY THERE”. Oh, you can try to resist, but let’s face it. If this comes on the radio while you’re driving, you will turn it up. And when that key-change kicks in, you will feel glad to be alive.
29. U2, ‘Beautiful Day’. A track about living with less and appreciating the little things. Bono’s humble (by his standards), The Edge brings back his classic 80s guitar sound, and the whole thing comes together gloriously. Listen our Spotify playlist of all these tracks here.
28. Oasis, ‘Acquiesce’. The first song to feature vocals from both Gallagher brothers, ‘Acquiesce’ stresses the importance of friendship above all else. Something that Liam and Noel could learn from.
27. The Knife, ‘Heartbeats’. Hypnotic, elated, and intimate, it’s no wonder that ‘Heartbeats’ was a hit for two artists (The Knife, and also Jose Gonzalez). Though it’s The Knife’s arpeggiated synth version that’ll make your heart swell the most.
26. Prince, ‘Raspberry Beret’. A tale of a free spirited young love, and a pink chapeau, ‘Raspberry Beret’ was totally different to Prince’s output at the time. With Middle Eastern instrumentation, and strings, it walks “in through the out door” and into your heart.
25. Hall And Oates, ‘You Make My Dreams Come True’. Happy-go-lucky ’80s pop that’s guaranteed to make the corners of your John Oates moustache point skywards.
24. Doves, ‘Catch The Sun’. Being as they live near Manchester, catching any sun at all is a rare feat for Doves. But on their second single from ‘Lost Souls’, they managed to dodge the rain for a bit.
23. The Only Ones, ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’. Power-pop of the catchiest stripe, this 1978 track, and The Only Ones’ best-known song talks of an extra-terrestrial love affair.
22. Kings Of Leon, ‘The Bucket’. The titular bucket seems to be a reference to a suicide pact of some sort, but this song for friendship is unfailingly upbeat in spite of it. Listen our Spotify playlist of all these tracks here.
21. Michael Jackson, ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’. If there’s a collection of sounds that makes you happier than those of this 1987 Jacko track, it probably should be prescription only.
20. The Foundations, ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’. Its lyrics are all unrequited love and teasing, but this wedding disco standard is still more cheerful than Santa.
19. Vampire Weekend, ‘A-Punk’. What a debut single. With its deliriously happy guitar twills and “Ey! Ey! Ey! Ey!” shouty bits, this track is a short shot of sheer fun.
18. Florence And The Machine, ‘Dog Days Are Over’. “Happiness, hit her like a train on a track, Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back,” say the lyrics to this anthem for better times.
17. Coldplay, ‘Yellow’. Yellow is the colour lots of happy things: the sun, canaries… er, custard? It’s also the title of Coldplay’s happiest ever song. Things could only get whinier.
16. Foo Fighters, ‘Monkey Wrench’. The lyrics apparently chronicle Dave Grohl’s divorce from Jennifer Youngblood. Guess he must have a good lawyer – this song is air-punchingly upbeat.
15. Deee-Lite, ‘Groove Is In The Heart’. A number one hit from 1990, ‘Groove Is In The Heart’ blended psychedelia, funk and house and had a video that looked like an Austin Powers acid fantasy.
14. Smashing Pumpkins, ‘Today’. It’s actually about a day spent having suicidal thoughts, but this 1993 single from ‘Siamese Dream’ is stirringly life-affirming.
13. Noah And The Whale, ‘Blue Skies’. Taken from the painful breakup album ‘First Days Of Spring’, this track is the light at the end of the tunnel.
12. Arcade Fire, ‘Rebellion, Lies’. The most rousing moment of the band’s debut album ‘Funeral’, this heart-stoppingly passionate track is still a highlight of any Arcade Fire gig.
11. Blink 182, ‘All The Small Things’. The late ‘90s pop-punk boom was all about good, dumb fun. Plenty of that to be found on Blink-182’s signature song.
10. Two Door Cinema Club, ‘Something Good Can Work’. Perfectly designed to soundtrack happy scenes on E4 comedy-dramas, this single is packed with optimism.
9. Fleetwood Mac, ‘Go Your Own Way’. Uplifting songs don’t have to be about happy things. Lindsey Buckingham wrote ‘Go Your Own Way’ about breaking up with Stevie Nicks. Bet it was an awkward band practice when he unveiled this one.
8. Beach Boys, ‘Good Vibrations’. Inspired by the thought that dogs can pick up good or bad vibrations from people, Brian Wilson’s “pocket symphony” contrasts dark verses with euphoric bombast in the chorus.
7. MGMT, ‘Time To Pretend’. It was only their debut single, but the New York-based duo were already dreaming of the rock star life. Pure, unadulterated fun from the second those squelchy synths kick in.
6. The Libertines, ‘Time For Heroes’. Recorded back when their quest for Albion hadn’t been marred by fall-outs, this track is so excitable it sounds like they’re falling over each other while playing it.
5. Primal Scream, ‘Movin’ On Up’. Bobby Gillespie and co’s ‘Screamadelica’ album is full of chemically-enhanced euphoria, and this Stones-influenced track is pure hands-in-the-air stuff.
4. Bruce Springsteen, ‘Born To Run’. Like the best of Bruce’s output, it can make sitting in traffic on the A1 in a Ford Fiesta feel like cruising down Route 66 in a Cadillac.
3. The Cure, ‘Friday I’m In Love’. Who says Goths can’t be happy? The Cure’s nursery rhyme-like pop classic says “Get bent, Monday, I’m getting some at the weekend”.
2. Elbow, ‘One Day Like This’. Elbow’s ode to sunny days (and ubiquitous soundtrack to British sporting achievements) is uplifting music for the austerity era. I mean, c’mon, they’re only asking for one great day a year.
And our number one most uplifting song ever is… The Beatles, ‘Here Comes The Sun’. George Harrison’s song bottles the feeling of the first days of spring. Just listening to it puts a skip in your step. Listen to our Spotify playlist of all these tracks here.