I like to write for funsies, simply because I love it, and certain music seems to heighten my inspiration and productivity. I’m going to make a list of five inspirational songs with their criteria down below. Now, before you guys get all mad at me, this is my personal opinion of what I think is inspirational music. It’s not concrete fact as to what qualifies as inspirational music nowadays by any stretch of the imagination, whatsoever.
I know that you, as readers, are very capable and probably know that already, but I really didn’t want to deal with that one person who goes into the comments to yell at me about how they didn’t find all the songs inspirational at all. Again, to clarify, this is a personal opinion about what I think qualifies as ‘inspirational music’.
1. ‘Mahogany and Sitka Spruce’ by Krysalis
If you’re a fan of Lofi music, the whole City Lights album is an excellent place to start. However, I’m not filling up a chunk of the list with the rest of the album.
For those who don’t know, Lo-Fi music is used by students all across the world to help them study, workout, and focus. The acronym LO-FI, according to its creator Eric Mathews, stands for “low fidelity.”
This is a type of sound recording that contains technical flaws that make the recording sound different compared to the live sound being recorded, such as distortion, hum, background noise, or limited frequency response. These kinds of flaws in the music can trigger the cerebrum and can help a student focus on a test, or a homework assignment.
The frontal lobe of the brain is the center of most brain function, it is how we develop as humans. By listening to Lo-Fi music you are helping your brain to focus. The brain picks out the differences in sound and in turn, helps it get into a mindset of focus. It is great for if you need to cram and you can’t seem to sit still, it can give your brain something to work alongside with.
Outside studies confirm that this kind of music is helpful to students and even adults in the workplace. One survey discovered that 86% of the listeners have seen an increase in their productivity and in their study habits.
I chose ‘Mahogany and Sitka Spruce’ for this list because whenever I listen to it, it always seems to get me moving. Especially in the morning. With this song (or, ya know, the whole album) and a good drink in the morning.
2. Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson
One of many Michael Jackson classics, this is a personal favorite. But it’s not on this list for that reason. “Man in the Mirror” is all about looking at yourself and realizing that you can– and should– make a change, not just to better yourself but to make the world a better place.
It was one of just two songs on the Bad album that Jackson didn’t write. The song was written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard; Garrett also sang backup on the track. Ballard went on to write and produce for Alanis Morissette and Dave Matthews; Garrett also sang on Jackson’s “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” and later joined the Brand New Heavies.
Jackson and his producer, Quincy Jones, chose this song for the album after looking for “an anthem” that as Jones said would spread some “sunshine on the world.” He invited some songwriters from his publishing company to present songs, and they chose this one.
In a 2017 interview with Songwriter Universe, co-writer Siedah Garrett said: “The song was deeper than just the visual of a man looking at himself in the mirror. It was that, juxtaposed with the idea of a man going deeper inside himself to change from within. To make a difference on the outside, you have to first start from within. So I think that Michael just got it… he got the meaning of the song right away.”
It’s the perfect inspirational song to listen to whenever you’re upset. It makes you feel empowered and that you’re capable of doing anything, including the ability to make a change within yourself. Making it the perfect song for the inspirational music list.
3. The Seed by AURORA
First off, it should be noted that the Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora (AURORA) has devoted the entirety of the A Different Kind of Human (Step II) album, which this track is featured on, to pressing-environmental issues. As such, “The Seed” is based on a Native American proverb that admonishes people not to abuse nature in the name of profit. Succinctly put, as the chorus of the song points out, a person “cannot eat money” in place of ‘fallen trees’ and ‘poisoned rivers’.
Throughout the song, Aurora compares herself to a seed. She finds herself fighting to reach for light “through the struggle”, “dirt and shadow”. She is also ‘unraveling herself’ in “slow-motion”, which are all allusions to the processes and obstacles seeds go through when breaking forth from the ground. But in the bridge, we see that although she wants to be fed ‘sunlight and air’ just like a seed, she indeed sees herself as more, as a human. Based on this, she also recognizes “truth and… prayer” amongst her life’s essentials.
It starts slow, steady, and memorizing. Everyone needs to find a path in life and get through problems, like a seed growing in the ground and reaching for the light. A melody and beat that gives you an urge to sway to the music. It gives a good reminder that if we destroy nature to become rich, we cannot eat money. The trees, rivers, and nature are special and we need to take care of them.
She wants to use her sadness to be a fuel to her help the Earth and nature. It’s really inspiring and I believe you should listen to it.
4. Panic Room by Au/Ra
Panic Room portrays and brings about a strong sense of loss and sadness. But our enjoyment of sad music is paradoxical—we go out of our way to avoid sadness in our daily lives. … For some, sad music actually deepens and amplifies the feelings of sorrow and loss—emotions that are connected to personal events and memories.
Music and its impact on the mind, brain, and behavior is a mystery that music psychologists and neuroscientists are still trying to decode today. Its wide range of effects is as diverse and multifaceted as its numerous genres and styles. Music maketh the mood.
Several studies conducted by music psychologists suggest that people who are high in empathy are more likely to enjoy sad music. This might be because they better understand or are more easily moved by the perceived emotions it conveys (i.e. sensitive to emotional contagion). They are also more likely to consider sad music to be more aesthetically beautiful and high-quality than other types – So it’s not always necessarily about emotion, but also cognition and perception.
Au/Ra wrote this song about the woes of anxiety and self-doubt and the metaphorical place that those feelings put people into.
“‘Panic Room’ is kind of based on that feeling of not really fitting in at school which I feel like a lot of people experience,” Au/Ra tells Genius. “To write a song about anxiety, of course, you could be like, ‘I feel anxious, oh my god, oh my god.’ You could totally start off like that, but I was like, ‘Wait, what is that feeling feel like?’ It feels like you’re being chased by something like you’re being chased by your fears, you’re acting in a way that you don’t want to act because you’re scared and it’s all these emotions that are coming out and you don’t know what to do with them. So the way that the song progresses is kind of like … it’s talking about basically running away from a monster.”
I find it deeply inspiring to see a singer handle such a hard topic to talk about, especially to the people who suffer from anxiety (which includes myself). Thus, it’s why it made it onto the inspirational music list. I know it technically qualifies for an inspiring musician, but this is simply a technicality.
5. Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
The instantly recognizable opening sequence of this classic song is enough to pump you up and get you going. No wonder this was used as the theme track for Rocky III and later went on to become one of the biggest tracks of 1982.
This song has become very popular among people in physical therapy, marathon runners, weightlifters, and just about anyone facing a challenge. People training for boxing matches, that’s natural, but in every sport, that song has crept into the motivational aspect of it.
It seems obvious now, but Survivor just wrote a song for a movie. The fact that it was huge wasn’t a big surprise at the time, but what is surprising that it’s still around. It’s still credible, it’s still not a joke, even though the Starbucks commercial kind of makes it a joke. You just know there’s something in the water with that song.
The song has been used in numerous movies and TV shows. Early on the song was used sincerely to convey a similar sentiment to the movie – often in various wrestling events. As the years went by and the song became a pop-culture touchstone, it was generally used more for parody to show a character comically striving. Family Guy, My Name Is Earl and The King of Queens all used the song in this manner, and in 2009 it was taken to a new level of absurdity in The Big Bang Theory, where it was used in a montage where scientists tried to solve a complex equation – every beat would cut to another shot of them staring at a chalkboard.
Now, Eye of the Tiger is the poster song for motivation and inspiration. It would be weird if I didn’t include it in this list of inspirational music.
I highly doubt this, but if you haven’t heard it, you can check it out here.