Part of being young means that we look to the future, full of hope and dreams for whoever we end up choosing to be. The following songs, both new and old, all capture that spirit in equal measure.
1. ‘Queen’ by Perfume Genius
This powerful gay anthem from the indie pop genius provides a powerful antidote to the insults that can often be hurled at gay people, with the ultimate word to symbolize a retaliation of self-assurance and confidence: ‘Queen’.
2. ‘Hope’ by Arlo Parks
Less about achieving a surface-level goal, and more about achieving mental wellness and clarity, this banger by Arlo Parks is a powerful ode to the support we can offer our friends in their time of need, showing them that as long as we’re by their side, you can still dream of a brighter future.
3. ‘Finally Free’ by Joshua Bassett
Taken from the HSMTMTS soundtrack, this beautiful tune is all about how, when we choose to let go of our past pain, branch outside of the place we call home, and open our minds to new places and possibilities, we can finally free ourselves from all that regret, fear, and all those past wrongs.
4. ‘Grow’ by Josie Man
When we’re feeling uncertain about ourselves, what our futures look like, or whether we can weather the dark times that befall us, it’s nice to have something to boost our spirits, and this fun, peppy song from up-and-comer Josie Man is perfect for that.
5. ‘Scared of Everything’ by Zeph
In this emotional, intimate single from Zeph, she sings about her greatest fear, which may actually be herself. It’s not explicit about why she’s afraid, but one can easily tie it into being LGBTQ, and being afraid of your identity because you’re scared of all the possibilities of how you’ll be perceived. But with a song like this, you can definitely be assured that you’re not alone.
6. ‘Further On’ by Bronze Radio Return
This is a much brighter and more optimistic song about chasing dreams, and how when you’ve got that fire within you, that unquenchable passion, you’re always going to be moving and further on towards achieving it.
7. ‘Revelation’ by Troye Sivan
Originally written for the soundtrack to the powerful biopic Boy Erased (2018), this is a great tune about when you’re feeling doubtful of your identity as a gay person, and you meet someone special of the same gender. Someone who shows you that there’s a life of happiness and freedom that can exist beyond all the shame. And that’s the most transformative, revelatory experience you can have.
8. ‘Mean’ by Taylor Swift
If you’ve ever been bullied, this modern classic by Taylor Swift should be able to make you feel better. With the Grammy-winner pondering about why her bullies have to be so cruel, but with a more upbeat sound, it’s a song that also vaguely suggests that her bullies aren’t going to ger her down at the same time. A strong message, indeed.
9. ‘Kill em With Kindness’ by Selena Gomez
An even more positive song about standing strong when you’re being targeted by bullies, this hit from singer/actor Selena Gomez correctly suggests that the best way to defeat a bully, is to remain humble and kind no matter what. If they can’t break you down, they know they’ve already lost.
10. ‘Born This Way’ by Lady Gaga
Chances are you’ve heard this one before, but it’s nevertheless worth mentioning here. If anyone ever tries to tell you you ‘chose’ to be gay, or bi, or transgender, just play them Lady Gaga’s masterpiece as the ultimate answer of just, ‘nope.’
11. ‘I’ve Got a Dream’ by the cast of Tangled (2010)
One of the very best songs from an already-perfect animated musical, this one is about how not everyone is who they appear to be, and it reminds us that there’s always a more complex human under the surface, with unique hopes and dreams of their own.
12.’Now or Never’ by Kendrick Lamar
There are a lot of impactful songs about achieving your dreams, but this one stands out by speaking about the importance of not letting your detractors bring you down as you venture out in pursuit of your goals.
13. ‘Part of Your World’ by Jodi Benson
One of Disney’s most beloved songs, this iconic classic has become an anthem for so many people. From the autism community, to the LGBTQ community, it speaks so many volumes about feeling like you don’t belong, but just want to be a part of the larger world.
14. ‘Try Everything’ by Shakira
If you’ve got a goal you’re passionate about, don’t ever give up. That’s the sort of message this original song from Zootopia (2016) delivers, and it’s a brilliant reminder that you’ve got to do everything in your power if you’re going to make your dreams reality.
15. ‘Believer’ by Imagine Dragons
Touching on a unique form of dreaming, this favorite from Imagine Dragons urges you that you can find meaning in your pain, and use it to move on and stay positive.
16. ‘Dream Song’ by Lala Lala
Something more somber, this one is all about dreaming for a reality better than the one you currently have, in which you mourn a broken-up relationship. You wonder why you both didn’t have a dream about the bond growing stronger, and Lala Lala captures that spirit beautifully in her instrumentals and lyrics.
17. ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music’ by Cass Elliott
An oldie but a goodie, this empowering sixties single, more recently and memorably featured in season two of Netflix’s Sex Education, is about just being yourself, whether other people like it or not. It’s pretty boring to stick to the norms to fit in, and Elliott’s strong-willed vocals stress how much better it is to be an individual.
18. ‘A Real Hero’ by College, ft. Electric Youth
This romantic wonderment tells the tale of a hero idealized in the artists’ head, versus the actual hero he proves to be in reality. It lets us know that our role models may be great, but aren’t the flawless mirages we’ve conjured for ourselves.
19. ‘Drive It Like You Stole It’ by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo
From the amazingly feel-good musical drama Sing Street (2016), this is great for inspiring you to take control of your life and make it the best it can be, no matter where you come from.
20. ‘One Foot’ by Walk the Moon’