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Upbeat music has this undeniable quality of, well, upbeatedness that transcends genre. It’s the same with hype music and cinematic music — there’s something inherently present in the music that makes listeners feel a certain way.
Of course, this doesn’t happen by accident.
Composers and musicians know how to manipulate tempo, pitch, and rhythm to create music with a certain tone and feel. And they know which instruments to use in order to achieve this desired effect.
Some instruments might seem like a better fit than others when creating a specific type of music. As Willie Nelson — or, specifically, the writers Paul Buskirk and Russell Jackson — put it, “You just can’t play a sad song on a banjo.”
Whether you agree or disagree with this sentiment, odds are that a musician’s first instinct when creating upbeat music probably wouldn’t be to use, let’s say, an Apprehension Engine (i.e., the instrument of choice for many horror film composers).
However it’s produced, upbeat music can lift listeners’ spirits across different languages and genres. It’s ever-present in the film industry, corporate spaces, and our daily lives.
For this very reason, we’ve created this post to spotlight five of the most memorable upbeat tracks from the last five decades and share royalty free alternatives that you can license for any project, anytime.
The Swedish group ABBA released many classic pop, rock, and disco fused tracks until announcing their hiatus in 1982. “Dancing Queen” is one of their most popular songs to-date and is also the group’s first and only track to rank number one in the U.S.
The group workshopped this track — which was originally called “Boogaloo” — for months with the intent of creating a song that listeners would want to dance to.
(Suffice it to say, they were successful.)
First released in 1983, “I’m Still Standing” is as lyrically and sonically vibrant and upbeat as depicted in this music video.
In the 2019 film “Rocketman,” the filmmakers recreated this music video with the lead Taron Egerton matching Elton John’s original movements almost identically shot-for-shot.
A little known fact about the original production is that an extra day was added to the filming schedule because the director Russell Mulcahy fell into the ocean with the camera that hosted the first day’s footage.
Montell Jordan’s R&B electronic track “This Is How We Do It” spent a total of 29 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and assumed the number one spot just a couple months after its release.
More than a million copies of this song have been sold, and it remains one of the most upbeat tracks to come out of the 1990’s L.A. music scene.
“Feel Good Inc.” is a one-of-a-kind electronic and alternative upbeat track that was first released in 2005.
The virtual band Gorillaz was formed just a few years earlier in 1998 as a creative collaboration between Damon Albarn (who voices the band’s lead member 2D) and the comic book artist Jamie Hewlett.
Hewlett designed and animated each of the band members shown below:
To date, Gorillaz holds the Guinness World Record for the most successful virtual band.
Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” was and is one of the most upbeat songs of the early 2000’s. It was also the 2015 Grammy winner for Best Music Video and the 2014 BET Award winner for Video of the Year.
What sets this song apart from many others is that Pharrell Williams released a 24-hour music video for this track, in addition to a short form music video. This marked the first time in global music history that a 24-hour music video was created.
Today, when you watch the 24-hour video, it begins at a timestamp that matches your current time.
Upbeat music has been and will always be a part of the global music scene.
The songs we’ve spotlighted in this post are only a few of the millions of upbeat tracks that have risen to popularity in the U.S., let alone the rest of the world.
While these five songs are regarded as upbeat classics, they are by no means easy to license for films, videos, podcasts, and other projects.
For one, it can be almost impossible to get in touch with the copyright owners of a song like “This Is How We Do It” or “Happy.”
And even if you get lucky and connect with the right people, traditional licensing negotiations can drag on for months and cost your team thousands upon thousands of dollars.
Not to mention, you’ll need to secure multiple licenses and strike up an agreement on the terms of these licenses. This could mean you pay an exorbitant amount of money for licenses that only last you a couple years and limit your use of the music.
Luckily, the traditional licensing route isn’t your only option.
By using a stock media company like Soundstripe, you can find and license all the music you need without jumping through legal hoops or overextending your budget.
So when you want to license an upbeat song for a project, you can rest easy knowing that the license lasts forever — whether or not you’re still a Soundstripe member years from now.