Spotlight in Stereo – Motivational Special!
January 26, 2024
It’s the middle of January and the vibes are low. You’ve taken the decorations down, enforced sobriety has lost its novelty, and you already feel like you’ve been working for eleven months straight. But don’t despair – here in the Spotlight office we’ve been cranking up the stereo and endorphins with these big hits that’ll get you through to Feb. It’s all daffodils from here.
Calvin Harris – Giant
Celebrating its fifth anniversary this month, this is a motivational monster of a tune. A collaboration with UK singer-songwriter Rag’n’Bone Man, his deep, soulful tones anchor Calvin’s euphoric synths while the lyrics bolster with confidence and self-belief.
While he might be singing about the empowerment which comes from feeling loved, writing the track helped Rag’n’Bone Man to reflect on his relationship with his parents. Speaking on BBC Radio 2, he said, “They look after you and do everything for you when you’re a kid, and when you get to a certain age, I think it’s a beautiful thing to be able to go: ‘I’ve got you now, I can look after you.”
The song’s message clearly connected with plenty of people going through similar emotions – it was the most played song in the UK in 2019! If you’re feeling low, there’s no better track to lift you up.
Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten
The title track from her 2004 debut album, Natasha Bedingfield originally wrote this song as a birthday present for her younger brother. “Today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten,” she sings, reminding us to take each day as it comes and be open to all of life’s possibilities.
Despite being released nearly twenty years ago, this track feels as vital as ever. Over the years it’s experienced many resurgences; in 2006 it became the theme song for reality series The Hills. The same year, Unwritten was the most played song on US radio and earnt Natasha a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
In 2001 the track went viral on TikTok, peaking when Natasha herself joined the trend, while at the end of last year it was used as a key plot-hook in the romcom Anyone But You. Unwritten’s legacy just goes to further prove its sentiment – you never know what’s going to happen next so just release your inhibitions and feel the January rain on your skin!
Usher – Yeah!
He may not have meant it as a motivational anthem, but Usher’s 2004 hit is all about throwing caution to the wind and saying yes to the opportunities life presents. Celebrating its twentieth anniversary this month, this club pop-banger was one of the biggest tracks of its time and still slaps today.
Taken from Usher’s fourth album Confessions, the song topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for twelve consecutive weeks, only to be dethroned by Usher himself with follow-up single Burn. It’s been certified platinum around the world and won Usher a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
It took a team of collaborators saying yes to put together this explosive and enduring RnB hit of adrenaline, including Lil Jon and Ludacris who both feature. So whether it’s cheating on your partner with a hot girl in a club, an exciting career move or remembering to shower, take Usher’s advice and just say Yeah!
WHAM! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
If there were ever a month for sleeping in, it’s January. If it’s not freezing cold then it’s probably raining, but we should all take a cue from WHAM!’s summertime vibes and get the heck out of bed.
Taken from their 1984 album Make It Big, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go was the duo’s first UK and US number one and has been certified platinum in both countries, twice so in the UK! The single’s music video also became a cultural moment, featuring the iconic Choose Life t-shirts by British designer Katharine Hamnett.
Last year, WHAM! celebrated their first ever Christmas number one with their festive hit Last Christmas, thirty-nine years after the single’s release. It might have taken a few decades and a lot of hard work, but they didn’t do it all sitting about in pyjamas. So don’t hang around like a yo-yo, hit play on this endorphin rush for instant motivation!
Kelly Clarkson – Stronger
Every cloud has a silver lining and if you’re having a terrible day, just remember the words of Kelly Clarkson’s 2011 hit Stronger. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” she commands in the hit single’s driving chorus, as empowering as it is mildly threatening. The title track of her fifth studio album, it became her third single to top US charts, taking the number one for three non-consecutive weeks and proving that strength and adversity go hand in hand.
With its pop-rock production, soaring vocal and inspirational message, the track has become an adaptable anthem for many. Talking to The Associated Press, Clarkson said, “I’ve heard everything from ‘I got out of an abusive relationship’ to ‘I’m surviving cancer’… and I think everyone in the world needs that type of song – something that makes you feel empowered.”
If you’re struggling to get through the month, take a note from Kelly’s songbook and by February you’ll be tougher than The Rock.
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