How Music Can Change One’s Mood in a Split Second

This past week, as I was out for the once-per-week, masked, sanitized, and respectfully socially-distanced grocery store run, I had one of those moments that have become all too familiar.

As I turned my king-sized grocery cart around a corner, I was disappointed to see someone going in the wrong direction, completely contrary to the arrows on the ground. I asked myself, after 13 months of Covid-19, have we not gotten the choreography down yet?

But before the cranky old man within me had a chance to fully surface and irritate me for the rest of the grocery run, the grocery store’s speaker system launched into the first notes of Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up the Sun”.

As I started humming along (hey, if there’s only 25 people allowed in the store at one time, I can softly hum with a smile under my mask) my mood instantly changed and the non-compliant grocery shopper was already deleted from my consciousness.

When you review the lyrics, it’s not like “Soak Up the Sun” is one of the cheeriest songs ever written, but the chorus, the music and its associated music video convey to me a certain lightness and free-spiritedness that have often helped me let go of some of the little irritants in life.

Have you ever noticed how songs seem to have that power over us, to – please forgive the cliché – turn a frown upside down? And have you ever been in a situation where you are driving around, enjoying a string of one good song after another, and actually hoping for red lights to slow down your commute to enjoy the tunes?

Much like with “Soak Up the Sun”, it doesn’t always have to be about uplifting lyrics, sometimes it can be all about the music itself and a skillful arrangement that just strikes the right notes to raise ones spirits or even better, to energize.

What I also find fascinating is that a song that may hold a certain fondness by one person, may draw out negative feelings by someone else, depending on the context or memories that they might associate to it. That is completely fair (so let’s already agree to disagree, OK?)

I accept that some may view some of the songs in the list below as bubble gum music, but if music makes someone feel better, is that not a good enough reason to justify its existence?

More recently, I seem to have found myself turning to my carefully curated music to prevent myself from falling into the funk of what seems like the never-ending Covid-19 news cycle to drag us down. And it works! My sincere thanks to music artists everywhere!

Dare I admit out loud that songs sometimes have that energizing effect to the point of diminishing returns, as a happy song on an already happy day can bring on tears of joy, and have me saying, “Sorry, it’s just allergies” to others, to mask the fact that abundantly happy moments can have that effect on me.

Funny enough, when I check the playlists I rotate in and out of my portable devices, I noticed that many of these songs seem to make it to several playlists, whether to energize me, or to keep the energy up such as when I am running.

Here are 50 of my favourites, in no particular order:

1. Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake
2. I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
3. Feel This Moment – Pitbull featuring Christina Aguilera
4. We Go Together – Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta and the cast of Grease
5. You Get What You Give – New Radicals
6. Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars
7. pretty much any dance tune by Lady Gaga
8. Breathless – The Corrs
9. Raise Your Glass – P!nk
10. U Got the Look – Prince
11. Stronger – Britney Spears
12. The Cup of Life – Ricky Martin
13. Livin’ La Vida Loca – Ricky Martin
14. I Want You Back – N Sync
15. I’ll Never Stop – N Sync
16. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) – Backstreet Boys
17. Wannabe – Spice Girls
18. Girls Just Want to Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
19. I Heard a Rumour – Bananarama
20. Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
21. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
22. Enjoy the Silence – Depeche Mode
23. Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams
24. Sisters are Doin’ it for Themselves – Eurythmics featuring Aretha Franklin
25. If I Could Turn Back Time – Cher
26. Better Be Good to Me – Tina Turner
27. Rebel Yell – Billy Idol
28. Hungry Like the Wolf – Duran Duran
29. Is There Something I Should Know – Duran Duran
30. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

A few of my childhood favourites:
1. Mah Nà Mah Nà – the Muppets
2. Joy – Apollo 100
3. I Got You Babe – Sonny and Cher
4. Be My Baby – Andy Kim
5. Soleil, Soleil – Rémi Migneault et ses chœurs

From Broadway:
1. Hello! – The Company of “Book of Mormon”
2. Turn it Off – The Company of “Book of Mormon”
3. Brotherhood of Man – The Company of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (just the memory of the accompanying choreography cracks me up)
4. Lay All Your Love on Me – The Company of “Mamma Mia!” (again, the choreography from this one is permanently etched in my mind and makes me smile instantly… even as I am writing this)
5. Popular – The Company of “Wicked”

My Swedish friends and fans of Swedish pop music will probably recognize the following:
1. Summer Night City – ABBA
2. Beautiful Life – Ace of Base
3. Not a Sinner nor a Saint – Alcazar
4. Someday – Alcazar
5. Move – The Mamas
6. Invincible/Evighet – Carola
7. I Can’t Go On – Robin Bengtsson
8. Live Forever – Magnus Carlsson
9. Show Me Heaven – Lili & Susie
10. Olympia – E-Type

My close friends might look at the list and notice the absence of some of the artists or songs that I have raved about over the years, and that is fair.

The truth is that it was very challenging to narrow the list to only 50, so my apologies for any oversights, which I think speaks to how so many wonderful songs have that ability to lift our spirits.

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,

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Filed under 50+, Inspiring, Lists, music, pop culture

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