When you’re feeling down, songs about hope can pick you up and encourage you to keep moving forward.
Music has a unique power to quickly turn your frown upside down, and there are countless tunes that were written for that exact purpose.
Whether you’re in need of motivation or you’re already on cloud nine, we’re here to share with you the greatest inspiring tracks ever written.
33 Best Songs About Hope & Perseverance
We’ve researched and listened to plenty of feel-good hits and selected what, in our opinion, are the most iconic ones to date.
Here’s our playlist of the 33 best songs about hope & perseverance:
33. Under Pressure – Queen
“Under Pressure” is an upbeat British rock song featuring David Bowie that’s all about how anxiety and stress are inevitable in this world.
This song also makes an appearance on our best 80s songs playlist alongside many other popular tunes.
In 1981, the anthem topped charts in Canada, the Netherlands, and the UK and was featured on the soundtrack of the 2011 animated film, Happy Feet Two.
32. Smile – Nat King Cole
This happy hit from 1954 was based on the theme song for Charlie Chaplin’s film, Modern Times, from 1936. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better song about hope that’ll make you feel this good!
The lyrics encourage the listener to cheer up and reminds them that tomorrow will be better, as long as they smile.
The Nat King Cole version of “Smile” reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the UK Singles Chart in 1954.
31. Keep On Pushing – The Impressions
“Keep On Pushing” was released in 1964 off of The Impressions’ album of the same name and became one of the most popular songs in the civil rights movement.
This great song talks about perseverance and finding the strength to make it through hard times. Although it discussed the fight for equality, lead singer, Curtis Mayfield, ensured that the lyrics were subtle to make it more radio-friendly.
The tune soared to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964 and was featured in the 1995 film, Dead Presidents.
30. I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty
This rock song is an anthem for anyone who’s feeling oppressed and focuses on resilience and standing your ground.
If you’re a fan of Tom Petty, we encourage you to check out our best songs about freedom playlist, which features his song, “Free Fallin.'”
“I Won’t Back Down” peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also hit #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart in 1989.
29. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
“Don’t Stop Believin'” is one of the greatest motivational songs ever written and was released in 1981 off Journey’s seventh studio album, Escape.
The lyrics describe the stories of different individuals who are facing hardships in their lives, while also encouraging them to keep the faith.
This tune was one of the best-selling songs of the 20th century, with over 7 million copies sold. It also peaked at #8 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and #9 on the Hot 100 between 1981 and 1982.
28. The Climb – Miley Cyrus
This country pop song was recorded by Miley Cyrus for Hannah Montana: The Movie in 2009.
“The Climb” uses the metaphor of climbing to describe life and reminds listeners to stay optimistic when things get difficult.
The power ballad topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and was a top-ten single in Australia, Canada, Norway, and the U.S. in 2009.
27. Jesus, Take The Wheel – Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood is one of the best female country singers of all time, and this song is one of her greatest hits.
The country ballad tells the symbolic story of a distracted young mother who almost gets into a car accident but prays to Jesus for help.
“Jesus, Take The Wheel” topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and won Grammy Awards for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song in 2007.
26. Don’t Give Up – Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush
“Don’t Give Up” was released as a duet with Kate Bush off of Peter Gabriel’s fifth solo album, So, in 1986.
This somber tune reflects on how difficult it can be to handle our own failures, but also offers words of encouragement to keep going.
The song made #10 on the European Hot 100, #9 on the UK Singles Chart, and #4 on the Dutch Top 40 between 1986 and 1987.
25. When You Believe – Whitney Houston & Mariah Carey
This 1998 hit was written for the DreamWorks animated musical, The Prince of Egypt, and appeared on both Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s respective albums, My Love Is Your Love and #1’s.
The inspirational lyrics focus on how each person can encounter miracles when they put their faith and trust in God.
“When You Believe” peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1999.
24. Head Above Water – Avril Lavigne
“Head Above Water” was released from Avril Lavigne’s sixth studio album of the same name in 2019.
The inspiration for this pop rock hit came from Lavigne’s own struggle with Lyme disease. The song features a female narrator who makes an emotional plea to God to save her.
The powerful ballad made #64 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned a spot within the top ten on multiple charts worldwide between 2018 and 2019.
23. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
This tune will have you out on the dance floor in no time! The lyrics describe a young woman’s healing process after a breakup and focus on how she finds the inner strength to move on.
If you’re into karaoke, Gloria Gaynor’s hopeful hit, “I Will Survive” also appears on our best karaoke songs playlist.
The disco track made #1 on charts in the U.S., Ireland, and the UK in 1978, and was also selected to be preserved in the National Recording Registry in 2016.
22. Better Days – OneRepublic
“Better Days” was released from OneRepublic’s fifth album, Human, in 2020, and was inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The song encourages listeners, reminding them that no matter whatever troubles they’re facing, things will inevitably get better.
This pop hit earned the #11 spot on the Billboard Digital Song Sales chart and #29 on the New Zealand Hot Singles chart in 2020.
21. High Hopes – Panic! At The Disco
This upbeat pop-rock tune is one of the best uplifting songs to listen to when you’re down on your luck and was released as the second single from the band’s sixth album, Pray for the Wicked.
The hit concentrates on optimism and a hopeful attitude, motivating listeners to chase their dreams no matter what obstacles they face.
“High Hopes” charted at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won Top Rock Song at the Billboard Music Awards in 2019.
20. Seasons Of Love – Rent
“Seasons Of Love” is originally from the 1996 Broadway musical, Rent, and is often associated with AIDS awareness.
Its lyrics question how to place a numerical value on a year of a person’s life and come to the conclusion that the best thing to do is measure their life in terms of love.
The song peaked at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #4 on both the Hot Dance Single Sales and Dance Club Songs chart between 2005 and 2006.
19. Girl On Fire – Alicia Keys
If you’re into R&B songs with a great message, then you’ll love this one from Alicia Keys.
“Girl On Fire” is all about freedom and becoming your authentic self. It tells the story of a young girl who decides to pursue her dreams and breaks free from all the things that have held her back.
One of Keys’ greatest songs, it quickly soared to #1 in a variety of countries, including Slovakia, South Korea, and Austria, and hit #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2012.
18. Coming Out Of The Dark – Gloria Estefan
“Coming Out Of The Dark” was released in 1991 as the leading single from Gloria Estefan’s second album, Into the Light.
The song is dedicated to Estefan’s husband, Jon, and is about her journey in recovering from a near-fatal tour bus accident.
The inspirational hit took the #1 spots on the Billboard Hot 100, Adult Contemporary chart, and on the Canadian Top Singles and Canada Adult Contemporary chart in 1991.
17. We Are The World – Michael Jackson
This charity single was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie for the 1985 album of the same name.
“We Are The World” is a motivational song meant to encourage listeners to be generous to those in need. It raised over $60 million for people suffering from famine in Africa.
The inspiring tune earned multiple awards, including three Grammies, one People’s Choice Award, and one American Music Award in 1985, and was the eighth best-selling physical single of all time.
16. You Gotta Be – Des’ree
British singer, Des’ree released “You Gotta Be” from her second album, I Ain’t Movin’, in 1994.
This R&B/soul song suggests that listeners should never be ashamed of expressing how they feel and to live their lives to the absolute fullest.
“You Gotta Be” became a top-40 hit worldwide and also claimed the top spot on the Europe Dance and Canadian Adult Contemporary charts between 1994 and 1995.
15. Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
Instead of letting setbacks and hard times bring you down, Kelly Clarkson says that these things only make you stronger.
This survivor song talks about resilience and finding your inner strength after experiencing a broken heart.
“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” was Clarkson’s third song to top the Billboard Hot 100 and also took the #1 spot on fifteen other Billboard charts in 2012.
14. Don’t Stop – Fleetwood Mac
“Don’t Stop” is about leaving the past behind and moving forward and was released off their hit 1977 album, Rumours.
If you enjoy Fleetwood Mac’s music, you’ll definitely want to check out their song, “Dream,” on our best songs about dreams playlist.
This rock song reached #1 on the U.S. Cash Box Top 100 and Canada RPM Top Singles chart and took #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1977 and 1978.
13. Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
This reggae song is bound to make you smile! Bobby McFerrin released this happy hit off his fourth album, Simple Pleasures, in 1988.
The lyrics focus on the importance of having a positive outlook even when you’re going through difficulties and to not waste time worrying about your hardships.
“Don’t Worry Be Happy” peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart, #7 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart, and #2 on the UK Singles Chart in 1988 and 1989.
12. It’s My Life – Bon Jovi
American rock band, Bon Jovi, released “It’s My Life” as the lead single from their seventh studio album, Crush, in 2000.
The rock song talks about living life to the fullest, taking ownership of your life, and standing tall in the face of opposition.
“It’s My Life” reached #1 in multiple countries throughout 2000 and 2001, including Belgium, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, Portugal, and Spain.
11. I Won’t Let Go – Rascal Flatts
“I Won’t Let Go” is one of the greatest hopeful songs in the country genre, and will surely be the pick-me-up you need. The song was released on Rascal Flatts’ seventh album, Nothing Like This, in 2011.
This tune focuses on how the love and support from God, family, and friends is what keeps us going when life gets hard.
The song made #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and #31 on the Hot 100 in 2011 and went certified Platinum in the U.S., selling over one million copies.
10. Fight Song – Rachel Platten
This hit is one of the best songs about hope that pop music has to offer, which was written during a difficult period of time in Platten’s own life when she was struggling to make it as a musician.
“Fight Song” is all about believing in yourself and mustering up the strength to keep pushing when it feels like you don’t have any fight left.
The pop anthem topped charts in the UK and Poland and peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 after its release in 2015.
9. I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash
Johnny Nash released this hit in 1972 as the lead single from his album of the same name.
The catchy song features a male narrator who suffers from depression but who has a temporary moment of relief where he can “see clearly now.”
This popular tune reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and U.S. Cash Box charts as well as in Canada and South Africa in 1972.
8. Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor
This pump-up jam is one of the greatest in the music industry and is sure to make you feel inspired and ready to take on the world!
“Eye Of The Tiger” was featured on the Rocky III soundtrack and encourages listeners to chase their dreams no matter how impossible things may seem.
The song made #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart in 1982 and also won Best Rock Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal at the 1983 Grammy Awards.
7. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
This Motown tune was originally written by husband and wife duo, Ashford & Simpson, but Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell teamed up and released their version in 1967.
It’s the perfect song for couples who’ve faced obstacles in their relationship, as it features a man and a woman who declare their love for each other and vow that nothing will stop them from being together.
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” earned the #19 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and #3 on the Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart in 1967.
6. Not Afraid – Eminem
If you’re having a bad day, just push play on this encouraging rap hit from one of the best rappers of all time, Eminem. “Not Afraid” was the lead single from the rapper’s seventh album, Recovery.
The lyrics talk about pushing past fear and facing problems head-on, and many believe its strong message pertains to Eminem’s own breaking away from drugs and violence.
The song won Best Rap Solo Performance at the 2011 Grammy Awards and charted #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2010.
5. Imagine – John Lennon
English rock singer, John Lennon, released “Imagine” from his 1971 album, which became his best-selling single in his entire solo career.
The motivational ballad asks listeners to imagine a better world, where there is complete peace and harmony and no social barriers that are causing division in society.
“Imagine” earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and reached #1 on charts around the world, including in the U.S., South Africa, Canada, and Australia in 1971 and 1972.
4. A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke
American singer-songwriter, Sam Cooke, released this classic soul song about the struggles of racism in his 1964 album, Ain’t That Good News.
Commonly described as a spiritual song, “A Change Is Gonna Come” was based on many events in Cooke’s own life, primarily when he was turned away from a whites-only motel while in Lousiana.
“A Change Is Gonna Come” made #9 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart, #31 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #46 on the Cash Box Top 100 in 1965, and, in 2007, was included in the National Recording Registry.
3. One Love – Bob Marley & The Wailers
Bob Marley has his fair share of songs about hope and was always looking on the bright side of life. This ska song was released off his group, The Wailers’ debut album, The Wailing Wailers, in 1965.
The lyrics motivate humanity to live lives of unity and love to create a better world. If you’re a fan of Marley’s music, you’ll also love his hit, “No Woman, No Cry,” which made it onto our best songs of all time playlist.
“One Love” soared to #1 in New Zealand, #2 on the Dutch Top 40, #3 on the Netherlands Single Top 100, and #5 on the UK Singles Chart in 1984.
2. Move On Up – Curtis Mayfield
“Move On” is a soul classic written as a tribute to Mayfield’s Chicago neighbors, The Staple Singers, and was included on his 1970 debut album, Curtis.
Throughout this tune, Mayfield encourages listeners to live with purpose and aim to be the absolute best version of themselves no matter what may stand in their way.
The song charted at #12 on the UK Singles Chart in 1970 and was also covered by other esteemed artists such as Destination, Trickster, and The Jam. It also appeared in films like Semi-Pro (2008), Accidental Love (2015), and Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016).
1. Lean On Me – Bill Withers
Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” is, in our opinion, one of the most powerful songs about hope, and it has uplifted countless people throughout the years. Its lyrics talk about being there for your fellow man and making it through hard times with support from people who care about you.
The soul anthem was released in 1972 on the singer’s second album, Still Bill, and was inspired by Withers’ childhood in Slab Fork, West Virginia. After moving to L.A., he quickly realized how much he missed the community feel of his hometown.
In 1972, “Lean On Me” secured the #1 spot on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Soul Singles chart. It’s also one of just nine songs to chart #1 on the Hot 100, with versions released by two artists (Bill Withers and Club Nouveau).
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed these songs about hope, and they’ve made your day brighter.
Although life has many ups and downs, you can always count on music to make you smile, and we hope these tunes help you do just that.