25 Most Inspirational Songs of All Time

Inspirational Songs

Hi Celes, thank you for this post on movies. A great way to share/discover great inspirational movies. If I may request, can we have a post for list of most inspiring songs? – Rajesh G

Last month, I wrote a post with movies with important life lessons for us to take away. The response from all of you blew me away. 70 comments and nearly 200 RTs/shares for the post alone! Thank you everyone for sharing YOUR favorite, inspirational movies in the comments. For the other readers, be sure to check out the post as well as the comments for more amazing movies with life lessons to learn.

Today’s post is on the most inspiring songs (Thanks Rajesh for the wonderful suggestion!). Songs that motivate us and trigger us into action; Songs that remind us on the beauty of life; Songs that lift us up when we’re down; Songs that remind us of who we are. With hundreds and thousands of great songs out there, it is challenging to narrow it down the list.

In the end, I selected the top 25 inspiring songs of all time for this post and I hope you like them. All these songs have 1 thing in common – they inspire us to become better people. I’ve picked videos that come with lyrics where possible. Special thanks to the readers who shared their picks on Twitter and Facebook – you  may find your fav songs in the list :D.

This post has videos embedded which are not viewable via email. If you’re reading this via your email client, read the full blog post here.

Are you ready? Up your volume and switch to stereo mode before you continue on. :D You can have the songs playing in the background and get on with your regular internet surfing  while listening. Be sure to bookmark this page  – the songs are classics to be listened to over and over again, no matter how old we are.

Here they are – 25 most inspiring songs of all time:

25. Somewhere Over The Rainbow

This is an all-time classic. The song speaks of this magical place over the rainbow where things will be better. It refers to this other, better place compared to where we are now. If you feel down and out, and when things seem tough, this song will lift you up. Just remember that the better place isn’t “somewhere out there”, but here where we are. It’s up to us to make the best of what we have :).

The song was originally sung by Judy Garland in 1939 (Wizard of Oz) and has since been resung by many people. The version below is by Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole. His soothing vocals makes it a very peaceful and calming experience listening to the song.

[ by Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1bFr2SWP1I)

24. Chariots of Fire

Chariots is an instrumental theme often used as the theme song for sporting events. It was recorded in 1981 for the film Chariots of Fire. Listen to it and see if you don’t recognize it :D. The build up of the tunes throughout the song makes you feel invigorated just sitting and listening to it. This is a great pick me up that I use for some of my workshops.

[ by Vangelis | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYJzcUvS_NU)

23. It’s a Beautiful Day

No matter how bad your day may be, there is always something beautiful happening. This song reminds us that every day is a beautiful day by itself :D.

[ by U2 | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=co6WMzDOh1o)

22. Walking On Sunshine

Quite possibly the happiest song ever! :D The upbeat tunes of the song brings a smile to anyone just by listening to it. :D Make sure to dance along as you listen to the song!

Some of you might recognize this as the opening of The Celes Show earlier this year. I’ve put the project on hiatus for the time being as I focus on blog development. :D

[ by Kartina & The Waves | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKh0dLIuIu8)

21. What a Wonderful World

One of the greatest hits of all time, this beautiful song reminds us to appreciate the beauty of everyday life. According to wiki, the song was “intended as an antidote for the increasingly racially and politically charged climate of everyday life in the United States”. It also has a “hopeful, optimistic tone with regard to the future, with reference to babies being born into the world and having much to look forward to.” Everything in life is a miracle. Let’s appreciate and give gratitude to all these things we have with us today :D.

[ by Louis Armstrong | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKh0dLIuIu8)

20. It’s My Life

It’s My Life was a huge hit when it came out in 2000 and remains a huge hit today. It’s all about personal empowerment, taking control of your life and being who you are because you only get to live once. As one of the lyrics say, “It’s my life… It’s now or never”.

Whose life are you living right now? When are you ready to start living your life? You only have one life – you’re not going to live forever. It’s either you start living it now or you’ll never live it. Stop waiting for a “tomorrow” or “next time”. It’s now.

[ by Bon Jovi | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SKFwtgUJHs)

19. That’s What Friends Are For

This is an all-time classic that has been sung and resung by many different artists. It’s about the beauty of friendship and how we can always count on each other no matter what happens, good times or bad times. That’s after all, what friends are for :D. Very, very beautiful song.

[ by Dionne Warwick, Steve Wonder, Gladys Knight & Elton John | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyTpu6BmE88)

18. You Get What You Give

This is one of my favorite songs and also recommended by reader Ashwin Gopal. It’s the ending theme of Click (one of my favorite inspiring movies) which is how I first knew about it. This song is an international hit and has been played over 1 million times on US radio.

At its core, this song is about being true to yourself in a world where everyone tries to be someone he/she isn’t. Don’t you ever, ever give up on yourself or your dreams, because you have what it takes to achieve what you want.

[ by New Radicals | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPAEFnVZVOs)

17. Return To Innocence

An extremely strong and powerful song that invokes powerful emotions. This song reminds you to be yourself. Don’t afraid to show your emotions – whether it’s perceived as being weak, strong, emotional, unacceptable, etc. Denying them is just denying who you are. While others may see revealing your emotions as an act of vulnerability, it’s only by embracing your emotions that you move a step forward toward being who you truly are.

[ by Enigma | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Get direct Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rk_sAHh9s08)

16. Music of My Heart

This is a beautiful song that expresses gratitude to the people who have always been there for us whenever we need them. These people are the ones who made us who and what we are today; who taught us the amazing things in the world and made us bigger than we thought we could. It’s because of them that we can be where we are today. Without them, there can’t be us today.

Who are the people who have helped make you who you are today? Who have always been there when you’re down? Who opened your eyes to the world? Who guided you every step of the way? Where are they now? Have you stopped to thank them for what they have done? Take a moment and let them know how you feel. You owe them as much.

[ by N’Sync and Gloria Estefan | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-WlEfnPSrc)

15. Circle of Life

From The Lion King, one of my top inspiring movies. I get goosebumps whenever I listen to this song. This song tells us the grandiosity of life and where we stand in it. We’re all part of the circle of life – birth, growth, death, rebirth. Death does not signify the end – it’s the start to something new, something greater and bigger than what we’ve seen. It’s a delicate, symbiotic relationship that makes life possible.

[ Music by Elton John and Lyrics by Tim Rice | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4efZIHtiQQ)

14. Heal The World

This is one of the most popular songs by Michael Jackson. It reminds us of our responsibility to care for our world. Every day, there are people suffering and dying out there. Just because we’re not in contact with them doesn’t mean it’s not happening. It’s up to us to care for this world we live in. What can you do today to heal the world out there? It all starts with us.

[ by Michael Jackson | Lyrics | Get the Album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWf-eARnf6U)

13. You Raise Me Up

This is a touching piece that gives tribute to the people who raise us up to become more than who we can be. It was originally released by Secret Garden featuring Brian Kennedy in 2002 and since has been covered over 125 times. I’ve included both the original version below and the version by Josh Groban.

[ by Secret Garden, Vocals by Brian Kennedy | Lyrics | Get the album (by Secret Garden) ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UddLOA-QoqM)

[ by Josh Groban | Lyrics | Get the album (by Josh Groban) ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTl0svRr0tQ)

12. True Colors

The first time I heard this song was from an ad from Dove’s campaign for real beauty (which started back in 2006). I was enchanted by the song and the beautiful vocals. I later realized the ad version was a cover (by kids) and the original is by Cyndi Lauper (below).

This song is about not feeling fearful or small and to show who we really to the world. That’s when we reveal our true colors (analogy to the colors of the rainbow). It’s revealing these colors that we reveal our real beauty.

[ by Cyndi Lauper | Lyrics | Get the Album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPn0KFlbqX8)

11. When You Believe

This is an amazing song about the power of hope and faith in this world. If there are ever any times when you’re losing hope, hang in there. The miracles you want to create in life comes from first believing in yourself (and others). They couldn’t have chosen better singers for this song too – Whitney and Mariah are undoubtedly two of the best singers ever.

[ By Whitney Housten & Mariah Carey | Lyrics | Get the song ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFXuk3uvWHc)

10. Win

This is one of my personal favorites and also recommended by reader Kelvin Toh. The song is about overcoming all obstacles and never giving up in life. As long as we keep pushing, keep persisting, we’ll definitely achieve whatever we set out to achieve.

[ by Brian McKnight | Lyrics | Get the song ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDEi5hJ76-A)

9. You Gotta Want It

Recommended by reader TraveloCafe. Powerful song that will charge you up in the few minutes you listen to it. If you want to get what you want, you have to want it from the bottom of your heart and give all that you can give. As long as you have the burning passion, nothing will be insurmountable.

[ by Roberta Gold ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5Vp57T8eMI)

[ by Jordin Sparks ] – Thanks to reader Berta for telling me about the cover by Jordin Sparks!

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qczB54czvBM)

8. I Will Survive

This song is about how someone became stronger after experiencing a breakup with someone. Today, it’s used as an anthem of female empowerment, gay empowerment and HIV/AIDS awareness. It is one of the most famous disco songs of all time. (From wiki)

[ by Gloria Gaynor | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qczB54czvBM)

7. Dare You To Move

This song has different interpretations. It can refer to the part of you who is not doing anything about certain parts of your life. It can refer to the part of you who is in a state of stagnancy. It can refer to the you who is letting a past failure stop you from moving on. Are you ready to stop looking back and finally move forward?

[ by Switchfoot | LyricsGet the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOTcr9wKC-o)

6. Never Surrender

I first heard this song when I was watching Meteor Garden (Taiwanese version). I love the key message of this song, which is never to give up no matter how tough the situation may be. Because no matter what happens, no one can ever take away your right to fight. As long as you persevere, nothing’s impossible to achieve.

 

[ by Corey Hart | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4pg6Jh94Lo)

5. Hero

Recommended by reader Abu Sofian and my favorite song too. The song tells you you don’t have to be afraid of who you are. When you feel fearful and lost, look deep inside. The strength to do what you want, and the answers you seek for in life, have always been inside you all along.

There’s always been a hero in your life all along. The hero isn’t anyone else – it’s you.

[ by Mariah Carey | HeroGet the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IA3ZvCkRkQ)

4. I Believe I Can Fly

This is the theme song of 1996 movie Space Jam, which is also one of the most inspiring movies. This song is about how there are no goals and dreams that we can’t achieve. If we can see it, we can do it. It all starts with first believing in our ability :).

[ by R Kelly | Lyrics | Get the song ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16FdJrrAWSo)

3. Gonna Fly Now

This is the theme song of Rocky, also listed as one of the inspirational movies. To quote wiki,

Released in 1976 with the movie Rocky, the song became part of American popular culture after main character Rocky Balboa completed his daily training regimen while the song played. The song finishes as Rocky completes his famous run up the “Rocky Steps” of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and raises his arms in a victory pose.

I love this song :D. It’s not really a song as much as it’s a tune – there are only 9 lines of lyrics. It’s a powerful one at that – listen and see if it doesn’t get you all drummed up :D.

[ by Bill Conti | Lyrics | Get the Rocky Score ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioE_O7Lm0I4)

2. Reach

Reach is the official theme song for 1996 Olympics. This song is about doing our very best for the dreams. Don’t be afraid to reach out and give your everything. It’s only when you put your heart and soul into your goals that you live your life to the fullest.

[ by Gloria Estefan | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLQ64BTCH2E)

1. Eye of The Tiger

This is the one of the tracks for Rocky III and hands down one of the top motivational songs of all time. Not only is it my favorite, readers Dipal E and Lica Sever also give their top recommendation. Here’s an explanation on why the song is titled “Eye of The Tiger”:

At first, we wondered if calling it ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ was too obvious. The initial draft of the song, we started with ‘It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight, rising up to the spirit of our rival, and the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night, and it all comes down to survival.’ We were going to call the song ‘Survival.’ In the rhyme scheme, you can tell we had set up ‘rival’ to rhyme with ‘survival.’ At the end of the day, we said, ‘Are we nuts?’ That hook is so strong, and ‘rival’ doesn’t have to be a perfect rhyme with the word ‘tiger.’ We made the right choice and went with ‘Eye Of The Tiger. – Jim Peterik, co-writer of the song (Wikipedia)

The best way to listen to this song is to have your volumes at full blast. If it doesn’t charge you up into action, I don’t know what will! I used to use it in my personal development workshops to drum participants into action.

[ By Survivor | Lyrics | Get the album ]

(Direct link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btPJPFnesV4)

If you like this list, be sure to RT/share with others via the links below. Thank you – I really appreciate it!

This is part of the Inspiration & Motivation series. Check out the other articles in the series:

  • Mary Elliott

    I LOVE this list! I am especially happy that Switchfoot’s ‘Dare You To Move’ is on here. I was recently at one of their concerts and they preformed it amazingly and it sent shivers down my spine. If this list were to be recently updated, I might include Katy Perry’s ‘Fireworks’ song. I don’t particularly love her but her song is so uplifting! Thanks for the post :)

  • robert

    Hi Celes, this is a wonderful list! I have been poring through loads of the songs (and still I have only touched the surface!).
    I have 2 observations to make (and one song to add).
    Firstly, there is something very special happening here; on this blog. So many people have commented that, “it has got me thinking about all the posiitve songs that I know!”.
    Secondly, I am an old man with chronic depression, but these songs have lifted my spirits immensely. I find it wonderful that so many young(er) people have such a positive attitude. There is certainly hope out there. Wonderful.
    My song is only quite short, but the lyrics are TO THE POINT! The song is “Nature Boy”. There are several versions ….I like the one by Nat King Cole; It was also used in the movie “Moulin Rouge”. A much longer jazz piece is also available by John Coltraine.
    I thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

  • michael

    What about “Wind Beneath My Wings”?

  • Hannah

    Love this! Great list. Some songs that inspire me are

    1. Brave – Josh Groban http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McdMwOV0y6c

    2. Shooting Star – Owl City http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uq8Dgcy4MDY

    3. There’s a Place for Us – Carrie Underwood http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_P0gBqN4kY

    4. Someday – Chloe Agnew – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Qn6sN9Shdk

    5. Through Heaven’s Eyes – Brian Stokes Mitchell – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Emmjk8Z4ftQ

    Those are a few of my favorites, thanks for making this list!

  • Mike

    Coldplay – Fix You
    !

    • Sophia

      I call it “the kindest song ever”

  • Klausjnr

    i personally love the fact that Eye of the Tiger is number one…i absolutely love the song

  • Ashlyn

    i love the eye of the tiger… GO SURVIVOR!

  • caeb

    Immigrant song by Led Zeppelin. I’d have to put that in the top ten.

  • Frank

    I am Mine from pearl jam ….. “i know i was born and i know that ill die the in between is mine i am mine

  • Magical Me

    Aand..Europe – Superstitious
    Survivor – Burning Heart
    Michael Jackson – History

  • Lenka

    “Ugly” by Sugababes

    “Dare To Live” by Andrea Boccelli..very powerful and encouraging :)

  • Joe

    The top 25 inspirational songs of all time were in the last 30-40 years? I was hoping for songs outside the lifespan of the author…

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Feel free to share songs that are outside of the list as the other commenters have done; everyone’s preferences and tastes are always going to be different.

      • Joe

        Vivaldi, four seasons summer. Probably one of the most amazing violin pieces of all time.

        William Tell Overture. Movies have been based on this song. The most recognizable song in history.

        The Ave Maria. When it comes to all time, this is centuries old, and still sung today.

        Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Speaks for itself.

        Now I’m not sure if some of these others would be all times choices, but they are certainly amazing pieces of music

        Moonlight sonata
        Fur Elise
        The Kiss (Last of the Mohicans)
        Dies Irae (Written by Mozart for his own death)
        Requiem for a dream. Personal favorite to play on piano. Full Orchestra is amazing.
        Non Nobis Domine – from the movie Henry V. This song Is also very old. I love the Patrick doyle version becasue of the movie.

        See when you say “All Time” you lead people to believe that the article was written about music over the centuries.

  • http://www.kyle-newman.com Kyle Newman

    Highway to the Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins has gotta be up there! :)

  • Noah

    So my ultimate frisbee team just lost the semi finals that could have taken us all the way to the state championships of 2013. We were so close, losing by 2 points. That was one of the first times I have cried in relation to sports. That was the hardest I have cried for a long time. I made a playlist awhile back that included songs that were uplifting and have come to need that playlist again. This selection of songs is really helping me cope with the grief I just endured. Thank you.

    • Geoff

      You are such a douche

  • jbd1007

    The Rose, Wind Beneath My Wings, Through the Years, The Power Of The Dream, The Prayer, Bridge Over Troubled Water. Lace Covered Window, One Moment In Time, There Can Be Miracles, The Impossible Dream, The Living Years, You Needed Me, Man In The Mirror, Your Love has Lifted Me Higher, You Light Up My Life are songs which would make my list. Beautiful, not superficial words and music.

  • maggie

    Mackelmore-can’t hold us

  • Anna Butcher

    I would add Man in The Mirror, Defying Gravity and Blackbird. These are my go to inspiring songs

  • khnlkjn

    k,lk,

  • Brandon Roberts

    ok on the dare you to move song i think its about moving past your past through jesus christ

  • Jim

    Just One Victory by Todd Rundgren from the album A Wizard, A True Star.

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