Friday, March 29, 2013

It's A Revolution: My Top 5 Inspirational Pop Songs

As you can tell from the title of this post and my last opinion piece, I'm feeling somewhat inspired right now. Look at my last post if you want to know why someone can get inspired at the end of term. I won't repeat. Now said inspiration is coming off in another form: music.

Yes, I have a music post, which I've been meaning to do for a while, and was going to do yesterday, but my intended introduction got too long and eventually occupied the whole post :D. So I decided to save the songs for today. I think music is something that inspires us all, any type, whatever it's about. I crave that kind of song that seems to change you in some way, a motivational kind of song. And that's what I'm going to talk about today. Inspirational pop.

Now, anyone who's ever reviewed music will know it's notoriously difficult to write about, so I made it easier for myself and you readers by organising my list in a Top 5 instead of just randomly (but I do love all the songs, just because Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) is number 5 does not mean I hate it). Also I did a "Best Moment" for each song, which I've seen on several music blogs, to sum up the greatest bit of the track, and a "See Also" for comparison. And for each song I've posted the music video and the lyric video in case you want to sing along. But I don't want to go on for too long, so let's get started!

5. Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) - Kelly Clarkson

Found on: Stronger (2011)

One word for this song: empowering. There's something about it, how Kelly doesn't complain about her lost partner (or even mention him that much), and the whole song focuses on her feelings of power and achievement, that makes you feel exactly the same way. The lyrics (although not written by Kelly herself) seem real and not too dramatic: "You know I dream in colour/And do the things I want" - haven't we all experienced this sort of freedom? Kelly's soaring pop-rock vocals and the gradually increasing, syncopated beat also sum up this spirit - they retain strength and anger on aggressive lines like "Think you left me broken down/Think that I'd come running back/Baby, you don't know me, 'cause you're dead wrong", but also change tone to show enjoyment of her freedom during the sarcastic bridge thanking her ex for her new liberty. This kind of resilience is something we can all look up to.

Best Moment: Surely Kelly's impressive vocals on the song's bridge, especially on the lines "You know the day you left was just my beginning/In the end". Her vocals descend on "my beginning", and rise on "the end", a vocal equivalent of the song's message. The fore-mentioned quote was originally said by Mary Queen of Scots (and "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" by Friedrich Nietzsche), and she meant it about her forthcoming death and eventual legacy, so it's interesting how a quote can be interpreted in different ways.

See also: Picture To Burn by Taylor Swift. Another "I can be better without you" dismissal, with similar influences from rock and country. Also with an "interesting" metaphor about setting fire to old photographs.

4. Wings - Little Mix 


Found on: DNA (2012)

I first heard this on the radio about six months ago, and thought WOW. This song blew any expectation of any X Factor winner debut single, for several reasons. Firstly, the songwriting credit. All four of the Mixes contributed to the writing, and you can see from the very personal content of the track (we'll come back to that a bit later), so it's got more meaning than the usual cover songs or non-self-penned tracks usually taking up X Factor debut albums (and given that modern-sounding beat and harmonies, they're good songwriters too). And it's relatable in the way it talks about Little Mix's former bullying experiences; we've all thought (or tried to think) that we can spread our wings and fly higher than the haters out there ("Walk, walk on over there/'Cause I'm too fly to care, oh yeah" is something we all want to do at some point). We just all don't fly away with the carefree vibe as Little Mix's lyrics. It's also not a cheesy fight-the-haters song, which is hard to achieve without making a song not meaningful (this can be said of all the songs on this list). Finally, there's the ultimate professional sound and lyrical content of the song. Artists usually write songs about achieving their dreams three or four albums through when they can justify their success, but Little Mix have the assurance of strong and believable lyrics, so they can do an achievement song for their first proper single. 

Best Moment: The "Your words don't mean a thing/I'm not listening" pre-chorus. It has a more soulful sound and harmonies to the slightly frantic R&B of the rest of the song, a good contrast that might just be the difference between another teen-pop song and actual talent.

See also: Who's Laughing Now by Jessie J, nearly placed on this list and one of the only credible Jessie J songs. Another anti-bullying anthem, this track boasts a haunting tune on the chorus and memorable third-person jibes about Jessie's appearance in the verses.

3. Change by Taylor Swift


Found on: Fearless (2008)

"These things will change/Can feel it now/The walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down" - brilliant songwriting. Teamwork, revolution, and a cliché that actually feels right in the context and not too overused. Change was almost a prophecy for Taylor; she wrote it about the small Nashville label she originally signed with, and how they can change their lack of success. And guess what? All her four albums have been successfully released with them, and so have many others! But it wasn't just about that; it also accompanied clips of Team USA at the 2008 Olympics, and some lyrics fit that theme better than the previous  - "It's hard to fight when the fight ain't fair", for instance.

Musically, Change is also a very interesting song, starting with a lengthy violin and drum intro which has a definite revolutionary feel to it, but soon strips back to light violin, which to me emphasises the small-to-big message of the song, whether intended or not. And that  small-to-big message is the most relatable and inspiring on this list. We've all felt we can make success in something, and we've all known that we can change failure. I've even felt it with this blog! And that relatability is one of the things that makes Change so inspiring, and a perfect closure to award-winning album Fearless.

Best Moment: That iconic intro, or maybe Taylor's feisty vocals on the line "You can walk away, say 'we don't need this'/But there's something in your eyes, sayin' 'we can beat this!'". Yes, you definitely can.

See also: Taylor's other inspiring numbers, Mean and Long Live. The former is the ultimate nasty critic slamdown ("Someday/I'll be/Livin' in a big ol' city/And all you're ever gonna be is mean!"), and the latter is a calming track about Taylor's memorable experiences touring with her band, that sounds a little too like a graduation anthem, but is still another great album closer (closing Speak Now).

2. Girl On Fire - Alicia Keys

Found on: Girl On Fire (2012)

No Hunger Games connection here, but this is the ultimate musical role model. If everyone in the world acted like the girl in this song, the world would have a lot more successful people. This song has always been the one that's got me on my feet and stopped me lounging about, and made me start doing something with my life. Lines like "Looks like a girl but she's a flame/You can try but you'll never forget her name" are something the couch potatoes of the world need to listen to and learn from. CPs, Alicia wrote this song about herself, that does not make her immodest, she is being entirely truthful. Alicia is one of my idols, and I think from her sensational debut Songs In A Minor all the way to the soulful pop sound of The Element Of Freedom and Girl On Fire, she has done nothing but progress in her music, making her the ultimate Girl On Fire (well, her and Katniss Everdeen).

However, I do have a complaint. The "Inferno" version did not need to be ruined by Nicki Minaj! There's Alicia's beautiful voice and inspiring lyrics, and a silly pink-haired rapper has to come in rambling on about "Spirit of Marilyn, calling me/Audibly, said she would never leave"! Honestly, absolutely uninspirational and unrelated to the main song! And that was the version they played on the radio too! Tut tut tut.

Best moment: The effortless transition from the calm pre-chorus to the faster chorus, which only Alicia Keys could execute without going in the least bit shouty.

See also: Album-mate Brand New Me, a stunning ballad and album highlight. There are things in life that change us all, and people are sometimes angry at us, but it's all change that none of us can avoid ("Don't be mad/It's just a brand new kinda me").

1. On My Way - Charlie Brown


Found on: On My Way (Remixes) (2013)

The newest (currently number 9 in the UK Charts) song on this list, On My Way is a deserved number one. A new face in the world of urban pop, Charlie Brown may share a name with a Peanuts character and a Coldplay song, but he still is bringing a unique sound to the dinner table that is music. The dropping vocals on "Just stand up and never say never" and the pauses before the title phrase are reminiscent of the kind of Noughties pop songs that were the first I listened to, which brings back nostalgic memories, but the electropop beat ensures it doesn't sound dated. And obviously, it wouldn't have a place on this list if it wasn't inspiring ("You might work, but I work harder/You might fight, but I fight smarter"), but it's the only one of the five that's completely honest, with its hook being "Might not be on top of the world but hey/I'm on my way". You really don't get stuff like that in songs very often. If I had to make one criticism it would be that the piano-accompanied verses don't seem to fit fluidly with the chorus, but a overall a great song, really worth a listen and I really hope this guy is successful.

Best Moment: Hard to choose for a brilliant song like this, but probably the line "You're so hot, but I'm on fire" for its multiple meanings :D. 

See also: Charice's One Day, a pop-rock anthem with a lot of repetition of the titular phrase, but still another inspiring little tune about being true to yourself and achieving your dreams ("One day, you're gonna know who I am / Oh when I'm high and free / It's not fate, wait and see, one day").

I hope you enjoyed my reviews and, of course, the songs!
-DP :)

PS I'm going on holiday in about a hour and ten minutes, and I'll post there, but this is the last post at home you'll see in a couple of weeks!


  1. I love all those songs too! Especially Little Mix and Kelly Clarkson :)

    I've nominated you for the Liebster Award, you can check it out here!

    -Dare :)

    1. Yeah, they're good aren't they?! :)

      Thank you so much for the award, I will post my nominees soon!
      -DP :)

  2. Well done, DP!
    HG :p

  3. I often find pop songs very inspiring, but I find more often than not it is very different genres that inspire me.
    I recently got very into the music of Heather Dale (who you know all about)
    And I am including a link to my all time favourite song, Tarnished Siler.

    It really taught me how important reconciliation is (and it's also just got generally awesome lyrics and an awesome tune).


    PS. Tarnished Silver is extremely sad. For an upbeat Heather Dale song, try Ten Feet Tall.

  4. *irritated face*
    The song is called Tarnished Silver, sorry for the spelling mistake.


  5. Being an ardent fan of Pop and Adult Contemporary music, Sunny 107.9 is always my first choice for non-stop entertainment. Whether in my car or at home I’m always tuned in and kept entertained by the stations great music. Stream online at or tune in live.