Best Motivational Songs For Work

If anyone knows about hard work, it’s musicians. Becoming an accomplished artist takes years of hard graft and day jobs ‘on the side’; the struggle is real until they make it big.

It makes sense then that many have penned songs to help keep their spirits up during their working days. Here are the best motivational songs for work.

“9 to 5” by Dolly Parton

Song Year: 1980

Dolly Parton certainly needs no introduction, and the song “9 to 5” is a well-known hit. Parton recorded the music for the movie of the same name, “9 to 5”, earning her a Grammy Award and an Academy Award nomination.

There’s something about the song that can lift the listener, even if their day at work is as bad as the movie suggests.

“We Are the Champions” by Queen

Song Year: 1977

This rock anthem is a tribute written by legendary music genius Freddie Mercury, and it motivates many to work harder. The uniting theme makes it a perfect team spirit anthem for a corporate function, sports activity, or personal mantra.

The other side of the single is “We Will Rock You,” which continues the theme of winning regardless of the adversaries. “We Are the Champions,” which Mercury made all the more famous with his pitch-perfect voice, is a dedication to his fans.

It’s perfect for team-building.

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin

Song Year: 1988

Some days it’s easier to accept McFerrin’s advice and outlook on life, but the sentiment has helped make “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” a timeless classic. The song resonated with listeners and became number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart despite being a weird mix of a cappella, reggae, and jazz.

The song was so popular that it unseated “Sweet Child of Mine.” What makes the hit so unusual is that McFerrin uses his voice to make all the sounds.

“Don’t worry, be happy” is a great philosophy to apply to any job.

“Roar” by Katy Perry

Song Year: 2013

Katy Perry can make any project look fun. “Roar” is the slogan for the worker who has finally reached the breaking point and finds the guts to stand up and shout.

The lyrics aren’t overly mindblowing, but the commercial hit song can lift the voices of the underappreciated. Critics felt the piece used overdone cliches and simple rhymes, but the crowd appreciated it.

“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

Song Year: 1982

This song is all about beating the odds and is the legendary soundtrack to Rocky III. Listeners find the music inspirational because the franchise and the song it’s most associated with are about overcoming obstacles.

Sylvester Stallone commissioned the piece for the film and used the band’s original demo, including tiger growls and all. The lyrics speak about hardships, facing challenges, and rising above — that if you try hard enough, you can win despite the odds.

“Manic Monday” by the Bangles

Song Year: 1986

Multi-talented singer-songwriter Prince wrote “Manic Monday” but not many know about his connection as he used the pseudonym Christopher for his writing credit.

Of course, The Bangles made this timeless classic their own. The moody track, which was the band’s first hit, has a melodramatic theme that is wonderfully lyrical about the joys of weekends and the gloom of Mondays.

“Titanium” by David Guetta featuring Sia

Song Year: 2011

Appropriately enough for a song named “Titanium,” Sia delivers powerful vocals in this track. Her energy is aided by deep lyrics, an infectious vibe from the synthesizer, and, of course, David Guetta.

This brilliant song is about endurance and staying strong despite everything negative surrounding you. The original version featured Mary J. Blige, but Sia wrote the song for Alica Keys.

“You Learn” by Alanis Morisette

Song Year: 1996

“You Learn” has aged like fine wine, speaking to each generation that believes they can do it better. The lyrics focus on the importance of learning from our mistakes and bad decisions. Others interpret the song as meaning that if you take your time and pay attention, you’ll achieve your goals.

Alanis Morisette scored a big hit with this record in the UK and the US, with critics calling the song a standout.

“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman

Song Year: 1988

Chapman is a brilliant songwriter with an edgy indie sound that explores deeply emotional themes. “Fast Car” is a folk rock arrangement that speaks to people who know the struggle is real.

The sentiments hidden within the lyrics are breathtaking. They describe the real-life drama many people on the margins of society experience and how much they want to escape reality. Rolling Stone magazine listed it at number 71 on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson

Song Year: 2003

This song embodies the long work day under a mean boss and excessive stress. The song is a tribute to that little joke we tell ourselves about when it’s okay to pour our first drink to take the edge off.

It’s a feel-good country song featuring one of country music’s best, Jackson, and party favorite, Jimmy Buffet. The song won a CMA Award in 2003 for Vocal Event of the Year.

“Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles

Song Year: 1964

Everyone can relate to the demands of a tough job and the long hours. The hit song was written by Lennon, with help from McCartney, but was inspired by Ringo.

It’s a work anthem as we all rush to work to earn our keep and spend it on people we care for. The song is the soundtrack of the Beatles movie “Hard Day’s Night,” and the single topped the charts.

The Beatles still motivate people to dance.

“Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson

Song Year: 2011

Working is a lot like having a lover. You have to put in the time regardless. Kelly Clarkson used the saying,’ What doesn’t kill you, by philosopher Nietzsche, which translates well into having to survive another long day at the office.

With its uptempo sound, the song is a dance-pop and electro pop mix that speaks about heartbreak and enduring recovery.

“I’m Still Standing” by Elton John

Song Year: 1983

Sir Elton John already had it going on when he filmed and recorded this international hit in France. The opening score is a smash and instantly recognizable and transcends time. It makes us think of getting fit, getting through the day, and overcoming obstacles.

For fun, see if you can spot celebrity judge Bruno Tonioli as a dancer in the video.

“Shake It Off by Taylor Swift

Song Year: 2014

Many underestimated this petite sensation and wrote her off as a flighty star, yet she’s proved everyone wrong with her business acumen and talent.

“Shake It Off” is Swift’s way of sending a message about dealing with the nasty side of the business and people being mean. She equates the feeling of overcoming negative stereotypes and lies in show business to being bullied in school.

“Welcome to The Jungle” by Guns n’ Roses

Song Year: 1987

Some songs pass the test of time, and “Welcome to the Jungle” has continued to energize crowds. The song is about naivety and inexperience and an introduction to the fast pace of a vibrant city. The Billboard Hot 100 song nicely transitions in meaning from debauchery in the seedy city to the underlying currents of what goes on behind the scenes in big corporations.

The theme reminds us about being true to ourselves. Anyone starting a new job can relate to the similarities because the lyrics are genuinely profound.

The song is so iconic that it appears in many films and video games.

“Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi

Song Year: 1986

This Bon Jovi hit is the anthem for millions of people who sacrifice to get ahead or to make the right decision based on moral priorities. Bon Jovi and his band wrote the lyrics based on real people and life experiences.

“Livin’ on a Prayer” means getting by on faith and what the universe throws at you. It also means having a life partner when things are bad makes the moment sweeter.

This hit song blurred the lines between rock and pop radio and is Bon Jovi’s signature tune.

“Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy

Song Year: 1981

Loverboy created the smash 80s hit song “Working for the Weekend.” Every person can relate to the theme. The guitarist and songwriter got his inspiration from the empty streets while walking on a Wednesday. It dawned on him that everyone was working for the weekend.

The song still has meaning today as we all work toward the weekend to enjoy our freedom. Will Ferrell, aka Ron Burgundy, did a parody of this hit, and it’s been a feature in the film Herbie.

“The Heat Is On” by Glenn Frey

Clean songs for work

Song Year: 1984

Frey is an Eagles member, and this soundtrack for the movie Beverly Hills Cops starring Eddie Murphy is full of zest and energy. The phrase “The Heat Is On” implies the pressure of immediate action, which the movie is also about.

Frey recorded the song after seeing a movie demo. The upbeat music has a repeating saxophone riff that we can quickly identify. Frey sang and also put down the guitar solo.

“Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey

Song Year: 1981

This massive hit single still inspires generations with its strong message of never giving up and believing in your dreams. The original words of wisdom came from one of the band members’ fathers, who told his son to keep believing in his dream.

The opening keyboard riff immediately takes listeners on a journey, almost like a train leaving the station, and you have to run to hop on.

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

Song Year: 2015

Life is hard, but don’t let it beat you down. You have to believe, pick yourself up and fight. Initially, the singer-songwriter wrote this powerful anthem to tell herself not to give up despite being in the dumps.

The song catapulted Platten to success. The hit has had many media successes ranging from sporting events to the political arena (Hillary Clinton’s campaign song), commercials, and television programs.

“Takin’ Care of Business” by BTO

Song Year: 1973

Bachman Turner Overdrive inspired this hit when Bachman (former Guess Who) was listening to the radio, and the DJ said, “Takin’ Care of Business,” which fit with a song he was working on about a white-collar worker.

The rock anthem means you’re on the job and getting things done, but it also has a sly underside that might mean it’s about doing nothing all day.

Since this is our third Canadian entry, it’s safe to assume Canadians work hard.

“Learn to Fly” by Foo Fighters

Song Year: 1999

The song doesn’t have a meaningful, inspirational theme or hidden metaphors. It’s about having a dream and wanting to learn to fly. The Foo Fighters received an award for their hilarious video (a spoof on “Airplane”) to accompany the hit song.

“Learn to Fly” cemented this Seattle-based post-grunge band as one of the best, and the song ranks among their top ten.

“I Got You, I Feel Good” by James Brown

Song Year: 1965

The second you hear the opening of this funky soul tune, you’ll feel like getting to your feet and getting the job done. Although the lyrics suggest romance and love, the high energy of this classic can motivate anyone to move.

Brown toyed with other arrangements before settling on the final score. Brown remastered the song several times, and it was even involved in a legal dispute.

It’s undoubtedly become his masterpiece, and fans from every generation get the groove of this hip vibe that makes even the most tedious chores doable.

“In a Place Like This” by the Payolas

Song Year: 1981

This punk anthem is about dreams and longing to escape a dire situation. While this is only available as an album or cassette tape, it’s inspirational, uplifting, and a bit raw. The metaphors in the song are brilliant, even if a bit dark.

Paul Hyde and Bob Rock, the duo behind the Payolas (more Canadians), went on to have a prosperous new wave and rock career and even worked with the legendary David Foster (another Canadian), who is the success behind the biggest names in the music industry.

“It’s the Final Countdown” by Europe

Song Year: 1986

This mega-hit sat unfinished on the back burner for five years before the lyrics and iconic keyboard riff finally reunited. The six-minute-long song became a worldwide hit and is still used at sporting events and as an inspiration.

Fans worldwide use this anthem to celebrate meaningful moments in history, like the fall of the Berlin Wall or personal triumphs. It’s also about saying goodbye to the past.

Swedish band members felt the influence of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” The song has a Sci-Fi core about a journey into the unknown, yet everyone is willing to risk going.

“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cindy Lauper

Song Year: 1983

This feminist anthem is about celebrating female power and seeking the same freedoms men have always taken for granted.

Although the song is a pop tune, the lyrics are about the right to choose. Ironically, the song was written four years earlier from a man’s perspective.

It’s no longer a pipe dream; women can have it all today.

Lauper turned the song into a breakthrough hit, and over 30 artists recorded it.

“She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summer

Song Year: 1983

Summer wrote this hit song based on a real-life encounter in the ladies’ room, where she met a hard-working bathroom attendant named Onetta. Summer was at a party for Julio Iglesias when she came face to face with the inspiration for this iconic tune.

It’s a bittersweet but empowering song that brings awareness to the real-life drama that many working people endure. Summer’s music became a #1 R&B hit.

“Take This Job And Shove It!” by Johnny Paycheck

Song Year: 1977

The lyrics of this iconic country song suggest that there has to be something better in life than toiling as a cog in a horrible situation. It’s the timeless saga of the working poor with little opportunity for advancement. Anyone who listens closely will hear the reference to how little respect workers have for their superiors.

The song was a hit, it spoke to people, and the phrase has become an institution.

Paycheck only had one #1 hit, and it’s been on the Simpsons and remade by the Dead Kennedys. However, he didn’t write it.

“The Morning Train” by Sheena Easton

Song Year: 1981

Released under the name 9 to 5 in the UK, this hit wonder is Easton’s # 1 on both sides of the Atlantic. Scottish singer Easton sings about the doldrums of missing her husband while he’s away working and earning an income.

The song has had such a significant influence that Seinfeld featured it twice. It was on South Park, Will & Grace, and Good Girls.

“Workin’ for a Livin’” by Huey Lewis and The News

Song Year: 1982

Lewis attributes the lyrics to this hit to his job portfolio before he succeeded in his music career. Luckily, Lewis got a break, and the song ended up on “Big,” an early Tom Hanks movie.

The lyrics suggest you must buckle down and take the jobs to see you through.

Lewis ended up recording this song in a duet with none other than Garth Brooks in 2007, and it ended up on the Country Charts.

“Working in a Coal Mine” by Lee Dorsey

Song Year: 1966

Many people have demanding jobs, but this 60s classic argues that we ain’t got it so bad. Newer generations might remember the popular Devo version from 1981. Legendary record producer and songwriter Allen Toussaint wrote this number, which became an international hit for Dorsey.

It’s difficult to imagine the working conditions endured by coal miners, who often lacked alternative employment and were at risk of being taken advantage of by mining companies.

Dorsey delivers a powerful message here, putting the challenges faced in the modern world into a historical perspective.

Top Motivational Songs For Work, Final Thoughts

Many incredible songs are motivational work songs; others aren’t clean lyrically or suggestively. People identify with music genres; sometimes, it’s difficult to open one’s mind and listen to something completely different. This list brings a sample from several categories, but it also had to skip several because of the “bad” lingo.

The power of music unites people and strikes a chord. Some of us are motivated by rhythm, harmony, or melody. Some of us want to dance.

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