No, there are no Beatles songs. But Billy Joel is there.
You’re a user, aren’t you?
You use it to make you feel better. And you use it to make you feel worse.
I’m talking about music. What did you think I was talking about? Vicodin? The election campaign?
Sometimes, though, your lover leaves you for an actuary’s ex-spouse.
Sometimes, your boss betrays you and your bonus turns to dust particles.
That’s when you need an instant musical uplift.
Here I am to serve you for that very purpose.
I’ve just come across a list compiled by Dr. Jacob Jolij.
He knows about being jolly. He’s a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Gronigen in the Netherlands. There are few things jollier than a cognitive neuroscientist.
Last year, at the behest of U.K. electronics brand Alba, Jolij put together a list of the 10 most uplifting songs in the world.
Being a scientist, he had to first create a formula for this effort. There is no accurate uplift without order.
“The formula I came up with takes the number of positive lyrical elements in a song, and divides that by how much a song deviates from 150 bpm and from the major key,” he said on his website.
So here goes. These are the 10 finest pick-you-ups the world can offer, according to Alba’s research and Jolij’s analysis.
1. “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen.
How can you not be uplifted by this charmer? You feel al-i-i-ve. Because you’re having a good time, having a good time. Admit it, you’re sex machine ready to reload. And then there’s that rocket ship to Mars. Oh, this is heaven, isn’t it? Instant heaven.
2. “Dancing Queen” by Abba.
How odd. Is this really uplifting? It’s lovely and all that. It’s about dancing and jiving. Which I always thought was dancing anyway. But so much of Abba’s music seemed quite wistful to me. Ah, well.
3. “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys.
Honestly, how can you categorize this as anything other than feel-good music? It’s about feeling good and vibrating well. It has those harmonies so beloved by humans and hippies. It wouldn’t, however, be my number 3. It’s a touch twee for my taste.
4. “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel.
Have you ever seen Joel in concert? Are you aware what a consummate performer he is? Do you know how hard it is to stay seated when he starts singing this? Yes, it’s deep uplift. Although, of course, he wrote this for Christie Brinkley, whom he married. He was the backstreet guy. She was the Uptown Girl. But then their marriage went up-down. That takes a little touch off it for me, but not much of one.
5. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor.
Is there an NBA arena that doesn’t play the intro to this every night? It’s so often played when we’re getting down to the wire. It is, then, not so much a song of uplift, but of tense excitement, no? Or am I getting a touch too (guitar) picky? In any case, it’s a song of survival. It’s about the thrill of the fight. You still might lose. No, no. This isn’t about uplift. It’s about danger.
6. “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees.
And then you saw her face. Such is belief. It takes just the appropriate face in your face and you can face anything. This is an excellent song to play just before a meeting. You can walk in without a trace of doubt in your mind, humming away.
7. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper.
Well, yes. Or no. The opening riff has rather dated a little. But the sentiment is surely glorious. And when it becomes a true anthem then, yes, it survives with a blessed strength.
8. “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi.
Surely a song ululated by many businesspeople on the way to their meetings. They used to work on the docks. They’ve slaved in diners. They’ve been down on their luck. But wait. What about: “It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not”? Don’t worry. You’re half way there. You’re livin’ on a prayer. And you’re going to give it a shot. That’s all you can ask for, really. Other than billions of dollars, of course.
9. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.
It’s remarkable how many of these songs aren’t about success, but mere survival. There has to be a lesson in this. There’s a nobility and a heightening of the heart with survival. When the record shows you took the blows and did it your way, you’ve survived. Yes, I know those words come from another song. But first you were afraid, you were petrified. Then the beat picked up and suddenly you were back from outer space. What a wonderful life you have.
10. “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.
It starts with happy saxes and often ends with happy sex. Or so I’m told. We all want to walk on sunshine. I might remind you, though, that this is a song about a woman waiting for a letter to tell her that her lover is arriving. It seems that the mere anticipation creates uplift. Yes, uplift is like gambling. It’s the anticipatory buzz that you do it for, not the winning. And don’t it feel good, yeah. It’s as well to remember that, especially on the dark days.