Classic Rock Archives

Classic Rock Archives

Classic Rock Archives

Freddie Mercury coming to the big screen in IMAX

What are the songs that make you feel good? I recently asked this question on social media. If you’d like to see what others are saying and/or join the conversation, it’s here:

Feeling Good About Feeling Good Again

It’s not the first time I have asked this question. About a year ago, we had “Feel Good Friday” on the Power Lunch. The Power Lunch is a request show that I host from noon to 1pm weekdays. The answers were amazing and the playlist it created was one of my all-time favorites.

I tried scrolling back through Facebook to find the conversation, but with no luck, so I’m asking again.

This question came back to me recently when I saw a post on Facebook talking about a neuroscientist named Jacob Jolij. A few years back, Jolij did a scientific study on songs that make us feel good. He asked people the same question, gathered their answers, and then studied the song choices for commonalities.

a record face front with albums stacked behind it. Used in an article talking about song that make you happy
Getty Images
Songs that make you happy: The vinyl listening experience is something that cannot be replaced. Many music fans get top-of-the-line players and speakers for their listening experience. (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Common Points Of Songs That Make Us Feel Good

Jolij found that songs that make you feel good were upbeat (140-150 BPM) and about positive events or complete nonsense. Jolij also took note of the important fact that music is subjective. My favorite songs could be kryptonite to your ears and vice versa.

I also noticed that the top 10 is comprised of songs from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, but the research originally came out in 2020. Personally, I would have put some more recent songs on my list, but I’m just one voice.

The sampling also makes a huge difference. Songs that might be popular in one part of the world are unheard of in other parts. Having said that, these songs are not all classic rock. I would only place three of them in a classic rock category. Regardless, I have to think everyone is familiar with ALL of these songs.

Top 10 Songs That Make You Feel Good

  • #10 "Walking on Sunshine"

    I am female and a child of the ’80s. There is NO WORLD in which I don’t feel good hearing this song. Also I may have put it on more than one mixed tape for friends.

    Fun fact: Katrina was an Air Force brat. Her family was stationed in England when she met the band.

  • #9 "I Will Survive"

    This is definitely another female leaning song… I think we all know this. Gloria Gainer giving any anthem to anyone who has felt downtrodden by another human being or any situation in life. Songfacts credits by Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren as the song writers.  They were former Motown producers. Fekaris said he was inspired to write the song after he was fired.

    Fekaris also has writing credit on Rare Earth’s “I Just Wanna Celebrate.” Perren wrote three Jackson Five songs that went to number one including “I Want You Back.”

    Here’s the karaoke video because we all know someone who thought it was a good idea to sing this song.



  • #8 "Livin' on a Prayer"

    This is my personal favorite.  Is there a song more uplifting and inspirational than Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer?” Not for me. Correction, the number one song is tremendous too, but first things first.

    Watching this video makes me nostalgic and happy. They’re all impossibly young. They have the long hair, ripped jeans, and cowboys boots. Bon Jovi was the gold-standard of ’80s hair fashion.

  • #7 "Girls Just Want To Have Fun"

    This was Cyndi Lauper’s first release and was a huge influence on ’80s music and culture. Ironically, (like “I Will Survive”) this “girl-power” song was written by a man. Robert Hazzard, a singer/songwriter from Philadelphia has the songwriting credits on “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.” Side note: in the video, Cyndi’s dad is played by the wrestler Captain Lou Albano and her mom is played by… her real mom.


  • #6 "I'm a Believer"

    The Monkees! When I could find that TV show on reruns, I was the happiest kid ever! Micky Dolenz sings lead on this song, but their management company used session musicians. Two fun facts:

    1) David Bowie’s real name is David Jones. He changed his name because he didn’t want to be confused with Davey Jones

    2) Neil Diamond wrote “I’m a Believer.” Once you know it, it seems like an obvious thing. I can almost hear Neil singing it. This is definitely his style.


  • #5 "Eye Of The Tiger"

    Hell yes, friend. This song has been pumping people up since 1982.  You may know the story of Sylvester Stallone’s famous answering machine message. He called Jim Peterik and and Frankie Sullivan and asked them to write a song for Rocky III. According to Peterik the message began, “Hey, yo, Jim, that’s a nice message you got there. This is Sylvester Stallone.”

  • #4 "Uptown Girl"

    See, now this one is my kryptonite. Billy Joel has some great songs, but this one is not part of my “Billy Joel Great Songs” list.  This is on my “cheesy no pleasey” list. Sorry if that offends… that’s just my opinion.

    Billy Joel married Christy Brinkley less than two years after this song was released, but they weren’t dating when Billy Joel wrote it. He was dating Elle Macpherson. He and Elle broke up, and by the time the song came out, it was about Brinkley.

  • #3 "Good Vibrations"

    Brian Wilson told Rolling Stone magazine that “Good Vibrations” is a “very spiritual song.” Brian has also said that his mother told him about vibrations. “I didn’t really understand too much of what she meant when I was a boy. It scared me, the word ‘vibrations’ – to think that invisible feelings existed. She also told me about dogs that would bark at some people, but wouldn’t bark at others, and so it came to pass that we talked about good vibrations.”

    This song cost more than $50,000 to make in 1966. It took 17 recording sessions to finish. At the time, it was the most expensive song ever made.


  • #2 "Dancing Queen"

    No you shut up… even the Foo Fighters love ABBA. This video for “Dancing Queen” has more than 8.6 million views. ABBA had 14 top ten hits in the U.S.A. “Dancing Queen” was the only one of their songs to make it to number one.

  • #1 "Don't Stop Me Now"

    Brilliance. I love the hopeful, persevering nature of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” Freddie Mercury is unstoppable. He’s having the best day ever and sharing it with all of us.

    The BBC television show, Top Gear, named “Don’t Stop Me Now” the “Greatest Driving Song Ever” in 2005.  In 2023, a survey of 2,000 motorists named the song favorite car sing-along song. “Dancing Queen” by ABBA came second and “Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi third.

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