Build Me Up Buttercup
Proof that lyrics don't always determine a song's mood, The Foundations' "Build Me Up Buttercup" is a lover's plea that sounds more like a victory parade. Let's face it, this Buttercup sounds like a handful. Still, the song has been making people smile for decades on the strength of that melody, arrangement and unbeatable sing-along chorus.
Any song with a plethora of "sha-la-la-la-la-la" lines has got to be a champion of inducing happiness. And no song this side of "Kiss the Girl" achieves a higher score on the "sha-la-la" scale than Van Morrison's timeless ode to ocular beauty.
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell's ode to long-distance relationships just makes you want to sing along at the top of your lungs. If that ain't joy, then what the hell is?
If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out
Cat Stevens (born Steven Demetre Georgiou, now called Yusef Islam) has no shortage of tunes that just make you feel good ("Peace Train," anyone?), but "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" holds a special place. The "Harold and Maude" anthem to free living is the kind of song that makes people start skipping involuntary.
Til The End of the Day
Listen to those opening power chords, followed by the perfect intro line: "Baby, I feel good …" And we're off! The Kinks have their fair share of mid-'60s guitar-driven riff-rockers, but "Til The End of the Day" is proto-punk at its happiest.
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)
Simon & Garfunkel put out quite a number of wistful, melancholy tunes, but when they wanted to, they could really lift a listener up. Clocking in at under two minutes (!), "The 59th Street Bridge Song" gets in, says what it wants to say, and gets out with swift and upbeat efficiency.
Pharrell's "Happy" is a four-minute party—a pop song so festive and cheerful that you didn't mind when it played everywhere for a solid six months. It's easy to forget that "Happy" was originally written for Minions to dance to.
You might not imagine smiling when Keith Richards is on lead vocals, but this 1972 track from the Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street" is the exception to the rule. Featuring a guitar riff that sounds like heels joyfully clicking together, "Happy" is one of the Stones' unabashedly positive hits, devoid of the usual darkness or playful sleaze. It delivers on the promise of that title.
Some songs just cry out to be made into a morning phone alarm, and Bill Withers created the ultimate one. "Lovely Day" is like a fresh summer breeze and feels twice as refreshing.
If "Uptown Funk," by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars hasn't made it into the soundtrack of your daily life, you may have accidentally time-traveled back to 2013. How you doing? Put your money on the Red Sox. For the rest of us, it remains a tune that you can't hear a note of without playing the rest (usually multiple times).
Fun, Fun, Fun
The Beach Boys could probably fill this list all on their own. But if pressed to make a single selection, we'd pick the song that's titled exactly how it sounds. "Fun, Fun, Fun" gathers all the great elements of the early Beach Boys—killer harmonies, Chuck Berry-esque guitar licks and youthful garage band energy. This is one song that can't be accused of false advertising.
You Make My Dreams Come True
Admit it, just reading the title starts up that irresistible keyboard intro in your brain. Now the rest of the Hall & Oates song is stuck in your head. You're welcome.
I Love You, Suzanne
Lou Reed wasn't exactly known for his happy outlook, but "I Love You, Suzanne" shows the Velvet Underground legend at his most—dare we say it—fancy-free! Say what you will about Lou, but the man had range.
I’m a Believer
The Monkees seem to exist purely for the purpose of sheer joy, and nowhere is that more evident than on their second single, "I'm A Believer." Written by Neil Diamond, this piece of pop perfection was bringing the smiles long before "Shrek" got a hold of it. (You could also go with the other Monkees "Believer" song.)
Uptight (Everything’s Alright)
"BAYBAH," Stevie Wonder howls after the raucous intro to "Uptight," as great a lead-in for a song as you'll ever hear. That horn riff is downright victorious. The rest of the tune ain't too shabby either.
Oh Happy Day
It's time for this list to get a little spiritual, and the Edwin Hawkins Singers are here to bring it. Dig how that gradual piano rhythm and subdued gospel backup slowly build into a full-on Sunday morning rave-up . Good luck keeping your hands apart!
Friday on My Mind
One of the great sources of happiness in life is the very concept of Friday. For kids in school and grown-ups with jobs, the sweet kiss of the weekend is enough to release some heavy endorphins. The Easybeats' signature tune just sounds like a Friday, with the lead guitar running around like an excited 6-year-old.
No Matter What
If you think Badfinger is just a Beatles tribute band, consider this: No other non-Beatles group on the Apple label achieved more success than this underrated, ultimately tragic band. The signature chunky riff of "No Matter What" is instantly recognizable and perfectly preps you for the bliss that is to follow.
"I can't stand to see you sad," begins Marshall Crenshaw on "Someday, Someway," and he devotes the rest of the song to remedying just that.
Take On Me
Sometimes you want to get your happy on, '80s style. And sometimes all it takes is that one, perfect synth riff to get the job done. A-ha's "Take On Me" delivers on all fronts.
Leslie Feist's signature tune is a masterful exercise in dynamics. Those quiet, mannered verses giving way to that blissful chorus is like a brilliant sunrise over the horizon. For an extra dose of happy, check out the smile-til-your-face-breaks remake Feist performed on "Sesame Street" (which has 10 times the YouTube views of the original).
This one seems like a no-brainer, right? Baby Michael Jackson, then frontman for the Jackson 5, ushers in the carnival of joy with those signature "boom-boom-boom-booms" and from there, the good times keep coming as easy as ... well, you know.
Walking on Sunshine
There's something about Katrina and the Waves' "Walking On Sunshine" that makes you want to get out of bed, greet the day, and exuberantly skip through the park, all while high-fiving every puppy you see.
I Got You (I Feel Good)
The Godfather of Soul gets funky like no one else. The horns, the bassline, James Brown's patented hootin' and hollerin'—it's an irresistible combination. Go ahead, don't start moving in your chair. We dare you.
It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
We know what you're thinking: How can a song about the apocalypse be joyful in any way? Well, it just is. R.E.M.'s exuberance is tough to match and, after all, Michael Stipe feels fine!
To this day, you can't play "Hey Ya!" in a crowded room without everybody immediately getting into it. OutKast's enduring party anathem is packed with quotable lines and catchy hooks. Admit it—you're kind of dancing right now in your head just thinking about it.
The actual lyrics of this Turtles hit may be pretty depressing—all from the perspective of a guy fantasizing about being with an unrequited love. But nobody ever seems to care or notice, since the melody and arrangement are so darn uplifting.
She Loves You
Admittedly, we could have picked 100 different Beatles songs to go here, but the soaring spirit of Beatlemania lives in "She Loves You." It all comes down to three simple words: "Yeah, "yeah" and "yeah."
Benny Hill chase sequences aren't the only appropriate context for Boots Randolph's"Yakety Sax," though when you listen to this pop-jazz instrumental, it's tough to picture anything but. (Note: This is by no means a bad thing.)
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