There might be affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you buy. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Please do your own research before making any online purchase.
Sometimes we all feel that we’ve got so much on our plates that doing anything else seems impossible. We think that making a serious impact on the world is far-fetched and reserved for other, more capable people. But music can inspire you to commit thoughtful deeds that change the world for the better, one step at a time.
We’ve compiled a list of the 17 best songs about changing the world to encourage you to take positive action.
Best Songs About Changing the World
1. One Man Can Change the World, Big Sean ft. Kanye West and John Legend
via Big Sean
“I hope you learn to make it on your own, and if you love yourself, just know you'll never be alone. I hope that you get everything you want and that you chose. I hope that it's the realest thing that you ever know.”
The artist dedicated this emotional track to his late grandmother. During World War II, she was a trailblazer when she served in the army and fought for her country. Her service helped others, but she taught her grandson kindness, generosity, and perseverance. The lyrics attempt to transfer this hope to the listeners.
No matter how hard life gets, hard work and determination will turn it around and positively impact those around you. When you try your best to be a good person, other people will follow your lead. Because when you do good, the good gets better.
2. A Change Is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke
via Sam Cooke
“It's been a long, a long time coming, but I know a change gonna come. Oh, yes it will.”
Cooke's song sums up the troubles he faced during the Civil Rights Movement. The soulful lyrics capture the resentment, unhappiness, and disappointment oppression breeds. However, a sliver of hope lives on and soars through the chorus despite the continuous struggle.
As long as people cling to their fighting spirit, there's a chance that good things will come. The future may look uncertain, but it will surely bring change. It's up to us to make sure that this change heals past wounds so that we can all live more fulfilling lives.
3. Heal the World, Michael Jackson
via Michael Jackson
“We could really get there if you cared enough for the living. Make a little space to make a better place.”
In many corners of the globe, hunger, poverty, oppression, and war are still wreaking havoc. The suffering people are so far away that we sometimes forget about their hardships. Jackson's powerful song implores us to reexamine our hearts and care more about all issues, not just the ones that affect us directly.
When we take the time to work together, we can find helpful solutions that would enable everyone to experience love, happiness, and abundance. If we realize it's our responsibility to take care of each other, we'll selflessly give love to the world. This way, it can become a safe and happy place for all its inhabitants.
4. If You’re Out There, John Legend
via John Legend
“If you hear this message, wherever you stand, I'm calling every woman, calling every man. We're the generation; we can't afford to wait. The future started yesterday, and we're already late.”
An anthemic call to action, Legend's song encourages listeners to become everyday heroes and do their part in changing their environment. We don't have to put in extraordinary effort to do so. Through unity and mutual support, we're able to stand up to injustice and protect our values and beliefs.
There's no right time to speak up against injustice. Instead of waiting for the best moment, we should raise our voices and help the people afflicted by hunger, wars, and natural disasters. No matter who you are or where you're from, your voice can be heard and have a positive ripple effect.
5. People Help the People, Birdy
“People help the people and if you’re homesick, give me your hand and I'll hold it. People help the people, nothing will drag you down.”
This heartfelt Cherry Ghost cover criticizes society for becoming preoccupied with trivial pursuits like earning more money. People have become bloated with pride and self-interest, disregarding the misfortunes of others. As the lyrics move along, they become tinged with hope that there's a way to be more compassionate. Birdy sings of reaching out a helping hand to those in need, and her tender voice reflects the fragility of humankind.
We're all vulnerable and have a breaking point, and we're not immune to bad luck or trouble. But an act of kindness from another person will help us get back on our feet. When you have the chance to help someone, go for it. Compassion and kindness cost nothing, but they can enable someone to turn their life around.
6. With My Own Two Hands, Ben Harper
via Ben Harper
“I can change the world with my own two hands. Make a better place with my own two hands.”
Harper's reggae-inspired tune carries a beautiful message. We're full of limitless potential, and if we dare to unlock it, we can bring about great change. Our qualities and principles are the tools that will allow us to make a better world. We might think that our actions are not doing much for others, but making a difference is possible when we take the initiative.
One person can start an entire movement if armed with good intentions and willing to act on them. But before we can change the world, we have to change ourselves by becoming more kindhearted.
7. I Can, Nas
“You can be anything in the world, in God we trust. An architect, doctor, maybe an actress. But nothing comes easy; it takes much practice.”
Nas's rap track is aimed at young people who find themselves at a crossroads in life. As we're growing up, there are many paths life lays down before us. Some are treacherous and can prevent us from growing into good people. The lyrics urge their target audience to listen to their inner voice and always do the right thing, even when faced with intense pressure. This sentiment applies to people of all ages.
We don't have to follow the crowd, especially when we recognize bad behavior. When we take charge of our life and make good choices, we learn to lead with pride. By setting a positive example, you'll reveal to others that they, too, have the power to go down a different path.
8. Man in the Mirror, Michael Jackson
via Michael Jackson
“I'm starting with the man in the mirror; I'm asking him to change his ways. And no message could've been any clearer. If they wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.”
The real change stems from deep within. The song's narrator is hit with this realization when he observes the suffering in his surroundings. He used not to notice how hungry the kids roaming the streets were, but now he knows that this ignorance cannot go on. If he wants to live in a better world, he has to start with himself and transform his self-love into concern and care for others.
The lyrics call for unity, underscoring that one person can't be happy until all people are happy.
9. Touch a Hand, Make a Friend, The Staple Singers
“Everyday folk are waking up to the need for one another. We're on our way, making the world a better place.”
Forming deep and meaningful connections with others is how we learn to treat people with love and respect. Friendship teaches us that even the smallest of actions can have far-reaching consequences. Your friends are an integral part of your world, and your behavior can influence their emotions. Unkind words will make them sad, and internal jokes will make them dizzy with laughter.
If we try to be kinder to our friends and listen to them more closely, they will feel more seen, heard, and appreciated. Enriching someone's life with friendship and joy is one of the most beautiful things we can do for another person.
10. Put a Little Love in Your Heart, Jackie DeShannon
“Think of your fellow man; lend him a helping hand. Put a little love in your heart. You see, it's getting late. Oh, please don't hesitate. Put a little love in your heart, and the world will be a better place.”
Empathy and warm-heartedness leave a lasting mark on the world. When you make someone's day, you'll boost their self-esteem and give them the energy to be the best version of themselves. Good deeds are contagious, and one spark of kindness will touch the heart of many people, compelling them to act in the same tender way. Your actions won't change the world overnight, but they might encourage the people around you to be more caring.
11. We’re All in This Together, Ben Lee
via Ben Lee
“Woke up this morning. I suddenly realized we're all in this together. I started smiling 'cause you were smiling, and we're all in this together.”
Regardless of our age, location, or name, a delicate string ties us to every person in the universe. Despite our perceived differences, we all go through the same life struggles. But we don't have to shoulder that weight alone. This human connection that binds us together can show us the way to unity and enable us to lead peaceful lives. When we successfully put aside our differences, the world will be a little brighter and kinder.
12. Imagine, John Lennon
“Imagine no possessions; I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people sharing all the world.“
Lennon asks us to envision a world where nothing can come between us. Wars, famine, and oppression are gone, and our hearts are open and ready to give love to everyone. Doubt lingers throughout the song because people find it hard to give up money, fame, possessions. Material things have preoccupied our minds, making life an endless race where trampling others has become normal.
However, Lennon asserted that this is more than a futile dream.
He believed there are kindred spirits in the world who also long for a change and want to heal the world as a whole. Finally, he addressed the listener, hopeful that they too will become a dreamer ready to turn this dream into reality.
13. Corner of the Sky, Matthew James Thomas
“Rivers belong where they can ramble. Eagles belong where they can fly. I've got to be where my spirit can run free, got to find my corner of the sky.”
This Broadway classic brings home the message that we have to break out of our comfort zone to see positive changes. The future is scary, and we don't always know whether our actions will have the desired effect. While the best intentions can occasionally backfire, we need to be brave and follow our hearts. We can only make a difference in the world if we act despite our growing fears.
14. Redemption Song, Bob Marley
via Bob Marley
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our mind. Woah, have no fear for atomic energy ‘cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time.”
To effectively change our circumstances, we need to free our minds from conventional ways of thinking. When you believe that you’re powerless and are no match for your adversities, you’ll never get to a place of freedom, happiness, and joy. Once you’ve gone through this internal transformation and rediscovered your courage and power, you can start fighting for a better world.
15. We Are the World, USA for Africa
“We are the world. We are the children. We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let's start giving. There's a choice we're making. We're saving our own lives. It's true; we'll make a better day, just you and me.”
One of the most famous charity songs of all time, “We Are the World” reminds us that every person in the world is part of a global family. We are all the world’s children, so we’re responsible for helping and supporting each other. If one member of our community suffers, we all suffer. The lyrics prompt us to be more compassionate and proactive by helping those in need and alleviating their pain.
16. That’s How You Change the World, Newsboys
“It's a prayer in an empty room. Little things we do when nobody's around. A hand reaching out to a heart in doubt. It's the smallest spark that can light the dark. That's how you change the world.”
Our daily choices may look insignificant, but they can end up having a significant impact. Our friends, family, neighbors, and acquaintances are only a tiny part of the world, but they're the part that we can change for the better. Treating others with respect and helping with their issues won't only make you feel good but spread positivity wherever you go. It's a simple way you can improve your patch of the world.
17. If Everyone Cared, Nickelback
“If everyone loved and nobody lied, and if everyone shared and swallowed their pride, then we'd see the day when nobody died.”
If the world were devoid of pride, greed, prejudice, and dishonesty, life would be a lot easier to bear. This pop-rock tune urges us to imagine such a life and reminds us that it’s up to us to rebuild a more caring and nurturing world. To do so, we need to value human life more and act with compassion and respect. The world is unfair now, but if we take immediate action to better ourselves, we just might see the day when everyone will care for each other.
It takes courage to change the world. You never know how your actions will pan out. Things may change for the better, or your plans could backfire and make the situation even worse. But that shouldn’t discourage us from trying harder as positive impact happens one step at a time.
These 17 songs about changing the world are an excellent reminder of how much of a difference one person can make. Check out the songs and links for each entry when in doubt about how you can make the world a better place.
Feel free to check out these other song collections that you might love:
- 29 Best Songs About Gratitude & Being Thankful
- 16 Best Songs About Heroes & Being a Superhero in Life
- 27 Best Songs About Going on an Adventure
Finally, if you want to use these songs to make a lasting change to your life, then check out these 100 LIFE GOALS that can help you wake up each morning with a sense of enthusiasm about making progress toward what's important..