Every fight deserves a good soundtrack. Whether the battle takes place in the ring, the boardroom, the courtroom or on the yoga mat, there’s a perfect song to motivate or celebrate. Here are 10 songs about winning that will get you pumped up to seize the day and score a major victory in life.
Songs About Winning You’ll Love
Let’s begin with a Russ Ballard song.
1. “Winning” by Russ Ballard
“Winning” is one of my go-to feel-good songs, and I can’t sing along to it without fist pumping like a tennis player who’s just served an ace. I know I’m in good company. Russ Ballard’s 1976 pop rock single was covered by Nona Hendryx, Jorn, and most famously, Santana. It’s a low-key anthem, filled with fight night enthusiasm, hope, and plenty of great air guitar parts.
The “don’t intend on losing again” mantra inspires you to keep getting up no matter how many times you’ve been knocked down. Sometimes the perpetual losers are those most determined to win.
2. “You’re the Best” by Joe Esposito (from The Karate Kid Soundtrack)
Talk about The Little Engine That Could: “You’re the Best” was passed over for Flashdance and Rocky III before being picked up for a 1984 film about an awkward high school kid who wants to learn how to defend himself. The song provided the soundtrack to one of the best karate montages of all time as we watched Daniel LaRusso advance his way to the championships in Karate Kid.
It’s all rock guitar and 80s pop soundtrack production perfection, and Joe Esposito’s passionate conviction assures us that the only way to win is to fight from the heart. Four decades on, Ralph Macchio still cranks this song when he’s feeling pumped. Talk about a winner!
3. “The Winner” by Bobby Bare
War tales can make for lively after-dinner conversation but sometimes stories about the battles we don’t fight are better fodder. Drawing verse from the Shel Silverstein poem of the same name, “The Winner” depicts a tale of a young man who, full up on Dutch courage, challenges an old warhorse to a barfight.
Before accepting the young buck’s dare, the “Tiger Man” decides it’s only fair to let his opponent know what he’s in for should he try to unseat him. He rattles off a laundry list of ailments – ranging from a steel pin in his jaw to a glass eye and a broken back – trophies he’s collected throughout his long career as a winner. The young protagonist eventually backs down, grateful he’s still got his teeth and that his “nose still works”. Sometimes it’s best to know when to walk away from a fight.
4. “Life’s Been Good” by Joe Walsh
At times, winning can be boring. Once you have it all, what else is there to do but drown your sorrows with a killer guitar lick? Sure, the good fortune of Joe Walsh’s protagonist has brought him money, mansions and Maseratis but there is a dark cynicism in the message. Winning comes naturally to him, and has made him as lazy as the seemingly disconnected drum beat that introduces the song.
Our enervated victor senses that it is all too fleeting and meaningless. His fans will keep buying his records no matter how pompous he is. And just maybe that’s the definition of “winning” in the world of rock stardom.
5. “Win” by David Bowie
According to an August 1975 New Musical Express interview, David Bowie intended for the second track from Young Americans to be a “precautionary sort of morality song”. But to me, with its astral sax and lush, spiralling guitar, this lulling song makes winning sound pretty easy. The muted tones and whispered vocals create a fluffy pastoral bed upon which you can lie down, watch the passing clouds above, and plain imagine yourself to victory.
The encouraging “seek and believe in you” line delivered by the “Walk on the Wild Side”-esque backup singers seeps into your subconscious. If you don’t fall asleep before the end of this delicious lullaby, you can try soaking up its “If you can dream it, you can be it” vibe.
6. “Every 1’s a Winner” by Hot Chocolate
Ever had loving so good you feel like you’ve won the lottery? Hot Chocolate has. The thumping bass and whirling synths of “Every 1’s a Winner” set the scene as singer Errol Brown leads the band in a celebration of passion. “Just one touch” soon turns everything aflame with the help of flirtatious horns, an interminable distorted guitar riff, and climaxing gospel harmonies.
Though set at a bit slower tempo than most dance hits of the era, in 1978 no disco floor would have been bare with this song pumping through the sound system. Hot Chocolate wasn’t always so lucky in love. Its first single of the year, “So You Win Again,” (by “Winning” songwriter Russ Ballard) was a lament to a cheating partner: a theme shared with the next entry on this list.
7. “You Win Again” by Hank Williams
Where there are winners, there will be losers. Originally titled, “I Lose Again,” “You Win Again” was recorded in 1952 the day after Hank Williams’s wife Audrey divorced him. One of the most surrendering songs ever written, it relates the sorrow of a man who just can’t bring himself to leave his cheating partner, no matter how poorly she treats him.
Songs like this earned Williams the nickname “Mr. Lovesick Blues,” and the genuine heartbreak felt in the tune has inspired cover versions by everyone from Ray Charles to The Rolling Stones. Hank Williams might have lost his wife but the world gained a beautiful love song to cherish for all time.
8. “There’s a Winner in You” by Patti Labelle
When life really gets you down, it helps to have a friend remind you of your true worth. Let Patti Labelle be that friend as she turns your frown upside down with this Ashford & Simpson-penned track from 1986’s Winner in You. The slow-tempo inspirational tune gracefully swells into action and lifts you out of sorrow and out of bed.
You’ll be ready to close the door on your pity party and pack the Kleenex away in record time. With her powerhouse vocals, Labelle kicks you into gear and reminds you that no matter what you’ve been through, not only are you still a winner, you’re a hero!
9. “We’re A Winner” by The Impressions
Sometimes an entire group of people needs to be reminded of its importance, and in 1967 this classic soul song delivered just that kind of message. Singer-songwriter Curtis Mayfield’s earlier compositions “People Get Ready” (1965) and “Keep on Pushing” (1964) were already considered anthems of the civil rights movement. But with lyrics promoting pride and resistance, “We’re a Winner” marked Mayfield’s shift from subtle to outspoken activism.
The toe-tapping, hand-clapping jam became synonymous with the Black Pride movement, following its use at a March 1968 student protest at Howard University. The song featured elements from “Keep on Pushing,” and foreshadowed themes from Mayfield’s 1970 song, “Move on Up”.
10. “We Are the Champions” by Queen
Freddie Mercury wanted to write a song football fans could chant at matches. The result was an anthem of survival and victory that spoke to hearts around the globe. With the vulnerability of its lyrics, the dramatic introduction of harmonies and guitar, and Mercury’s operatic stylings, no other song captures the glory of fighting and winning like “We Are the Champions”.
The chord changes in the chorus echo Sisyphus painfully pushing his boulder up the hill only to have it roll down again. With one more big push, the song culminates in a declaration of triumph. Though it surprisingly never topped the charts, “We Are the Champions,” with its universal message demonstrating the power of sheer will, remains one of the world’s favorite songs.
Life can be rough, and struggles can come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes we need reminding that we’ve already got what it takes to survive and thrive. The next time you could use a pick-me-up, try listening to one of these 10 songs about winning. They might not all have you dancing around your office like Les Grossman during the end credits of Tropic Thunder, but they may at least convince you to dust yourself off and try again another day.