20 Songs About Making a Difference

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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.

We all want to make a difference, whether on a large scale or in a more minor, daily way. Even though it can often feel quite difficult to make a difference — even the best of us may lose hope in this idea from time to time — people are making a change every single day!

For some inspiration in your daily lives, we’ve listed 20 wonderful songs about making a difference. These are the songs to listen to if you’re looking for hope, motivation, or just something to get you believing in the future.

1. “We Got The” by Beastie Boys

“We Got The” by Beastie Boys follows the group as they talk about how we should all try to be more peaceful. We should also change the world for the better. Even though politicians and others in power may say that they can bring about change, the Beastie Boys say that we are truly the ones who hold all the power!

They explain by asking, “Who got the power to make a difference? / Who got the power to make a change?” We do!

2. “Children” by Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber’s “Children” is a great song that inspires change. In this 2015 track, which appears on his album Purpose, Bieber sings all about trying to make a difference and change in the world. He sings about the children of the world and how they all can make a better future for themselves.

Bieber also explains that we should face every day with love in our hearts! He sings the lyrics, “Whose heart is the biggest? / Wear it on your sleeve / Bet we can make a difference.”

3. “That’s Why I Pray” by Big & Rich

“That’s Why I Pray” by Big & Rich is a Christian song about praying and trying to make a difference through one’s faith. The group sings that there are so many troubles and hardships in the day-to-day lives of regular people. The singer expresses his remorse over this and worries that things will never change.

But then he starts to sing about why he prays and how he wants to make a difference in the world. He sings, “Now I’m begging for forgiveness / I wanna make a difference even in the smallest way.”

4. “We Can” by LeAnn Rimes

In “We Can”, LeAnn Rimes sings about change and hope. Rimes sings about how many of us feel that so many are against us in our lives. Dreamers feel that others tell them they’ll never reach their dreams. Regular people feel that their lives won’t change.

Rimes sings that we shouldn’t think like this. Instead, we should recognize that we have the power to change our own lives — and to make a difference for the better good! She sings, “And we won’t stop / ‘Cause we’ve got / To make a difference in this life.”

5. “Sticks and Bricks” by A Day to Remember

“Sticks and Bricks” by A Day to Remember follows the singer as he sings about the past hardships he’s faced. He also calls out those who didn’t believe in him or give him a chance to succeed. He may have faced quite a lot of failure recently, but he still believes that he’ll make a difference!

As a result, he ends up singing, “I’m making a difference / I’m taking a chance / You can say what you want about me / But no one can tell me I can’t.”

6. “Turn On (The Beat Box)” by Earth, Wind & Fire

1987’s “Turn On (The Beat Box)” by Earth, Wind & Fire opens with the lyrics, “Have you been thinking nothing ever changes? / And you could be making a difference tonight / Why are you waiting, anticipating? / Can’t fight the feeling when you know it’s right.”

As the song goes on, the group sings more about how we should all smile and enjoy life, while also making a difference when we can! When things get too hard, we should just turn some music on and dance!

7. “The Listening Chair” by Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap’s “The Listening Chair” explores the singer’s life, from her youth to her older years. Therefore, the song deals with a lot of different topics, both life and full of innocence as well as dark and complicated.

When talking about her place in the world, Heap sings about wanting to make a difference. She sings, “Finding my feet / Make love, make money, make a difference.”

8. “Man In the Mirror” by Michael Jackson

“Man In the Mirror” by Michael Jackson, first released in 1988, tells the story of the changes of a man. While many believe this song has to deal with a man physically looking at himself in the mirror, the song also has more subtle meanings to analyze. For example, the song also talks about how a man must also change from within, where others can’t see!

Therefore, this song is also all about making a difference and making a change. The song opens with the lyrics, “I’m gonna make a change / For once in my life / It’s gonna feel real good / Gonna make a difference.”

9. “My Generation” by Nas & Damian Marley featuring Joss Stone and Lil Wayne

“My Generation” by Nas & Damian Marley, which also features Joss Stone and Lil Wayne, explores all the positives and struggles of the artists’ generations. Even though the older generations may think poorly of the younger ones, the artists explain that their generation is filled with a lot of hope.

They want to make a difference! The song even opens with the line, “My generation will make a change.”

10. “Step Off” by Kacey Musgraves

In “Step Off”, Kacey Musgraves sings to the mean people of the world and tells them to just stop. Instead of being rude and bringing everyone down, why don’t these people just mind their own business? Musgraves sings about how all she’s trying to do is make a difference in the world — and these people seem to have an issue with it!

She sings that they should try to make a difference, too, by saying, “Yeah, you’re getting too close to me / With all your negativity / Just get lost / Just try to make a little difference.”

11. “Angels In Chelsea” by Rachel Platten

“Angels In Chelsea” by Rachel Platten details how kind strangers can change someone’s life. Platten sings that all it takes is the kindness of strangers to turn someone’s day around. These people, to her, are angels!

She explains how wonderful these moments can be by describing how a kid wants to make a difference in the world. So, she sings, “Spring Street, hear a busker singing the blues / ‘Bout peace in the world and some money for food / And little kid says, I’m gonna be like you / A superstar, and I’ma make a difference too.”

12. “Rise Inside” by Killswitch Engage

Killswitch Engage’s 2002 song “Rise Inside” also talks about making a difference in the world. This anthem explores how we all should be kind to each other, as we’re all just trying to do the best we can.

This results in the band singing the lyrics, “The time has come to / Make a difference / Why have we forsaken love?”

13. “Revolution” by MisterWives

“Revolution” by MisterWives follows the singer as she struggles to deal with all the violence in the world. She can’t seem to escape knowing that so many around the world are suffering because of war and violence. Obviously, she wants to make a change about this — and she calls on her generation to be the ones to do so!

The band sings, “Let’s start a revolution where we all stand as one / ‘Cause we need to make a change for a new day / We need to be the generation that’ll awaken a solution.”

14. “Get In, Fit In” by Ciara

Ciara’s 2006 song “Get In, Fit In” opens with the lyrics, “Everyone wants to be like the other / Look around and you will discover / Take a chance and try something different / Don’t be scared, you might make a difference.”

Ciara goes on to sing that we should all try to be our own best versions of ourselves. We shouldn’t copy others or follow the crowd. Instead, we should make a difference and lead the way!

15. “Fear” by Creed

2009’s “Fear” by Creed explores how we all should recognize what is wrong in the world. We shouldn’t turn a blind eye to all of these hardships and troubles. Once we see these atrocities and issues, we should then work to bring about change!

The band sings, “Change starts in your mind / Leave the past behind / Forget everything you know / Make a change, let go.”

16. “Try” by Dolly Parton

In “Try”, Dolly Parton sings about how we all should always just try. We all have dreams. So, why not chase after them? Why not try to succeed? If we don’t try, Parton says that we’ll just end up regretting it!

Parton also sings that we should try to make a difference in the world, and make the world a better place! She sings, “And try to be the one who makes a difference / Try to quit your fear and oversight.”

17. “Always Tomorrow” by Gloria Estefan

1992’s “Always Tomorrow” by Gloria Estefan opens with Estefan singing about how she feels she’s not lived her life as she should’ve. Instead of spreading love and kindness, she stayed to herself. As a result, she feels that she’s missed out on life.

She goes on to explain what she would’ve done differently — and it includes making more of a difference in life. She sings, “I’d make time for laughing with my friends / Make love, make music, make amends / Try to make a difference / Try to love, try to understand.”

18. “Pray” by Justin Bieber

Ready for another Bieber song? “Pray” by Justin Bieber, first released in 2010, follows the singer as he struggles to come to terms with the many issues in the world. He can’t stop thinking about how so many children suffer around the world.

This leads him to feel guilty and know that he must make a change. This is seen when he sings the lyrics, “Knowing kids starve tonight / Am I a sinner, ’cause of my dinner, still there on my plate? / I got a vision, to make a difference, and it’s starting today.”

19. “Make It Rain” by Ed Sheeran

“Make It Rain” by Ed Sheeran, which is a cover of a Foy Vance song, details inequalities and personal issues. Sheeran sings about his own personal struggles within his family. He wants the rain to wash away these issues.

However, he also sings about how so many, particularly the poor, never seem to gain any help. After saying this, he hopes that the world will make a change, singing, “But fill the sky with all that they can draw / When it’s time to make a change.”

20. “What If” by Reba McEntire

“What If” by Reba McEntire is our last song on the list! McEntire opens the song by singing about the terrible inequalities and injustices of the world. She hates that so many go through so much.

However, she has hope for the future and believes if we all stick together, we can make a change. She sings, “Gotta find a way to make a change somehow / There’s gotta be a way for us to make it better.”