You know that feeling when you hum and tap your feet while waiting for your morning coffee? Or when a stranger smiles as they pass you on the street and you return the gesture? Or how about when you just cannot seem to stop yourself from singing your thoughts?
Yeah, so do we.
These are all the hallmarks of a good day, and every great day deserves a playlist befitting it. We’ve put together a list of show tunes that you should unashamedly belt out when you’re feeling like you’ve got a song in your heart and a smile on your face. Go ahead and press ‘play’, because it’s going to be a marvellously musical day!
“Seize the Day” – ‘Newsies’
Let’s start the ball rolling with a song all about embracing opportunities. “Seize the Day”, the signature number from ‘Newsies’ (the musical adaptation of Disney’s 1992 film of the same name), shares a story of unbridled hope and determination.
The production dramatises the New York City newsboy strike of 1899 in a gleefully optimistic tone. It exudes a sense of solidarity and communal support that is as poignant today as it was during the turn-of-the-century event. “Seize the Day” incorporates a catchy, rhythmic melody that is sure to get people up and parading with pride. The song’s message, akin with its title, instructs listeners to embrace life fully with others – “one for all and all for one.” Carpe diem!
“I’m a Believer” – ‘Shrek the Musical’
‘Shrek the Musical’ is sure to make you feel like a real “all star”.
Destined for the stage following the monumental success of the 2001 family film of the same name, the story of the grumpy, yet lovable ogre and his friends has become somewhat of a mainstay of 21st century pop culture. While the majority of the music incorporated into ‘Shrek the Musical’ was written solely for the stage production, it seems appropriate that its finale is as universally beloved and well known as the green man himself.
“I’m a Believer”, first made popular in 1966 by The Monkees, celebrates the joyous nature of true love. Shrek and Fiona have found each other. The only way they know to express their excitement is to sing about it. Aided by Donkey and the gang, “I’m a Believer” is a fun-filled final hurrah which is sure to put a smile on Shrek fans of all ages.
“Raise You Up / Just Be” – ‘Kinky Boots’
Time to pull out your red sequined thigh-high boots and sashay the day away!
Similar to “I’m a Believer”, “Raise You Up / Just Be” serves as the roaring closing number for the Tony Award winning production, ‘Kinky Boots’. The song, much like the show itself, celebrates all things glitzy and glamorous. The partnership of Lola and Charlie Price has enabled both of them to recognise themselves for who they truly are – and unashamedly pronounce it to the world.
While “Raise You Up / Just Be” is best experienced in the theatre (the costumes and dance routines are spectacular), fans will no less revel in the song itself for its energetic vibe and positive mantra. It is the perfect song to belt when you’re feeling accomplished and fabulous – “everybody say yeah!”
“Fame” – ‘Fame’
Every positive playlist needs a dose of classic nostalgia.
A pinnacle of 1980s entertainment, ‘Fame’ is a celebration of hard work, determination, and aspirational dreams. The eponymous song has remained a steadfast favourite among theatre goers. An anthem of sorts for those striving to reach their dreams, “Fame” is the perfect motivational song for anyone wanting to achieve their best.
While the show may not live forever, we will always remember its name.
“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” – ‘Spamalot’
Although Monty Python’s song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” is quite tongue-in-cheek, it offers a lesson which is likely to resonate with many listeners.
Originally appearing in the British comedy troupe’s classic film, ‘Monty Python and the Life of Brian’, it has since found a new life in ‘Spamalot’ (based upon another of their cult films, ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’). Universally regarded as a “cheering up” song, you cannot seem to go through one chorus without whistling along to the jaunty tune.
While some may argue “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” is more suitable for when you’re having a bad day, its infectious melody will not only place a smile on your own face, but also on those around you.
“Get Down” – ‘Six’
‘Six’ has been gaining traction among theatre circles as a feel-good show celebrating independent women (who just so happened to be married to King Henry VIII). Each wife has their individual moment to shine, but arguably the most crowd-pleasing song, “Get Down”, is sung by Henry’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. Although their short-lived union ended in divorce, Anne is anything but upset. In fact, she is downright loving her life in her palace (“in Richmond!”)
“Get Down” is a cheeky dedication for anyone who has been cast aside by another for a reason beyond their control (a la not looking like your “profile picture”). With a playground taunting rhythm and some truly masterful rhyming, “Get Down” is sure to get you grooving to your own badassery. “Okay ladies, let’s get in reformation.”
“Friend Like Me” – ‘Aladdin’
How many of you still wish you had a friend like the Genie?
Regarded as a fan-favourite, “Friend Like Me” is a hallmark of Disney’s discography. Originally sung by the eternally charismatic Robin Williams in the 1993 film ‘Aladdin’, “Friend Like Me” has found new life on Broadway thanks to the impeccable charm of James Monroe Iglehart. Iglehart makes the song his own through his talent for scatting and transitioning between genres. By the final note, audiences find themselves truly wishing they had a friend like the Genie – if only for the entertainment value.
Children who grew up with the song may enjoy it for the nostalgic value, but they’ll remember it for its positive vibe. Just try listening to it without cracking a smile. I dare you.
“America” – ‘West Side Story’
Sometimes a song can make you happy simply by how it sounds. Case in point, “America” from ‘West Side Story’. Its infectious beat and rhythm is enough to get you up and dancing.
A group of Puerto Rican women led by Anita, as well as members of the gang, the Sharks, sing about their contrasting views of their new home. Anita wholeheartedly embraces Manhattan’s booming skyscrapers and industry, while the Sharks counter with qualms about racism and organised crime.
Delving into such serious topics within a song’s lyrics can be challenging, yet “America” succeeds through its upbeat, catchy orchestration. Much like Anita, you’ll find yourself singing your praises for “la, la, la America”.
“Screech In” – ‘Come From Away’
Even in the toughest of circumstances, it’s important to let yourself take a break and have fun. That is the message of “Screech In” from ‘Come From Away’.
After several days of being grounded in Newfoundland, Canada, after the September 11 terrorist attacks, travellers and Gander locals alike go to a local pub for a night of frivolity. With shots of screech (rum) in hand and an inconspicuous cod waiting in the wings, the revellers celebrate their unity. A community forms, slightly inebriated but with high spirits. Friendships are solidified, romance begins to blossom… and fish are kissed. A typical night out, really.
“Screech In” is the perfect song to belt when you’re getting ready for a night out. At its core it’s about having fun with friends, old and new. And the cod.
“Journey to the Past” – ‘Anastasia’
Every day can offer you a chance to learn something new that you will be able to reflect upon later. Reminiscing upon these life lessons is the theme throughout “Journey to the Past”, the closing number of Act I of ‘Anastasia’.
Based on the 1997 animated film of the same name, Anya ventures off to rediscover herself due to her being a sufferer of amnesia. Similarly, her wish to find family propels her resilient search.
Considerably slower than some of the other songs on this list, “Journey to the Past” is no less deserving of its spot. With its message about hope and aspirations, this is the perfect ballad to sing when you find yourself daydreaming about your future – or your past.
“Singin’ in the Rain” – ‘Singin’ in the Rain’
A classic by every measure of the word, “Singin’ in the Rain” remains a quintessential anthem for happiness.
Made famous by Gene Kelly in the eponymous 1952 musical film, the titular ode references finding joy in even the most depressive of circumstances. In the case of Don Lockwood, he has fallen in love with the talented Kathy Selden, whose golden voice is providing her with newfound success. The song, always staged with Lockwood literally singing in the rain, epitomises how finding a connection with another person can bring light to even the darkest of days.
“Singin’ in the Rain” is a larger than life song that demands to be belted. Regardless of the weather, let your joy shine through with this one. You won’t regret it.
“And You Don’t Even Know It” – ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’
Since premiering at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 2017, ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ has left audiences cheering with its endearing message of self- and peer-acceptance.
The show’s opening number, “And You Don’t Even Know It”, introduces the audience to protagonist Jamie New, an openly gay high school student who dreams of becoming a drag queen. Accompanied by his Year 11 Careers class (and teacher Miss Hedge), Jamie professes his love for performing unashamedly. Jamie senses there is more to himself than he has yet to discover, but is extremely eager to find out about.
While ensemble opening pieces aren’t uncommon, “And You Don’t Even Know It” expertly incorporates the company into Jamie’s world in a refreshingly modern performance. It will leave you toe-tapping and shimmy-shaking long after the final note – and yes, you’ll know it.
“Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” – ‘Hamilton’
‘Hamilton’ is a musical cornucopia of emotions – joy, sadness, jealousy, anger, fear, loneliness. For every emotion, there is almost certainly an appropriate song to serenade it. One of its happiest, “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)”, could easily be labelled by multiple emotions.
Nevertheless, it is its celebration of friendship and individual accomplishments that have landed it a place on this list. With a myriad of memorable moments (including a dynamic rap verse, courtesy of Hercules Mulligan), “Yorktown” is a song that demands recognition. Much like the immigrants within ‘Hamilton’, “Yorktown” will surely get the job (i.e. making you smile) done.
“Sincerely, Me” – ‘Dear Evan Hansen’
Over the past few years, ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ has gained somewhat of a reputation as a modern classic. Its tale of a young boy trying to connect to a family who’ve lost their own son to suicide does not shy away from the darkness of the source material. However, moments of levity are interspersed throughout, with “Sincerely, Me” being a real highlight.
Evan, trying to bring comfort to the grieving Murphy family, fabricates a series of emails between himself and the recently deceased Connor. With the aid of his family friend, Jared, he tries to imagine what he and Connor may have said to each other if they had in fact been friends – to some hilariously cringey extents. An imaginary Connor chimes in throughout to add another layer of sardonic wit to the rouse.
The fun of “Sincerely, Me” comes from its ability to not take itself too seriously. It therefore is an excellent song to sing when you’re in a playful mood and just want to laugh. Sincerely.
“One Day More” – ‘Les Miserables’
What better way to round out a list of happy belters than the goliath that is “One Day More”? The ‘Les Miserables’ Act I closer is often regarded as the pinnacle (company) song of the musical. With each main character getting their chance to shine, the melody builds to a crescendo of triumph. Its promise of a new day will leave you with shivers and resonates even as the second act is in full force.
The best way to appreciate this extraordinary number is with the volume at full capacity. You cannot help but feel moved by its performance, a legacy that will likely remain longer than simply ‘one more dawn, one more day, one day more.’
Which musical number do you belt out when you’re having a good day? Share all your recommendations and many smiles in the comments section below.
Alternatively, listen to our Show Tunes to Belt on a Good Day Playlist below on Spotify!