It is debatable whether or not powerful, galvanizing song lyrics can spark a social movement or spread more positive qualities in the world. However, it is possible for an uplifting song to alter our mindset on our lives, people, and the world in which we live in a positive way. Here is a list of lyrically powerful, timeless songs that can leave such a mark on our minds and possibly help lead us to go M.A.D (make a difference):
- Marvin Gaye, “Inner City Blues”—as the title suggests, Gaye speaks passionately about what’s going on in the inner-city lives of the working-class black resident. This is a timeless account of paying taxes, police brutality, increased cost of living, and struggling to make a living. This is an inspirational record because it is eye-opening to anyone who is blind to this style of living. Because of the realistic, almost-first-person account of this song, it can awaken sympathy and empathy of listeners if they really pay attention and put an end to racial injustice.
- Alicia Keys, “Holy War”—this song is all about division by skin color, sexuality, and religious beliefs. We feel as though we are against one another because of our differences and as a result, we only look out for ourselves. In “Holy War,” Alicia encourages us to love one another so we can break down the walls we inadvertently put up around ourselves, so we can “heal each other and feel each other” just as the lyrics go. Essentially, “Holy War” speaks about how love is the only thing stronger than hate which leads to war…but love starts a holy war.
- Michael Jackson, “Man in the Mirror”—ah, the good ol’ classic! Michael Jackson never failed to make galvanizing music to help shape the world and reinforce the message that we need to bleed more love into it. “Man in the Mirror” teaches us that in order for us to change the world and make it a better place, we must examine ourselves first and see what we need to improve. We need to humble down and be willing to give to those who are without.
- Andra Day, “Stand Up for Something”— “Stand for respect, dignity, if that’s all you got, then that’s all you need.” These lyrics reflect the soul of the whole song. We can have all the silver and gold in the world but if we don’t have a stand in anything, what is the point? We can do our best work, but if we keep receiving and never give back, what is the point? This song talks about having a cause; living out our purpose in life and we must live our lives worthy of what we stand for and what we believe in.
- Mariah Carey, “There’s Got to be a Way”—essentially this song preaches on unity and how it can improve human rights. Mariah mentions issues such as homelessness, bigotry, world hunger, and the like. The song also convicts onlookers who seem not to notice or care about all the horrible injustices in the world. Though this song was released in the early ‘90s, it still remains relevant today. Working together in unison is powerful because all differences are put aside, and we see people of all walks of life, races, and beliefs working together for a mutual purpose.
- Michael Jackson, “Earth Song”—in this song, Michael speaks about global warming and the carelessness of human nature. This record talks about how human activity has negatively impacted the health of the earth for the past centuries. The “Earth Song” encourages us to take better care of our planet as our only home and to be more cognizant of the fact that other humans and creatures are living in places that are being affected by adverse environmental impacts, like polluting waters and deforestation to name a couple.
If you need a playlist on going “M.A.D,” you can easily start with these songs. Timeless, relevant, soulful, and passionate, we can’t always listen for the melody, but we must not neglect the message.