Motivational Music


Jakob Fisher

The struggle is real. This one looks kind of like me. Kind of…

Jakob Fisher, Editorial Cartoonist


Okay, to be honest, who actually keeps their New Year’s resolutions? I would have completely forgotten about New Year’s Eve if someone had not told me the night of. Even then, I suffer from a chronic lack of motivation. Deciding to change anything takes a lot of time and effort that I never feel I have enough of. But, when I am having a stinker of a day, music pulls me out. To spread some good vibes, I have gathered an extensive list of motivational songs, to help you make good on your New Year’s promises.

“For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” – AC/DC

I have a love hate relationship with AC/DC. They have never been my favorite band, but over the years, I have grown to appreciate a few of their songs. Guitarist Angus Young was inspired by a book given to him by former lead singer Bon Scott about ancient Roman gladiators. Before they entered the arena to battle to the death, they would announce to the emperor, “We, who are about to die, salute you.” Young eventually worked it into a powerfully rousing song that almost served as a thank you to the fans who had supported the band for so long. For this reason (and maybe the fact that the rest of the album had mediocre reviews), it quickly became a favorite at concerts, and the band certainly did not hold back. While rehearsing in France during the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, they were inspired by the festivities to use cannons in their live performance. It took a few tries to perfect, but eventually the cannons became a mainstay of their concerts, even if the band members are frequently burned by sparks. It feels nice knowing that when you are about to rock, AC/DC will always have your back.

“The Touch” – Stan Bush

A song so cheesy, it has almost become a running joke used to evoke feelings of the 80s. Surprisingly, there is quite the backstory to this particular number. Sometime during the mid 1980s, Stan Bush had run aground in his music career. He had released five albums with little to show for it. One day, Bush and co-writer Lenny Macaluso were watching a movie called “Iron Eagle”. And as Bush said in an interview, “There’s a scene in the movie where [Louis Gosset Jr.] turns to this young pilot and says, ‘Kid, you’ve got the touch,’ and we were like, Yeah! What a great song idea!” From there his objective was clear, write a song with enough power to be featured in the upcoming Sylvester Stallone movie, “Cobra”. It didn’t work. However, the record label did manage to get his song featured in something more memorable. “The Transformers: The Movie” had mixed reviews on release, mostly due to the killing of fan-favorite characters, but it unquestionably made “The Touch” into one of the most iconic power ballads of the decade. Over 30 years later, the tune still holds a special place in fans hearts, and though Bush had mixed feelings at first, he has since come to appreciate the impact it had on a generation of cartoon fans.

“Dreams” – Van Halen

Now for the song I consider to be the most bluntly motivational ever put to lyrics. That is all there is to it. About five minutes of lead singer Sammy Hagar screaming at you to follow your dreams no matter the cost. Even suggesting at one point to stand on the broken dreams to keep others within sight. Hagar says the idea came to him one day while he was walking on the beach with Mick Jones of the band Foreigner. Hagar had the melody but just could not find the right lyrics. Suddenly, he began singing in a “supersonic range” and the lyrics came to him. “…I didn’t know what to sing, so I just started yelling over the top of the [darn] thing, and it came out. When I hear that today, I mean, my fur goes up all over, man – and I go, ‘How did I do that?’” said Hagar. So there you have it. When Hagar felt like there was no hope, he literally put his heart and soul into it. I guess you could say it was so motivational, it motivated even the artist who created it. I would say that sets the bar pretty high.

“You Get What You Give” – New Radicals

The 90s were a radical and bodacious time (not sorry). Technology was evolving rapidly, and with it, came hundreds, if not thousands of fads that came as fast as they went. At the same time, a strange obsession with celebrity culture developed, and with it developed a massive counterculture movement to rival any other point in history. Enter singer/songwriter Gregg Alexander. He was fed up with the world of “celebrity,” so he concentrated his cynicism and hatred into this positive, upbeat melody. I say that with not even a hint of sarcasm. Rather than lean into the massive grunge trend that was also happening at the time, Alexander chose to go for a positive message. Encouraging rather than accusatory, the song pushes people to be their own thing:  live their own life rather than wanting to imitate others. He even calls out popular musicians of the time like Marilyn Manson (who was not happy). On a different note, this is also the first song to use the word “frenemies.” Not long after he hit it big, Alexander retired from music for the first of multiple times, claiming the music industry was toxic. He now does charity work and is just an all around upstanding individual.

“Fight the Good Fight” – Triumph

It is not easy being a band with only three members. Being one of two, 3-person bands from Canada is impressive, but the fact that they are not Rush makes all the difference. Both bands hit their stride around the late 70s in America. Triumph, however, did not gain the traction that their counterparts did. While Rush had complex musical arrangements and deep sociopolitical lyrics, Triumph had… this. While they were no slouch in the music, their lyrics were simple, even blunt. But that is not what we are here for, we are here to be pumped up. “Fight the Good Fight” is everything you can assume just from reading the title. “Fight the good fight every moment, every minute, every day!!!” It’s cheesy, encouraging, and everything you could possibly want out of a power ballad. Because the one thing that saves them from just being a dime-store Rush is the vocal range of Rik Emmett. That and they were far more popular in their native country.

“Join Together” – The Who

Few bands can claim to have had the impact of The Who. From playing at Woodstock, to inventing the rock opera, and even a movie starring lead singer Roger Daltry, The Who has done it all. In a career spanning decades the contributions that have made to music are immeasurable. Between all the partying and mayhem, The Who busied themselves with fighting the man. It was the early 70s, after all, and the counterculture movement was in full swing. They were rebels through and through. “Join Together” is one of their many calls to action, and one of their favorites to play live. Meant for an opera that would never be, it calls for the youth to band together to take action against… something. It is not very specific. And while the chorus repeatedly says “join together with the band,” I would advise against taking it literally. Guitarist Pete Townshend has famously threatened to kill anyone who got on stage while he played. So does it still hold up? As a song yes. As a message, it is pretty dated.

Music to get your blood pumping and your goal within reach; anytime your day is in need of a pick me up. The new year is all about bettering yourself through the goals you set, and with some of these artists screaming in my ear, I feel like I can do anything. Or watch “The Transformers: The Movie” again. Do not judge me. Anyway, I hope the new year is filled with new songs to cherish and enjoy. And if it is not I will still be bopping to these old ones (still not sorry).