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The 25 Best Happy Songs

You’re here looking for happy songs, and there are probably two main reasons for that. First, you’re super happy and want to express it. Second, you or someone you know needs a bit of a pick-me-up.

In either case, you’ve come to the perfect place. My list includes some of the happiest, most upbeat songs in music history. That’s saying something.

So, if you need to boost or express your positive vibes, look no further than these best happy songs. They come in a range of styles. Some are old, and some are brand-spanking new. But what they all have in common is a feeling of optimism, positivity, and overwhelmingly inspiring happiness.

Best Happy Songs

The 25 Best Happy Songs

Happy – Pharrell Williams

Anyone who knows this song or even thinks of a list of super-happy songs has got to throw this one at the top. It might not be everyone’s favorite, but you can’t deny that this song deserves a place on my list.

To be honest…

If you look at the numbers, you’ll see that loads of people around the world agree. This song went #1 in 2014 in dozens of countries and was the best-selling song that year, selling about 14 million copies.

This is a Soul or Neo-Soul song with a strong, catchy beat. Pharell’s falsetto singing gives it a bright, energetic feeling, and the choir of backup singers helps to make it incredibly easy to sing along to. There’s even a great stamp-clap breakdown that’s irresistible.

If you can keep your butt in your chair through this track, you’re probably asleep. As for the rest of us, this is going to make us leap up and dance with abandon, just like it should.

If You’re Happy And You Know It – Kids Around the World

Well, come on, isn’t this one of the happiest songs you’ve ever heard or sung yourself? Sure it’s a kids’ song, and sure it’s usually used to teach kids to sing and do actions together, so what? It’s a song about being happy.

The history of this song isn’t clear. Nobody knows who wrote it or when. However, it’s the tune that is used all around the world in different languages, from Thailand to Spain and from Russia to Japan. Everyone everywhere wants to teach their kids how to express their happiness.

So, if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands, stomp your feet, turn around, and shout hooray.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin

Before this song came out in 1988, Bobby McFerrin wasn’t a household name. But McFerrin is a hugely talented singer who has a truly unique style and an incredible vocal range. He shows off some of this range considerably in “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Bobby sings the bass line, the lead in a baritone, and backup in a high falsetto. He also sings in a weird affected accent for some reason.

No idea why…

This song is the first a capella song ever to take the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. It bumped off GnR’s hugely successful “Sweet Child o’ Mine.”

The intro starts with McFerrin singing all the “instruments” and whistling the main riff over the top. A riff that’s easy enough for most of us to whistle along to.

And the message?

Clear as day. The lyrics bring up all sorts of situations that might get you down, like “Ain’t got no place to lay your head – Somebody came and took your bed.” But, we’re told, “Don’t worry, be happy,” and not to let things get you down. Sounds like a great message of happiness to me.

I Got You (I Feel Good) – James Brown

The Godfather of Soul and the Hardest Man in Show Business, James Brown, put out some powerful Funk and Soul music. But I can’t think of a happier song of his than the 1965 classic “I Got You (I Feel Good).”

Yep, that’s the real title, though most people know it as I Feel Good. Like so much of his work, this song sees James Brown singly powerfully and adding explosive shouts and flourishes to bring excitement to the music.

And the music here is tight…

Brown used to fine his band members for even the tiniest mistakes, so you know they learned to tighten up. He used the funkiest drummers, the smoothest bass players, and the most professional guitarists.

His brass section hits hard here and provides the extra punch that pushes his songs over the top. Brown’s lyrics here are simple. “I feel nice – like sugar and spice – I feel good – I knew that I would” say it all. Aw YEAH!

Shake It Off – Taylor Swift

Sometimes, the players are gonna play, and the haters are gonna hate. But, if you’re anything like Taylor Swift, you can just “Shake it Off.” This 2014 song is one of Swift’s biggest hits in a long line of big hits.

It spent over four weeks at #1 on the charts, and here’s why – it’s her happiest song. Sure, the sentiment is a little bit flippant. But, overall, the message is that you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

So, why is this song here?

The real reason I have this song on my list of best happy songs is just how grooving it is. It has one of the best beats I’ve heard in a Pop-Rock song in ages, and it can’t help but get you up out of your seat.

Taylor’s vocals are delivered with her typical energy and pizazz. Believe me; you’re going to find yourself singing this song in the shower into your shampoo bottle, and probably soon.

The lyrics are a great pick-me-up, like in the ultra-catchy pre-chorus: “But I keep cruisin’ – Can’t stop – won’t stop moving – It’s like I got this music in my mind – Saying it’s gonna be alright.”

Three Little Birds – Bob Marley

A few of these happy songs also made it onto my list of the Best Songs to Wake Up To. Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” is a good example of one of them. This tune talks about waking up in the morning and enjoying the peace and beauty of a new day. And it’s one of Bob’s best-loved songs.

It comes from his 1977 album, Exodus, which was a huge hit and one that put him on the map as an international artist. But not all the songs on this classic reggae album are happy. Many are political, forceful, and even, strangely, aggressive.

Not so for “Three Little Birds.” When Bob sings the chorus, “Don’t worry about a thing – Cause every little thing is gonna be alright,” you simply can’t help but smile and feel warm and fuzzy. This is the soft, cozy happiness of a fluffy puppy or a warm embrace. Thanks, Bob!

Circle of Life – From the Lion King

Many of the best happy songs on this list are fast and peppy. I guess we relate happiness to excitement and energy. But, a few have a very different type of energy, and “Circle of Life” is one of them.

This is the immortal song from Disney’s 1994 movie “The Lion King,” which has also been remade as a stage musical and pseudo-live action film.

This lead track is sung in both Zulu and English, and the explosive Zulu introduction “Nansi ingonyama bakithi baba” (which, incidentally, means “Here comes a lion, father.”) is one of the most memorable parts of this song. Even if hardly anyone knows how to sing it.

The rest of the lyrics were written by Tim Rice…

…and then put to music by none other than the inimitable Sir Elton John. This song is stirring and inspiring, rather than peppy. But it’s unquestionably a happy song and one that can be both comforting and inspiring. Because what’s more beautiful than the circle of life, anyway?

Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles / George Harrison

George Harrison wrote “Here Comes the Sun” in 1969 and has performed it with The Beatles and solo for decades after. Some would say it’s his signature song and one of his best contributions to The Beatles’ catalog.

With the Beatles, this song was released on Abbey Road. But it has also been covered by numerous artists like Nina Simone and Peter Tosh, to name a few.

This is another happy song without being peppy…

It could even be described as expressing joy – does that trump happiness? It’s all about the world waking up to spring after a long, cold, lonely winter.

This sentiment can’t do anything but put a smile on your face and a warmth in your cockles. (I don’t know what they are, but for sure, that’s what gets warmed).

When George sings, “Here comes the sun (Doo-d-doo-doo) – Here comes the sun – And I say, “It’s alright,” I, for one, can’t help but believe him and feel happy and comforted.

Can’t Stop the Feeling! – Justin Timberlake

What feeling is Justin talking about in “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”? If you think he means that feeling of pure joy and exuberance you feel when you just let go and dance your pants off, I’d say you’ve probably nailed it.

This song is just so infectiously positive; I challenge you to pop it on and try to sit still. Or, try not to smile. Even if it’s not your kind of music, I doubt you can resist.

Even Trolls love it…

J.T. came out with this song for the DreamWorks animated film Trolls in 2016, which he also starred in, or at least his voice did. In addition to being an incredibly bright and happy part of the film, this song also featured on the soundtrack and made a huge splash on the charts.

It went to #1 in the US and many other countries around the world, and also won a Grammy award. It was the best-selling song of 2016, with over three million downloads.

Finally, it has a groovy, funky disco-pop sound designed to get you to shake it, so don’t be alarmed if your feet start moving anytime it comes over your speakers!

Break My Stride – Matthew Wilder

Remember this 1983 classic? If you thought it was a Culture Club or Boy George song, you could be forgiven. Matthew Wilder’s high-pitched voice bears a huge similarity, and so does the synth-based music.

But this track has a history all its own…

The story goes that Wilder was signed to a label but wasn’t making the kind of music they wanted and was about to be cut off. He wrote this positive upbeat song to motivate himself in the face of this career disaster. And it paid off. The song was picked up by another label and pushed up the charts.

With its bouncy, upbeat guitars, this song has a feel similar to reggae which was exploding around the world at the time and is probably a big reason for its success. But the lyrics are the reason it’s on this list of the best happy songs.

When you need a positive push in the right direction, sing it to yourself. “Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride – Nobody gonna slow me down – Oh no, I got to keep on movin’.”

I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash

Johnny Nash was a total legend. He was a singer, songwriter, actor, and the first American reggae artist to go and record in Jamaica. He’s best known for his 1972 song “I Can See Clearly Now,” which is one of the happiest, most uplifting songs ever.

In case you’ve never heard his version, you’ve still caught covers of the song by Jimmy CliffLee TowersRay CharlesHothouse Flowers, and the Holly Cole Trio, to name just a few.

Nash’s original version is light and chilled out in the verses…

But, when the chorus comes around, it explodes into Technicolor with blaring horns, synthesizers, and rolling drums.

It gets powerful, and when he sings, “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone – I can see all obstacles in my way – Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind – It’s gonna be a bright sunshiny day.” What a lovely pick-me-up from a perfectly positive song.

One Love – Bob Marley and the Wailers

Speaking of reggae, good old Bob Marley is back on our list of the best happy songs with one of his happiest songs ever. Surprisingly, this legendary song began its life in 1965 as a ska song that was much faster and bouncier than the 1970 reggae version that most of us know.

The reggae version that’s probably most familiar is the one from the album Exodus in 1977. This version has a slow, chilled-out beat, a lazy drifting bassline, and clangy piano driving it forward.

The vocal work by Bob and the I Three’s is just perfect. Bob sings passionately, and the backing vocals are in beautiful harmony.

The lyrics are just so full of positivity and love…

They can’t help but put a smile on your face. “One love – One heart – Let’s get together and feel alright” is such a nice, simple sentiment. But, for some reason, we need great songs to remind us to be kind to each other. Well, we can thank Bob for this one.

Wavin’ Flag – K’Naan

Here’s a song full of deep meaning and history, and even a reference to Bob (“Buffalo Soldier”). K’Naan is a Somali-Canadian artist, and he wrote this song for his home country back in 2010, which at that time was embroiled in a civil war.

The song was a big hit in Canada and was re-made in support of relief for the massive earthquake in Haiti later that year. And finally, the version most people know, a new version, was created as a theme song for the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa.

This newest version is nothing short of spine-tingling…

K’Naan re-worked the lyrics to be inspirational and worked with new producers to add soaring music mixed with African tribal chanting. This gave the song a beautiful positive feeling of strength and optimism.

K’Naan tells you to “Wave your flag” and live your best life despite hurdles to overcome. The result is one of the most inspirational songs ever.

Beautiful Day – U2

When U2 released “Beautiful Day” in 2000, it was a big gamble. While coming out on their album All That You Can’t Leave Behind, this song was a throwback to the band’s 80s sound and one that they weren’t very sure about.

There was a lot of bickering within the band over whether this song would be a regression and disappoint their fans.

Well, it wasn’t, and it didn’t…

U2 has some pretty sweet songs (“All I Want Is You” and, of course, “Sweetest Thing” come to mind). But none of their songs is as positive and optimistic as “Beautiful Day.”

This song starts with a washed-out sound that reminds me of waking up all thick-headed in the morning before exploding into a bright blast of sonic beauty. And it keeps going from there, gaining energy and positivity, too.

Bono has said that this song is about remembering to be positive when faced with the worst experiences. I think it has helped thousands do just that.

Walking On Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves

If you’re looking for one of the best feel good songs of all time, this surely has to be on your list. You might be surprised that a much more mature Katrina and the Waves won the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest with their “Love Shine A Light.” A decent song, I’ll admit, but it has nothing, absolutely nothing on “Walking On Sunshine.”

This song was released on the band’s self-titled debut album and just about didn’t make the cut. Written by guitarist Kimberley Rew, but the rest of the band thought it was too happy and didn’t match their overall sound.

Luckily, they decided to keep it around…

As a result, they managed to create one of the peppiest, happiest, most buoyant songs ever. This song has a strong, fast beat, hand claps to get your going, and bright, punchy brass accents to drive the rhythm home.

Plus, the lyrics are just too cute. “I’m walking on sunshine – and don’t it feel good?” Well thanks, Katrina and the Waves, because your signature song is still making people feel good decades later.

(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher – Jackie Wilson

Often known as just Higher and Higher, the song “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” is one of the most exuberant songs I’ve ever heard. It’s just so packed full of energy and goodwill that you can’t possibly listen to it and not feel your load lightened, if not thrown off completely.

The song was recorded by R&B superstar Jackie Wilson way back in 1967 and has been covered by numerous artists since. The song has also been used in movies across all sorts of genres for decades.

Why?

Because it’s just that good. The music is full of energy, driven by a straight-ahead beat, thick, funky bass, jazz piano, brass, and some beautiful Motown-style backing vocals.

As for Jackie Wilson’s vocals, he put all the energy and praise he could muster into this track and it paid off. People will be singing along to this number for generations to come.

Titanium – David Guetta (feat. SIA)

If you want something to dance to, here’s a perfect Pop-House song to get you in the mood. French DJ David Guetta mixed this huge hit back in 2011, and it soared up the charts in countries around the world.

Guetta’s strategic use of techniques like cutting the beat only to let it drop hard again, and big punchy crescendos drive the emotional background of this song perfectly.

But the rest of the emotion comes from the vocals…

This song features Aussie singer Sia (who replaced the original vocalist Mary J. Blige), and her vocals here are superb. Together with the emotional music, Sia sings about overcoming adversity and coming out on top.

Her voice soars as she hits the song’s climax, the chorus of “Shoot me down but I won’t fall – I am titanium,” and these inspiring words are a huge boost to anyone’s confidence. You want positivity? Check! Inspiring lyrics? Check! Danceable music? You got it here, all in one package.

Touch the Sky – Kanye West (feat. Lupe Fiasco)

If you need a fun, positive song, Kanye West has got you covered with “Touch the Sky.” This track comes from Kanye’s second studio album, Late Registration, which he dropped in 2005, and is one of the most humble songs in his catalog.

In their lyrics, Kanye and Lupe talk about struggles and failures. And in the music video West even fails to fly a rocket over the Grand Canyon, crashing at the end.

But, this is all used in contrast to the poppin’ chorus, “I gotta testify – Come up in the spot lookin’ extra fly – ‘Fore the day you die, you gonna touch the sky.”

This song has got a great beat and music that hits hard…

That’s because – surprise! – it’s cobbled together from a sample of Curtis Mayfield’s soul classic “Move On Up.” This background provides a lot of funky rhythms and blaring brass to light up the rap lyrics and make this a great song.

When you need to get yourself going for a big job or a big night out, this is the song to get you pumped up.

I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross

“I’m Coming Out” is an amazingly positive song that was written by members of the band Chic and recorded by the immortal Diana Ross. She released the track in 1980 on her album Diana, and it was an instant hit, getting to #5 on the charts.

But, unlike many other late-70s/early-80s chart-toppers, this song has had incredible staying power. This is due in large part to it having been adopted as an anthem by the blossoming LGBTQ community in the 80s and 90s.

Since “coming out” is slang for revealing one’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Ross’s lyrics are also super-positive and all about self-love, which was a perfect match.

Back to the song…

It starts with one of the coolest drum breaks ever before breaking into full Disco-Pop-Rock mode. You’ve got funky wah-wah guitars, a delicious bass line, tight brass, and even a funky trombone solo at the end to make this jam hit hard.

It’s just one of those songs that gets you up out of your seat and dancing joyfully. This song is so funky; it was sampled as the main music behind “Mo Money, Mo Problems” by the Notorious B.I.G. featuring Mase and Puff Daddy, one of the coolest rap songs of the 90s.

Celebration – Kool and the Gang

Another Disco-Pop smash hit that came out in 1980 is “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang. This song came from the funky Soul band’s album entitled Celebrate! and blew up the charts, hitting #1 in the US, Canada, and New Zealand.

It’s also one of the era’s songs that has stood the test of time…

Mostly because the “celebration” in the song is not specified, so you can use it for anything from a bat mitzvah to a funeral, if it’s that kind of funeral.

Kool and the Gang have a distinct Soul/R&B/Funk sound that is perfect for this track. The beat is slow enough for anyone to dance to, while the guitars provide a lot of the energy and driving force behind the song.

The vocals are big and happy, and the background “woo hoo’s” get the crowd pumping and jumping. Great song about happiness and celebration.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun – Robert Hazard / Cyndi Lauper

I don’t know if you were alive in or survived the 80s, but there were a lot of weird things going on back then. Cellphones were huge, colors were neon, and hair was BIG. So was Cyndi Lauper.

This New York native with a big personality and a wild wardrobe who took the 80s music scene by storm. Her 1983 debut album, She’s So Unusual, was a massive success, putting up four Top 5 hits in the charts. And the happiest, bounciest of them all was “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”

Surprisingly, it was not written by Lauper…

It was a man’s song, written and recorded in 1979 by Robert Hazard. However, When Cyndi got her hands on it, she changed some of the lyrics to make this song an uplifting party anthem for young women, and it worked.

The music is a bit 80s, synthy, and dated. But the beat is still there, and the fun, happy lyrics, too. So, give it a listen and see if you agree.

All Star – Smash Mouth

There was a certain California Alternative Rock sound that happened in the late 90s. And, to be honest, most of it hasn’t passed the test of time. But, one track that can still get your motor running is 1999’s surprisingly poppy “All Star” from San Jose rockers Smash Mouth.

This song was a massive hit for the band, breaking into the Top 10 and garnering a Grammy nomination. It was also used in the soundtrack for the superhero movie Mystery Men and also in the smash hit Shrek. And, honesty, Smash Mouth has cruised on this song for a long time.

What’s great about this track?

The music is very upbeat and fun. It has a great walking bass line and bright, staccato guitar chords to drive the verses, and then a big build for the sugary chorus.

And the lyrics are great to boost your confidence and give you a big boost. “Hey now – You’re an all-star – Get your game on – Go play – Hey now / You’re a rock star – Get the show on – Get paid.”

Fly – Sugar Ray

Another California Alt-Rock legend, Sugar Ray, had several big hits back in the late 90s. And their top track was arguably “Fly,” which featured reggae star Super Cat. This track is light and bright, and cheerful, even if it has a slightly hard rock edge.

The song comes from the band’s 1997 album, Floored, and was a huge hit for them. It shot up to #1 on the charts and stayed there for four weeks in a row. This also made their album go double-platinum, cementing the band’s place in music history.

You may be surprised to learn…

The song is about both life and death. This is a musical tale of life, love, and loss all rolled into one. Take that as you will. When singer Mark McGrath sings, “I just wanna fly – Put your arms around me baby,” you can take this as a positive, happy message about a life well lived.

The song is bright and bouncy, and Super Cat’s reggae style adds a perfect complement to an already banging jam.

Roam – B-52’s

Love Shack” might be this band’s most memorable song. But I don’t think it’s as deliciously happy as “Roam.” This song has a killer beat and hand claps that just make you have to clap along, no matter what you’re doing.

Unlike most B-52s songs, it’s sung by the dynamic duo that is Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, while Fred Schneider’s over-the-top voice is conspicuously absent. These two songstresses sing in perfect close harmony, with lots of power to make this an energetic and fun tune.

This is a song of pure joy…

The lyrics are about open-hearted exploration, and this is reinforced by the video, which sees the band dancing in front of footage of dancers around the world, from Indonesian Gamelan dancers to whirling Dervishes.

There’s something so free-spirited in the message “Roam if you want to – Roam around the world – Roam if you want to – Without anything but the love we feel.”

Shiny Happy People – R.E.M.

Speaking of Kate Pierson of the B-52s, she features as a guest vocalist on “Shiny Happy People” by R.E.M., singing harmony with the normally dour Michael Stipe.

On this song, though, they’re both bubbly and bouncy and very cute. Stipe has said that this was a silly song written for children and is satirical. But I think you can take it any way you like.

To me, the song is pure bubblegum, but it has a nice optimistic meaning. Imagine people being happy and healthy and all getting along. Yeah, nothing wrong with that. This is a departure for R.E.M., but as a super-happy song, it still deserves a final spot on this list.

Looking for more Uplifting Songs?

Well, take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs About Dreams, the Best Songs About the Sun and Sunshine, the Best Songs about Friday, the Best Songs About Heroes, the Best Songs About Change, and the Best Songs About Walking for more great song selections.

Of course, you’ll need to hear those tunes. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Headphones for Music, the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best Earbuds for Running, and the Best Bass Earbuds you can buy in 2023.

And don’t miss our comprehensive reviews of the Best Tailgate Speakers, the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers, the Loudest Portable Bluetooth Speakers, and the Best Waterproof Speakers currently on the market.

The 25 Best Happy Songs Ever – Final Thoughts

I don’t know about you, but having gotten to the end of this list, I feel buoyant and almost giddy. If you were looking for a pick-me-up, I hope you’ve found it in these happiest of happy songs.

The thing that gets me is that happiness and positivity have been expressed in so many different ways across so many different genres of music.

From classic songs of pure bliss to more recent happy hits, these are the tracks that can get a grin on your face no matter what. So, if you need a reason to get out of bed or just want to boost your mood, this is a playlist for you that’s instant happiness.

Until next time, happy listening.

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About Corey Hoffman

Corey is a multi-instrumentalist who has played in numerous bands over the years, some good, some not so good. He has also written countless songs and recorded five albums in professional studios across America. Today he is a hobby musician but still loves the guitar after over 15 years of playing.

He considers his writing as a way to share what he has learned over the decades with younger generations ad always can't wait to get his hands on the latest gear.

He lives just outside New York with his wife Barbara and their two German Shepherds, Ziggy and Iggy.

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