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

“Don't Look Down” by Jennifer Hudson

Song Year: 2011

J-Hud’s motivational tune is a great addition to a morning or workout playlist. Her powerful voice carries a promise of ambition and growth as long as we keep our eyes pointed up and out to our aspirations.

“No Day But Today” by Idina Menzel

Song Year: 1996

This song from the acclaimed Broadway musical Rent encourages listeners to leave behind regret and live for the present. Menzel’s acoustic version is particularly touching, using backup singers and string lines to accentuate the melody.

“Carry On” by Fun

Song Year: 2012

Indie-pop fans are intimately familiar with the band Fun, who usually live up to their name with peppy tunes and upbeat lyrics. In this song, however, the slow build reflects the message dedicated to lost souls who need to re-discover their path.

Beginning with minimalist texture, it develops into full orchestration underscored by a march-like beat. It’s easy to let your heart swell and your brain switch into a positive mindset when listening to this uplifting tune.

“Dreams” by The Cranberries

Song Year: 1993

In the era of 90s grunge rock, this song is a breath of fresh air. The words are a dedication to a steadfast lover who changed the singer’s perspective on life after experiencing challenging times.

“My Way” by Frank Sinatra

Song Year: 1968

One of the most recognizable songs of the big band era, Sinatra’s signature classic has been covered by many other artists over the decades. An orchestra supports the slow lilt, allowing the solo vocalist to float above the texture and play with the lyrical delivery.

The song looks back on a life of doubts and trials, the singer confident that they were able to stay true to themselves and their goals throughout it all.

“Move Along” by The All-American Rejects

Song Year: 2005

Hard times can sometimes make us forget who we are and what our purpose is. This early 2000s indie-pop band reminds us to keep going even when we’re discouraged. Rather than a ballad format, the song uses an arena-rock aesthetic to inspire hope and motivation.

“Don't Lose Sight” by Lawrence

Song Year: 2021

Funky and upbeat, modern fusion group Lawrence wrote this tune after experiencing pushback from their record label and the music industry as a whole. The pop groove props up an uplifting message: even when you get pushed around, stand strong and don’t let it make you lose focus on what matters.

“I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack

Song Year: 2000

It’s no wonder this was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Full of positivity and encouragement, the singer acknowledges that there are trials in life, but they can be overcome with courage and strength.

The music video features Womack performing the song interspersed with shots of her children, implying the words are a message to her children as they grow and experience challenges of their own.

“When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey

Song Year: 1998

The Prince of Egypt soundtrack gave us this gem in the late 90s and promptly won an Academy Award, among other honors. Originally performed by Sandra Bullock and Michelle Pfeiffer in the animated film, Houston and Carey brought it to the mainstream as an R&B-tinged power ballad.

As one of the best songs about overcoming obstacles, the lyrics discuss achieving miracles, sustaining hope, and keeping a mindset of opportunity.

“You’re Gonna Be Okay” by Brian and Jenn Johnson

Song Year: 2017

This husband-and-wife duo, signed by Bethel Records, does much of their inspirational songwriting for the Christian music industry. Telling listeners not to let go and to keep putting one foot in front of the other, the lyrics of this song galvanize us into action, even when the road ahead of us is hard to walk.

“Courage Is…” by The Strange Familiar 

Song Year: 2008

Featured on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, this fresh piano-pop ballad gives examples of courage and love amidst challenges. Using metaphors of birds, colors, and other beauty in nature, the lyrics prop up the idea that fear inspires courage to keep living and moving forward.

Two years after it was written, rock guitarist Orianthi collaborated with Flyleaf singer Lacey for a harder-edged cover.

Top Songs About Overcoming Obstacles, Final Thoughts

Whether a soft, melodic ballad or a bombastic motivational anthem, there are several songs about overcoming hard times for everyone who’s feeling down. Part of living is encountering obstacles, but even in the darkest days, you’re sure to find some inspirational lyrics to get you refocused on what matters.

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