• Start your day with a burst of energy
  • A brief history of some of the most motivating tracks
  • The psychology behind why music inspires us

1. Will P: Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger

Written for one of the greatest boxing films of all time, Rocky III, Survivor's 'Eye of the Tiger' is the quintessential training anthem.

Bill Conti's 'Gonna Fly Now' is the track everyone will remember from the Rocky series – an inspirational track in its own right – but the film's star Sylvester Stallone wanted something new for Rocky III.

Survivor vocalist Jim Peterik recalls the first phone conversation he had with Stallone in an interview with The Tennessean

'I've got this new movie called Rocky III, and I don't want to use that 'Gonna Fly Now' song,' Stallone told Peterik. 'It's a good song, but I want something for the kids. Something with a pulse. Can you help me out?'

When Survivor completed the song, Peterik didn't realise how big a sports anthem it would be.

'People training for boxing matches, that's a natural, but in every sport, that song has crept into the motivational aspect of it. I never would have predicted it,' Peterik told Songfacts.com in another interview.

For cyclists and runners, this track is perfect for a particularly active commute – but that doesn't stop it being a motivational foot-tapper for all morning travellers.

We think you might also love:

  • Journey – Don't Stop Believing
  • Gloria Gaynor – I will survive
  • Katy Perry – Roar

2. Sara: Robbie Williams – Love My Life

There's a lot to be said for the motivational power of lyrics. The right song can be a powerful influence on our mood, brighten our day and put more pep in our step.

In fact, a 2011 study found that 'mood, in this case manipulated by music, may directly alter the way we perceive the world.' 

Robbie Williams's 'Love My Life' has one of the most self-affirming choruses out there: 'I love my life/I am powerful/I am beautiful/I am free.' Listen to that on the way to work on a Monday morning, and you might not need that daily coffee pit stop quite so much.

We think you might also love:

  • Pharrell – Happy
  • U2 – Beautiful Day
  • Muse – Feeling Good

3. Will S: Europe – The Final Countdown

Another instantly recognisable hit, Europe's 'The Final Countdown' turned 30 last year. The track was such a hit that it launched Swedish band Europe into the mainstream – it was so inspirational that it inspired the band's success.

'[The song's success] was the opening for us to go on our journey,' revealed lead vocalist Joey Tempest in an interview with Team Rock. 'It gave us that chance to be a touring band, and it gave us an opening to be here today. It's been an interesting journey, and it's still with us.' 

Like Survivor's song above, this motivational track has got a strong connection with sport.

'I did an interview about a year ago with a newspaper from America and they talked about how much it's been used in sports in America,' Tempest told Rock Eyez in 2005

We think you might also love:

  • Bon Jovi – Livin' on a Prayer
  • A-ha – Take On Me
  • Beyonce – Countdown

4.Sarah: Arcade Fire – Reflektor

Songs don't always have to be high tempo to be motivational. Arcade Fire are renowned for the hidden meaning in their songs, and while 'Reflektor' might not necessarily get you in a working mood, it certainly gets the brain working.

'Arcade Fire engage fans in a complex game that keeps us speculating,' numerology expert Dr Andrew Crome wrote in an NME article. 'The mystery doesn't just create an appetite for the record, those who are following the clues are rewarded with webcasts, snippets of lyrics, and the privilege of solving a complex mystery.'

We think you might also love:

  • David Bowie – Let's Dance
  • TV On The Radio – Wolf Like Me
  • LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk Is Playing At My House

5. Charlie: Dolly Parton – 9 to 5

Another song written for a movie, Dolly Parton's '9 to 5' is perhaps the most famous song about the daily routine in history. The film of the same name starred Parton in her first acting role, alongside more seasoned thespians Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as hard-worked secretaries for an unpleasant boss.

The lyrics might not make you excited for the working day ahead, but the catchy beat – which was inspired by the sound of Parton's famously long fake fingernails – will certainly get you moving.

We think you might also love:

  • Loverboy – Working for the Weekend
  • Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance with Somebody
  • Kenny Loggins – Footloose

6. John: Carly Simon – Let The River Run

Carly Simon's heartfelt classic has a whole lot in common with '9 to 5'. It was written for a successful film; the film in question, Working Girl, is all about a woman taking on a man's world in the city, starting off her career as a secretary.

The song is inspired by the plot of the film, in which Melanie Griffith's protagonist makes the most of her opportunity on Wall Street to advance her career and fulfil her love life ambitions. 

'I wanted the irony of a jungle hymn (this is the one and only hymn I've ever written),' said Carly Simon of the song. 'This is about beasts killing other beasts, what Wall Street is in a covert way, although not so covert any more [1].' 

'Let the River Run' was released too late after the film to be a chart success, but took home three big cinematic song awards.

'Winning all of the accolades, from the Oscar and Golden Globe to the Grammy awards, was the icing on the cake,' said Simon.

We think you might also love:

  • The Beatles – A Hard Day's Night
  • The Pointer Sisters – I'm So Excited
  • Bryan Adams – (Everything I Do) I Do It for You

7. Andy: Madness – House of Fun

Appropriately named as 'Madness's most ridiculously happy tune' in NME's 100 best songs of the 1980s, 'House of Fun' is a rambunctious ska track sure to get you bouncing into the lift and hurtling yourself into your office chair. 

In fact, all music with a good beat has the capacity to get you moving. This is because the human brain can sense the rhythm of a song and synchronise with it.

'Rhythm perception involves activation of motor regions of the brain and it has been proposed that the ability to synchronise to a beat may rely upon the same auditory-motor neural infrastructure that evolved to support vocal learning,' observe neuroscientists Nina Kraus and Jessica Slater in a 2015 paper.

Rhythm certainly helps if you're cycling, running or walking into work, but what about rail and road commuters? Music doesn't just get us feeling the rhythm, it also rewards us for listening with a hit of dopamine – the neurotransmitter that regulates the brain's pleasure centre and makes us feel good. 

'Imaging studies in humans have revealed that hearing music induces neural responses in the mesolimbic reward pathway,' observed psychologists Sarah E. Earp and Donna L. Maney in 2012, which is the part of the brain that releases dopamine when you do something pleasurable.

We think you might also love:

  • The Clash – 48 Hours
  • The Specials – A Message To You Rudy
  • Dexys Midnight Runners – Come on Eileen

Even if you get out of the wrong side of bed in the morning, or you know you’ve got a stream of emails waiting for you in your inbox, the right song for your morning commute can get you in a brighter frame of mind for the day ahead. Just don’t put the sound levels up too high, as loud music can reduce reaction times by 20%, according to research reported by the RAC Foundation

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Sources:

  1. Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song: The Exclusive Personal Stories Behind 101 of Your Favorite Songs, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Jo-Ann Geffen