Songs That Make Us Smile

“Us” being the Tunefind by Songtradr team 😊

Music has an incredible ability to touch our hearts, transporting us to different emotional realms. Just as melancholy melodies can strike an tearful chord, there’s another side of the coin that deserves equal attention: songs that make us smile. These uplifting tunes can brighten our moods, infuse joy into our lives, and create memorable moments. Tunefind delves into the magic of happy songs and their impact on our emotions.

There are countless examples of how sync music has been used to influence emotions in TV and movies. While acting and storytelling are certainly important factors in eliciting strong feelings, there’s another element that is often more subtle: music. Music can set the tone for a scene, evoke a specific sentiment, and even become a character in its own right. Tunefind reached out to our music-minded community at Songtradr and asked a simple question:

What song makes you smile?

When a song is paired with a particularly poignant or joyful moment in a movie or TV show, it can become linked to the story and the personal experiences we relate to on screen. This creates a powerful resonance that stays with viewers long after the credits roll. Tunefind focuses on our co-workers’ happy songs to see if they have received placement in equally joy-inducing movies and TV shows. A smile is worth a thousand words, and these tracks are worth a thousand smiles.


The Songs

Lovely Day by Bill Withers

Released as a single in late 1977, ‘Lovely Day’ peaked at number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1978. Toward the end of the song Withers holds a note for 18 seconds, the longest of any Top 40 hit in the United States. Skip Scarborough was a songwriter and producer who wrote the music for this song, and was also the inspiration for the Withers’ lyrics. In an interview Bill Withers explained, “Skip was a very nice, gentle man. The way Skip was, every day was just a lovely day. He was an optimist. If I had sat down with the same music and my collaborator had been somebody else with a different personality, it probably would have caused something else to cross my mind lyrically. It was a combination of the music and the person and the ambiance in the room.”

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Walking on a Dream by Empire of the Sun

‘Walking on a Dream’ is a song by Australian electronic music duo Empire of the Sun comprised of Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore. The track was released on August 30, 2008 as the first single from their debut studio album of the same name. The duo typically prefers to keep the meaning of their songs mysterious, having been quoted as saying, “Sometimes trying to explain what a song is about spoils the beauty and it rips your heart out painting it black and white. The mystery is part of the beauty and you kill a song when you tell too much.” Steele has however said that ‘Walking on a Dream’ is about, “what it feels like when you’re missing home or you’re missing someone isn’t just ‘it’ – one thing. It’s also about when two people become one which is about me and Nick, when we were reunited but at the same time it’s about so many other things.”

In the United States, the song was featured in a Honda Civic ad in 2016, more than seven years after its first release. After it’s placement in the commercial the song gained traction in the states and became the duo’s first international success.

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Peanut Butter Jelly by Galantis

‘Peanut Butter Jelly’ is a song by Swedish electronic music duo Galantis. The Swedish electronic dance music project is a collaboration of record producer Christian “Bloodshy” Karlsson and Style of Eye member Linus Eklöw. Karlsson is known to have co-written the 2004 Britney Spears track ‘Toxic,’ where as Eklöw co-wrote and produced Icona Pop‘s hit song ‘I Love It.’ ‘Peanut Butter Jelly’ was released on April 20, 2015 as the fourth single from their debut studio album Pharmacy. The track heavily features a sample of the 1974 single ‘Kiss My Love Goodbye’ by Bettye Swann.

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Modern Love by David Bowie

‘Modern Love’ was released on April 14, 1983 as the opening track of Bowie’s 15th studio album called Let’s Dance. It has been suggested the ‘Modern Love’ is about trying to find solace in love and faith. Additionally, it has been said that this song reflects the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Following Bowie’s death in 2016, Rolling Stone listed ‘Modern Love’ as one of Bowie’s 30 essential songs, writing that it “reveals Bowie at his catchiest and most nihilistic.”

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Mr. Blue Sky by ELO

‘Mr. Blue Sky’ is a song by the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), featured on the band’s seventh studio album Out of the Blue released in 1977. It has occasionally been referred to as the band’s hallmark song due to its success and frequent use in several TV series and movies. After locking himself in a Swiss cabin to try to write, Jeff Lynne (songwriter/multi-instrumentalist) explained how he came up with this song saying, “It was dark and misty for two weeks, and I didn’t come up with a thing. Suddenly the sun shone and it was, ‘Wow, look at those beautiful Alps.’”

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Cut to the Feeling by Carly Rae Jepsen

This joyful, power-pop song was initially penned by Carly Rae Jepsen during the recording of her 2015 album Emotion, however it was omitted from the final track list after it was decided that the track was too “cinematic and theatrical.” Instead, after Jepsen was cast as the voice for character Odette in 2016’s French-Canadian animated film, Leap! (aka Ballerina), she felt the song was fitting for the story. On May 26, 2017, it was made available as a single to support the movie’s release in the United States.

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You Make My Dreams (Come True) by Daryl Hall & John Oates

‘You Make My Dreams (Come True)’ is a song by the American duo Daryl Hall and John Oates, taken from their ninth studio album, 1980’s Voices. This is one of Daryl Hall’s top five Hall & Oates tracks, according to the Entertainment Weekly issue from October 16, 2009. Hall explained, “It’s funny – it’s ubiquitous, especially now. I think because it’s such a happy song, just a pure expression of joy. And it’s set to a really old-time-gospel kind of groove. The fact that they use it in a pivotal scene in (500) Days of Summer…I’m very flattered.”

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Hypnotize by The Notorious B.I.G.

‘Hypnotize’ was produced by P. Diddy (then known as Puff Daddy) and The Notorious B.I.G. aka, Biggie Smalls or more simply, Biggie, wrote the entire rap, including the female vocals. ‘Hypnotize’ features music from Herb Alpert‘s 1979 hit song ‘Rise,’ which was written by Andy Armer and Herb’s nephew, Randy “Badazz” Alpert. Badazz Alpert has explained what it was like first hearing the demo of the song stating, “When I first met Biggie before they recorded ‘Hypnotize’ he played me a demo version with him doing the girl’s part. I still have that cassette demo and it’s definitely a classic piece of rap history.” Rolling Stone ranked the song as number 30 on their list of the “100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time.”

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Kids by MGMT

‘Kids’ was released as the third and final single from MGMT’s 2007 debut studio album, Oracular Spectacular. According to MGMT member Ben Goldwasser who spoke to The Independent on November 21, 2008, this song, “was a result of us being 19 years old, in this fantasy college world, which is a little bit like childhood because you don’t have much responsibility.” Rolling Stone named it number 46 on its list of 100 Best Songs of the 2000s.

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Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & the Waves

‘Walking on Sunshine’ is a song from British rock band Katrina and the Waves’ 1983 eponymous debut full-length album. Penned by the group’s guitarist, Kimberley Rew, the song was the Waves’ first American top 40 hit. Speaking with The Guardian in 2015 Rew explains the simplicity behind the song stating, “I’d love to say ‘Walking on Sunshine’ relates to a significant event in my life, like walking out of my front door, seeing a comet, and being inspired, but it’s just a piece of simple fun, an optimistic song, despite us not being outstandingly cheery people.”

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Get Down On It by Kool & The Gang

The American band Kool & the Gang released the song ‘Get Down on It’ in 1981. It was first made available on their 1981 album, Something Special. Early in 1982, the song peaked at number 10 on Billboard’s U.S. Pop and R&B charts. The track has been covered and sampled numerous time since its initial release by artists such as My Morning Jacket, Snoop Dog, and 98 Degrees.

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September by Earth, Wind & Fire

The American band Earth, Wind & Fire’s track ‘September’ was included in The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 in 1978. The song is still a mainstay of the band’s discography and has often been sampled, covered, remixed, and re-recorded. It was included in the the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry’s 2018 list of audio files that, “are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important.” Although many people hear the first words in the chorus as “Party On,” it’s really “Bada-Ya.” Songwriter Allee Willis explained how she initially was against the use of nonsensical lyrics before coming around to the idea saying, “I absolutely could not deal with lyrics that were nonsensical, or lines that weren’t complete sentences. And I’m exceedingly happy that I lost that attitude. I went, ‘You cannot leave ‘bada-ya’ in the chorus, that has to mean something.’ Maurice [White, band vocalist] said, ‘No, that feels great. That’s what people are going to remember. We’re leaving it.’”

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There She Goes by The La’s

Released by English rock band The La’s, ‘There She Goes’ was written by the band’s lead singer, Lee Mavers. When the song was released again in 1990, it peaked at number 13 on the UK Singles Chart. Rolling Stone named the band’s self-titled album, which was released four years prior to the emergence of Britpop, as one of the top 40 greatest one-album wonders, noting that “‘There She Goes’ has endured as a founding piece of Britpop’s foundation.”

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Home by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

‘Home’ was written and recorded by American group Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. This song was released in January 2010 as the second single from their first full length album, Up from Below. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros vocalists Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos penned this lively tune while they were still dating. The track is said to have been inspired by a moment the couple shared. Castrinos explained that she lost her shoes during their frolic around Los Angeles’ Elysian Park and Ebert carried her home on his back. According to Jade Castrinos the scene was like a montage from a romantic comedy, and giddy with love, they returned to Alex Ebert’s apartment and wrote the song.

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Three Little Birds by Bob Marley and The Wailers

‘Three Little Birds’ is the fourth track on side two of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ ninth studio album, Exodus released in 1977. It is said to be one of Marley’s most popular songs and has been covered by numerous other artists. The inspiration behind Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ lyrics is still a matter of debate. However, it is rumored that Marley was inspired by a message he received from the birds that frequented his porch stoop in Kingston, Jamaica. Marley’s friend Tony “Gilly” Gilbert explains in his book The Book of Exodus: The Making and Meaning of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Album of the Century that, “Bob got inspired by a lot of things around him, he observed life. I remember the three little birds. They were pretty birds, canaries, who would come by the windowsill at Hope Road.”

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It’s no wonder that music is an integral part of the storytelling process in the entertainment industry. As Tunefind discovered, there’s a definite connection between happy songs and happy syncs. Check out the Tunefind by Songtradr official “Songs That Make Us Smile” playlist below for even more smile-inducing songs and happy-dance your day away!

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