Little Victories: Songs For When Life Isn’t Going Your Way

“And I’ll be awful sometimes. Weakened to my knees. But I’ll learn to get by on the little victories.”Matt Nathanson, “Little Victories”

The past year or so has been difficult for many of us. The last 14 months or so have tested my own patience, determination, and resilience in many ways. I will always remember these challenging months and how they’ve shaped me, and the changes I’ve made and experiences I’ve had – both good and bad – will impact the rest of my life.

The same is true for many people closest to me. We’ve leaned on each other more than ever to get through the dark times. As many of them love music about as much as I do, we’ve traded songs to help each other through the heartbreaks, losses, and whatever else we were facing. Music has the power to unite, heal, and communicate like nothing else. Even when you can’t always put into words how you feel or know what to say to someone else, there is always a song that can.


I’ve never understood how people can live without liking music. For my entire life, music has been the first thing I’ve turned to during the hardest times, and it’s the only thing that has never failed me. While everything else eventually fades away, it is the one constant. I remember the music I’ve listened to during the best and worst moments of my life. Certain songs can trigger good or bad memories. I’ve said many times that I have a playlist for everything, and that includes my Depression Collection – a playlist of 400+ sad songs. I’ve even shared some favourites for a good cry. I’ve never been one of those people who can listen to happy songs when I’m really down, though, because they only make me more sad.

Sometimes, though, you need something in between happy and sad or just some hope. Sort of an “Everybody Hurts,” if you will, which is often considered a sad song (as seen in This Will End in Tears: Miserabilist Guide to Music – a list with some great songs but also many that I would not consider the saddest songs ever), but I’ve never interpreted it that way. I see “Everybody Hurts” as telling someone that yes, things are hard right now, but they’re not alone because we’ve all been there. Bearing this in mind, during a particularly difficult time about a year ago, I created another playlist of slightly more uplifting songs to remind myself that everything will be fine, that I’m not alone, that I am strong, and that I will overcome whatever I’m facing. Life is about the little victories, which also happens to be the title of a song I’ve always listened to when I needed that reminder. Life is hard and complicated, but the little victories are what get us through the day sometimes.

I’ve shared several songs from this playlist with friends as they went through heartache in the last year. There are so many others that could go on it, but some of these are ones I’ve turned to most – in no particular order and without my usual rules – when I’ve needed a pick-me-up. Yes, some are cheesy (I refrained from including “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” partly because it’s an obvious choice), and most are pretty mellow, but sometimes that’s what you need in this situation. I am linking YouTube videos to each song, and I recommend not only listening to ones by artists you already know because there are some great ones here. I hope you will be able to find some peace and refuge in them, just as I have, and are able to sit with your feelings more easily, knowing you are never alone.


“Hammers and Strings (A Lullaby),” a favourite by Jack’s Mannequin, which actually is not on this list.

  1. “Little Victories” by Matt Nathanson
  2. “Everything Will Change” by Gavin DeGraw
  3. “Keep Your Head Up” by Ben Howard
  4. “Just Keep Breathing” by We The Kings
  5. “This World Will Turn Your Way” by Tyler Hilton
  6. “On Your Feet Again” by Tonic
  7. “We All Need Saving” by Jon McLaughlin
  8. “3 Things” by Jason Mraz
  9. “Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog)” by Brett Dennen
  10. “Iridescent” by Linkin Park
  11. “Swim” by Jack’s Mannequin (I absolutely love the meaningful connections in this video!)
  12. “Forget and Not Slow Down” by Relient K
  13. “Better In Time” by Leona Lewis
  14. “I Will Get There” by Boyz II Men
  15. “I Still Believe” by BBMak
  16. “Just Give It Time” by Jon McLaughlin
  17. “Quasimodo” by Lifehouse (For some reason, I’ve listened to this song for years whenever I’ve made it through something that made me nervous or bothered me, and I can physically feel the weight come off my shoulders.)
  18. “For the Lonely” by Sweetbox
  19. “Crash & Burn” by Savage Garden (This is one of all-time my favourite videos, but that’s a whole different blog!)
  20. “Let It Be” by The Beatles
  21. “Alibi” by Thirty Seconds to Mars
  22. “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)” by Jason Mraz (Random fact: This song also cures hiccups!)
  23. “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree
  24. “Keep Rising” by Jack’s Mannequin
  25. “Keep Holding On” by Glee Cast (Originally Avril Lavigne)
  26. “Wish ‘Em All Away” by Embrace
  27. “Something Wild” by Lindsey Stirling featuring Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
  28. “Brand New Day” by Joshua Radin
  29. “Take On The World” by Sabrina Carpenter and Rowan Blanchard
  30. “Details in the Fabric” by Jason Mraz featuring James Morrison
  31. “Stay the Same” by Joey McIntyre
  32. “Autumn” by Maria Forgotten
  33. “Something to Believe In” by Parachute
  34. “I Ain’t Movin'” by Des’ree
  35. “Looking Forward to Looking Back” by Mandy Moore
  36. “Pressing On” by Relient K
  37. “Can’t Take That Away” by Mariah Carey
  38. “This Time Tomorrow” by Trent Dabbs
  39. “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World
  40. “Titanium” by David Guetta featuring Sia
  41. “Life Is Beautiful” by Vega4
  42. “A Little Longer” by Armon Jay
  43. “Keeping Your Head Up” by Birdy
  44. “Try It On My Own” by Whitney Houston
  45. “Fix You” by Coldplay
  46. “Over and Over” by Puff Johnson
  47. “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips (If you haven’t had a sing-along in the car to this with a friend, like in the movies, are you really even friends?)
  48. “Airfield” by Enter Shikari
  49. “Wild Horses” by Birdy
  50. “Shake It Off” by Florence + The Machine
  51. “Not Alone” by Trenton
  52. “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” by Whitney Houston
  53. “Alive” by Sia
  54. “Wait Til You See My Smile” by Alicia Keys
  55. “In Time” by Robbie Robb (This song was also in the best Mr. Robot scene ever, which was very powerful.)
  56. “Move Along” by The All-American Rejects
  57. “You Will Be Found” by Dear Evan Hansen Original Broadway Cast
  58. “Watch The Sky” by Something Corporate
  59. “Don’t Give In” by Snow Patrol
  60. “Let It Flow” by Toni Braxton

What songs pick you up when you’re down? Share in the comments below.



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