43 Best Songs About Not Giving Up

Best Songs About Not Giving Up

Music can be inspirational, even without words. You only need to attend one sporting event to hear that in action. But when you write a song pairing the power of music with the right lyrics, you can make something special.

These songs about not giving up can help you over the hump and through a hard time.


“Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel

Song year: 1986

Peter Gabriel had some big hits, but none more inspiring than this song, which he recorded with Kate Bush for his smash 1986 album “So.”

He implores the listener to keep going because there are people on your side, no matter how bad things get.

The song’s gospel-infused tag helps with the inspirational part.

“Survivor” by Destiny’s Child

Song year: 2001

We can all agree that if Beyonce isn’t the queen of the world, she’s at least global royalty.

She and the other two Destiny’s Children gave us a song about making it no matter what.

They sing about how giving up is not an option.

Being a survivor means exactly that— keeping on going.

“I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz

Song year: 2012

If Mraz won’t give up wearing that hat of his, you can keep going through your travails.

Past that, he sings about stars— even those that crash into the earth burned bright until the very end.

A star in the lonely emptiness of space that still shines its light is an excellent metaphor for our own tough and lonely times.

“Let It Be” by The Beatles

Song year: 1970

“Let It Be” doesn’t so much as encourage you not to give up as admit that times can be difficult. Acceptance of these things is the key to making it through.

The song encourages a Zen-like approach: if you can accept the difficult times, you’re halfway through them.

The fact that John hated the song but still played on it might be a testament to the message’s potency.

“Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson

Song year: 2012

An ode to hard times, Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” stands as perhaps the catchiest adaptation of the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche.

The idea is that if you can live through whatever it is, you’ll come out on the other side stronger and better.

If the cutest Texan alive (Clarkson, not Nietzsche) says you’ll be fine if you don’t give up, then make it.

“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

Song year: 1978

No matter the hard times, I’ll get through it. Sometimes, when you’re having a difficult time, hearing someone else sing about her determination is all the inspiration you need to keep going.

Gaynor admits mistakes— yes, she should have changed those locks— but moves on, determined to get through the tribulations and rise up stronger.

“Never Give Up” by Sia

Song year: 2016

Sia implores those around her to believe her— she will never stop trying to get back home.

Hard times abound, but no one can get her far enough down to give up. She’ll always pick herself off the ground and keep moving forward. We could all use that message from time to time.

“Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac

Song year: 1977

To fully appreciate the message, recall the Fleetwood Mac drama: the McVies were splitting up and singing each other’s songs about it, and so were Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

The lesson: no matter how bad things get, keep your eyes on the future. Today might be awful, but tomorrow can only improve.

“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

Song year: 1982

The quintessential pump-up song, “Eye of the Tiger” served as the theme song for “Rocky III,” and if any fictional character knows about not giving up, it’s Rocky Balboa.

He didn’t quit, despite a loss. Getting the eye of the tiger back meant soldiering through, not giving up, and reclaiming what was rightfully his— the title.

“I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty

Song year: 1989

An arsonist burned Petty’s home, but he rebuilt. During that rebuilding time, reconnected with ELO’s Jeff Lynne, which led to the formation of The Traveling Wilburys.

In the wake of tragedy, Petty didn’t give up. Instead, he entered what was arguably the most fertile creative period of his storied career.

So maybe you’ll be okay, too.

“Carry On” by fun.

Song year: 2012

“Carry On” has a simple message: if you’re alone, if you’re lost, if you’re unsure, if you’re miserable, if you’re overwhelmed by the specter of mortality, just keep going. The alternative is quitting, which is no real choice at all.

“The Climb” by Miley Cyrus

Song year: 2009

There will always be uphill moments, Miley sings. Giving up isn’t an option, though, because, as cliche as it may be, the journey is the destination.

Getting up the next mountain, and there will always be a next mountain, is what matters, so keep climbing.

“Rise Up” by Andra Day

Song year: 2015

Even if you’ve never heard of Andra Day and don’t recognize the title, you’ve heard this song and been inspired by it. It was everywhere in 2015, and its lyrics inspire even without the soul-stirring music.

The core message: no matter how many times I take a shot from the world, I’ll keep moving forward and getting back up again.

“The Show Must Go On” by Queen

Song year: 1991

Freddie Mercury wrote “The Show Must Go On” while dying of complications from AIDS.

The title phrase comes from theater: tickets have been sold, audiences are in their seats, so you must take the stage. No matter what.

Sick? Tough. Sad? Sorry. You’re part of something bigger than you, and you have to get it together. If Freddie could do it, you can, too.

“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey

Song year: 1981

Small-town characters face hard times throughout the lyrics, but as long as they keep believing in themselves and their dreams, they’ve still got a shot.

The driving piano riff at the beginning of the song is so recognizable, you almost don’t need to hear any of the rest of the piece to get the uplift it provides pretty much everyone.

“Firework” by Katy Perry

Song year: 2010

Katy Perry sings empowerment songs, and “Firework” is one of the pillars of that niche. About remembering who and what you are, “Firework” urges a refusal to accept closed doors.

Would Katy Perry have gotten to ride that giant robot lion in the Super Bowl if she’d let closed doors slow her down?

“When You Believe” by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston

Song year: 1998

From the soundtrack to “The Prince of Egypt,” “When You Believe” paired two great divas for a terrific song of inspiration. The gist is that as long as you believe things will be fine, you’ll make it.

The movie was about the story of Moses, who didn’t give up even after 40 years in the desert. You can keep on going, too.

“Titanium” by David Guetta ft. Sia

Song year: 2011

Using the famous strength of the elemental metal, Sia (Guetta is the DJ providing the music behind her) shouts to the world that no matter what the world hurls at us, we are bulletproof.

And a bulletproof person doesn’t give up easily, if at all.

“We Are the Champions” by Queen

Song year: 1977

I’ve made some mistakes, the lyrics say. I have been challenged at every step.

The difference between success and failure is the refusal to accept defeat. Since Freddie Mercury knew hard times, it’s no surprise that he wrote about overcoming them.

Refuse to give up, and you can only win. There’s not any other option.

“I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash

Song year: 1972

Many people have theorized that this upbeat, sweet little ditty is about suicide, but it’s not.

Nash sings about how there were clouds and rain, but now that’s over.

How do you get to that point if you give up before you get there? You don’t. Nash’s anthem to perseverance still turns heads, ears, and hearts today, 50 years after its first release.

“You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up)” by Josh Groban

“You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up)” by Josh Groban

Song year: 2006

Another song whose title alone lands it on this list, Josh Groban’s commanding anthem is an additional entry into the group of songs in which we are reminded that the people around us offer support.

The guidance and love from those around us give us the strength we need to keep going, never giving up.

“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles

Song year: 1969

Disillusioned with the music business, George Harrison wrote “Here Comes the Sun” at Eric Clapton’s house and credited the experience with him getting his groove back.

He sings about how the winter was long (aren’t all England winters interminable?), but now it’s over. And the sun is back.

Not giving up means sticking it out through the long winter and boredom. When that’s all done, life is beautiful again, and you get to record with The Beatles.

Well, maybe not all of us get to do that last part.

“I’m Still Standing” by Elton John

Song year: 1983

Sir Elton John sings this anthem to getting through hard times with the hard-won experience of having done it himself.

He asks the unnamed person to whom the song is addressed: “Did you think you actually hurt me?” His response is just short of, “Girl, bye.”

I’m still here, he says. You thought I’d never get past this, but I did. Now fetch me my outrageous sunglasses and Donald Duck costume.

“Get Up, Stand Up” by Bob Marley

Song year: 1973

“Get Up, Stand Up” is a call to arms and an assertion that everyone deserves peace and happiness. Marley was unhappy with the idea that so much religion posits: you’ll get your reward in heaven.

To do so is to give up because you have to die to get your heavenly reward. That’s the ultimate giving up. Rather than do that, Marley exhorts us all to get up and stand up.

“Hold On” by Wilson Phillips

Song year: 1990

Wilson Phillips member Chynna Phillips wrote “Hold On” while dealing with her addiciton issues.

If you can hold on, even if it’s only for one day, you can keep going. Even if you aren’t overcoming addiction, the message resonates: if you’re thinking of giving up, wait. When the sun comes up, you’ve made it another day.

“Fighter” by Christina Aguilera

Song year: 2003

While someone has wronged Christina in this song, and she should probably be justified in hating them, that’s not the case.

Instead, in this in-your-face song, Christina decides she’s grateful for the cad to whom she’s singing. She wouldn’t be smarter, wiser, and stronger if not for his shenanigans. Had she given up, she’d not have risen like the phoenix.

“I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flatts

Song year: 2011

A song about the people around you who support you, “I Won’t Let Go” tells us that when we’re down and thinking of giving up, we have people who love us.

Their support is there if we want it, and sometimes that’s what we need to make it through hard times.

“Roar” by Katy Perry

Song year: 2013

Fresh off a divorce, Katy Perry was having a tough time when she wrote this song.

Cowriter Bonnie McKee said the song contains elements of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.”

The message is clear— I’ve been down and had a hard time, but now I’m past that, so look out.

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas Chisholm

Song year: 1923

No matter what the stars do over the millennia, no matter what season it is, no matter what bad things may befall us, Thomas Chisolm writes, God’s faithfulness is always there.

Knock us for a sacred text if you must, but the message is unmistakable: when a higher power remains faithful to us, why consider throwing in the towel?

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

Song year: 2015

The narrator of this Rachel Platten anthem probably has never heard the phrase “give up.” That’s how determined she is not to let things get her down or get in her way.

She sings about loss and defeats, but the lyrics paint a picture of someone who, despite all that, will carry on no matter what.

“Only for Now” from Avenue Q

Song year: 2004

From a hit Broadway musical, “Only for Now” makes a case for not giving up, even if it’s not the rosiest of outlooks.

A cast of people and puppets comes together near the show’s end to sing about how everything is temporary except death. So until then, keep going. Sure, the good things end, but so do the bad.

“Get Back Up Again” by Anna Kendrick

Song year: 2016

A sweet song from a lovely movie, even if it were about paint drying, it would be appealing.

But it’s more than that— when I get knocked down, Princess Poppy from the “Trolls” movies sings, I’ll get up. If things go wrong or I get stuck in a scary forest, I’ll just keep going.

Getting up is much better than giving up.

“Brave” by Sara Bareilles

Song year: 2013

The message comes through in the second verse: everyone has given up at some point, but what good did it do them?

Instead of giving up, what would happen if you spoke your mind, stood up, or otherwise acted in a manner that said, “I’m still in this”? If you’re living in a cage, there’s an option other than resigning yourself to staying there.

“Never Surrender” by Corey Hart

Song year: 1985

80s hitmaker Corey Hart reads Winston Churchill, whom he cites as inspiration for this megahit from 1985.

Churchill inspired the people of Great Britain with the title phrase during World War II, and Hart said his own mother instilled that philosophy into him. The result? An unerring sense of making it through, no matter what life throws your way.

“Defying Gravity” from Wicked

Song year: 2003

In the musical “Wicked,” the Wicked Witch of the West’s story. Played by Idina Menzel, the witch has a name— Elphaba— and isn’t evil, just misunderstood.

In the role’s signature song, Elphaba defies gravity by flying on her broom, but she also defies all the haters and naysayers, never giving up until Dorothy throws water on her.

“Born This Way” by Lady Gaga

Song year: 2011

Lady Gaga’s anthem of self-acceptance never explicitly tells the listener not to give up, but the message is implied: what you like and how you choose to present yourself to the world don’t matter. What matters is staying true to yourself.

Be who you are and how you are. Everyone else can just like it.

“It Is Well With My Soul” by Horatio Spafford

Song year: 1873

In about five years, Spaffor’s son died of typhus, he lost everything in the Great Chicago Fire, and his wife and four daughters died in a shipwreck.

Then he wrote “It Is Well With My Soul,” a song about acceptance. Spafford’s sentiment is that a higher power has him in its hands, so there’s only one thing to do: keep going.

“Underdog” by Alicia Keys

Song year: 2020

The message is clear: defy the odds. Failing to do so means giving up and letting others write your story. If we crowned anyone queen of that sentiment, it would have to be Alicia Keys.

“Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba

Song year: 1997

You’re thinking, “One-hit wonder.” But the message of the song is 100% about not giving up. The fact that it was Chumbawumba’s biggest (only?) hit helps make the point since it came from the band’s eighth studio album.

They didn’t give up, and those first seven albums are concrete proof of that.

“Forgive Me for Giving Up” by Hundred Waters

Song year: 2016

Recorded as a tribute to David Bowie, this haunting song admits that there are times when giving up is all that’s left. It presumes that Bowie found himself in that position in the last hours of his battle with cancer.

We don’t want to give up, but sometimes…

“Confident” by Demi Lovato

Song year: 2015

It’s hard for electro-pop not to make you feel better, and this song’s fake-it-til-you-make-it message helps, too.

Demi Lovato sings about how the world underestimated her and implied there was something off about her, but she fought through it and left those doubts behind her, much as she leaves the prison cell behind in the music video.

“You Are Loved” by Stars Go Dim

Song year: 2015

We aren’t superhuman, and we sometimes feel the pain of heartbreak. Stars Go Dim implores its listeners to remember that they’re loved despite these problems and the desire to quit.

Whether that’s by God or friends and family, it’s true, so keep fighting through your problems.

“Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley

Song year: 1987

I hoped I could find a way to Rick-Roll you, and I didn’t give up. There’s a lesson to be learned.

Top Songs About Not Giving Up, Final Thoughts

The number of songs about not giving up may be nearly infinite. These songs are powerful ones that can help someone make it through hard times as we all remember that a refusal to give up is sometimes all we need.

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