Sometimes we all have blue days. We know the things we shouldn't do — hate on ourselves, compare ourselves to others around us, drink martinis with that toxic friend with the doctorate in passive-aggressive compliments ("Fun haircut!") — but we do it all anyway. Such is the nature of being a human being on planet earth, right? During times like this, a self-care playlist of confidence-boosting songs is essential. Ladies and gentlemen, step right this way. I've lined up 32 songs to get your head to exactly where it needs to be in these exaggeratedly gray, bleak times.
Pop music gets a bad rap, sometimes. It isn't just about loving and lusting and shaking your thing on the dance floor, OK? A lot of the time, music's just as concerned with the pitfalls involved in constructing a healthy self-image and with the need to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally. These songs are focused on the one person in your life you spend the most time with: you. If you haven't been kind to yourself recently or you've had a couple of rough days or sleepless nights in a row, schedule in some self-care. And, before you slip into a bubble bath, try on these songs for size.
1. TLC — "Unpretty"
The self-esteem song, right? Besides which, it does a convincing and catchy takedown of the U.S. beauty industry. You'll be ditching your lip gloss and going Alicia Keys bare-face-beautiful for the next few days after listening to this.
2. Drake — "Started From The Bottom"
Heck, if even superstar/your future husband Drake had to stay at his mom's house while trying to make it, you know you can achieve whatever you want if you set your mind to it. There's a reason this song gets quoted inspirationally all the time — because it works in hyping you up.
3. Hailee Steinfeld — "Love Myself"
Whether this song is about self-love in the physical sense or emotional sense is up to you. Regardless, "Love Myself" is exactly what it says on the tin: a dangerous catchy self-care banger from one of the newest queens of pop.
4. Electric Light Orchestra — "Don't Bring Me Down"
Sometimes the problem isn't you; it's the jerks around you. Let this arena-rock anthem be your own personal anthem today.
5. Megan Thee Stallion & Beyoncé — "Savage Remix"
“I’m a boss, I’m a leader,” declares Beyoncé on the remix of “Savage” that was so powerful it took Megan Thee Stallion’s smash TikTok hit to #1 and earned the pair two Grammys. If millions of people can turn this song on, bust out the viral choreography, and instantly feel a boost in their confidence, you can too.
6. Rihanna — "Needed Me"
This kiss-off about a nonessential lover is self-love by way of recognizing relationships for exactly what they are, be they significant or completely insignificant. Like Rihanna, you're good enough on your own.
7. Nicki Minaj & Beyoncé — "Feeling Myself"
It doesn't matter what gender you identify with; this is the celebrating-yourself anthem of the decade. Also, it's so catchy that it'll be on repeat in your brain for the next week, which can't be bad for your self-esteem.
8. Miley Cyrus — "Gimme What I Want"
One of the most powerful things you can do is to know your own self-worth and accept nothing less. That’s the message Miley Cyrus boasts in this bombastic, respect-demanding track that also nods to another, more physical form of self-love.
9. BTS — "Dynamite"
With over a billion views on its music video, it’s safe to say this anthem has already empowered many listeners, especially ARMY members. BTS’ first #1 hit in the United States, “Dynamite” is a pure, uplifting track about being your best self and taking on the world with confidence, so grab a cup of milk and press play.
10. Beyoncé — "Run The World (Girls)"
When sexism has got you down, sometimes you need a pro-lady anthem to throw shapes to. This is it. Let the true leader of the free world (Beyoncé, of course) share her throne with you, and all the girls out there.
11. TLC — "No Scrubs"
There's something really powerful in saying no, and declaring that you deserve better. "No Scrubs" is the song for these moments, when you've had enough, and you won't put up with anything less than the absolute best.
12. Fleetwood Mac — "Go Your Own Way"
Because toxic relationships are bad for your health and worse for your happiness, sometimes you just need to embrace following your own path, and doing away with the negativity that might come from past relationships.
13. Kelis ft. Too $hort — "Bossy"
In this song, Kelis lists some of the major accomplishments that make her a boss, referencing her own work in previous hit songs like “Caught Out There” and the ever-iconic “Milkshake.” Be like Kelis, and recognize the feats that make YOU a boss!
14. Addison Rae — "Obsessed"
Everything you’ve ever accomplished in life can be chalked up to the fact that you’re awesome, capable, and resilient. So why not obsess over yourself and your abilities? TikToker, actress, and singer Addison Rae hypes herself up in this self-love track, and you should do the same.
15. Lady Gaga — "Born This Way"
"Just put your paws up — because you were born this way, baby." It's hard to stay sad listening to this upbeat celebration of self-love. Don't be a drag, just be a queen.
16. Mary J. Blige — “Just Fine”
“I like what I see when I’m looking at me when I’m walking past the mirror,” declares Blige on this unapologetically happy track. It’s a perfect song to put on while you dance around your bedroom after a long day’s work.
17. Christina Aguilera — "Fighter"
Oh god, that operatic, hyper-melodramatic intro still sends shivers down my spine. This is the song you need to queue up before you go out to slay. It'll make you feel powerful.
18. Boys World — "Wingman"
“I don’t need a wingman, ‘cause I’m too fly on my own,” declares rising pop group Boys World, celebrating independence on this empowering banger that encourages you to advocate for yourself.
19. Aretha Franklin — "Respect"
Self-care is all about feeling comfortable taking up space in the world. Sometimes, you can't ask for respect; you've got to demand it. Aretha will even spell it out for you, if people don't think you've made it clear enough.
20. Eve & Gwen Stefani — "Let Me Blow Ya Mind"
This entire song is a jam, but it could exist on this list on the power of this line alone: "You see, I do what they can't do, I just do me." Are you sensing a theme here?
21. Christina Aguilera — "Beautiful"
Two Christina Aguilera tracks on one playlist? So sue me: Aguilera is the queen of celebrating the joy of residing in your own skin. Words can't bring you down.
22. Nina Simone — "Feelin' Good"
Because those opening vocals don't just give me goosebumps, they're also a master class in the beauty of self-belief. Simone's voice, stark and free from instrumental backing, is a testimony to the charismatic pull of confidence.
23. Erykah Badu — "I'll Call U Back"
Is this about phone calls? Or is this about making space for yourself? I assume the latter. Do your thing, then call them back when you feel like it. Sometimes self-care is about taking your damn time.
24. DMX — "X Gon' Give It To Ya"
Sure, this song's a little silly. But its mix of unbridled braggadocio and a catchy beat is an instant mood lift. Yelling along with DMX can be empowering!
25. Destiny's Child — "Independent Women, Pt. I"
Ralph Waldo Emerson waxed lyrical about it, and, 200 years later, Destiny's Child celebrated it: self-reliance, baby. The joy of "'Cause I depend on me if I want it" is apparent in the joy of this anthem. Throw your hands up at me.
26. Robyn — "Don't F*cking Tell Me What To Do"
Where does all the negativity in your head come from, anyway? Robyn dissects all the messages women are overwhelmed with on a daily basis in under five minutes, and it's a complete and total bop.
27. Norah Jones — "Carry On"
For when the past is weighing too heavily on you, this song will set you free. This one will ease you into feeling better, if you're not quite ready to shout about empowerment from the rooftops just yet.
28. Chloe x Halle — “Baby Girl”
“Baby girl, it’s your world,” the Bailey sisters croon on this empowering track. If you’ve ever felt like your contributions to the world have gone unnoticed, listen to this song as a reminder that the earth needs you in order to keep spinning.
29. Khia — "My Neck, My Back"
Because when you can ask for what you want in bed, you're making serious headway on asking for what you want in the world at large.
30. Demi Lovato & Sam Fischer — “What Other People Say”
It’s easy to get caught up in caring about other people’s opinions, especially when you’re working hard towards a goal. Allow Lovato to share her own life experiences and inspire you to let go of judgement from others.
31. SZA — “Good Days”
When negativity creeps into your life, sometimes you have to imagine a more positive future. That’s exactly what SZA does on this track, which is sure to transport you to the most peaceful, beautiful floral fields of your mind for a glorious relaxation session.
32. Lady Gaga - “Free Woman”
As Britney Spears once said, “I choose my own destiny.” Gaga delivers the same sentiment in this track, an ode to paving your own path, retaining confidence, and knowing you can do hard things.
We all have bad days, but hopefully, this playlist will give you the lift you need to shrug off your self-doubt and take up space in the world. I can't stress the importance of self-care enough guys, and, hopefully, after you listen to this playlist, I won't need to.
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