Top 10 Happy Pop Songs

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Lamb, Bill. "Top 10 Happy Pop Songs." ThoughtCo, Jun. 29, 2017, thoughtco.com/top-happy-pop-songs-4050139. Lamb, Bill. (2017, June 29). Top 10 Happy Pop Songs. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/top-happy-pop-songs-4050139 Lamb, Bill. "Top 10 Happy Pop Songs." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/top-happy-pop-songs-4050139 (accessed September 24, 2017).
Happy
Happy. Photo by PlasticBoyStudio / Getty Images
01
of 10

Drifters - Up On the Roof" (1963)

Drifters Up on the Roof
Drifters - "Up On the Roof". Courtesy Atlantic

This song about finding escape from the noise and stress of the city is one of the great feel-good pop songs of all time. It was one of many classic pop hits of the 1960s written by the married songwriting team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Little Eva made the first recording of the song but it was the Drifters who took it to the top 5 on the pop singles chart in 1963. English singer Kenny Lynch took it to the top 10 on the UK pop singles chart around the same time. James Taylor brought it back into the pop top 40 in 1979. He added a poignant touch to the song's history by playing it at the Concert for New York City in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The song was played to demonstrate ongoing love for the city.

The Drifters formed in 1953 as a backing vocal group for Clyde McPhatter. The name was adopted at least in part in recognition of the number of vocalists who drifted in and out of the group. At least 60 singers are counted in the direct line of the original group. The Drifters hit the top 10 on the US pop charts five different times between 1959 and 1964. They experienced a resurgence in popularity in the UK in the early 1970s with a series of six top ten pop hits.

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02
of 10

The Monkees - "i'm a Believer" (1966)

Monkees I'm a Believer
The Monkees - "I'm a Believer". Courtesy RCA

Written by Neil Diamond, this classic pop song went to #1 on the charts in the US for seven weeks in 1966 becoming the biggest hit of the year. Neil Diamond's original recording of "I'm a Believer" appears on his 1967 album Just For You. However, it was the version by the Monkees which made the song a classic. "I'm a Believer" was the TV band's biggest hit. The powerful upbeat sound of the song owes itself to the redeeming power of love. The band Smash Mouth took the song back into the pop top 40 in 2001 with a version included on the soundtrack to the movie Shrek.

Among the musicians who played on the Monkees' version of "I'm a Believer" was guitarist Al Gorgoni who also played on Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence," Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," and Neil Diamond's "Cherry, Cherry." Carol Kaye, known for her work in the studio with Phil Spector and Brian Wilson, played bass on "I'm a Believer."

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03
of 10

Turtles - "Happy Together" (1967)

Turtles Happy Together
Turtles - "Happy Together". Courtesy White Whale

This classic song of romantic joy was the only #1 pop song from the band the Turtles. The song captures relationship bliss so well it has been used in countless movies and TV shows as well as being adapted for television commercials and covered by a wide range of recording artists. Written by songwriters Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon, "Happy Together" was rejected twelve times before being offered to the Turtles. When first released in 1967 it had the distinction of knocking the Beatles classic "Penny Lane" off the top of the pop singles chart. 

"Happy Together" was the first hit single written by Alan Gordon who co-wrote the song with Gary Bonner. They were formerly members of a band called The Magicians. The song was rejected a dozen times and the demo acetate wore out before the Turtles finally accepted it to record. It was the second top 10 pop hit, and the first and only #1, for the Turtles. They released three more top 10 pop hit singles after "Happy Together."

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04
of 10

Beatles - "Here Comes the Sun" (1969)

Beatles Abbey Road
Beatles - Abbey Road. Courtesy Apple

Few pop songs are clearer examples of the confidence that hope springs eternal. The Beatles' George Harrison wrote the song during a difficult winter in which he felt swamped by business and financial dealings with Apple Records. He walked away one day to visit his friend Eric Clapton and wrote this song while walking around the garden. "Here Comes the Sun" opens the second side of the Beatles' legendary album Abbey Road. Along with "Something," it is one of two songs on the album written by George Harrison. Although it was never released as a single, most observers rank it as one of the Beatles' best songs.

The early months of 1969 were a difficult time for George Harrison due to a temporary exit from the Beatles, an arrest on marijuana possession, and a tonsilectomy. Meteorological data confirms that April 1969 set a record for the most sunlight hours in a month in the London area in the 1960s, and it followed a colder than normal February and March. This is reflected in the lyrics about the arrival of the sun after a, "long, cold, lonely winter."

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05
of 10

Johnny Nash - "I Can See Clearly Now" (1972)

Johnny Nash I Can See Clearly Now
Johnny Nash - "I Can See Clearly Now". Courtesy CBS

This unabashedly happy song helped popularize the sound of reggae pop in the US. It was also considered a much needed change of pace from many of the serious, downbeat pop hits of the time. Born in Houston, Texas, singer Johnny Nash was one of the very first American artists to record reggae songs in Jamaica. Johnny Nash had some success as a pop singer in the US in the late 1950s. He travelled to Jamaica in 1968 and recorded several locally popular singles. "I Can See Clearly Now" successfully brought the rocksteady beat to the US pop charts and spent four weeks at #1. Jamaican reggae legend Jimmy Cliff covered "I Can See Clearly Now" in 1993 and turned it into a top 20 pop hit in the US. Johnny Nash returned to the top 40 on the US pop charts in 1973 with a cover of Bob Marley's "Stir It Up." It was his final significant hit in the US.

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06
of 10

Katrina and the Waves - "Walking On Sunshine" (1985)

Katrina and the Waves Walking On Sunshine
Katrina and the Waves - "Walking On Sunshine". Courtesy Capitol

There are few things happier than confidence in a romantic relationship. One of the most deliriously happy pop hits of all-time was written by singer-songwriter Kimberley Rew. He also wrote Katrina and the Waves' "Love Shine a Light" which won the 1997 Eurovision song contest. "Walking On Sunshine" was the first major hit single by Katrina and the Waves reaching the top 10 in the UK, US, Australia, and Canada. Dolly Parton created a notable bluegrass version of "Walking On Sunshine" released on her 1996 covers album Treasures.

Katrina and the Waves struggled to find a follow up hit to "Walking On Sunshine." Then in 1989 the group put together a more rock-oriented album Break of Hearts. It included the top 20 charting US pop hit single "That's the Way."

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07
of 10

Deee-Lite - "Groove Is In the Heart" (1990)

Deee Lite Groove Is In the Heart
Deee-Lite - "Groove Is In the Heart". Courtesy Elektra

As the song intro says, "We're going to dance and have some fun." Dance group Deee-Lite brought this oddball classic into the top 5 on both sides of the Atlantic. Get up and dance and sing along. You'll find most of your concerns and cares have magically floated away. Parliament bassist Bootsy Collins is featured on the original recording, as well as Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest rapping. The backing track is built around multiple samples notably Herbie Hancock's "Bring Down the Birds" and Vernon Burch's "Get Up." In addition to its pop success, "Groove Is In the Heart" also topped the dance chart. 

Dee-Lite was formed as a duo in 1986 with Lady Miss Kier and Supa DJ Dmitry. In 1988 Jungle DJ Towa Towa joined them and Dee-Lite became a trio. After the success of "Groove Is In the Heart," the trio failed to reach the pop top 40, but they released a series of seven more top 10 dance hit singles including five that went all the way to #1. Their most recent was 1995's "Call Me" from the album Dewdrops In the Garden.

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08
of 10

Hanson - "Mmmbop" (1997)

Hanson Mmmbop
Hanson - "Mmmbop". Courtesy Mercury

The brother trio Hanson blasted into the pop spotlight with this irrepressibly cheerful #1 pop hit. Like many extremely popular songs, "MmmBop" did face backlash in some quarters likening listening to the song over and over to being a form of torture. However, now that the backlash has faded, it is possible to truly appreciate the upbeat sound of this #1 debut for Hanson. "Mmmbop" earned a Grammy Award nomination for Record of the Year. It also helped Hanson to their nomination for Best New Artist. Despite its final incarnation as an uptempo hit, Hanson first recorded "Mmmbop" as a ballad.

Hanson have continued to record and became pioneers in the creation of independently distributed record labels. They have released eight albums that reached the top 40 on the album chart. Their most recent top 40 pop hit single was 2000's "This Time Around."

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09
of 10

OneRepublic - "Good Life" (2009)

OneRepublic Good Life
OneRepublic - "Good Life". Courtesy Interscope

"Good Life" was released as OneRepublic's third single in the US from the album Waking Up. Following their #2 charting first single "Apologize," the group released three consecutive singles that reached the top 40 on the pop chart but missed the top 10. "Good Life" broke that streak and landed at #8. It is an upbeat song and was helped on the charts by inclusion in various TV and film projects. Three years later OneRepublic returned to the pop top 10 with the #2 charting smash "Counting Stars."

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10
of 10

Pharrell Williams - "Happy" (2013)

Pharrell Williams - Happy
Pharrell Williams - "Happy". Courtesy Back Lot

What is better at making you feel happy than singing along to a song that is about happiness itself.  Pharrell Williams earned his first solo #1 hit with this cheerful tune from the soundtrack to the animated film Despicable Me 2. "Happy" became a major pop hit in much of the rest of the world before reaching charts in the US. It ultimately hit #1 in most major pop markets while crossing over to hit #1 at both adult contemporary and adult pop radio. It earned Pharrell Williams an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.  A live recording of "Happy" won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance. Check out the music video brimming over with good vibes as well.  There is even a 24 hour version of the "Happy" music video if you can't get enough.

"Happy" was part of a phenomenal year for Pharrell Williams in which he also appeared on Daft Punk's #2 charting pop breakthrough "Get Lucky." He was one of two featured artists on Robin Thicke's #1 smash hit "Blurred Lines." Pharrell Williams album Girl was released in March, 2014 and it peaked at #2 on the album chart ultimately becoming his first solo album to earn a gold certification for sales.

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