Sometimes you hear a song that is so powerful, it will make you cry and make you happy at the same time. These five existential songs will make you feel alive. With the video clips to back them up. These songs have the power to move you, empower you, fill your heart – your entire body – with music, strengt and love. Love for life, for others, for yourself. Music has that power, to unite people, to touch people’s hearts and to fill in the pieces. If you want all that, then keep reading (and start listening).
1. I Was Here
To be honest I could have made this list all about Beyonce. Writing existential songs that move millions is kind of her thing. I guess that’s why she is the queen. But this song is definitely on the top of that list. Her performance at the United Nations World Humanitarian Day is epic. The song is so powerful, so true. It is existentialism in it’s purest form: I was here. “I want to leave my footprints on the sand of time/ Know there was something that, something that I left behind/ When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets/Leave something to remember, so they won’t forget.”
“I was here, I lived, I loved, I was here. I did, I’ve done, everything that I wanted.”
2. What About Us
I recently heard this song for the first time and men, did it punch me right in the heart. It is so beautiful and relatable for so many different people. It could be about the relationship between God and men, it can be about politics or humanitarian disasters, it can even be about a personal relationship. It doesn’t matter: it is about whatever you feel it is about. It’s beautiful.
“What about Love, What about Trust, What about Us?”
3. Runnin’ (Lose it All)
I wasn’t kidding when I said I could easily fill up this list with Beyonce songs. But, to be fair, this one is in collaboration with Naughty Boy. What makes this song so powerful is the fact that everyone can relate to a point in their life where they were running from things: could be a relationship, or perhaps responsibility, a job maybe and, most definitely, yourself. And then Beyonce sings the words that can set you free:
“If I lose myself, I lose it all.”
4. I Will Always Love You
You have probably heard this song a million times (Whitney’s version has 475 million views on YouTube), but it will never get old. You may think, ‘how is this an existential song? It’s a love song!’ Well, first of all, is there anything more existential than love? And second, Dolly wrote it at a point in her life that was pretty darn existential. A tipping point, where she left something she had known for a long time, to step out into the world and do her own thing. She made a decision, a big one. Anyone who has ever had to make one of those will understand why this song is in this top five.
5. Knocking on Heaven’s Door
There are so many beautiful songs, that I consider to be existential. For instance, Ane Brun’s “Rubber & Soul“, or pretty much any Ben Howard song. Jaymes Young’s “I’ll be good” is also relatable for so many people. So is Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now“. And Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bookends” was definitely on the table. So were the three songs I’ve got tattooed on my arms. And then I almost chose Passenger’s “All the Little Lights” as my fifth existential song. It is about how, as you grow up and get older, you experience all these things that put out – or obliterate really – all these little lights inside of you. It’s beautiful and sad and comforting all at once.
But I chose Antony and the Jonhsons, singing Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”. The singer, Anohni, formerly known as Antony, is a transgender woman with a voice that cuts through flesh and goes straight for the heart. The existential struggle, of who you are and who you love, becomes even more complex when your sexual/gender identity are part of that struggle. That’s why Antony and the Johnsons need to close this list.