20 Cheery Songs for a Summer Playlist

There's nothing like a bright, melodic, happy song to lift your spirits and make you feel better about everything. Most of my Spotify playlists are full of cheery, upbeat tracks. Of course, there are millions of brilliant sad songs out there too - everything from Nothing Compares 2U to Ain't No Sunshine - but I find that they make me feel melancholy.

So here are 20 of my favourite cheery songs, in no particular order. Don't listen to them if you want to feel miserable. Listen to Morrissey, The The or post-1985 Depeche Mode instead.

1. Best Day of My Life - American Authors

The clue is in the title. I absolutely defy you to feel anything but blissfully happy when you listen to this, even if you've just been cut up in traffic. The lyrics - "All the possibilities, no limits, just epiphanies" - coupled with the jaunty guitar and driving beat are just glorious.

2. Beautiful Day - Joshua Radin

A mellow, chilled-out acoustic guitar track with lovely lyrics, this is perfect for lying on the grass looking up at a canopy of trees. "Let's not forget we're alive," he sings - aptly, as the wonder of life is something we all do forget.

3. Friday I'm In Love - The Cure

This is one of my favourite songs, because Friday is the day I get my seven-year-old daughter back each week, and it encapsulates the sheer happiness I feel at the prospect of having her in my arms again. But if you're not a weekend parent, you could equally apply the lyrics to the weekend.

4. Classic - MKTO

The perfect song to listen to in a sports car in summer with the top down, wearing sunnies as the wind blows your hair about. I don't actually own a sports car (or any car, come to that) but the track's funk guitar makes me feel cheery even when I'm listening to it squashed in on a crowded Tube train.

5. Tiny Little Bows - Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae does a great line in upbeat pop songs (see also: Cut to the Feeling and Call Me Maybe). I've chosen this one because my daughter likes to dance to it, flinging her arms around unselfconsciously to its catchy melody.

6. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go - Wham!

"You put the boom-boom into my heart/You send my soul sky-high when your loving starts," sings George in his beautiful voice. If you could bottle sunshine and breathe it in, that's what listening to this song is like.

7. Time to Be Awesome - Captain Celaeno (Zoe Saldana)

Full disclosure: this is a track from the My Little Pony movie soundtrack. It's also one of the most life-affirming and philosophical songs about breaking free of the doubts, fears and general psychological shackles that our minds can create for us.

8. Rainbow - Sia

This has a sweet and soaring melodic chorus and a reggaeton beat that's perfect for summer. OK, I confess that this is also the theme song from the My Little Pony movie, but THAT DOESN'T MEAN IT'S BAD, DOES IT?! No. No it doesn't.

9. Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars

If your foot doesn't tap to this, it's probably been anaesthetised. As well as being a great dance track, this is also the ideal tempo for taking one of those brisk 30-minute walks doctors are so fond of recommending.

10. Walking on Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves

Featuring a driving beat, an infectiously catchy horn section riff and an organ, plus the cheeriest lyrics about being in love, this song actually feels like being infatuated. It would be perfect, except that people don't really 'go for the mailbox' any more. It's more like 'go for the inbox'.

11. Sense - The Lightning Seeds

The Lightning Seeds are one of the most underrated British bands, and this is my favourite song of theirs. "I'm flying high on something beautiful and aimless/It's got a name, but I prefer to call it nameless." Glorious.

12. Lullaby - Melanie B

One of the sweetest songs I've ever heard, Lullaby was written by Mel B for her baby daughter. Tinkly synths, acoustic guitar and layered vocal harmonies work brilliantly with the lyrics, which are just so full of love.

13. Replay - Iyaz

Featuring one of the best chord progressions for a pop song, this melody has - as the lyric says - been replaying in my head (and on my iPhone) since it was released. That makes it possibly the most appropriately-named pop song ever.

14. Hummingbird - Cheryl

This is one of the prettiest tracks on this playlist (and possibly the history of music, too), featuring piano, strings, hip-hop beats and a twinkly xylophone backing. I'm not in love right now, but it almost makes me want to fall in love.

15. Can't Stop the Feeling - Justin Timberlake

The theme song from the movie Trolls, it's a 70s disco floor-stomper with finger snaps, a funky bassline and the highest falsetto ever from Justin. If it doesn't get you running to the dancefloor, you're probably dead.

16. Happy - Pharrell Williams

Well, it had to feature - not just because of its title, but also because it's on the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, which is such a great film. No spoilers, but if you know the scene featuring this song, it'll bring a smile to your face.

17. Don't Stop - Madonna

An upbeat, laid back groove about dancing (or sex - this is Madonna, after all), it's all about disco guitar, a hip-hop beat and layers of synths. One of my favourite Madonna tracks, and there are plenty to choose from.

18. Last Chance on the Stairway

A sweet, summery album track from my favourite band in the world, off Rio, their second album. It reminds me of falling in love with my daughter's father on a sunny day a decade or so ago, so it's very special to me.

19. A Good Heart - Feargal Sharkey

Even though the lyrics are fearful, this is still a song that makes me feel happy, because of its huge melody and its major chords. Plus he's still hopeful of finding love, even if he's worried about being alone.

20. Heaven Is a Place on Earth - Belinda Carlisle

This playlist has suddenly gone very 80s, which can only be a very good thing. As well as this being a lovely nostalgic track with gorgeous lyrics, it's also the theme from the brilliant Black Mirror episode San Junipero.

If you want to listen to all the songs on this list, I've put a playlist together especially for you here.


  1. “Hitler Moustache” by some female singer always puts a spring goose in my step.

    1. Ha ha! That is a VERY naughty song. (I tried to sneak it into the office playlist the other day, then chickened out!)

  2. Replies
    1. I'm not sure alarms and surprises make people happy. Unless they're good surprises!

  3. Maybe my favourite summer song (the whole Dr No soundtrack in fact): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mj7rZRKrJ-c

    1. It is also deliciously ironic, given that Honey Ryder sings it later on in the film.

  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCg2BoKiuOM had to be here too, I feel.


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