Songs that Stave Off Sadness

Songs that Stave Off Sadness

by Alisha Dhillon and Thao Nguyen

“Cause you had a bad day, you’re taking one down. You sing a sad song just to turn it around!”

While many people enjoy listening to sad music while they’re feeling low, others, like us, prefer to listen to songs that don’t allow you to be sad. This is for those of you who refuse to wallow!

While you may have your own go-to tracks, we thought we might share some of ours in hopes that you will benefit from them as much as we have! Check out our article and then follow the playlist linked at the end. Enjoy!

Alisha's Picks

“Old Thing Back” by The Notorious B.I.G. (Matoma Remix).

While an undying love for the nostalgic aspect of one of Biggie’s best tracks might be rare to me, Matoma’s influence makes this song universally enchanting.


“All Time Low” by Jon Bellion.

Despite it’s title, something about belting out “I’m at an all time low, low, low” makes me feel pretty high. Bellion captures “The Human Condition” exquisitely in his debut studio album’s promotional single. Once you’re obsessed, head on over to the acoustic version. Those guys will blow your mind.

“Dancing on my Own” by Robyn.

This song is great when you’re feeling lonely. Because it reminds you that being alone doesn’t have to be lonely. Just dance on your own and enjoy your own company!


“Tonight” by John Legend.

Aside from being the “breakout song” on the soundtrack for Think Like a Man (one of the movies that will make you believe in love), “Tonight” is a song that despite thousands of listens is still one I dance to every time I hear it.

“Mr. Brightside” by The Killers.

This song is always the answer. The question/issue isn’t important.



“Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” by Stevie Wonder.

Stevie gets it! I can’t worry while he’s telling me not to!



“Hey Ya!” by Outkast.

Because, well duh. I dare you not to be happy when listening to this. 




“Feel Good Inc” by Gorillaz.

When they tell me to feel good, I listen. Every time.



“Africa” by Toto.

While the song alone is glorious, watching Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell lip sync it is priceless and will keep you smiling long after you watch/listen.


“Where is the Love” by The Black-Eyed Peas. 

I’m still in love with this song and just genuinely happy it exists! Play this one loudly in public and sing along because today’s world needs to hear it!

“Tongue Tied” by Grouplove.

This song induces plain, feel-good nostalgia. It’s so upbeat and it’s just impossible to not smile while it’s playing!


“Fuck You” by Lily Allen.

This one is especially terrific if the reason your sadness is caused by relationship issues!


“Shake it off” by Taylor Swift.

I tell you, T-Swift has got the secret notes to the devil’s melody or something because she can do no wrong. While it’s been grossly overplayed, this song is still effective at making me shake off my troubles!


Thao’s Picks

“Spaceman” by The Killers.

The Killers can do no wrong and “Spaceman” is quite possibly the greatest song you’ll ever hear that you think is about being abducted by aliens but might actually be about recovering from depression. The rollicking dance beat will get you moving and out of your funk, and the psychedelic lyrics are sure to put a smile on your face.

“Down Under” by Men at Work.

I’m pretty sure the secrets to happiness are a flute solo, vegemite sandwiches, and delightful Australian slang. No matter how upset I am, loudly belting out “Buying bread from a man in Brussels/He was six-foot-four and full of muscles,” always makes me smile.


“Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio feat LV.

This isn’t just my go-to karaoke song, it’s the soundtrack to my childhood. My aunt was a huge hip hop fan, and whenever she would take my cousins and I out, this song was always on repeat. Hearing it  brings me back to simpler times.

“Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll” by The Killers.

Alright, I may be super biased towards The Killers, but they really do make great lyrics. “Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll” is a dramatic song, lyrically and stylistically, and it dares you to NOT be in a good mood as you yell along to the lyrics.

“Seeing Stars” by Borns.

Ugh, this is quite possibly the most romantic song I’ve ever heard. But I promise there aren’t any sappy lyrics and violins. Just beautiful words about love at first sight and the uncontrollable happiness that comes with it.

“Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child.

Girl power. ‘Nuff said. (I'm a Kelly by the way.) 




“Love on Top” by Beyonce.

Unlike other love songs, this one doesn’t make me feel wistful or bitter. Beyonce’s dance anthem will definitely having you “smiling from ear to ear” because it’s just so damn happy and hopeful. Maybe love really is out there!

“I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Disney’s Mulan.

Another childhood favorite. This song is just plain fun. It’s impossible to not dance and sing along to this Disney classic. Plus how can a stud like Li Shang not put a smile on your face?


“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.

If relationship woes are getting you down, this song is a must. “I Will Survive” will always be a reminder that you have what it takes to thrive on your own.


“Toxic” by Britney Spears.

If you want to hear me say “Oh. My. Gosh. This is my jam,” then this is the song to play. I grew up making music videos to Britney Spears and I still break out the moves every time I hear “Toxic.”

“Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira.

Shakira is my girl crush, so all of her songs put a skip in my step. And while my hips can’t move like hers, this classic makes me want to “baille en la calle” no matter how bad my mood is.


“Bye, Bye, Bye” by *NSYNC.

I don’t care if you were team BSB, team NKOTB, or team O Town, this *NSYNC song has to have a special place in every ‘90s kid’s heart. Who knew that a song about breaking up with someone could be so fun? Plus everyone can pull off that iconic dance!


“Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer.

No other song makes me want to fall in love as much as this one. The romantic lyrics are just earnest enough not to get into cheesy-land.



“Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot.

Shoutout to my fellow Seattlelite, Sir Mix-a-Lot, for putting into words the two truest things about me, “I like big butts and I cannot lie.”

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