The best songs about underdogs understand the daily struggles many people have to overcome, encouraging them to become the best version of themselves.
It’s a topic that singer-songwriters and bands of all genres have approached in their unique way, from rock anthems to the latest chart-topping pop songs.
Continue reading, and we’ll cover all the underdog songs you need to listen to for an inspiring take on life and dealing with its many challenges.
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The 21 Best Songs About Underdogs
The best underdog songs can be found throughout music history, tackling the subject from a range of angles that relate to the artist’s unique perspective.
For this playlist, we’ve broken down these songs into the artists and genres, as well as any notable awards and nominations they’ve received.
Without further ado, here’s our playlist of the 21 best songs about underdogs:
21. “We Can’t Stop” – Miley Cyrus
With her infectious lyrics and catchy melodies, Miley Cyrus has produced some of the best karaoke songs you can sing along to.
“We Can’t Stop” is a great example of this style, a pop classic that urges the listener to break the rules and take life into their own hands.
Miley Cyrus released “We Can’t Stop” on the appropriately titled album Bangerz and picked up an award for Best Summer Song at the Teen Choice Awards.
20. “I’ll Rise” – Ben Harper
Ben Harper released his great song about underdogs, “I’ll Rise,” in 1994, featuring the track on his popular album Welcome to the Cruel World.
“You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies,” his lyrics go, continuing, “You may trod me down in the very dirt and still like the dust I’ll rise.”
It’s a powerful song about the classic underdog story that serves as a fine example of Ben Harper’s unique singer-songwriting abilities.
19. “The Boxer” – Simon And Garfunkel
“The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel delivers their inimitable poppy folk music style while exploring the underdog’s experience of struggling through life.
The lyrics talk about life in poverty and living on a workman’s wages, reflecting the struggles and aspirations of working-class people around the world.
It’s a classic song that showcases the skills of the Grammy Award-winning duo, released on Bridge Over Troubled Water, their most acclaimed album.
18. “Don’t Stop Believin’” – Journey
From classic folk music to one of the biggest rock songs of the early 1980s with “Don’t Stop Believin’” by the American band Journey.
A rock anthem and power ballad rolled into one, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” delivers an inspirational message to all underdogs looking to improve their situation.
Like the best songs about heroes, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” proved to be a massive hit and is widely recognized today for its significance in rock music history.
17. “So Am I” – Ava Max
Ava Max’s 2020 song about underdogs, “So Am I,” delivers her trademark pop vocals as she explores life as a misfit trying to fit into society.
“Do you ever feel like a misfit?” Max sings in this infectious and engaging song. “Everything inside you is dark and twisted, oh, but it’s okay to be different.”
“So Am I,” featured on Heaven & Hell, was released as her debut studio album and certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
16. “Today” – Smashing Pumpkins
One of the most popular alternative rock bands of the 1990s, Smashing Pumpkins took aim at the topic of underdogs with their hit song, “Today.”
The lyrics discuss how underdogs have to deal with the bad luck they are dealt, transforming it into an optimistic outlook to overcome it.
Featuring an awesome music video and featured on the album Siamese Dream, “Today” will resonate with anyone struggling to live life to the full.
15. “I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor
Gloria Gaynor’s anthem “I Will Survive” has inspired millions of people to strive for a better future and turn bad luck into a winning streak.
The well-known lyrics, “At first I was afraid, I was petrified, kept thinking I could never live without you by my side,” are known by millions of people worldwide.
“I Will Survive” is often considered to be among the best songs about bravery, urging all the underdogs to find strength in the face of adversity.
14. “Born Under A Bad Sign” – Albert King
“Born Under a Bad Sign” by Albert King reflects the temptation many underdogs feel to dismiss their misfortune as a matter of fate.
It’s a song that features powerful lyrics about how we can blame missed opportunities and failures on anything but our own life decisions.
A successful guitar player and singer, Albert King’s blues songs made him hugely influential and inspired other performers, including Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
13. “Back In The High Life Again” – Steve Winwood
Let’s return to the 1980s once again for another incredible rock song, “Back in the High Life Again,” by iconic rocker Steve Winwood.
This song is an inspiration for underdogs that shows how grit and determination can help you overcome life’s unpleasant surprises and turn your life around.
It’s an optimistic mentality that Steve Winwood demonstrates the effectiveness of through his actions, with the song nominated for a Grammy Award.
12. “Underdogs” – Chris Young
The 2015 song by Chris Young, “Underdogs,” was released on the album I’m Coming Over to critical and commercial acclaim worldwide.
“Spent four long years bailing that hay little by little got the whole loan paid,” he sings, continuing, “Hard work’s paying off; you wouldn’t believe he’s making small-town history.”
It’s one of the best songs about underdogs and a firm reminder that hard work pays off and can unravel what feels like the status quo into a better future.
11. “Heroes” – David Bowie
David Bowie shares his unique insights into the role of underdogs and how they can transform into heroes if they persevere with their dreams.
The lyrics talk about how this transformation can lead ordinary people to accomplish greatness and success, becoming kings and queens in their own right.
One of his most popular songs, David Bowie enjoyed a hugely successful career with many chart hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts to his credit.
10. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” – Twisted Sister
While some underdogs sit back and suffer in silence, others prefer to take the proverbial bull by the horns and strive to achieve great things.
“We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister is an anthem that shares this sentiment and urges those who listen to it to make every day their greatest day.
Released on their album Stay Hungry, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is widely regarded as one of the best rock songs released during the 1980s.
9. “Kick In The Teeth” – Papa Roach
Sticking with great rock music that inspires the underdog to do their best, it’s “Kick in the Teeth” by the American metal band Papa Roach.
“I gotta say thanks ’cause you kick me when I’m down I’m bleeding out the mouth.” The song continues, “I hope you know I’m stronger now. I’m taking the hate; I’m turning it all around.”
Anyone who has been treated unfairly will sympathize with the lyrics and take it as inspiration not to let setbacks deter them from trying.
8. “Started From The Bottom” – Drake
After writing one of the best songs about trust, “Trust Issues,” hip-hop legend Drake turned his attention to underdogs with “Started From the Bottom.”
This award-winning rap song is another tune that encourages anyone listening to put aside negative feelings and work to achieve results.
The official music video for “Started From the Bottom” was nominated for “Best Hip-Hop” video at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2013.
7. “Tubthumping” – Chumbawamba
1990s indie pop band Chumbawamba released a string of hit songs at the peak of their career, with “Tubthumping” among their hits.
Anyone who was around during this time will remember the words, “I get knocked down, but I get up again; you are never gonna keep me down.”
During the year of its release, 1997, “Tubthumping” was nominated for many awards and made the band a household name in the United Kingdom.
6. “The Underdog” – Spoon
Ten years after Chumbawamba released “Tubthumping,” Spoon tackled the underdog theme with their song “The Underdog.”
This indie rock song, which was the lead single on their sixth studio album, was performed on Saturday Night Live and featured in the film Cloverfield.
The band continues to make waves in the indie rock scene to this day, with their latest release, Lucifer on the Sofa, nominated for a Grammy Award.
5. “Underdog” – Alicia Keys
“Underdog” by Alicia Keys features the singer’s iconic lush vocal style and talent for writing compelling lyrics that engage the listener.
“So I sing a song for the hustlers trading at the bus stop, single mothers waiting on a check to come,” she sings, “Young teachers, student doctors, sons on the frontline knowing they don’t get to run.”
It’s a song that reflects Alicia Keys’ deep appreciation for the effort and dedication of people who work to keep people healthy and safe.
4. “Jukebox Hero” – Foreigner
“Jukebox Hero,” first released in 1981 by the British-American band Foreigner, is a mainstay of any rock music fan’s playlist.
It discusses the experiences of a young boy unable to afford a concert ticket and forced to listen to the performance from the outside.
The song, which is based on an actual experience by one of Foreigner’s fans, is considered to be one of the greatest songs released by the band.
3. “We Are The Champions” – Queen
The iconic Queen song “We Are the Champions” needs little introduction, as it’s considered by many to be among the best songs of all time in any music genre.
This powerful and dynamic stadium anthem has been an inspiration to millions of people worldwide from all walks of life and backgrounds.
It’s no surprise to learn that “We Are the Champions” has been acclaimed as one of the best songs ever made, with record sales that back up this claim.
2. “The Outside” – Taylor Swift
“The Outside” by Taylor Swift, which was released on the karaoke version of her self-titled album from 2009, is another great song to sing along to.
“How can I ever try to be better? Nobody ever lets me in,” she sings, “And I can still see you; this ain’t the best view on the outside looking in.”
“The Outside” is a fine example of how effectively Taylor Swift blends elements of country music with contemporary pop to create something refreshing.
1. “Common People” – Pulp
Few people would argue that “Common People” by Pulp is one of the best ’90s songs, a chart-topping hit that was played regularly across the airwaves.
Its name points to the fondness for the working class and the singer’s desire to share in the ups and downs that life throws their way.
“Common People” solidified the band’s reputation and helped to make singer Jarvis Cocker a household name and a regular on British television during the decade.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this complete playlist of the best songs about underdogs from some of the most iconic singers and bands in music history.
This inspiring music urges the underdog to rise above the challenges that life throws their way and strive to become the best person they can be.
Whether you’re struggling with a challenge or just want to be uplifted, these songs will make a great addition to your favorite music playlists.
What’s the best song about underdogs, in your opinion? Leave a comment below.
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