Songs for Motivating Teens

Teenagers have their own tastes, so the music that will motivate specific teens will vary. However, some songs speak to particular problems that teens face and to their feelings. Many have appeal across age groups, and motivational themes can be found in every genre from traditional folk music to modern pop.


Every generation has its own challenges, and its own music. Today's young women celebrate an era of coming into their own with songs such as "Who Says" by Selena Gomez and The Scene, or "Who's Laughing Now" by Jessie J 12. "Remember the Name," by Fort Minor, targets young men, reminding that success is "10 percent luck ... 50 percent pain," but hard work and genius go together 3. Modern technology also brings to you Indie productions such as "Bubble Clouds" by Sugardrum, that asks the listener to "find out which cloud you are." 4

Show Tunes

Broadway has brought many inspirational songs into our lives. If your teen participates in band, choir or drama at school, many of these might be familiar classroom favorites. "Favorite Things," sung by Julie Andrews in the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, reminds listeners that even though life isn't perfect, you can focus on special little things to make it better. Don Quixote's theme song from "Man of La Mancha," "To Dream the Impossible Dream," sung by Peter O'Toole, delivers as timely a message today as it did when the TV show was broadcast in 1959. Nor should anyone forget Alicia Morton in the 1999 production of "Annie," reminding everyone that "the sun will come up tomorrow."

International Music

Some of the most moving music has come from people struggling for a better life. "Sarafina" is a musical about black students protesting apartheid. The live performance starred Whoopi Goldberg and Leleti Khumalo. "Lagaan," deemed the most expensive musical to be filmed in Bollywood, is an epic tale of a village that forges a way out of oppression through a game of cricket. "Lagaan" has it all: music, dancing, sportsmanship and the uplifting message that hard work, love and faith can solve almost anything.

Miscellaneous Inspiration

"What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson takes on a whole new meaning when it is used as a background for dance moves by kids and teens in Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Hematology Oncology floor 10. From the Midwest comes lyrics and music from a grass-roots composer, Leslie Fish. "Hope Eyrie," sung in a glorious alto voice by Julia Ecklar, is both a paean of celebration for the moon landing and a message of hope for the entire world.