Hope is an important attribute that can sustain people through many difficult situations, and it also comes in the form of music. Here we have compiled 21 songs about hope that will inspire, motivate, and drive you through hard times.
1. “Firework” by Katy Perry
“Firework” is a song by Katy Perry from her third studio album, Teenage Dream (2010). The song encourages listeners to embrace their own self-worth and not be afraid of who they are. Although all people are imperfect, they must not let their flaws stop them from living a great life. This dance-pop song about self-empowerment became an anthem about showing and celebrating people’s true selves to the world.
2. “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi
“It’s My Life” is a single by the American rock band Bon Jovi. The song was released in 2000 from the group’s seventh studio album, Crush. Here, the vocalist affirms his intent to live life to the fullest. The singer acknowledges that doing this may be a struggle but the days of a man’s life are finite. So he motivates his listeners to go all-out in the present. Overall, he dedicates the tune to those who have “stood their ground” and “never back down” and inspires them to keep up.
3. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
This song was released in 1982 as a single from Survivor’s third album of the same name. In this song, the narrator introduces himself to the listener as a humble guy surviving simply by his will. He then says that a person “must fight to keep his dreams alive.” The song also talks about a person who trades his passion for glory, which parallels the plotline of “Rocky III.” In the film, Rocky Balboa is initially depicted as someone who lets the pleasures of success override his will to remain competitive.
4. “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten
In 2015, singer and songwriter Rachel Platten released her hit single “Fight Song,” which she describes as “empowering, anthemic, honest, raw and emotional.” In this song, she reminds herself that the mean voices in her head telling her she is not enough are false. This song was Plattern’s words of encouragement to the listeners to keep fighting for what they believe in. Like many songs about hope, “Fight Song,” with its uplifting lyrics, motivates the audience to never give up.
5. “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus
“The Climb” is a popular motivational song recorded by Miley Cyrus for the 2009 film “Hannah Montana: The Movie.” This power ballad has inspirational lyrics that describe life as a challenging but rewarding journey. Lyrically, Cyrus likens the battle of reaching your dreams to climbing a steep mountain. She paints how people can be happy once they have reached their dreams and goals, but looking at that strenuous path that got them there will make people appreciate it more.
6. “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson
“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” is a song by American recording artist Kelly Clarkson. It is the title song from her fifth studio album, Stronger (2011). It is mainly centered on gaining strength and recovering from a broken relationship. Here, Clarkson proves to her ex that their separation did not make her feel less of herself but instead made her stronger. She may be alone, but she has learned from the experience and drew strength from it. This excellent song about hope inspires listeners to remain strong despite a painful situation.
7. “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey
This motivational song released in 1998 is a duet between Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. It was recorded for the animated film “The Prince of Egypt.” This ballad is full of meaningful and inspirational lyrics that tell people they can experience miracles when they reach out and believe in God. Both singers were interested in the project because they felt that spreading their faith in God was an essential and honorable aspect of their careers. Houston had grown up singing in a church choir, whereas Carey had often used music to connect with her faith, especially during challenging times.
8. “We Are the World” by USA of Africa
“We Are the World” is a charity single originally recorded in 1985 by the musical group USA for Africa. Here, the artists call on the rest of the world to join forces and unite to help each other. It references the Ethiopian famine when talking about people dying. It also addresses the listeners and how they need to help the victims. The song’s theme is based on the interconnectedness of people. It tells how everyone is all part of God’s big family, which is why mankind needs to love each other despite the different backgrounds.
9. “Hero” by Mariah Carey
“Hero” is a song by Mariah Carey released in 1993 as the second single from her third studio album, Music Box. Considered one of Carey’s most inspirational and personal ballads, this song about hope inspires anyone to be their own hero. It encourages listeners to look into themselves and discover their inner courage inside. The song was never Carey’s favorite. But because of the fan letters and messages she received about the music, she felt it necessary to perform it as often as possible.
10. “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter
“Bad Day” is a 2005 pop song by Canadian singer Daniel Powter. With its reassuring and comforting tones, the song’s lyrics tell that things will get better even if there are bad days every now and then. When listened carefully, the music is not just literally talking about having a bad day but more about not taking life too seriously. The song became a hit when Coca-Cola used it as the theme song for an advertising campaign in Europe.
11. “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey
This song was performed by American rock band Journey for their seventh album, Escape (1981). As the title implies, it is about remaining optimistic in the face of uncertainty. It is inspired by Steve Perry’s experience of failing to become a famous musician. He once asked his dad if he should quit and come home, to which his father replied, “don’t stop believing.” Perry and the rest of Journey took this piece of inspiration and turned it into one of the greatest rock classics in the history of American music.
12. “Heal The World” by Michael Jackson
“Heal the World” was a single off Michael Jackson’s eighth studio album Dangerous released in 1991. It is the kind of music that the world turns to in times of grief and sorrow. The song was Jackson’s cry for Earth and its children. It is also the song that he is most proud to have created. It touched many hearts worldwide, as seen through its high chart rankings in many countries. Jackson also founded a charitable organization named “Heal the World” in 1992 that aims to “improve the conditions for children throughout the world.”
13. “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar
“Alright” was released in June 2015 off Kendrick’s critically acclaimed third album, “To Pimp a Butterfly.” The lyrics feature being optimistic and believing that things will eventually get better regardless of the current struggles. He tells his listeners that everything will be fine if they rely on God. The rapper uplifts his listeners that there will still be a better future despite the struggles such as police brutality and systemic racism. This song is his encouragement that they do not have despair.
14. “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John
“I’m Still Standing” is a 1983 track from Elton John’s seventeenth studio album, Too Low for Zero. The encouraging track speaks about John’s successful recovery from a broken past relationship. Here, the singer tells his ex that he’s moved on and is better off without them. He uses the phrase “I’m still standing” to depict his rising up from the hurt which made him fall. This song about hope resonates with listeners who see themselves as survivors who have been able to pick back the broken pieces of their lives.
15. “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson
This is an uplifting song by music legend Michael Jackson. It was released in 1987 as the fourth single from his seventh solo album, Bad. This uplifting song is about making a change and realizing that it has to start within you. Jackson and his producer Quincy Jones chose the track for ‘Bad’ after looking for “an anthem” that would spread some “sunshine” to the world. Jackson later said that this track was one of his favorite songs.
16. “Brave” by Sara Bareilles
“Brave” is a 2012 song by American singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles from her fourth studio album, The Blessed Unrest. This encouraging song is about speaking your mind to another person or the world. The upbeat tempo and inspiring lyrics command the listeners to aspire to be heard. It tells how everyone is unique and has something to lend to others. Indeed, it takes bravery to “let the words fall out,” and doing so allows us to be truly free. This song is an anthem for living freely and bravely.
17. “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles
“Here Comes the Sun” is a track from the album Abbey Road. Written by George Harrison, the song talks about hope for brighter days after going through a period of difficulty. Here, Harrison uses winter as a metaphor to express the coldness and sadness he felt at one point in his life. Meanwhile, he uses the sun to represent his hopefulness and a sign of better days ahead. The narrator feels the sadness and pressure melting away as the sun takes over as the song ends. He equates the brightness as a sense of hope as he assures himself that things will work out eventually.
18. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
“I Will Survive” is an upbeat song by American singer Gloria Gaynor. It was released in 1978 as the second single from her sixth album, Love Tracks. Here, the singer discovers her personal strength after a devastating breakup. This song about hope features encouraging lyrics that the narrator will overcome her heartbreak and become a more robust and entirely new person. Because of the hopeful lyrics, the song became a female-empowerment anthem.
19. “Jesus, Take The Wheel” by Cae Underwood
“Jesus, Take the Wheel” is performed by American country music artist Carrie Underwood. It was written by Brett James, Gordie Sampson, and Hillary Lindsey. As the title implies, the song is based on a Christian theme. It is about a woman who survives a car crash, seemingly as part of a divine miracle. Personal stories from the writers’ pasts influenced the song’s lyrics. The song won the Grammys for Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal. It also won the American Country Music Award for Single of the Year.
20. “Dream On” by Aerosmith
“Dream On was” Aerosmith’s first-ever single released in 1973 from their debut LP Aerosmith. The hopeful track mainly talks about aging while encouraging listeners to enjoy life. Its message is that no one has control of time or when they might die, so they might as well live in the now. The song explores the idea of getting old and drawing a contrast between the experiences gained throughout his life. The singer recognizes that some incidents have been good, whereas some bad moments have taught him great lessons. This song inspires the listeners to sing along and enjoy the moment before they finally die and leave Earth.
21. “Cover Me In Sunshine” by P!nk, Willow Sage Hart
Pink’s “Cover Me in Sunshine” is an upbeat song about wishing that people will come out of the COVID-19 pandemic to face a brighter day. It features her firstborn child Willow Sage Hart. The song was inspired by the social woes resulting from the discomfort that P!nk experienced due to the associated lockdowns. It is her way to empathize with others going through difficult times because of the pandemic. The word “sunshine” in the song symbolizes the time when things return to the way they once were. Throughout the song, P!nk and Willow look forward to when the world will return to normal.
Whether it’s for finding new ways to solve problems, dreaming of a brighter future, or simply appreciating happiness in our lives, music can indeed be a powerful coping mechanism. We hope this list of songs about hope can help you deal with stressful situations, uplift you when you’re down, and draw focus on the positive aspects of life.
Michaela Jyra Melo is a freelance writer, music obsessive, and professional content creator with a passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge with the world. Michaela is a music lover first and foremost. She's passionate about new music and artists, but she also loves to dig into musical instruments and equipment. Michael studies communication at the University of the Philippines. When she's not writing or listening to new music, she can be found reading on her Kindle or traveling somewhere new with friends.