With natural disasters, political chaos and Celebs Go Dating back on our screens, we all need a random reason to be cheerful. That’s where happy songs come in, instant doses of sonic sunshine designed to left swipe the blues, lift the spirits and give you an endorphin boost. These classic songs that might not be all sweetness and light, but they sure make you smile…
Pharrell Williams, ‘Happy’ (2013)
Whooping away like all of his birthdays have come at once, Pharrell was clearly overjoyed he decided to record ‘Happy’, originally written for Cee Lo Green, himself. Turns out rooms with roofs have been vastly overestimated.
Happiest lyric: “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof/Clap along if you feel that happiness is the truth”.
REM, ‘Shiny Happy People’ (1991)
REM’s sunniest, if not quite proudest moment, the irrepressible ‘Shiny Happy People’ became a bit of an albatross for Stipe and co., not exactly Black Lace in the poolside sing-along stakes. Nonetheless, they recorded a version for Sesame Street called ‘Furry Happy Monsters’, and the video – featuring guest vocalist Kate Pierson of the B-52’s – is pure joy.
Happiest lyric: “Shiny happy people holding hands/Shiny happy people laughing”.
Nina Simone, ‘Feeling Good’ (1965)
More recently transformed into a space rock stripper anthem by Muse, Simone’s classic soul version of ‘Feeling Good’ was perfectly timed to reflect the boggle-eyed highs of the dawn of flower power.
Happiest lyric: “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life/And I’m feeling good”.
The Beach Boys, ‘Good Vibrations’ (1966)
When the rest of The Beach Boys returned from touring without Brian Wilson, they found he’d blown between $50,000 and $75,000 recording a semi-symphonic multi-part surf epic called ‘Good Vibrations’. Luckily, it’s widely regarded as one of the best songs ever constructed.
Happiest lyric: “I’m picking up good vibrations/She’s giving me excitations”.
Chic, ‘Good Times’ (1979)
Among the most sampled songs in history, Chic’s masterpiece was the epicentre of disco, and so upbeat that Nile Rodgers reportedly based the lyrics on ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’.
Happiest lyric: “Let’s cut the rug, little jive and jitterbug/We want the best, we won’t settle for less”.
Cyndi Lauper, ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ (1983)
Like Natalie Imbruglia’s version of ‘Torn’, we are here to blow your minds when we tell you that Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ was a cover. Sorry. But don’t let that dampen the glorious pyjama party vibe of the ’80s at their most pillow-fighty.
Happiest lyric: “Some boys take a beautiful girl/And hide her away from the rest of the world/I want to be the one to walk in the sun/Oh girls they want to have fun”.
Oasis, ‘Live Forever’ (1994)
After all, unless you live with anyone off Gogglebox, what could make you happier than immortality? So Oasis’ generation-defining anthem was Britpop’s most uplifting moment, at least until ‘Disco 2000’.
Happiest lyric: “Maybe I just want to fly/I wanna live, I don’t wanna die”.
Blur, ‘The Universal’ (1995)
If Oasis had a life-affirming mega-anthem, of course, Blur needed one too. ‘The Universal’ might well be about a dystopian future where we’re all kept in a state of docile acquiescence by a global anti-depressant, but try listening to it without hugging your nearest mate with a smile on your face like you’ve just hacked into the next season of Kimmy Schmidt.
Happiest lyric: “Here’s your lucky day/Yes it really, really, really could happen”.
The Wannadies, ‘You And Me Song’ (1996)
If it were possible to take the best day of your life, add in every kitten on the internet, the keys to Alton Towers and a winning scratchcard, and condense it all into a single MP3, it would be The Wannadies’ waterslide classic.
Happiest lyric: “I love you Sunday sun/The week’s not yet begun/And everything is quiet/And it’s always you and me always and forever”.
Queen, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ (1978)
It was a brave and foolhardy soul who’d try to stop Freddie Mercury – Mr Fahrenheit to his mates – when he was having a good time.
Happiest lyric: “I’m a shooting star leaping through the skies like a tiger defying the laws of gravity/I’m a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva/I’m gonna go go go/There’s no stopping me”.
MGMT, ‘Time To Pretend’ (2008)
Okay, so ‘Time To Pretend’ is a sly and sardonic satire of rock’n’roll hedonism that ends in a vomit-choked death, but it’s delivered with such a fatalistic panache that you can’t help but fall for its siren call of glorious drug dependency and the joys of divorcing one model for another.
Happiest lyric: “This is our decision: to live fast and die young/We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun”.
OutKast, ‘Hey Ya!’ (2003)
A modern Motown freak-out, ‘Hey Ya!’ saw Andre 3000, exceedingly happy to be breaking up with someone, become the 00’s greatest party starter and cheerleader of the mass ass-shake, ruining a million Polaroid pictures in the process (fact: you’re not supposed to shake them).
Happiest lyric: “I want to see ‘yall on your baddst behaviour/Give me some sugar, I am your neighbour!”