Upbeat Music
December 7, 2018 5:58 AM   Subscribe

My seasonal affective disorder has me down down down. MeFites who wrestle with depression, please tell me what songs or types of music help you cope.

I did not grow up with music so I forget it is available. I know that it can powerfully affect moods but I have no idea where to start. So I am looking for recommendations about specific songs, specific artists, playlists, and/or specific genres that you personally have found uplifting or helpful in improving your mood. Thanks!
posted by Bella Donna to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Literally just this morning, I found my mood significantly lifted by "Move On Up" by Curtis Mayfield. For a more modern take, "Touch the Sky" by Kanye West uses the same horn riff.
Back in the day when Mefi did the music swap, one year I sent out an "Instahappy" mix. I'll see if I can find and replicate that in Spotify.
posted by Fig at 6:22 AM on December 7, 2018 [5 favorites]

I like 1950's and 1960's instrumental and other snappy songs. I usually set up one on on my iHeartRadio on my TV, and it generates a station on the song I pick, for instance, here are a few:

Mambo Italiano - Rosemary Clooney
Spanish Flea - Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
Mambo 5 - Perez Prado
Tequila - The Champs

Love these especially when the sun is setting at 4:00 p.m. and I need a boost to get up and cook dinner.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:37 AM on December 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

Massy Trinidad All-Stars or, really, any steel orchestra.
posted by Weftage at 6:46 AM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Anything acapella (like the annual Best of College Acapella albums) and Weird Al.
posted by johnxlibris at 6:50 AM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ooh Child.

Looking forward to the rest.
posted by wellred at 6:58 AM on December 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

I find high-energy, bubblegum pop helps me. Jpop is great for this - something like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Relentlessly happy and cute.

Hang in there!
posted by Gordafarin at 7:11 AM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

With the exception of Sun Ra, these are all suggestions of songs that are restful and quiet but not distressing - not the thing if you want to get up and dance or achieve, but often one wants not to be sad but also to, eg, get sleepier.

Wim Mertens's albums A Man of No Fortune and a Name To Come and Maximizing the Audience - here is The Fosse. This is not pop music, although it's popular classical; it's just soothing.

Sun Ra, such as Kingdom of Not.

Miles Davis's electric period - In A Silent Way, for instance.

Brian Eno St Elmo's Fire and Everything Merges With The Night

The Clientele, Falling Asleep
posted by Frowner at 7:22 AM on December 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

What works for me:

Literally any 60s Motown record featuring the Funk Brothers (which is most if not all of them). The best-selling group of all time for a reason.

The Harder they Come Soundtrack, and Toots and the Maytals in general.

The Meters first album.

Pablo Casals playing Bach's cello suites. Not uptempo, but just simple, beautiful, and calming.

The Magnetic Fields - I. This is also not exactly upbeat, just charming and odd. The whole album feels like a musical that didn't get filmed.

On the weirder side - Quintron and Miss Pussycat.

On the offensive to nearly everyone side: The Frogs - My Daughter the Broad got me through a pretty dark time, despite (or perhaps because of) being crude, musically almost inept, juvenile, completely irreverent, sacrilegious, and insane. YMMV.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:13 AM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Spotify has a playlist that is unrelentingly upbeat called "Have a Great Day". It's so upbeat, I can only listen to it for about an hour before my brain revolts and I have to switch to something less driving. They also have one called "Mood Booster" which is more ambient and uptempo and less "have fun or we will not stop".

It's free to join, so might be a good way to find other playlists. The AI for recommendations is pretty good.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:22 AM on December 7, 2018 [4 favorites]

Just yesterday I listened to Rubber Soul and it was great!
posted by 8603 at 8:36 AM on December 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Drum Machine by Big Grams

Santigold, GO!

Mambo #5 by Lou Bega

Fitz & the Tantrums, Handclap

Pretty much the entire Costello album by the Fratetllis, but especially Henrietta

And the song that I can listen to over and over, and will be in my head the rest of the day: Get Better by Frank Turner.
posted by hydra77 at 9:07 AM on December 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

I wish you had given some indication of your musical tastes. Some of these may be too dumb or too silly for you. Happiness promotes a certain amount of dumbness and silliness.

Good Vibrations - Beach Boys
And Your Bird Can Sing - Beatles
It's All Too Much - Beatles
No Woman No Cry - Bob Marley
Love's Gonna Live Here - Buck Owens
He's So Fine - Chiffons
Then He Kissed Me - Crystals
Girls Just Want to Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
Get Lucky - Daft Punk, Pharrel Williams
Chapel of Love - Dixie Cups
Oh Happy Day - Edwin Hawkins Singers
Mushaboom - Feist
Come Softly to Me - Fleetwoods
Red Dragon Tattoo - Fountains of Wayne
superlit - gnash
I'm Into Something Good - Herman's Hermits
Put a Little Love in Your Heart - Jackie DeShannon
(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher - Jackie Wilson
Joy to You Baby - Josh Ritter
Let Love Carry You Along - Joy of Cooking
What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
Do You Believe in Magic? - Lovin' Spoonful
Dress You Up - Madonna
Lucky Star - Madonna
True Blue - Madonna
Dancing in the Street - Martha and the Vandellas
My Guy - Mary Wells
Hummed Low - Odessa
Paradise - Odessa
You Can Call Me Al - Paul Simon
Graceland - Paul Simon
Good Times - Persuasions (!!!)
Young Folks - Peter Bjorn and John
He's So Shy - Pointer Sisters
Happy - Rolling Stones
Be My Baby - Ronettes
(What a) Wonderful World - Sam Cooke
Bring It on Home to Me - Sam Cooke
Tonight's the Night - Shirelles
She's About a Mover - Sir Douglas Quintet
The Glow - Sylvan Esso
My Girl - Temptations
Madam George - Van Morrison
So Quiet in Here - Van Morrison
Wavelength - Van Morrison
How Will I Know - Whitney Houston

Sorry to go on at such length. I assure you, these are not merely favorite songs, but songs that I have found to lift spirits. This is serious business for me.
posted by ckridge at 9:33 AM on December 7, 2018 [4 favorites]

Aw, man, I go for late 90s bubblegum pop. Britney Spears, Spice Girls, S Club 7.... do I feel ridiculous? Yup. Better? Also yup.
posted by coffeeand at 9:36 AM on December 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

For this time of year, I really like dance pop - Sia, Robyn, Marina and the Diamonds, etc. Maybe it’s because I associate the sound with nightclubs and parties, maybe it’s the particular combination of beat and melody, but it sounds like lights in the darkness to me.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:00 AM on December 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


Though, I implore you in the bowels of Christ, be careful. She can break your heart as quick as she can lift it.
posted by ckridge at 11:33 AM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is so so so individual! Which makes it hard to recommend things, but also I love that it's so individual / personal.

If I had a blanket rec, I'd echo fiercekitten's idea of a streaming service that has mixes or "radio stations" built from similar music. They tend to have thumbs-up / bookmark this song type mechanics that will help you come back later and dive into something you liked. I actually spent all day with a Royskopp station in the background, which I find relaxing.

When you have the patience and/or spoons, there's also sifting through year-end lists and such. I enjoyed listening through this giant playlist from NPR a while back, and found songs I didn't know existed.

As for upbeat, for me right now this is:
Twrp, a bunch of masked nerds who sing funky songs through a vocoder about space and/or dancing
The Go! Team, M-A-Y-D-A-Y Mayday Mayday oh now it's in my head again
The second half of Abbey Road
This dorky-ass song that I love more than it objectively deserves

...but yes, Spotify.
posted by cage and aquarium at 2:19 PM on December 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

My go-to music for inducing good times is 80s music. A lot of it was really funky and efficient. Here are some of my favorites:
Adam Ant: Friend or Foe, The Blow Monkeys: Digging Your Scene, Chaka Khan: I Feel for You, Commodores: Lady, Cozy Powell: Cat Moves, The Crashers: Flight to Jamaica, Donald Fagen: Walk Between Raindrops, Erik B & Rakim: Paid in Full, Howard Jones: Things Can Only Get Better, The Jackson Five: Can You Feel It, Prefab Sprout: The King of Rock and Roll, Simple Minds: Promised You a Miracle, The Waitresses: The Smartest Person I Know

But the truth is, sometimes upbeat music doesn't help, and then it makes me feel worse. Sometimes musically steering into a bad mood is the best thing, in my opinion. I'll often enjoy listening to music that sounds like strife and anxiety because then it's like my brain doesn't have to do that, and it starts doing other things. Sometimes you just want to feel like someone else knows exactly what you feel, and if a song can express that, it makes me feel better. If I'm down, sometimes I start listening to cold, ambient electronic music, and it helps. Biosphere, Robert Rich, Trentemoller, Ulrich Schnauss, etc.
posted by heatvision at 5:51 AM on December 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Share it maybe
posted by bunderful at 1:42 PM on December 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have found that marching band music (like classic Sousa) and yodeling are just so aggressively cheerful and unexpected that they can snap me out of a funk pretty quickly.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 4:05 PM on December 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Speaking of yodeling
posted by bunderful at 4:22 PM on December 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I made a Spotify playlist with most of these, I left out the classical sorry!
posted by ellieBOA at 5:03 AM on February 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

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