Listen, about those bitter songs you sing..
February 5, 2021 9:16 PM   Subscribe

It's a breakup playlist with a twist. Finding that even thinking about relationships is not good for my mental health right now, but trying to be upbeat, I'd like your picks for songs that remind you of the beauty of life, minus the references to partners (or even sentiments like "you'll find someone good soon" - I'd just rather not dwell on that atm.) Or just good bangers with positive lyrics. Looking for an "I'm resolved to go on," "Life is amazing" kind of feel.

Songs that give me this mood:

Moonpools And Caterpillars – Hear
Streetheart - Can You Feel It
Silversun Pickups - Growing Old Is Getting Old
Big Wreck - Albatross
Weakerthans - Plea from a Cat named Virtue
(Some of those do mention relationships, but they're not the focus.)

Genre doesn't matter so long as it is upbeat, though I tend to prefer alt rock, indie, electronica, and classic rock. Any cheery unpartnered songs that you like?
posted by Hardcore Poser to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Morrissey’s Sing Your Life and Dig For Fire by the Pixies give me that happy confident “I got this” feeling.
posted by cakelite at 10:35 PM on February 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have plenty of these but it is late and if I start linking now I'll be up all night, I'll link at least ten by cocktail hour sunday.
posted by vrakatar at 11:11 PM on February 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Birds flying high
You know how I feel
Sun in the sky
You know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by
You know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good
"Feelin' Good" - Nina Simone

Nina's version is canonical but there are many, many alternate versions available. If for some reason the original doesn't work with your mix, this respectable cover by My Brightest Diamond manages to sound a little more contemporary while not disgracing the song.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:20 AM on February 6, 2021 [6 favorites]

Frank Turner - Get Better
posted by headnsouth at 1:20 AM on February 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm Movin On, Emmylou Harris
It's Alright, Dad Williams (a little bittersweet lyrically but resolves on a super hopeful note)

and outside of your preferred genres , a shout out to destiny's child, "survivor"
posted by MarianHalcombe at 4:53 AM on February 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Horizon By The Cinematic Orchestra
posted by aubilenon at 6:03 AM on February 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Space Walk - Lemon Jelly
posted by Concordia at 6:07 AM on February 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have an entire playlist of "you got this" encouraging-type songs, and it's probably easier if I link you to the whole thing and then name some specific songs from it that might suit -

* "Ordinary Day" by Great Big Sea. A banger with positive lyrics, and hella upbeat.

* "Let the Day Begin" by The Call - a celebration of, like, everything in life; the lyrics are just a whole laundry list of "Here's to [blah]" toasts to people like teachers, barflies, truck drivers, government leaders, starlit skies, etc. The chorus does also include a salute to a partner ("Here's to you, my little love, with blessings from above....") but I feel that can be overlooked.

* "I Just Wanna Celebrate" by Rare Earth. A 60's hippyish "maybe I don't have too much money but life is still awesome" anthem.

* "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copland. No lyrics; this is a symphonic piece. But it's short and sounds so damn noble. (if you don't recognize the name - I suspect you've heard it somewhere, it gets used a lot as incedental music.)

* "Fisherman's Blues" by The Waterboys. This is probably my favorite song ever. It does have a reference to a partner by referring to having "light in my head, you in my arms" in the chorus, but even in my most downhearted, single-and-hate-it stage I didn't care becuase the rest of the song is so fantastic.

* "The Stairs" by INXS is all about how ALL of us are going through our own private struggles without anyone knowing it - you're walking around with your own stuff going on in your head, but so is everyone around you, and this makes us all heroes. "Though all are different, all are great" goes one lyric and that sums it up.

* "Bang Your Drum" by Dead Man Fall. A great little "keep plugging away and keep going" song by an indie group in Scotland. Introduced to the wider world by Craig Ferguson, who used it as the cold open for his last show ever.

* "I Can See Clearly Now" is not on the list, but it's another good upbeat and happy song, all about how "finally the shit is behind me and it's all good now".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:25 AM on February 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Whatever it is - Ben Lee
posted by backwards guitar at 6:26 AM on February 6, 2021

It's surprising how many songs I think of as general "it's all fine, keep on going!" songs are actually about coming out of relationships. Having excised the most obviously relationship-centric, here are some of my go-tos:
  • Kool Moe Dee - I Go to Work "Ain't no need for a rush / It ain't no race / I'ma hit the top / Just when I wanna / And it's a matter of time / And I'm gonna / Cause I know when to / Go 'head enter"
  • The Weakerthans - Aside "And I'm leaving, wave goodbye / And I'm losing but I'll try / With the last ways left / To remember, sing / My imperfect offering"
  • The Vandals - Don't Stop Me Now (or, I guess, by Queen) "I am a satellite I'm out of control / I am a sex machine ready to reload / Like an atom bomb about to / Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, explode"
  • Go Home Productions - Girl Wants (To Say Goodbye To) Rock and Roll (downloadable on This Was Pop (2002-2007) on this page) A glorious mash-up
  • The Moonflowers - Tighten Up Much fun!
  • Amerie - Gotta Work "Sometimes it's gonna be days like this / Sometimes it's gonna be rain like this / Sometimes you're gonna feel pain like this / Sometimes you gotta work hard for it"
  • Bill Nelson - Another Day, Another Ray of Hope "So now the summer's gone / We live our lives alone / Beneath these winter stars / Our silver turns to gold"
  • Akira the Don - Living in the Future "Speakers go boom / Up in this room / Yeah / Hands in the air / I can do anything I want right here / Go! / I love living in the future baby!"
  • Demi Lovato - Confident "I used to hold my freak back, now I'm letting go / I make my own choice / Bitch, I run this show / So leave the lights on / No, you can't make me behave"
  • Delgados - Mr Blue Sky (or, I guess, by ELO) "Hey you with the pretty face / Welcome to the human race / A celebration, Mr. Blue Sky's up there waitin' / And today is the day we've waited for"

posted by fabius at 6:37 AM on February 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Jimmy Eat World - The Middle I feel better already just humming this to myself.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 6:42 AM on February 6, 2021 [5 favorites]

I've got:

Fugazi, Waiting Room
Diana Ross I'm Coming Out
Modern Lovers, Roadrunner
Matt and Kim, Daylight
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:38 AM on February 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

A few from Eat:

Things I Need
posted by flabdablet at 9:02 AM on February 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

You're on the right track with most of The Weakerthans catalog - John K. Samson is a lyrical master. Maybe building from there, this song from Modest Mouse Float On
posted by patternocker at 9:19 AM on February 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Big pop vibes: I Love It by Icona Pop
posted by Lawn Beaver at 10:05 AM on February 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

A previous poster's mention of Emmylou reminded me of this gem, heard here in its live version from the Spyboy album..
Well I never did crawl and I never did toe the line
No man is a master to me, I ain't that kind
I just put on my travelin' shoes
If you wanna win you just can't lose the time
Or stay behind

Well I was born to run
To get ahead of the rest
And all that I wanted was to be the best
Just to feel free and be someone
I was born to be fast, I was born to run
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:20 PM on February 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists- Walking to Do
posted by FakePalindrome at 3:33 PM on February 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Alicia Keys - Wait Til You See My Smile
Florence + the Machine - Dog Days Are Over
posted by sigmagalator at 3:50 PM on February 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Happy (Pharrell Williams) pretty much epitomizes this for me

Turntables (Janelle Monáe) is "I'm resolved to go on" & "I will succeed" for the entire United States

The Lady is a Tramp (Wesla Whitfield) is far superior to Sinatra's rendition and pretty good at the "life is amazing", especially if you have some background for all the 1930s references.

Coffee by Numbers (Marian Call) is one I usually include in playlists like this.

I think a lot of Dar Williams could work too... Summer Child is nice and upbeat, and Southern California wants to be Western New York is fun and silly.

I asked a sort-of-similar question a while back that didn't help me much, but maybe you'll find something there?

(I'm still/again searching for good new-to-me music and finding a lot that I like in this thread, so thank you for posting!)
posted by sibilatorix at 4:08 PM on February 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Little Things by Lamb.
posted by Candleman at 6:37 PM on February 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Someone above recommended a Lemon Jelly song. I'd also recommend their song The Staunton Lick.

Also, Todd Rundgren's Bang on the Drum.
posted by Leontine at 7:44 PM on February 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Salisbury Hill by Peter Gabriel.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:49 PM on February 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Awesome stuff, please keep it coming!
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:51 PM on February 6, 2021

Another Lemon Jelly song - Nice Weather For Ducks, which is almost entirely instrumental except for a dude periodically singing "All the ducks are swimming in the water, fa-la-da-le-da-da...." but the instrumentation is nice and upbeat.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:20 AM on February 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

Not sure our musical styles mesh in an obvious way but I pulled songs which don't mention partners (or "we" really) at all and are all positive and upbeat:
The Greatest - Sia (also a great workout song - I mutter "I got stamina" and "don't give up/won't give up" a lot when I'm working out)
Learn to Let Go - Kesha (she knows whereof she sings)
Fight Song - Rachel Platten ("This is my fight song/Take back my life song/Prove I'm alright song")
Black Sheep - MILCK ("Black sheep, they call me that too/I've wrestled with the dark/But I made it through/And so will you")
Different Colors - WALK THE MOON (banger with vaguely positive lyrics)
Evacuate the Dance Floor - Cascada (great club banger whose lyrics are neutral-to-positive)
Good to Be Alive - Andy Grammer ("Feels good to be alive right about now/Good, good, good, good to be alive right about now")
posted by librarylis at 7:48 PM on February 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Noah and the Whale's Blue Skies I listened to this on repeat when I had a breakup. It's even better if you watch the video. I found it truly uplifting.
posted by poppunkcat at 5:30 AM on February 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

I know I'm a bit late, but in case you check this thread again I highly recommend
Ocean lab - On a Good Day
Uplifting lyrics about being alone, electronica/trance music
posted by Eyelash at 4:48 PM on February 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

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