Music has the power to boost your mood - 10 songs guaranteed to make you smile

Trust us on this one.

Music to boost your mood: DJ Jessica Skye
(Image credit: Jessica Skye)

While everyone's music taste will differ, if you're anything like me, whacking on a bit of Katy Perry or Haim is the perfect music to boost your mood. 

Playing a catchy, feel-good song is one of the best ways to put a smile on someone's face - many songs are designed with exactly that in mind, after all.

For many, music can be a form of self-care and a way to hold a space for themselves. How so? Well, according to Doctor Yewande Pearse, an LA-based neuroscience expert and science communicator who works at the intersection of science and culture, because research has proven that music evokes emotion. Case in point: "Brain imaging studies have helped to quantify the biological processes that make music enjoyable. Some of these studies suggest that there's an interaction between the sensory, cognitive and emotional systems," she explains.

In short, the parts of the brain that process rewards and memories also process music - hence why it can make us feel nostalgic and excited.

One 2014 brain imaging study suggested that dopaminergic pathways involved in reward play a role in reinforcing these predictions and work together with regions in the brain involved in cognition, auditory perception and emotion to give rise to pleasure.

Pearse explains: “On a simplistic level, listening to music involves tracking different sounds over time. Because the human brain is really good at pattern recognition, predictions about the timing of sound events are constantly generated, creating a sense of anticipation."

That's why we've asked Jessica Skye - a DJ and celebrated yoga teacher who's just released her debut album, Fluō State 001 and uses music in her flows - to share her go-to mood boosting songs. "My love for music spans as far back as I can remember," she explains. "My earliest memories are dancing around my lounge to a tune called Break for Love by Raze on a live music show called Top of the Pops. In my teens, I'd record tunes like Teardrop by Massive Attack onto cassette tapes to play in my car, even burning CDs for friends as gifts with tunes like Breathe by Télépopmusik and Aerodynamic by Daft Punk."

"When I look back, they were all songs that stoked a feeling, whether it was emotive keys pulling at my heartstrings or sick beats that just made me want to dance," she continues.

Below, she's shared her ten favourite songs, whether you need a tune to get ready to in the morning or a song to blast during your workout. Music to boost your mood? Sorted.

Music to boost your mood: 10 songs to stream now

Keep scrolling for Skye's go-to tracks for unwinding and boosting her mood.

Do note: she's arranged these tunes the same way she would carry a yoga flow, so they work to listen to all in one go, too. 

1. AlphaBeta II - Jessica Skye

Best for: The soothing wave-like soundscape of this song, AlphaBeta, is perfect for meditation practice and the beginning opening of your yoga flow. 

One of the first songs Skye produced for her album, she shares that she envisioned teaching yoga to a room full of people during the creation process. "I imagined how I wanted them to feel and considered how I could create that mood with the music, as well as carry the energy of the room tune by tune, creating an arc of energy."

2. Satisfied (Ambient Reprise) - Catching Flies

Best for: "This downtempo melodic piece with emotive strings brings all the feels. I'd use to set the room with a mellow mood," shares Skye.

3. Turiya - Jessica Skye

Best for: Turiya is an uplifting happy tune, with downtempo breakbeats, ethereal pads and a cute funk guitar moment, shares the DJ. "Use in a yoga flow, as a warm up track, or to watch the sunset to."

4. Friday Fishfry (Maribou State & Pedestrian Remix) - Kelis

Best for: This track brings all the mood with melodic keys, rising vocals and a downtempo groove, shares the DJ - perfect for when you want to dim the lights, kick back and relax.

5. Mozambique - Elfenberg

Best for: A mellow house groove, perfect to start your evening before hitting the dancefloor.

6. Breathe (Kartell Slow Remix) - Télépopmusik

Best for: Skye shares that this is one of her favourite tracks of all time. "This is a beautiful remix - let it help you to relax as the sounds wash over you," she shares.

7. Useless (Kruder & Dorfmeister Session) - Depeche Mode, Alan Moulder

Best for: Straddling soft rock and trip-hop, the DJ first heard this in a bar on a gorgeous beach called Cala Nova in Ibiza. Let it transport you to sunnier shores.

8. Heaven - The Rolling Stones

Best for: Skye reckons this is the perfect tune for relaxed, calm moments. "Let the ethereal vocals gliding over psychedelic strings soothe you," she recommends.

9. Special - Andrew Ashong

Best for: An antidote to a busy day, featuring lo-fi percussion and soothing layers of vocals.

10. Memory Gospel - Moby

Best for: Last but by no means least, Moby is one of Skye's go-to artists of all time. "This track builds with gentle percussion, calming pads and rising strings, ultimately bringing down your energy at the end of a yoga flow or a long day."

What music lifts you up?

That'll totally depend on your personality and lived experience - but trust us that research has proven that music can indeed lift you up. 

"As someone who professionally leads movement in the form of yoga, I'll will always be an advocate for the feel-good response to music paired with physical activity," shares DJ and yogi Jessica Skye. "Not only does it help your body release feel-good endorphins and dopamine, but music is also an awesome tool to hold the space for acts of self-care."

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.