45 Uplifting Songs For Social Change

Last Updated on July 5, 2024

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My goal in life (just like yours) is to make a difference in this world, and music is an incredible tool that always inspires me to take action. Whether it’s about social justice issues, environmental protection, or empowering others, songs have captured my heart and mind with their meaningful messages. The songs for social change are perfect to inspire and motivate others too.


In this article, I will explore some of the most powerful tunes that have inspired me on my mission toward positive change!

Songs For Making A Difference

They include: 

1. One Day By Matisyahu (2005)  

This uplifting and inspiring reggae-rock song speaks to the power of each individual in making a difference in our world. It encourages us to keep striving, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, as we can all be part of something bigger than ourselves if we put our minds together and work for positive change

Released on his album ‘Youth’, this track serves as an anthem for those who wish to make a lasting impact on the world around them. 

2. Gimme Hope Joanna By Eddy Grant (1988) 

This upbeat ska song is a call to action that implores listeners to take action against oppressive systems and governments which limit people’s rights or freedom of expression.

The lyrics speak of hope despite adversity while encouraging everyone to join forces and fight injustice wherever it occurs; ‘gimme hope Joanna’.

It is one of Eddy Grant’s most memorable songs from his album Killer on The Rampage and has become an international symbol for political resistance since its release in 1988. 

3. The Times They Are A-Changin’ By Bob Dylan (1964) 

An iconic folk protest anthem originally released during the civil rights movement, this song speaks to the power of collective action and solidarity in the face of social injustice. Its timeless lyrics remind us that we can make a difference if we all work together towards common goals.

The song has since become an anthem for modern-day protests against racial inequality, misogyny, homophobia, and more. 

4. We Are The World By USA For Africa (1985) 

A classic charity single recorded by some of music’s biggest stars at the time as part of a global fundraising effort for African famine relief, this uplifting track celebrates our collective potential when we come together to support one another.

Its powerful message about unity across borders and cultures transcending politics or religion, ‘we are all part of God’s great big family’, continues to inspire people worldwide today. The song calls for positive change through collaboration rather than division. 

5. Glory By John Legend And Common (2014) 

This powerful song was written for the soundtrack of the 2014 film Selma, telling the story of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. It speaks to our shared humanity and potential for positive change through collective action. 

Its timely message about standing up against injustice even in times of great adversity, this heartfelt anthem is an important reminder to never give up hope no matter how difficult things seem. 

6. Do They Know It’s Christmas? By Band-Aid (1984) 

Written and recorded by a supergroup of British musicians in response to the 1984 Ethiopian famine, this charity single was an instant hit when released that same year.

Its uplifting message about global solidarity speaks to our responsibility to look after the less fortunate.

This iconic track continues to be used as part of fundraising efforts worldwide today, inspiring people around the globe with its powerful reminder that we all have an essential role in making the difference we want to see in this world. 

7. We Are The Champions By Queen (1977) 

One of the most uplifting and enduring anthems of all time, this classic rock song speaks to our power as individuals to make a difference when we come together with courage and determination.

This track is still used today for sporting events, political rallies, and more as a rallying call for those who wish to make their voices heard or strive towards positive change in their communities. 

8. Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) By Kelly Clarkson (2011) 

This pop anthem encourages us to stay resilient in the face of adversity and never give up on our dreams, no matter how hard life may get. Its uplifting message about rising above challenges has seen it become a popular empowering song for those looking to make a difference in their lives. 

9. Fight Song By Rachel Platten (2015) 

This anthemic pop track was written as a personal anthem of empowerment for the singer and has since become an inspiring song for those who wish to make their mark in this world. 

It is a powerful reminder that each of us holds the potential to make our dreams come true if only we have faith in ourselves. 

RELATED: 45 Powerful Songs About Not Giving Up To Give You Some Inspiration

10. We Will Rise By Forgive The Fallen 

This inspiring rock song speaks to our power to make a difference when we put aside our differences and come together as one. 

Its uplifting message about the potential for positive change has seen it become an anthem of hope for many around the world. 

11. Rise By Andra Day (2015) 

This soulful anthem was written as a rallying cry for those struggling with oppression and injustice, urging them to have courage in the face of adversity.

With its empowering message about the power each one of us has within ourselves to make a difference, this song continues to inspire people around the world who wish to fight against inequality or strive towards a brighter future. 

12.  What’s Going On? By Marvin Gaye (1971) 

This classic soul song was written as a plea for peace and understanding during the turbulent times of the Vietnam War era, questioning why we so often resort to violence or hatred when there are better ways of resolving our problems.

With its timeless message about compassion and tolerance in an increasingly divided world, this track remains relevant today as it was nearly 50 years ago when it was first released. 

13. Colors Of The Wind By Vanessa Williams (1995) 

This beautiful ballad from Disney’s Pocahontas speaks to our responsibility to protect and preserve the natural environment for future generations. It is a message about respecting all life forms and understanding that we are all connected as part of this planet.

It serves as an important reminder that each one of us has a role to play in making sure our world remains healthy and sustainable for years to come. 

14. Stand Up For Something By Andra Day Ft. Common (2017) 

This powerful duet was released as part of the soundtrack for the 2017 biopic Marshall. Its lyrics speak to our duty to stand up against injustice and inequality wherever it occurs.

It serves as an important reminder that each one of us has a voice and power to make a difference if we are willing to speak out or take action against issues that threaten our shared humanity. 

15. Happy By Pharrell Williams (2013) 

One of the most uplifting and feel-good songs ever written, this track speaks to the power of positivity in making a difference for those around us.

Its powerful message about spreading joy and happiness has become an anthem for many movements striving to create a brighter future. 

16. One Love By Bob Marley 

This timeless reggae anthem was written as a call for peace and understanding between all people, transcending divisions imposed by race or religion.

Its message of unity has been embraced worldwide and continues to be used as an anthem for those striving to make our world a better place through compassion rather than conflict. 

17. This Is Me By Keala Settle (2017) 

This inspirational anthem from The Greatest Showman celebrates the power of being yourself and embracing our differences rather than trying to fit in with a predetermined idea of what is ‘normal’.

Its message is about standing up for who we are and has served as an empowering song for many facing adversity. 

18. Shine By Take That (2006) 

This uplifting pop anthem from the British band encourages us to never give up in our pursuit of a better world, no matter how hard life may get.

Its powerful message about staying positive and striving towards a brighter future has seen it become an inspirational song for many looking to make their mark in this world through acts of kindness or service. 

RELATED: 45 Best Songs About New Beginnings To Help You With A Fresh Start

19. We Will Rock You By Queen (1977) 

This classic rock track is one of the most iconic songs ever written, with its explosive energy still used today as an anthem at sporting events around the globe.

It speaks to our collective power when we come together united towards common goals. ‘we will rock you’ reminds us that each one of us can make a difference if only we put aside our differences and fight for what’s right with courage and determination. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcQ1tX6V_x0

20. Imagine By John Lennon (1971) 

This timeless classic is one of the most iconic songs ever written, with its message about peace and understanding still as relevant today as it was nearly 50 years ago when it was first released.

Its powerful lyrics speak to our responsibility to create a better world for all, no matter how difficult things may seem. 

21. Born This Way By Lady Gaga (2011) 

‘Born this way’ is an uplifting ode to self-acceptance and embracing our differences. The empowering anthem celebrates the beauty in being true to who we are rather than conforming with what society tells us is ‘normal’. 

Its message about standing up for ourselves has seen it become an international symbol for self-love and equality, reminding us that each one of us can make a difference if only we dare to be ourselves. 

22. Heal The World By Michael Jackson (1991) 

This heartfelt ballad from the King of Pop is a powerful reminder that we all have an essential part to play in creating a better world for our children and us if only we are willing to put aside our differences and join forces for positive change.

It continues to be used today as an anthem of hope for many around the globe, inspiring people everywhere with its message about love rather than hate or violence as the answer to peace and understanding between all nations. 

23. Hero By Mariah Carey (1993) 

This inspirational ballad celebrates the power of ordinary people in doing extraordinary things, reminding us that each one of us has a role to play in making our world a better place. 

Its uplifting message about never giving up on our dreams and striving towards positive change despite obstacles has seen it become an anthem for many who wish to make their mark on this world and leave behind something lasting for future generations. 

24. A Change Is Gonna Come By Sam Cooke (1964) 

This classic soul track speaks to the power of hope and faith in making a difference. It reminds us that no matter how difficult things may seem, there is always light at the end of the tunnel if we are willing to keep striving toward our dreams. 

The song has since become an anthem for many political movements over the years. It continues to inspire people around the world who wish to fight against injustice or strive towards creating a better future for all. 

25. We Shall Overcome By Peter Seeger (1963) 

This iconic folk song was originally written as a rallying cry during the Civil Rights Movement and has since become an anthem of hope for those facing oppression or injustice.

 Its powerful message about never giving up on our dreams despite adversity continues to be embraced around the world today. 

26. I’ve Got A Feeling By The Beatles (1969) 

This classic rock anthem speaks to our collective power when we come together for the common good. Its message is about harnessing our energy towards positive change rather than hatred or violence. 

It is still used today as an inspiring song for many who wish to make their mark on this world and reminds us that each of us has a responsibility to create a brighter future through acts of kindness and understanding. 

27. Stronger Together By Hillary Clinton (2016) 

Written as part of the 2016 U.S Presidential campaign, this uplifting pop anthem celebrates our potential when we come together united towards common goals; ‘we are stronger together’

It speaks to the power of collaboration in making a difference. It reminds us that no matter how difficult things may seem, there is always hope if we are willing to join forces and fight for what’s right with courage and determination. 

RELATED: 45 Inspiring Songs To Help You Let Go And Move On

28. What A Wonderful World By Louis Armstrong (1967) 

This timeless classic speaks to our responsibility to protect our planet from destruction or pollution, reminding us that we can create a better future for all if we put aside differences and strive toward positive change with love rather than fear or hatred.

Its message about peace has seen it become an international anthem over the years, inspiring people globally. 

29. Power To The People By John Lennon (1971) 

This classic rock anthem speaks to our collective power in making a difference when we unite towards common goals. 

Its message about standing up for what is right has seen it become an inspirational song for many who wish to fight against injustice. 

30. We Are Young By Fun Ft Janelle Monae (2012) 

This uplifting pop anthem celebrates the potential of youth in striving towards positive change. Its lyrics speak of not letting anyone or anything stand in your way if you believe something is worth fighting for. 

It is an important reminder that even though life may seem complicated at times, there will always be hope. 

31. Same Love By Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Ft Mary Lambert (2012) 

This powerful hip-hop anthem speaks to the power of love in making a difference, with its lyrics celebrating our shared humanity regardless of differences imposed by race or religion.

Its uplifting message about equality and acceptance has seen it become an international symbol of tolerance over the years, inspiring people around the globe. 

32. Revolution By The Beatles (1968) 

Written during one of the most turbulent times in modern history, this classic rock track speaks to our potential when we come together united towards common goals.

Its timeless message about standing up for what’s right continues to be embraced today as an anthem. 

33. Man In The Mirror By Michael Jackson (1987) 

This heartfelt ballad from Michael Jackson is one of his most iconic songs ever written, speaking directly to our collective responsibility to ensure that each generation leaves behind something lasting and positive that can benefit future generations. 

It challenges us to look outwards at society, look within ourselves, and strive for positive change from within. 

34. Lean On Me By Bill Withers (1972) 

This classic soul anthem speaks to the power of friendship in getting through difficult times, reminding us that no matter how hard life may get, we never have to face our struggles alone if only we are willing to reach out and ask for help when needed. 

It has since become an inspirational song for many worldwide who wish to make their mark in this world through acts of kindness or service. 

35. We Are The World 25 For Haiti By Various Artists (2010) 

Written as part of fundraising efforts following the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti in 2010, this uplifting charity single was recorded by some of music’s biggest stars at the time as part of its global campaign.

It serves as an important reminder that each of us has a role to play if only we are willing to join forces with others towards common goals. 

36. This Is How We Do It By Montell Jordan (1995) 

This upbeat R&B track is a classic party anthem, celebrating the power of coming together and having fun despite our differences. 

This song serves as an important reminder that each one of us can make a difference if only we are willing to look beyond superficial things and strive towards creating understanding between all people. 

RELATED: An Attitude For Gratitude: 45 Songs You Can Use To Say Thank You

37. Let’s Get Loud By Jennifer Lopez (1999) 

Written as part of her debut album On The 6, this uplifting Pop-Latino track encourages us to never give up on our dreams no matter how hard life may get. It has since become an empowering song for many. 

38. Eye Of The Tiger By Survivor (1982)

An iconic rock anthem originally written for the Rocky III soundtrack, this track speaks directly to power, determination, and perseverance in making a mark on the world despite obstacles that stand away.

Its timeless message of resilience continues to be embraced around the world. 

39. We Will Not Go Down By Michael Heart (2009) 

Written in response to the Israeli-Gaza Conflict of 2009, this powerful folk track speaks directly to collective power action in making a difference when united towards common objectives.

Its message about standing up for what is right has seen it become an inspirational song for many who wish to make their mark on this world through acts of kindness or service. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_c744tO7Ls

40. Hands By Jewel (2009) 

This heartfelt ballad from the legendary singer-songwriter speaks to our collective power when we come together united towards common goals, with its lyrics celebrating our shared humanity and potential for positive change.

It serves as an important reminder that each one of us has a role to play in making sure the world remains healthy and sustainable in the years to come. 

41. Uprising By Muse (2009) 

This powerful rock anthem speaks to the importance of collective action in making our voices heard, reminding us that each one of us can make a difference if only we are willing to stand up for what is right. 

42. I Believe I Can Fly By R Kelly (1996) 

One of the most inspiring and empowering songs ever written, this classic ballad speaks directly to the power of believing in yourself and striving towards your dreams no matter how difficult things may seem. Its timeless message of resilience continues to be embraced around today. 

43. Hero Of War By Rise Against (2008) 

Written from the perspective of soldiers reflecting upon their experiences in war, this powerful rock track serves as a reminder that each one of us has the potential within ourselves to create a better world. We must only speak out against violence and hatred rather than resort to them. 

44. We Shall Not Be Moved By The Freedom Singers (1963) 

Originally written during the Civil Rights Movement, this classic folk song speaks to the power of collective action in making a difference when we unite towards common goals. Its message is about standing up for what is right. 

RELATED: 45 Songs About Light That Will Lift Your Spirit During Difficult Times

45. Firework By Katy Perry (2010) 

This uplifting pop anthem celebrates the beauty of being true to yourself and embracing our differences rather than conforming to what society tells us is ‘normal’.

Its powerful lyrics speak of not letting anyone or anything stand in your way if you believe something is worth fighting for. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Songs Are About Making A Difference?

Some of the most popular songs about making a difference include ‘One Day’ by Matisyahu, ‘Gimme Hope Joanna’ by Eddy Grant, ‘The Times They Are A-Changin” by Bob Dylan, ‘We Are The World’ by USA For Africa and ‘Glory’ By John Legend & Common.

What Is An Anthem Of Hope?

An anthem of hope is a song that serves as a rallying cry or source of inspiration to people facing adversity. Examples include ‘One Day’ by Matisyahu, ‘Gimme Hope Joanna’ by Eddy Grant, ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ by Bob Dylan, ‘We Will Rise’ by McFly, and ‘Rise Up’ By Andra Day. 

What Genres Are Mostly Social Change Songs?

Songs about social change span various genres, including reggae-rock, ska, folk, charity singles, pop anthem, soul ballad/balladry style, R&B, hip-hop anthems, classic rock anthems, and even Disney tracks.

Michael Stone
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