20 Songs About Ambition and Dreams

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Written By Julia Mehalko

Julia is a music journalist with a passion for retro songs. She holds a degree in journalism from University of Nevada.

In an era where it truly feels as if anything is possible, as if we can all achieve our very own dreams, music can often give us the inspiration or the confidence we need to help hone our ambition. Whether you’re a full-fledged dreamer or someone who likes to put their thoughts into action, turning to beautifully written songs can often be just the thing you need!

In this article, we’ve listed 20 songs about ambition and dreams. All of these songs are great tracks to turn to if you’re looking for the courage and confidence to chase your own dreams — and create your own accomplishments! 

1. “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke

“A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke is a song that inspires change, without a doubt. First released by Cooke in 1964, “A Change Is Gonna Come” became an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement. However, this song is continued to be used today for inspiring moments and invents, such as during protests or movements!

In this song, Cooke sings about how he knows a change is going to come eventually. Cooke sings about the difficulties and struggles he’s faced throughout his life. However, he doesn’t let this get him down, as he still has a dream that a change will truly come!

2. “This Is Not a Game” by The Chemical Brothers featuring Lorde & Miguel

“This Is Not a Game” by The Chemical Brothers, featuring Lorde and Miguel, was released for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I’s movie soundtrack. Therefore, the song mainly talks about rebellion from the point of view of the characters of the movie.

However, it can also be seen as a song about power, passion, and determination! The singer says, “Patience and determination / Starin’ at a body of it / Starin’ at a gladiator / Victory is sweet and I’ma get it now and later.”

3. “Long Live” by Taylor Swift

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Taylor Swift released her 2010 song “Long Live” on her album Speak Now. This song was written for her team, band, and fans as she reminisced on all the great things she had done in her career thus far.

For listeners, this song is a great track to put on when thinking about your own dreams, ambition, and accomplishments! It’s easy to sing along to Swift’s catchy lyrics in the chorus, such as, “Long live the walls we crashed through / How the kingdom lights shined just for me and you.”

4. “Dreams” by The Temper Trap

In “Dreams”, The Temper Trap sings about love, life, and dreams. The band expresses their desire to always be with the ones they love. They don’t want to be alone. However, they also want to follow their dreams — and continue to follow these dreams, no matter what!

They sing repeatedly throughout the song, “Where our dreams go, we follow.”

5. “Awakening” by Switchfoot

“Awakening” by Switchfoot follows the singer as he has a potentially spiritual awakening. This song can be seen as religious or spiritual, or it could also be seen as a song to help inspire your own dreams. It really varies from listener to listener!

However, the singer does sing about his own ambition and dreams throughout the song, all of which has to do with his awakening. He sings, “Maybe it’s called ambition / You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream / We’re awakening.”

6. “In Due Time” by Killswitch Engage

“In Due Time” by Killswitch Engage discusses how hard times can eventually go away. In this rock song, the band expresses their own struggles. However, they also hold on and say that they won’t give up on their dreams, ambition, and determination — even if their struggles become incredibly difficult to overcome.

They sing, “All that we suffer through / Leads to determination / The trials we all go through / Gives us the strength to carry on.”

7. “My Way” by Frank Sinatra

“My Way” by Frank Sinatra is definitely one of the best songs to listen to as you chase your dreams! Really, it’s just a wonderful song to listen to throughout any life obstacle or trial!

In this classic 1969 track, Sinatra sings about his life and all the struggles he has had. However, against the odds, he continued to strive — and did everything he wanted to do. He didn’t conform to what others wanted him to do. He did things his way.

As a result, he sings the lyrics, “But through it all, when there was doubt / I ate it up and spit it out / I faced it all, and I stood tall / And did it my way.”

8. “Dreams” by Solange

In “Dreams”, Solange talks about her own aspirations. She sings that as long as you’re patient and continue to try to reach these dreams, you’ll finally accomplish your goals. But you have to truly be calm and patient — and believe in what you’re doing!

Repeatedly throughout the song, she sings, “Dreams, they come a long way, not today.”

9. “Intentions” by Anberlin

“Intentions” by Anberlin is all about ambition. The singer talks about all he wants out of life and love. He talks about his dreams. However, he also talks about how all he truly has is his ambition — and his intention and drive to succeed, no matter what.

He sings, “My ambition is all that I have / There’s a tension when you want it so bad.”

10. “Machine” by Imagine Dragons

“Machine” by Imagine Dragons, which appears on the band’s 2018 album Origins, explores the idea that people need to stop caring what others think about them. Instead, the band implores listeners to be exactly who they want to be. They should do what they want, regardless of what people think or say!

Therefore, they should also follow their own dreams, even if others think they shouldn’t. The singer expresses his own desire to do what he wants to do by singing, “Fill my cup with endless ambition / And paint this town with my very own vision.”

11. “Hearts On Fire” by John Cafferty

1985’s “Hearts On Fire” by John Cafferty was written for the film Rocky 4. This song is a great track to put on if you have the desire and determination to reach your dreams! For example, the lyrics say, “The cage that holds you captive has the door / Burnin’ with determination to even up the score.”

12. “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” by Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden’s 1986 song “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”, which appears on their album Somewhere in Time, was inspired by the novel of the same name. While the song follows a young man who becomes a long-distance runner, the song can also be seen as a great motivating track for anyone!

The band sings, “Determination makes you run, never stop / Gotta win, gotta run till you drop.”

13. “Never Let Me Down” by Kanye West featuring Jay-Z & J. Ivy

“Never Let Me Down” by Kanye West, which features both Jay-Z and J. Ivy, talks about the different inspirations each rapper has in life. They all explain that they will never let these people or ideals down.

J. Ivy raps about his own dreams and ambition, saying, “I can’t stop, that’s why I’m hot / Determination, dedication, motivation / I’m talking to you of my many inspirations.”

14. “Change” by Barry White

1982’s “Change” by Barry White is another great song about dreams and change. White sings about how we should all follow our dreams and be who we want to be. He also explains that everything always changes. Nothing stays the same.

But that doesn’t mean we should ever give up on our dreams! White sings, “Determination will keep you strong / Dedication keeps you moving right or wrong.”

15. “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey

“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, first released in 1981 on the band’s album Escape, is one of the best songs to put on as you chase your dreams. In this rock anthem, the band sings about different people and how we all have our own dreams and journeys to go on.

Even when things get hard, we all shouldn’t give up. The band explains this by singing the iconic lyrics, “Don’t stop believin’ / Hold on to that feelin’.”

16. “In My Dreams” by Kali Uchis

“In My Dreams” by Kali Uchis follows the singer as she sings about her dream life. We learn that she was raised in a difficult neighborhood. She wants to live a peaceful, carefree life. This is her dream — and she accomplishes it.

She sings, “When you’re living inside your dreams / Why would anyone stay awake / After being so sound asleep? / Everything is just wonderful in my dreams.”

17. “Dream On” by Aerosmith

Aerosmith’s 1973 classic “Dream On” discusses how we should all never give up on our dreams — even as we get older. The band expresses that we should always live our lives to the fullest. Have dreams as an elder? Who says you can’t accomplish them? Have fun and live your life!

To inspire so many people, the band sings the iconic lyrics, “Dream until your dreams come true.”

18. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

1982’s classic hit “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor has stood the test of time for decades. It remains a fan-favorite song for sporting events, rallies, or any type of motivational event!

The band sings about how you must stay focused and motivated to accomplish your dreams. They sing the memorable lines, “So many times, it happens too fast / You trade your passion for glory / Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past / You must fight just to keep them alive.”

19. “Try” by Dolly Parton

“Try” by Dolly Parton follows the singer as she talks about her life. She explains that she’s always had so many dreams. However, she didn’t let these dreams just pass her by. She fought for them! Therefore, she sings that if you have dreams, you must also have ambition. You must try to fight for them!

Parton sings, “I’m always been a dreamer / And dreams of special things / But dreams are of no value / If they’re not equipped with wings.”

20. “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus

Finally, let’s talk about the last song on our list! “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus was originally written for the Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack. However, after its release, the song became something else entirely, and so many people fell in love with its message of ambition, drive, and optimism.

Cyrus sings about how you must always try your hardest to reach your dreams, even in times of struggle. Life isn’t easy — but don’t let it get you down.

Cyrus sings about her own struggles at the very beginning of this song. She explains her own emotions and doubts by singing, “I can almost see it / That dream I’m dreaming, but / There’s a voice inside my head saying / ‘You’ll never reach it’.”