The presidential election is finally over (whether some people want to admit it or not) and we got some great news about a potential Covid vaccine this week, so hopefully we're all feeling a bit happier. Still, given the kind of year 2020 has been, I'm betting the national mood could still use all the boosting it can get. 

Helpfully, science has a dead easy suggestion in the form of a ten-song playlist. With a long, cold Covid winter closing in, now might be an ideal time to revisit it. 

The ultimate feel good playlist (will also boost your productivity) 

First off, why point to this research on a site for entrepreneurs instead of, say, Rolling Stone? The short answer is that music and happiness are intimately linked, and science shows happiness actually makes your brain work better. Cheering yourself up won't just help you get through the gloom. It'll also help you think more clearly and get more done. 

Which is why it's especially handy that back in 2015 a music-loving Dutch neurologist did us all a favor and figured out what makes for the most mood-boosting tunes. The impetus for the study came from an unusual source: British electronic brand Alba. Apparently, they wanted to know what made for a truly happy tune and reached out to Dr. Jacob Jolij to get an answer. 

Jolij was happy to comply though he did note the obvious - taste in music is subjective. What gets your friend dancing might have you running from the room covering your ears. "Music appreciation is highly personal and strongly depends on social context, and personal associations. In that respect, the idea of a 'feel good formula' is a bit odd," he commented. 

What you can do, however, is ask the listening public to submit examples of their favorite feel good tracks and then analyze those submissions for patterns to reveal what characteristics are generally associated with smile-inducing songs. Which is just what Jolij did. 

He found that the happiest tunes are slightly faster than your average song (between 140 and 150 beats per minute on average), written in a major key, and either about happy events or complete nonsense. Jolij combined these factors into a formula for the happiest song possible and then went searching for existing hits that matched his template. 

Here, to brighten up the tail end of what has been an all around dismal 2020, are the top ten tunes he identified. (Or if you prefer, here's the same playlist on Spotify.) 

1. Don't Stop Me Now (Queen)

2. Dancing Queen (Abba)

3. Good Vibrations (The Beach Boys)

4. Uptown Girl (Billie Joel)

5. Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)


6. I'm a Believer (The Monkees)


7. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper)


8. Livin' on a Prayer (Jon Bon Jovi)


9. I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor)


10. Walking on Sunshine (Katrina & The Waves)