Songs That Make Us Happy

by | Radio

It’s undeniable that music has the ability to make us happy and right now, we could all do with a dose of that. Right?



Research has shown that more and more people over the past 12 months have been turning on their local music radio station to help them forget the problems of the world. In fact, radio listening has grown from 43% at home pre lockdown in April 2020 to 61%

The survey conducted by GFK for Commercial Radio Australia shows that Australians are still turning to Breakfast and Drive radio programs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Time spent listening to Breakfast and Drive radio across each week during COVID-19 lockdown restrictions has shown stability in line with the usual robust results for those dayparts, with increases of 10 minutes and 12 minutes respectively for the 5:30am-9am Mon-Fri and 4pm-7pm Mon-Fri dayparts.

“There is no doubt that radio is reaching Australian audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. While their place of listening to radio may have changed during this crisis, audiences remain loyal and are seeking out familiar and trusted voices on radio to give them the latest live and local news and provide them with entertainment no matter the time of day,” said Commercial Radio Australia chief executive officer Joan Warner.

Music, whether it’s the latest pop or rock song, to a Bach sonata or a golden oldie, has the ability to trigger those happy chemicals in our brain. It’s different for all of us. What may have you dancing around the room, may have your partner (or your parent) running screaming for a closed door!

A Dutch neurologist, Dr Jacob Jolij was asked by a British electronic band (ALBA) in 2015 to find out what made a happy tune, so he set about doing some research and analysis on what characteristics are generally associated with happy songs. The research found that while music makes us happy, it is subjective.

“Music appreciation is highly personal and strongly depends on social context, and personal associations. In that respect, the idea of a ‘feel good formula’ is a bit odd,” he commented.

Dr Jolij was asked by a British electronic band (ALBA) to find out what made a happy tune, so he set about doing some research and analysis on what characteristics are generally associated with happy songs.


He found that the happiest tunes are slightly faster than your average song (between 140 and 150 beats per minute on average), written in a major key, and either about happy events or complete nonsense. Jolij combined these factors into a formula for the happiest song possible and then went searching for existing hits that matched his template.

This is the top 10 list of happy songs he came up with

  1. Don’t Stop Me Now (Queen)
  2. Dancing Queen (ABBA)
  3. Good Vibrations (Beach Boys)
  4. Uptown Girl (Billy Joel)
  5. Eye of the tiger (Survivor)
  6. I’m a Believer (The Monkees)
  7. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper)
  8. Living On A Prayer (Bon Jovi)
  9. I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor)
  10. Walking On Sunshine (Katrina & the Waves)



There’s never been a better or more important time than now to escape the madness of the world and music can help you do that. There’s also a scientific explanation to why we feel better listening to music. Scientists tell us that music triggers a release of dopamine, a naturally occurring happy chemical, to the brain.

So while many of us think love is the drug (thanks to Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music) research shows us that music is the drug that can turn the happiness switch on in everyone. Just make sure you are listening to the right kind of music!



Cheryl Jowitt is the cofounder of Rebel Connect which operates Rebel Digital, a digital marketing agency that assists businesses develop and implement a marketing strategy to bring in customers. Cheryl is also Director of the Rebel Radio Network which operates the Rebel FM & The Breeze commercial radio networks in Australia.

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