If you know me then you know that music plays a huge part in my day to day life. From a young age I grew to appreciate music and several of its genres. As a queer man fighting anxiety and depression it’s difficult not feel awful a lot of the times. In these moments of feeling trapped in my head by my thoughts I sometimes turn to music to escape. There are a handful of songs that always improve my mood, put a smile on face and they even get me dancing.

Evidence shows though several studies that listening to upbeat music can improve mood. The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) reports that music therapy programs can help with managing stress among other ailments. Over the last couple weeks I have been compiling a list of songs that make me happy. These songs usually put me in a good mood and I have been using them as a part of my therapy recently.
These songs:

• Span several genres that I love

• Are upbeat and make me dance.

• Have themes of overcoming life’s setbacks and persevering

• Have themes about love and being in love

• Remind me of specific times in my life when I was happy.

Check out my list below and follow the link to listen on Spotify. Or you can click on the song titles to be taken to Youtube.

Top 17 songs that improve my mood (and make me dance)!

1. “Breathin” – Ariana Grande

I can relate to this song so much “Some days things take way too much of my energy. I look up and the whole world’s spinning.” This reminds me to keep breathing through whatever is happening because things will get better.


2. “These Words” – Natasha Bedingfield

This song reminds me of my nephew and those times we shared. I remember he would help me sing this song (even though he didn’t know how to pronounce the words). I would sing the verses while he would “sing” the chorus.

3. “Live For Today” – Natalie Grant

Most days I get overwhelmed when imagine my future. This song reminds me to live one day at a time and enjoy every single day for what it is worth.



I love the way Rebecca St. James sings/talks in her Australian accent throughout. This song references Matthew chapter 6 verses 25 – 34 (some of my favorite scripture verses).


5. “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” – Kelly Clarkson

Even though this is a break up song I still use this as a part of my music therapy. The title says it all for me and this song reminds me that I am stronger than I think.

 6.”Ain’t Got No, I Got Life” – Nina Simone

I could write an entire entry on Nina Simone as she is one of my favorite artists. This song encourages me to be thankful for what I do have. I may not have much but I have life and with that I have the chance to make  my situation better.

7.”O-o-h Child” – The Five Stairsteps.

This song has seen its fair share of covers over the years, but the simple reaffirming message makes this one of my go to when I’m feeling less than encouraged.


8.”We Got Love” – Ryan Shaw

Who doesn’t love to be in love?? This song is the perfect love song. It makes me think of finding my partner and sharing my life with that person.


 9.”Sometimes” – The Brand New Heavies

This is one of the songs that remind me of a simpler time in life. I remember seeing this video playing on BET while growing up, but I never knew the name of group. Years later while searching through the discography of The Brand New Heavies I rediscovered this gem.


10.”Love Will Never Do” – Janet Jackson

I have been a Janet Jackson fan for as long as I have been alive. If you see me wearing headphones and my face turns into a smile then song playing. Another video I grew up watching.


  11.”Show Me Love” – Robin S

I LOVE house music! I consider this song THE ultimate 90’s house track and anyone who disagrees can square up. This timeless song with its pulsating synths will forever make me dance.



12.”Just Fine” – Mary J Blige

Like Mary says at the beginning “This joint right here….” It’s so happy and all about loving yourself. Its repetitive hook reassures me each time.


13.”Day like Today” – Out Of Eden

I always enjoy the storytelling in this song. We have all had those days where it feels like nothing is going right and it’s problem after problem. The hook reminds me that even though today is a trash day it won’t always be this way.


14.”Life Me Up” – The Benjamin Gate

This song always gives me a rush of energy! It’s the perfect song for when I’m lifting in the gym or when I’m going down the highway. It’s so euphoric!


15.”Pushing the Senses” – Feeder

Don’t tell anyone this BUT I secretly want to be a part of a rock band and this song helps me fulfill that fantasy (in my head). This one also gives me a boost adrenaline.


Another song that helps me to take a look at everything I have. Everything may not be perfect but I should still be thankful for what I do have.


 17.”Bom Feeling” – Sara Tavares

Bom feeling means good feeling in English. Even though this song is in Portuguese I have always appreciated the essence of the message in this song. Over the years I have learned parts of this song so I could sing along while enjoying the good feeling.


So that’s my list for 17 songs that help to improve my mood when I have those difficult days. I included 3 more tracks to make this a round hefty 20 track playlist (you’re welcome). The playlist is available on Spotify for you to listen and enjoy. Now that I have shared my list it’s your turn to sound off! What song improves your mood? Comment below……



American Psychological Association


American Music Therapy Association Mission


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