Few things in life can immediately improve your mood the way music can. Put on one of your favorite albums and sing along - you can't help but feel better!
I thought I'd do something a little different with today's article and share some of my favorite albums. Every single time I play one of these, I smile inside and out and my day instantly brightens. I've even gone so far as to create a "happy music" playlist on my iPod that tends to dominate my listening time in my car. And before you ask, my car has an iPod interface - I never, ever drive while wearing headphones, and you shouldn't either!
Without further ado, here is a baker's dozen of my favorite upbeat albums, in no particular order. Many of them you're probably familiar with already... the rest I highly recommend checking out ASAP! I've included links to each album on Amazon for your convenience. Happy listening!
Did you think I'd start this collection with anyone other than the irrepressibly happy band from Athens, Georgia? Of course not. Cosmic Thing is just plain crammed full of ridiculously happy music - well, virtually their entire catalog is, to be fair - and I bet there hasn't been a month that's gone by in the nearly 30 years since this classic came out that I haven't listened to at least part of it. Start to finish, it's like a musical energy drink.
Favorite tracks: Love Shack (duh!), Topaz, Follow Your Bliss, Deadbeat Club
There's a good chance you've never heard of this quirky California band, but you've probably heard the amazing orchestral work of their lead singer, Danny Elfman. He's scored dozens of movies, including Beetlejuice, Alice in Wonderland and Fifty Shades of Grey. Featuring Boingo's signature hit, Weird Science, this album is a addictively catchy reminder that we only go around once, so make every day count. How can you not love lyrics like "It's a dead man's party - who could ask for more? Everybody's comin' - leave your body at the door"?
Favorite tracks: No One Lives Forever, Fool's Paradise, Dead Man's Party (of course), Same Man I Was Before
A good friend of mine saw these amazing folks play live at the University of North Texas right before this album reached the college radio station airwaves. I can't even comprehend how cool that must've been, and it makes me want to invent time travel just so I could soak it in myself. Oh well, at least I can listen to their debut album, which sounds for all the world like a perfect moment in time perfectly captured. Throughout every song, you can hear the love they poured into this album. It's sublime and incredibly uplifting.
Favorite tracks: Love Like We Do, Nothing, What I Am, I Do
And now for something completely different! FPM is the stage name of Tomoyuki Tanaka, a Japanese musician and DJ, and the music he makes is like nothing you've heard. Encompassing electronica, lounge, big beat, bossa nova, and probably three dozen other genres - often in the same song! - FPM's sound is constantly inventive and always fun beyond words. This album absolutely will make you smile, and you'll smile even wider when you realize that he wrote a song about drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa. (yes, seriously!)
Favorite tracks: Whistle Song, Todos Os Desejos, Beautiful Days, Love Is Psychedelic
Smash Mouth's music has steadily gotten more mellow over the years - and I love it all - but the album that absolutely never fails to re-energize my mood is their pedal-to-the-metal debut, which features the still often-played Walkin' On The Sun. Aside from its tempo, which makes you feel like you just got carried away by the happiest group of party people on the planet, it's just so stinkin' fun. You've got a song about getting evicted, a song making fun of the mob, a song about getting dumped with no warning, and a song about a guy's girlfriend screaming another woman's name in bed... even a song about homelessness! And yet, they somehow make all of that sound like it's all just the best time ever. Craziness.
Favorite tracks: Heave-Ho, Padrino, Pet Names, Walkin' On The Sun
I've seen Matthew in concert several times, and each time, I'm just struck by how much he's enjoying life. It really is a wonderful thing to see someone thoroughly enjoying what they do, being extremely good at it, and making a great living doing it. His enthusiasm is infectious, and you can hear it in virtually every note in his music. Girlfriend, his breakthrough album, might just be the most hopeful album I've ever heard. While it is very melancholy at times, instead of bringing you down, you feel like you're right there with him... you feel like things are going to be OK, no matter where life takes you. His music also compels you to sing along - the last time I saw him, at the the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio, I swear I sang for more than 2 hours straight.
Favorite tracks: Winona, I've Been Waiting, Evangeline, I Wanted To Tell You
Nataly and Jack inspire me. They really do. You might remember them from their cute holiday commercials for Hyundai a few years back, but it's their infectious YouTube work that really shines. Sincerely original subject matter meets unbelievably creative instruments and superior craftsmanship and the end result just never, ever, ever gets out of your head. I honestly don't know how they consistently manage to be so darn catchy, even when they're covering songs you might not have liked much at all originally.
Favorite tracks: Beat The Horse, Little Things, Twice As Nice, Centrifuge
If there's an album that embodies free-spiritedness more than this one, I'd love to hear it! I'm not sure if its what she's singing about so much as how she's singing it that just imparts a sense of weightlessness to the listener. I put this album on, and I'm floating. Unemployed in Summertime almost makes me want to revisit the chaotically wonderful summer days right after graduating high school but before heading off to college. Almost. My life in the present day is pretty darn blessed, and Emiliana's music does a fantastic job of reminding me of how fortunate I am. I hope it helps you gain that perspective too!
Favorite tracks: Tuna Fish, Unemployed in Summertime, To Be Free, Fingertips
Feeling under-motivated? Pop this gem in and feel the lethargy lift right off. You simply can't fight the sheer energy these guys perform with. I can't say it's the happiest record ever, but you feel like you can take on the world while you're listening to it. Fair warning - this album will make you break the speed limit if you're driving, so keep one eye on the speedometer... and don't blame me if you get yourself in trouble with the law!
Favorite tracks: Take Me Out, 40', The Dark of the Matinee, This Fire
This has got to be the most consistently smooth Heads album they ever recorded. Hit the Play button, and very quickly you just sink into the melodic Jell-O... and you know there's always room for Jell-O. It's mostly a concept album about the wonders of love and creating a family, and there's just something overwhelmingly positive about its message. I'm not sure if it's David Byrne's quirky vocal style, the band's one-of-a-kind musical style... or maybe it's both of those things put together? Whatever it is, Little Creatures is as rich and lush as their early albums were sparse. It makes you want to lose yourself in it, like a warm, fuzzy blanket of sound.
Favorite tracks: Stay Up Late, Road to Nowhere, Television Man, And She Was
You know these hooligans - they're the Brits you hear singing the ear-worm Our House (you know it - "in the middle of our street") very often even now, 30-odd years after it first came out. They're the guys who introduced ska music to mainstream audiences, and Divine Madness is a compilation of their very best tunes. I defy anybody to listen to this record without a silly grin plastered across their face. Madness is a perfectly-named band, because their brand of infectious fun just has to be some sort of positive mental illness. Just writing this is making me want to turn it on and crank it up. :-D
Favorite tracks: Driving in my Car, It Must Be Love, Baggy Trousers, One Step Beyond
Oh boy, this was a tough decision. I could easily have put all of the Beatles' albums in this article... has there ever been a band with a more inspiring, encouraging and just plain positive catalog of music? Sgt. Pepper might just be the most positive of the bunch, but honestly, just pick your favorite and roll with it - the clouds over your mood will part in very short order. When I'm Sixty Four might be the happiest, most optimistic song they ever recorded - and one of the catchiest.
Favorite tracks: Good Morning Good Morning, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, When I'm Sixty Four, With a Little Help from my Friends
I bet you grew up watching the Looney Tunes without ever realizing just how spot-on perfect its supporting music is. It's absolute genius, and this album is irrefutable proof of it. Not long after it came out, I found this CD for one whole dollar at a flea market and felt like I had hit the lottery. The way they bent legendary classical masterpieces to their comedic will immediately banishes whatever is dragging me down at the moment.
Favorite tracks: the whole silly thing
You know? As I read back over this article, a couple of things occur to me:
- I make it sound a little like things drag me down often - they don't. Oh, things try to, for sure - and I do my best to remain fully aware that the world isn't all sunshine and smiles - but long ago I decided that life's constant stream of nonsense will not determine my outlook. I am responsible for my positive outlook.
- I also make it sound kinda like your mood is all-important. Don't get me wrong - it definitely is important - but it's what you do with it that really counts. Take the time and make the effort to let your great mood infect others. Help them see that being negative too often simply isn't healthy.
Music is one great way to improve your outlook, and I genuinely hope this article has helped improve yours. I'd love to read about the music that helps you daily - tell us all about it in the comment section below!
As always, I welcome your positive feedback, thoughts, and suggestions for future articles - feel free to contact me any time!
Whistle while you work,
Feel free to speak your mind via the commenting system - all I ask is that you do your best to keep your comments on the positive and constructive side, and that you respect the views of others. Have fun!
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