Music, in all its forms, is a universal language that transcends boundaries and cultures. Among the myriad of themes explored through music, one of the most compelling is survival.
From rock-and-roll classics to modern pop hits, songs about surviving have always struck a chord with listeners. They capture our resilience, our grit, and our determination to overcome odds — the anthems that remind us of our inner strength during the toughest times.
And so, we’ve curated a list of 25 of the best songs about surviving that embody this spirit of resilience. Without further ado, let’s get started!
1. “I Will Survive” By Gloria Gaynor
When it comes to songs about surviving, the very first that might come to anyone’s mind is Gloria Gaynor‘s “I Will Survive.” This powerful anthem was released in 1978 from her album Love Tracks and quickly gained popularity.
A very empowering disco hit, the song conveys a strong message of resilience and self-sufficiency and became synonymous with the spirit of survival, particularly with the line “Oh no, not I, I will survive / Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive.”
Over four decades since its release, “I Will Survive” continues to resonate with audiences. Its timeless message has found a special place in popular culture and is often used in various media to represent strength and perseverance in the face of adversity.
2. “Survivor” By Destiny’s Child
Surviving does not necessarily mean making it through in life; it could also mean making it through matters of the heart. Destiny’s Child gives this message in their 2001 song “Survivor.”
The song speaks to the ability not only to survive but also to thrive after experiencing emotional pain. The narrators were faced with another person thinking they wouldn’t make it without him or her.
However, they made it through the difficulties, with the affirmation “I’m a survivor, I’m not gon’ give up / I’m not gon’ stop, I’m gon’ work harder” constantly repeated. “Survivor” is truly a song that serves as a reminder that even in the face of heartbreak, one can emerge stronger and more resilient.
3. “I Made It Through the Rain” By Barry Manilow
Though our next song does not have the word “surviving” in the title, Barry Manilow‘s track “I Made It Through the Rain,” from his 1980 album Barry, has long been an anthem for those battling and surviving life’s storms.
The lyrics paint a picture of hope, of dreamers facing rainy days yet finding a way to survive. It’s the metaphorical rain — the hardships and struggles we all face — that gives this song its universal appeal.
The beauty of this track is its acknowledgment that each individual has their unique way of dealing with adversity. It’s a gentle reminder that despite the downpours life may send our way, we each have the capacity to find our inner strength to not just weather the storm but emerge triumphant.
4. “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” By Kelly Clarkson
A powerhouse anthem of surviving, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson has become a beacon for those navigating through life’s challenges. Released from her fifth studio album, Stronger, in 2011, this song has resonated with many thanks to its empowering message.
The lyrics are a testament to the human spirit’s capacity to endure and grow from adversity. The refrain “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is an age-old saying that carries a profound truth — our struggles and hardships are often what shape us, making us stronger and more resilient.
This Billboard 100-topping hit is not just a catchy pop tune but a rallying cry for survival. It acknowledges the pain and struggle that come with adversity, yet it encourages listeners to rise above these challenges.
5. “I’m Still Standing” By Elton John
With its high-energy rhythm and defiant lyrics, “I’m Still Standing,” from Elton John‘s 1983 album Too Low for Zero, is a song that stands as a testament to one’s ability to bounce back from adversity.
Its lyrics depict the journey of someone who has been through tough times but has come out stronger and more determined. Of course, what better way to announce your success at overcoming difficulties than by exclaiming, “I’m still standing, yeah, yeah, yeah!”
The song has not only endured but thrived since its release. In fact, “I’m Still Standing” received a fresh burst of popularity when singer-actor Taron Egerton performed it in the 2019 film Rocketman. Egerton’s rendition brought a new generation of listeners to this timeless anthem of survival.
6. “I’m A Survivor” By Reba McEntire
What better song about surviving than one that declares that you are — “I’m a Survivor,” by Reba McEntire, is a powerful proclamation of resilience and perseverance that has resonated with many listeners since its release in 2001.
The lyrics tell the story of a person who was born three months premature and given only 30 days to live. But with her mother’s will and God’s grace, she survives against all odds. This narrative sets the tone for the rest of the song, which goes on to depict the protagonist’s life-long journey of overcoming challenges.
Whether you’re a fan of country music or not, there’s no denying the power and impact of “I’m a Survivor.” It’s a message that continues to inspire and uplift listeners, proving that music can indeed be a source of strength and solace in challenging times.
7. “Don’t Stop Believin’” By Journey
Up next is a timeless rock anthem by Journey. “Don’t Stop Believin’,” released in 1981 from the album Escape, has since become a staple of classic rock radio and a beloved symbol of perseverance.
The song tells the story of a small-town girl and a city boy, two characters on their individual journeys filled with struggles and dreams.
The chorus, “Don’t stop believin’, hold on to that feelin’,” serves as an encouraging reminder to keep faith even when times get tough. This line, in particular, encapsulates the essence of survival and the power of unwavering belief in oneself.
Upon its release, “Don’t Stop Believin'” received widespread acclaim. It has since been certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), making it one of the top-selling songs in digital history.
8. “Roar” By Katy Perry
Bursting with a profound message of resilience and self-assuredness, the hit single “Roar” by Katy Perry stands as an anthem of survival and empowerment. Released in 2013 from her studio album Prism, the song has touched hearts globally, inspiring listeners to stand strong in the face of adversity.
The lyrics form a riveting narrative of personal strength and determination. The chorus resonates deeply with those who have faced challenges, echoing the human spirit’s tenacity and will to thrive despite hardships.
“Roar” showcased immense commercial success. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US and garnered billions of views on YouTube, reflecting its widespread acceptance and influence.
9. “Keep Your Head Up” By Andy Grammer
Delivering a message of resilience and optimism, Andy Grammer‘s “Keep Your Head Up” has become an anthem for those surviving life’s challenges since its release in 2010.
The opening lines portray the familiar struggle of everyday pressures and anxieties, yet Grammer swiftly counteracts this with a powerful survival mantra, “You gotta keep your head up, oh, / And you can let your hair down, eh.”
This chorus serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining a positive outlook even when faced with difficulties. It acknowledges the inevitability of moments of weakness while emphasizing the need to remain resilient and steadfast.
10. “I Can See Clearly Now” By Johnny Nash
Since its release in 1972, Johnny Nash‘s “I Can See Clearly Now” has become a beacon of hope and perseverance. With its uplifting lyrics and soulful melody, this song serves as a powerful song of survival and personal triumph.
The lyrics of this timeless track weave a narrative of overcoming struggles and seeing beyond difficulties. The opening line, “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,” powerfully symbolizes emerging from a period of hardship or confusion into a state of clarity and optimism.
While the song does not explicitly use the word “surviving” in the lyrics, its message of resilience and triumph over adversity echoes strongly with the theme of survival.
11. “Keep Holding On” By Avril Lavigne
With her signature blend of pop-punk energy and heartfelt lyricism, Avril Lavigne delivers a powerful message in “Keep Holding On.” It was released in 2007 as part of the soundtrack for the movie Eragon.
The song’s lyrics echo a rallying cry for anyone going through challenging times. The chorus, “Keep holding on / ‘Cause you know we’ll make it through,” emphasizes the need for tenacity and perseverance when faced with obstacles.
It is a reminder that we must hold fast to our inner strength and continue pushing forward despite the trials we may encounter.
Lavigne’s impassioned vocals add depth to the lyrics. The uplifting melody, combined with the encouraging lyrics, makes “Keep Holding On” a compelling survival anthem that many can relate to.
12. “Survival” By Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Ft. Ky-Mani Marley
While the song does not mention “surviving” directly, it is a clear story of survival. It begins with the narrator promising, “Girl, I’ll be there when the mornin’ comes ’cause these hands were made for survival.”
The song then goes on to describe the challenges the narrator goes through just to survive and make true his promise to “be there when the mornin’ comes.”
Through their compelling lyrics, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Ky-Mani Marley inspire listeners to face their own struggles head-on and keep pushing forward, no matter how tough the journey may be.
13. “Don’t Stop” By Fleetwood Mac
Resilience and strength echo through this Fleetwood Mac classic, whispering a message to the heart of every listener. Released in 1997, “Don’t Stop” is a single from the band’s hit album Rumours.
Crafted with an upbeat tempo and radiant harmonies, it subtly belies the depth of its message, making it a beacon for those navigating life’s turbulent waters. Its lyrics serve as a gentle reminder that the trials we face are but transient, with the promise of brighter days always on the horizon.
In essence, “Don’t Stop” is a rallying cry for all survivors. It’s an anthem that encourages us to stay strong, keep pushing, and never lose sight of the hopeful promise that tomorrow brings.
14. “Fighter” By Christina Aguilera
Extracted from Christina Aguilera‘s fourth studio album, Stripped, which was dropped in 2002, “Fighter” serves as a powerful testament to survival and personal growth.
The lines “Cause it makes me that much stronger, / Makes me work a little bit harder” serve as a testament to the transformative power of surviving challenges. It paints the picture of a person who has faced adversity but has emerged stronger and more determined.
“Fighter” teaches listeners to embrace their struggles to harness them as stepping stones to becoming better versions of themselves. In this way, Aguilera inspires us all to become fighters not just in the face of adversity but in every aspect of life.
15. “Song For Survival” By Neel Adhikari & Mithila Palkar
In 2017, a collaboration between Neel Adhikari and Mithila Palkar resulted in an inspiring track that reverberates with the theme of survival. Aptly named “Song for Survival,” this piece of music serves as a melodious manifesto for all who are battling their own storms, whispering the promise of dawn after darkness.
The lines “It’s not for us to say what will be, and at the end of the day, / we’ll see which way the whole thing bends, / and what it could bring” encapsulate the uncertainty of life and the courage it takes to face it head-on.
The song portrays survival not as a mere act of existing but as a conscious choice to persevere despite the odds. It celebrates the human spirit’s indefatigable ability to adapt and endure.
16. “Rain On Me” By Lady Gaga Ft. Ariana Grande
In the pantheon of songs that inspire and uplift, one collaboration stands out — a musical masterpiece by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande known as “Rain on Me.” This track, part of Lady Gaga’s sixth studio album, Chromatica, is a poignant exploration of survival.
The song is an anthem of perseverance. It encourages listeners to weather their personal storms, assuring them of the promise of better days ahead. The lines “Rain on me / I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive” serve as a metaphor for tears and the catharsis that comes with emotional release.
“Rain on Me” stands as a testament to the human spirit’s indomitable resilience, reminding us that even in the hardest downpours, we can still dance and find joy.
17. “Warrior” By Demi Lovato
Released in 2013, “Warrior” is a powerful song about survival by American singer Demi Lovato, featured on their fourth studio album, Demi.
Co-written by Lovato and Lindy Robbins, “Warrior” is a testament to the singer’s personal journey of overcoming adversity. The line “I’m a warrior, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been” reflects her triumph over personal struggles and their transformation into someone more resilient.
For fans, the song’s lyrics resonate with listeners who have faced adversity, echoing a sentiment of survival and personal growth. “Warrior” inspires us to arm ourselves with courage, strength, and determination to overcome any hurdles that come our way.
18. “The Climb” By Miley Cyrus
Up next, we have a gem nestled within the soundtrack of the 2009 film Hannah Montana: The Movie. “The Climb,” performed by Miley Cyrus, is a heartfelt expression of perseverance, resilience, and the human spirit’s indomitable will to overcome challenges.
Lines such as “There’s always gonna be another mountain, / I’m always gonna wanna make it move” highlight the continuous nature of challenges we encounter in life. But rather than presenting these challenges as insurmountable obstacles, the song portrays them as part of our journey, our “climb.”
“The Climb” is a beautiful reminder that although we may face obstacles in life, it’s all about how we learn from these experiences and continue moving forward — surviving it all.
19. “Stayin’ Alive” By The Bee Gees
Our next song mentions surviving right there in its title: “Stayin’ Alive,” by the Bee Gees, stands as an iconic track from the Saturday Night Fever motion picture soundtrack released in 1977.
The disco rhythm and catchy hooks might be the first things that catch your ear, but beneath the vivacious music lies a powerful theme of survival.
The lyrics echo the will to keep going even when life seems stagnant and difficult. In the face of hardship and adversity, the song encourages its listeners to persevere, to keep “stayin’ alive.”
Upon its release, not only did “Stayin’ Alive” top the Billboard Hot 100 but it also stayed there for four weeks, making it a cultural phenomenon of its time.
20. “On Top Of The World” By Imagine Dragons
People who have survived challenges exude joy and pride, and Imagine Dragons‘ “On Top of The World” is just that. First appearing on their major-label debut EP Continued Silence in 2012, it has since become a staple in their repertoire.
The lyrics of the song are filled with optimism and triumph. Lines such as “I’ve been waiting to smile, been holding it in for a while” and “Been dreaming of this since a child, I’m on top of the world” encapsulate the feeling of finally reaching a long-awaited goal or overcoming a significant challenge.
This sense of accomplishment and relief that comes with overcoming obstacles — whether in life or in love — is what makes the song relatable and a perfect fit for this list.
21. “Unstoppable” By Rascal Flatts
Up next is “Unstoppable” by Rascal Flatts, a country music anthem that positions resilience and determination at the forefront of its message. Released as part of their sixth studio album, this song captures the spirit of overcoming hardships and embracing the strength within oneself.
The lyrics of “Unstoppable” offer an engaging narrative of perseverance. Lines like “So you made a lot of mistakes … Cracked a brick when you hit the wall” reflect the reality of life’s challenges and missteps.
However, the song doesn’t dwell on the difficulties; instead, it emphasizes the importance of rising after falling, pushing forward, and surviving despite obstacles — with a little help from love, of course, because it’s unstoppable.
22. “The One To Survive” By Hidden Citizens Ft. Josh Bruce Williams
Featuring Josh Bruce Williams, “The One to Survive” by Hidden Citizens is a powerful song that encourages one to continue in the face of hardships and be a survivor. Released in 2018, it has garnered significant attention for its gripping lyrics and compelling sound.
The lyrics carry a strong message of determination and perseverance. With lines such as “Even if the world is ending / I will make it out alive / I will be the one to survive,” it instills a sense of strength and invincibility, echoing the song’s title.
The music complements the lyrics perfectly, with a blend of intense beats and harmonious melody that adds depth to the words. The result is a track that’s not only enjoyable to listen to but also inspiring and motivational.
23. “Dare You To Move” By Switchfoot
In the realm of rock anthems that inspire and motivate, one particular track stands tall — “Dare You To Move” by Switchfoot. This single from their fourth studio album, The Beautiful Letdown (2003), serves as an invigorating call to action, encouraging listeners to rise, move forward, and live life without regrets.
What makes this song particularly compelling is its ability to inspire and uplift. It dares listeners to confront their challenges, push beyond their comfort zones, and seize every opportunity for growth. Moreover, it assures them that despite the struggles they face, they have the capacity to overcome and survive.
24. “Win” By Brian McKnight
Up next, we have a soulful anthem by Brian McKnight. “Win” was released in 2000 as the soundtrack for the film Men of Honor.
The lyrics of “Win” are steeped in themes of hope, faith, and determination. The opening line, “Dark is the night / I can weather the storm,” sets the tone for the entire song, indicating a readiness to endure hardships and overcome obstacles.
Throughout the song, McKnight uses evocative imagery and powerful language to convey the struggle of pushing through adversity. Phrases like “Never say die” and “I’ll never quit / I’ll never lay down” reinforce this theme of survival, suggesting an unwavering resolve to keep going against all odds.
25. “We Are The Champions” By Queen
We close this list with a power ballad that has echoed through stadiums and across generations. “We Are the Champions,” a 1977 masterpiece by Queen, is an affirmation of survival and victory.
After surviving all the hard-fought battles against overwhelming odds, the song’s lines are some that many will want to sing: “We are the champions, my friends / And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end.” These lines inspire listeners to never back down, no matter how challenging the circumstances might be, and to keep moving forward.
“We Are the Champions” made a significant impact upon its release. Its timeless appeal and universal message have kept it alive in popular culture, often serving as a victory anthem at sports events and other competitions.
Summing Up Our List Of Survival Songs
Music has a powerful way of encapsulating the human spirit’s resilience and our innate will to survive. These songs we mentioned stand as anthems of survival, echoing our collective experiences of struggle, perseverance, and triumph.
We hope that this article has entertained and inspired you. Add a few (or all!) to your playlist for some dose of uplifting songs you can play back when you need it.
Have we missed a song that should be here? Let us know so we can add them here!