“What Makes You Happy”, by the way (complete with uh-huhs aplenty), was the B-side of K.C. & the Sunshine Band’s 1970s hit, “That’s the Way I Like It.” This was one of those cases in which I liked the B-side as much, if not more, than the A-side.
However, this post isn’t about whether or not you know what a B-side is. If you don’t, Google it or ask your parents. This is about songs that just plain make you happy. If you’re like me, music’s importance in life cannot be underestimated, whether it creates the mood for writing or sets the soundtrack to your life.
Led Zeppelin was undoubtedly the most important driving force in my formative years. But that was different than what I’m talking about here. I’m not necessarily discussing my favorite artists right now, or songs that I think are the best ever. Just my top 6 songs – all rock or pop, ’cause that’s how I roll – that are guaranteed to bring me to a happy place. 6 songs, because why do 5 when I can do 6? Let the countdown begin:
6. “Shake Your Booty” – K.C. & the Sunshine Band – What, did you think K.C. & the Sunshine Band weren’t going to make the list? Actually, any of their songs lift me up. They’re called the Sunshine Band for a reason.
5. “You’re the One That I Want” – John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, from the “Grease” soundtrack – Maybe it’s just that the youthful John and Olivia look so great together at the end of the movie, but this song is incredibly joyous and full of hope.
4. “I Can See Clearly Now” – Johnny Nash – When someone with such a clear, pure voice sings about having a bright, bright sunshiny day, you can’t help but believe you’re really going to have one.
3. “Spirit in the Sky” – Norman Greenbaum – A strong, thrumming beat instead of the light tune of #4, but just as uplifting.
2. “Top of the World” – The Carpenters – With a voice like Karen Carpenter’s singing about everything she wants the world to be “now coming true especially for me…” Just happy, happy, happy.
And my top make-me-happy song:
1. “Karma Chameleon” – Culture Club – For a writer, I often pay amazingly little attention to song lyrics. Especially if the melody is upbeat. Case in point: “Karma Chameleon” had been my #1 happy song for at least 10 years when I told an acquaintance that it was my happy song, and she demanded, “Haven’t you ever listened to the lyrics? It’s a break-up song!” She went on to tell me that Boy George had written it about his tumultuous relationship with Jon Moss and furthermore, the rest of the band hated the lyrics so much that they made up the stupidest music they could think of so that nobody would want it. Alas for them, it became one of their biggest hits.
I’ve never really looked into it to find out if my friend’s version of the Boy George/Culture Club thing was indeed true. I did, however, finally listen – really listen – to the lyrics. And yeah, I guess a song that starts out with someone singing about listening to his lover’s wicked lies every day, is not coming from a good place.
Still, I reserve the right to keep “Karma Chameleon” as my go-to happy song. Too late to change that now.