Music has this unique power to inspire. Well-written songs can move us in profound ways. They can embolden us to do something great, help us move on from a painful time in our lives, and teach us how to endure the hard times that we’re living through. The lyrics can often speak to us personally like the artist is reaching out with words of wisdom. Often, musicians share their own experiences in a way that lets us know that we’re not alone.
Popular music is full of songs like this – songs that are a testament to human resilience in the face of hardship. In this list, I will share 20 songs about not giving up.
- 1. “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey
- 2. “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles
- 3. “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus
- 4. “Hold On” by Shawn Mendes
- 5. “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child
- 6. “Who Says” by Selena Gomez & The Scene
- 7. “I Made It (Cash Money Heroes)” by Kevin Rudolf
- 8. “Confident” by Demi Lovato
- 9. “It’s Not Over Yet” by For King & Country
- 10. “Can’t Keep Up” by Tourist ft. Will Heard
- 11. “Journey To The Past” by Liz Callaway
- 12. “Call On Me” by Starley
- 13. ” Carry On” by Fun
- 14. “Life Is Worth Living” by Justin Bieber
- 15. “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flatts
- 16. “The Show Must Go On” by Queen
- 17. “Swim Good” by Frank Ocean
- 18. “Try” by Pink
- 19. “Courage To Change” by Sia
- 20. “Let’s Go” by Khalid
1. “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey
The opening progression on the piano is instantly recognizable in this megahit by Journey. The powerful words in this song can motivate people to outgrow humble beginnings and to find meaning and significance in life. The chorus is anthemic, and its lyrics ensure that this song’s legacy will go on and on and on……
2. “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles
This deceptively simple, acoustic-led song features several time signature changes, a Moog synthesizer, and lyrics that talk of a tough winter that has finally passed. The message undoubtedly still resonates today – it is the most-streamed Beatles’ song on Spotify.
3. “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus
This track deals with overcoming self-doubt to reach for your dreams and ‘move mountains’. Yes, it features on Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack, but its overall theme is sophisticated and mature. The track is about accepting that there will always be struggles in life, but knowing that value comes from pushing on regardless. The strength is in ‘the climb’.
4. “Hold On” by Shawn Mendes
In this touching ballad, Shawn (referring to himself by name) picks up the phone and reaches out to his father, who reassures him with love and the wise words to ‘hold on’, because there’s still so much to go through in life. It’s as much about staying strong as it is about turning to our loved ones in times of need.
5. “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child
This is surely the most known Destiny’s Child song that the group has ever released. With a discography full of empowering numbers about being an independent woman with inner strength, “Survivor” is fiercely on brand. It speaks of keeping your integrity, working hard, and thriving despite people doubting your ability to go through with it.
6. “Who Says” by Selena Gomez & The Scene
In ‘Who Says’, Selena speaks to someone who judged and doubted her. The song is at once an affirmation of who she is and an acceptance of her imperfections which are uniquely hers. The chorus expands that circle of acceptance, questioning all the doubters who might try to discourage you and hold you back from everything you could be.
7. “I Made It (Cash Money Heroes)” by Kevin Rudolf
Kevin Rudolf looks back on when he used to dream about the life he’s living now. Despite coming from a city where nobody believed in him, he never gave up. The song is an unabashed celebration of material wealth and success; in the video, it is literally showering money.
8. “Confident” by Demi Lovato
“Confident” is about not holding back from your own power. The chorus asks rhetorically “What’s wrong with being confident?”
And the song is surely a call to all women who are reluctant to assert themselves for fear of being labeled bossy or aggressive. It is a celebration of taking control of your own life no matter what anyone says.
9. “It’s Not Over Yet” by For King & Country
This song confronts those inner doubts that plague all of us during tough times. The chorus speaks “to everyone who’s hit their limit” and assures them that “it’s not over yet”. It is a message applicable to all, and a reminder to fight on, even when you think there’s nothing left.
10. “Can’t Keep Up” by Tourist ft. Will Heard
In this collaboration, Will Heard sings about working hard even in the absence of any support or love. Although the chorus of “I can’t keep up” sounds like an admission of defeat, the lyrics talk about determination dispute a lonely and unforgiving road. As the beat kicks in, Heard recites in a trance “show me love”, suggesting that though he can do it alone, he doesn’t want to.
11. “Journey To The Past” by Liz Callaway
This Oscar-nominated song is about facing the unknown with optimism and anticipation, despite the fears that accompany the journey. This duet, from the 1997 animated film ‘Anastasia,’ is exactly what you’d expect from an animated film’s major song: full of excellent enunciation and bursting with vibrant energy.
12. “Call On Me” by Starley
Starley reaches out to someone who is feeling powerless in “Call on Me.” She offers them to reach out to her for guidance, promising to do whatever it takes (even manipulating the odds) to get them out alive. This upbeat dance tune is short and charming, with a deep message at its core, reminding listeners that they are not alone in their struggles.
13. ” Carry On” by Fun
The singer uses music to reach out to people who have hit rock bottom in this beautiful song. He advises them to “carry on” despite the odds.
The song appears to be acutely aware of life’s heartbreaks and as it progresses, its fundamental message gets more strident. It concludes by telling listeners that optimism and confidence can overpower everything else.
14. “Life Is Worth Living” by Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber talks of being at a crossroads in life in this melodious track. The chorus reminds us that ‘life is worth living’ and looks to God and angels to provide direction in those times of darkness and doubt. The song is one of many by Bieber that heralded a new self-awareness and a yearning for forgiveness for past misdeeds.
15. “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flatts
This piano-led ballad by Rascal Flatts addresses someone who is hurting and wants to let them know that they needn’t go through the hardship alone. The rousing chorus of “I will stand by you” is a classic motif in pop music and a reminder that no matter how bad things get, there will always be someone there to help.
16. “The Show Must Go On” by Queen
This Queen classic portrays a performer who takes the stage, even though their heart is breaking. It may make us think of famous figures who have to contend with personal demons and the relentless pressure from their audience but the song is relatable for anyone who has had to put on a brave face.
17. “Swim Good” by Frank Ocean
In “Swim Good”, Frank Ocean is a character loading up his town car with broken hearts, wearing his black suit, and driving into the ocean, about to “swim from somethin’ bigger than me”. Though the imagery is surreal and it sounds fatalistic, the song finds a twisted kind of optimism in the character’s yearning to strike out on his own.
18. “Try” by Pink
In “Try”, Pink sings about how love and desire are bound up with heartache. Like many of the songs on this list, the song is brutally honest about the inevitability of pain and despite that, it maintains a fighting spirit. Pink believes that we have to “get up and try”.
19. “Courage To Change” by Sia
Sia sings about wanting her life to have meaning and purpose in this song. “Have I the courage to change?” she questions in the chorus before reiterating “you’re not alone in this.”
Is she talking to herself, or are the reassuring remarks coming from a caring third party? In any case, as the song progresses, the effect becomes increasingly empowering, making this song a beautiful listen.
20. “Let’s Go” by Khalid
This song takes place “at the start of something great”, and urges the listener to ignore what others say. Khalid wants listeners to leave sorrow behind and forge a path ahead.
The path itself is unknown and all the singer knows is that he wants to have fun. “Let’s Go” has a restless energy that invites you to come along, and let go of everything holding you back.
In this list, I’ve shared 20 songs about not giving up. Musicians have forever used their craft to communicate powerful messages and the theme of not giving up has an enduring appeal. No matter the time or place, we all need words of encouragement at some point in our lives. Listen to the songs in this list and you will find something that speaks to you and that can help you with whatever you might be facing in life.