Soundtrack to My Life: 25 Uplifting Tracks over 5 Decades

This is the soundtrack to my life, it’s a selection of uplifting tracks, mostly dance music, that are associated with great memories. Music is such an important part in people’s life: whether you are a parent, grandparent, teenager, music is the soundtrack accompanying the most important events in your life. From the music you chose for your wedding, to the song that was playing during your first kiss, it’s impossible not to associate music with memories.


BBC Radio 1 Ibiza Prom

A couple of weeks after I had started writing this article, I came across BBC Radio 1 Ibiza Prom on TV, and wished I had bought tickets to see it live at the Royal Albert Hall! In fact I went to the BBC Urban Proms in 2013, also featuring Jules Buckley and the Heritage Orchestra, and it was an unforgettable experience. The Ibiza Prom was like listening to all my favourite uplifting house music tracks in one evening! I couldn’t help adding some of the song choices from that playlist here, although some tracks were already featured in my article draft.


Here are the songs that mean a lot to me – enjoy some uplifting music to brighten up your day.

The 70s

The music scene in the 70s was so varied: disco, folk, Europop, all blended together to shake things up after the Swinging Sixties.

My earliest memories of 70s music are these.

Chic, Everybody Dance, 1977

To me, Chic represented the best of 70s disco.

Sylvester, You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), 1978

As a child I didn’t understand anything about the gay scene, but I clearly remember my parents being in complete shock when they first saw Sylvester’s video on TV. Therefore, if the parents don’t like something, you like it even more. I adored Sylvester and his hi-energy tunes.

Sheila and B. Devotion, Spacer, 1979

Another Chic connection here with this track produced by Nile Rodgers. Spacer was also sampled by Alcazar in Crying at the Discoteque in 2000.

We Are Family, Sister Sledge, 1979

One more Chic connection – no wonder Nile Rodgers is called The Hitmaker.

Donna Summer, Hot Stuff, 1979

Probably the lyrics weren’t quite age-appropriate when I first listened to this song (mind you, I hadn’t started learning English as a second language yet). About twenty years before appearing in The Full Monty soundtrack, Hot Stuff was the hottest tune of 1979 and I totally loved it.

The 80s

I could go on and on listing all my favourite 80s tracks. Music really becomes the centre of your universe when you are a teenager. When I was a teenager I was obsessed with Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and Madonna, but for this list I chose songs that I believe changed the music scene. Gone is disco, new wave is all the rage, and house music is born. See if you remember any of these tracks.

The Buggles, Video Killed the Radio Star, 1980

Part nursery rhyme, part prophetic song about the emergence of MTV, Video Killed the Radio Star is an unforgettable classic.

Politics Of Dancing- Re-Flex, 1983

A cheerful look at the Cold War years…

Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle, Your Love, 1987

I can only say: goosebumps. I discovered this song much later than its original release, probably a good 3 years later as I was finishing high school. I danced my socks off to it in local clubs, when I was still living in Italy.

Derrick May, Strings of Life, 1987

I added this track here, where it belongs, but I only found out about it much later (probably early 00s) when it went through a revival on the Ibiza scene.

Cold Cut featuring Lisa Stanfield, People Hold On, 1989

Anthemic late 80s song bridging Northern Soul to house music. Stunning vocals by Lisa Stanfield and memories of a fun school trip to Florence.

The 90s

Alison Limerick, Where Love Lives, 1990

I only discovered this song in 1996, when I moved to London, and we played it over and over again in our cramped flatshare.

Robin S, Show Me Love, 1993

Many London clubbing nights fist-pumping and singing along to Robin S, those were the days.

Nightcrawlers, Push the Feeling On, 1995

This song made me fall in love with London – pure 90s house deliciousness.

Livin’ Joy, Dreamer, 1995

I was doing research for my dissertation in London and this song was playing everywhere – good times.

Tori Amos, Professional Widow, 1996

This song has all the elements of a great uplifting tune: great vocals and great beat.

The 00s

Solu Music featuring KimBlee, Fade, 2001

This was the soundtrack to my 2003 holiday to Ibiza (holidays? What are holidays anymore? I don’t remember what they look like). The best memory I have is of waking up early, this song playing in the background, and going for a swim in the swimming pool. Yes, budget holidays CAN be glamourous, it’s all about the attitude!

Linkin Park featuring Jay-Z, Numb/Encore, 2004

Veering slightly off at a rap/rock tangent, I chose Numb/Encore because it epitomises my life-changing charity trek in Rio de Janeiro in 2005. Epic song, epic experience.

Shapeshifters, Lola’s Theme, 2004

It’s all about the vocals and lyrics – the recipe for the perfect uplifting song.

Eric Prydz, Pjanoo, 2008

2008 was a bad year but this song made it better. Fantastic tune.

Florence + The Machine, Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up), 2009

Harp accompaniment? Yes please! Best way to finish the decade – I am told Florence is even better live: so far I’ve only seen footage of her Glastonbury concerts, which were superb. This song made my work shifts much better!

The 10s

David Guetta & Chris Willis Featuring Fergie & LMFAO, Gettin’ Over You, 2010

Before he took a more commercial direction, David Guetta produced some classic tunes like Love Don’t Let Me Go, Just a Little More Love and Love is Gone. Gettin’ Over You has a great energy, it’s fantastic to dance to.


Disclosure featuring Sam Smith, Latch, 2012

Not much to say apart from: it’s a fantastic tune.

Rudimental featuring Ella Eyre, Waiting All Night, 2013

If you are feeling down, this song will perk you up.

Breach, Everything You Never Had (We Had It All), 2013

2013 was a good year for uplifting house music, and this is one of the best examples.

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk, 2014

Winter 2014 got hot hot hot with this track – which immediately makes you think happy thoughts (and shake that tail feather).



Featured picture credit: Paola Bassanese


So here we are, there are my songs. Why not share this article on twitter and let me know what your favourite tracks are? I’m at @paolaenergya