My five most motivating songs…

Music is an international language that moves and motivates us. We can relate to it: it can be the war-cry rallying us into battle; it can transport us to another time, remembering friends and loved ones; and it can make us connect with our rawest emotions, making us reflect and even bringing us to tears. I guess because I went to stage school from the age of twelve, then trained and worked in musical theatre for over twelve years, music and singing are even more personal to me.

My five most motivating songs are all very important to me. Some are tied into me struggling to come to terms with my sexuality when I was younger, and how I sought solace in their words of advice and encouragement. Also, a couple of them are love songs because I am a hopeless romantic. It is so hard to choose just five!

How Will I Know – Whitney Houston

Oh, Miss Whitney – the best voice there has ever been. This song came out the year I was born: 1985. It resonates with me on so many levels. I had childhood crushes on a couple of boys at school but couldn’t do anything about it. It would hurt when I saw the boys and girls coupling up because I thought I would never have that. So, I would dance around my room with a hairbrush imagining I was Whitney singing this song. Now that I am happy with who I am and very much in love, I can dance around my room with a hairbrush pretending I’m Whitney but with joy rather than unrequited sadness. It does get better.

There’s a boy I know, he’s the one I dream of
Looks into my eyes, takes me to the clouds above
Ooh I lose control, can’t seem to get enough
When I wake from dreaming, tell me is it really love…

How will I know
(Don’t trust your feelings)
How will I know
How will I know
(Love can be deceiving)
How will I know

How will I know if he really loves me
I say a prayer with every heartbeat
I fall in love whenever we meet
I’m asking you ’cause you know about these things

How will I know if he’s thinking of me
I try to phone but I’m too shy (can’t speak)
Falling in love is so bitter sweet
This love is strong why do I feel weak

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

This song reminds me of my best friend, my mum. When I moved to London aged 18, my flatmate Lisa and I would watch the film ‘Stepmom’ with Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts, featuring this song. The ending would always make me cry and I would phone my mum and tell her how much I loved her. This song for me is about love and loyalty and always being there for one another, which is so important to me.

If you need me, call me
No matter where you are
No matter how far (don’t worry, baby)
Just call my name
I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry
Cause baby there

Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you, babe

My love is alive
Way down in my heart
Although we are miles apart

If you ever need a helping hand
I’ll be there on the double
Just as fast as I can

Don’t you know that there…

Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you

Spice Up Your Life – Spice Girls

When the Spice Girls exploded onto the scene in 1996, 11-year-old Craig almost burst with excitement. They were a phenomenon and I am certain they touched the heart of many closeted little gay boy growing up in the 90s. I really, truly identified with their message of embracing who you are and not letting anyone else’s vision for you holding you back.

This song, in particular, I love, because it encourages us to embrace the positivity of life and just dance our hearts out. Spice Girls I love you and thank you for being there at a time I needed you. Baby Spice, you will always be my favourite. Spice up your lives!

When you’re feelin’
Sad and low
We will take you
Where you gotta go
Smilin’ and dancin’
Everything is free
All you need is

Colours of the world
Spice up your life
Every boy and every girl
Spice up your life
People of the world
Spice up your life

Give Me Everything – Pitbull ft. Ne-Yo, Afrojack, Nayer

Now, this may seem like a bit of a left-field choice, but the song is a banger! It came out at a period in my life where I was in a bad place with my mental health. I truly identify with the lyrics: I am a hard worker, who completely turned my life on its head; going from the worst place I have ever been to where I am now in the space of less than three years. Also, I want everything and I want it now, so it’s pretty appropriate.

Me not working hard?
Yeah, right, picture that with a Kodak
Or, better yet, go to Times Square
Take a picture of me with a Kodak
Took my life from negative to positive
I just want y’all know that
And tonight, let’s enjoy life…

Tonight I want all of you tonight
Give me everything tonight
For all we know we might not get tomorrow
Let’s do it tonight…

Sissy That Walk – Ru Paul

I bloody love Ru Paul and everything he stands for. I like this song lyrically for similar reasons to the previous one, particularly the opening line. It also makes reference to paying attention to what your “momma says”, and I run everything by mine. I also am a people pleaser who is constantly worried about what other people think. This song reminds me not to do that so much. Lastly, it’s fabulous and makes me proud to be a gay man and embrace all sides of my personality: I can be camp if I want, I don’t need to police myself, which is refreshing after spending so many years battling internalised homophobia.

Pick myself up, turn the world on its head
Don’t forget what, don’t forget what my mama said
People talking (ish), since the beginning of time
Unless they paying your bills, pay them bitches no mind

And if I fly, or if I fall
Least I can say I gave it all
And if I fly, or if I fall
I’m on my way, I’m on my way

Fly, fly, fly, fly [4x]

Now sissy that walk!

Hope you enjoyed my list. It turned into a bit of a confessional. I included links to all the songs so you can have a boogie.



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