After spending my life moving around the world, I have collected a multilingual menagerie of feel good songs that always make me dance along. These are the songs I play in the car with the windows open. In a couple of cases, I loved these songs so much because they helped me learn the language, of the place I was living in, at the time. So turn up the volume, close your eyes, and dance to all the happy music this beautiful world has to offer.
Tout le Bonheur du Mond || Sinsemelia
The title of this song is literally “All the happiness in the world”. This song is relentlessly joyful and feels like driving with all the windows open on a bright summer day.
Alles Neu || Peter Fox
When I want to feel like I can take on the world, I play this song. Driving strings, pounding drums and German rap are a match made in badass heaven. The lyrics are really silly, but this song is basically about wanting to smash everything and start clean and new.
Te Mando Flores || Fonseca
This song feels like flinging open all the windows on the first warm morning of spring. Fonseca mixes vallenato and cumbia, two traditional musical styles with pop to create something wholly new, absolutely entrancing and totally Colombian.
Ja Sei Namorar || Tribalistas
There is a simple optimism here that gets me every time. The first time I heard this wrong, I was an awkward 12-year-old girl who had just arrived in Brasilia. I listened to this song every single day until I knew the words by heart. Listening to this felt like tapping into the heartbeat of my new home and being enveloped in everything I loved about it.
Meguri Meguru || Amelie
This song feels like a throwback to the rock I consumed in my teenage years while trying to prove I was cool. Except, you know, Japanese. If you had asked me to recommend some Japanese pop-rock to you before recently I’d have looked back at you in confusion . My fiance, a Japanese to English translator, recently introduced me to an entire universe of it and I haven’t looked back.
Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hai ||Krishnakumar Kunnath (from the film Woh Lomhe)
This song came on at a wedding that I attended in Rajasthan in the first months that I lived in New Delhi back in 2006. I had no idea what was going on, but old friends of my fathers grabbed me and pulled me out onto the dance floor like I was family. The entire crowd erupted, singing the words and every time I hear it that excitement wells up in me afresh.
Scratchin’ Circles || JD McPherson
I didn’t know that music like this was even being made anymore when I first moved to the US. Discovering traditional American Rock n’ Rolland country was such an important part of forming a relationship with my home country after years abroad.
Guilia || DJ Lhasa
Is there anything more fun than shamelessly jumping around to early 2000’s euro-techno? No. There isn’t. Bonus: the words are really easy to hear and understand. You will be singing along enthusiastically in no time at all.
Let’s Dance to Joy Division || The Wombats
“British” sound has changed a lot over the years, but this song just feels like a good night out in London. It’s rowdy, carefree and makes me want to get up dance.
Wassiye || Habib Koite
This song reminds me of sitting on the roof of a four by four with my mother and sister under the hot Nambian sun when I was seven or eight, around the time this song came out. The wind is tangling my hair, there are acacias on the hills and I imagine I am an adventurer. This song sounds like unrepressed, youthful joy.
Because we love you, we compiled all your new favorite songs in one playlist. Enjoy!