35 Best Songs About Overcoming Obstacles, Challenges, and Hard Times

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

Song Year: 2015

This song is a testament to growing stronger through life’s challenges. Peaking as a hit single in various countries, it reached its peak at #6 on the U.S. Billboard Top 100. Inspirational and uplifting, it continues to get significant radio airplay for its positive message and hard-driving beat.

“O-o-h Child” by The Five Stairsteps, One Of The Best Songs About Struggling

Song Year: 1970

This 70s tune has all the flavor you could want from that era: a groovy beat, brass and string sections, and killer vocals. Featured on the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack in 2014, the song offers a message of hope to someone who is struggling. There is reassurance in the form of a pet name and encouragement that things will get brighter someday.

“Rise” by Katy Perry

Song Year: 2016

This intense orchestration and vocal range of this song reflect its solemn message. Victory and transformation are the themes, using images like vultures circling to capture the danger and threat of tragedy looming.

Co-written by Perry, Savan Kotecha, and the song’s producers, it won a Grammy for Best Non-Classical Producer of the Year.

“Someone Like You” by Adele

Song Year: 2011

Perhaps the most beloved breakup song of the 2000s, “Someone Like You” is synonymous with heartbreak. Its sparse arrangement of vocals and a rippling piano line draw emotion from even the most casual listener.

Rather than wallow in her sadness, the singer chooses to move on and find someone else to devote herself to. In the grief is a glimmer of hope.

“I'm Movin' On” by Rascal Flatts

Song Year: 2001

Another song about a breakup finds this singer doing some work on himself due to a loss. Emotional and introspective, the mandolin and string quartet lend a sweet touch to this simple ballad, which won multiple honors at the Academy of Music Awards.

“You Learn” by Alanis Morissette

Top Songs About Overcoming Challenges

Song Year: 1995

Everyone can relate to getting their heart broken, taking on more than they can handle, and other life experiences in these lyrics.

The single from Jagged Little Pill was part of the quintessential 90s grunge sound and helped Morissette win several awards. Its combo of drama and calm acceptance is a mood that most of us know well, and this soundtrack is the perfect way to illustrate that feeling.

“Hold On” by Kansas

Song Year: 1979

Even during turmoil, there is always a silver lining. Kansas reminds us of this in their 13th single, which tells of hope and the promise of tomorrow. The band’s signature iconic fiddle lead and three-part harmonies outline a guitar solo and a 6/8 ballad feel.

Religious overtones are clear, as writer Kerry Livgren had just converted to Christianity before he penned this tune.

“Stronger” by Britney Spears

Song Year: 2000

This anthem to personal growth and the ability to withstand abuse was an early 2000s earworm – and for a good reason. The bubblegum pop rhythm includes a heavy bassline to provide depth as Spears sings of recovery after someone in her past had a harmful hold on her life.

Unsurprisingly, this killer tune was one of the most popular songs of her Oops…I Did It Again album and won an MTV award.

“Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.

Song Year: 1992

Long lonely nights is the theme here, as R.E.M. offers an ode to solitude. Rather than letting go, the lyrics encourage listeners to lean on their friends in hard times, reminding them that no one is alone in their pain.

“Who You Are” by Jessie J

Song Year: 2011

This soft-rock gem is a slow burn. Beginning with just strummed guitar chords and soft vocals, it grows into a full-fledged power ballad, allowing Jessie J to show off her impressive pipes. According to the singer, she was inspired to write this song after a 3-month sojourn by herself.

The lyrics address owning your feelings, the difficulties that come with following your heart, and the pain that can result from them. But the result is staying true to yourself – an ultimate prize that’s worth a few setbacks.

“Fighter” by Christina Aguilera

Song Year: 2002

During Xtina’s Stripped phase, she put out a lot of shocking content, controversial for how sexually charged it appeared. But along with the boldness of her style came a whole lot of confidence and empowerment.

This track, popular for its lyrics as well as its feisty blend of hard rock and R&B, reached the top 10 of charts in the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands.

“The Show Must Go On” by Queen

Song Year: 1991

In typical Queen fashion, the band puts on a high-drama performance in this music video, complete with gender-bending costumes and a spliced montage of clips from live shows. The band provides a slow rock beat to support Freddie Mercury’s soaring vocal range.

As one of the best songs about overcoming adversity, the message here is clear: in a life filled with uncertainty, disappointment, and failure, there is always a reason to keep moving forward.  

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