12 Motivational Songs From Musicals to Get You Through Finals

Finals can be stressful, and music can play an instrumental (pun intended) part in helping to unwind. But music can also uplift, inspire and motivate you to study and prepare for those four exams, three papers and five presentations. If you’re a lover of musicals, or even a casual listener of showtunes, here are 12 songs to put some pep in your step on the walk to finals while you rapidly flip through flash cards.

  1. 1. “Go the Distance” - Hercules

    This classic Disney tune evokes dramatic feelings of climbing mountains and fighting monsters, but at its core is the message that hard work will pay off.

    Key lyric: “I know every mile will be worth my while.”

  2. 2. “I Can Do Better Than That” - The Last Five Years

    Whether you prefer the Anna Kendrick version or the Sherie Rene Scott version, this uplifting ballad makes for some encouraging study music.

    Key lyric: “I will never go back, never look back anymore.”

  3. 3. “Chip On My Shoulder” - Legally Blonde

    This nearly-nine-minute number is my go-to when I’m about to take a test, write an essay or just need a reminder of what I’m capable of.

    Key lyric: “With the chance I’ve been given, I’m gonna be driven as hell.”

  4. 4. “Positoovity” - The Little Mermaid

    Written for the Broadway musical, “Positoovity” is a supportive tap tune sung by the seagull Scuttle as he and Sebastian teach Ariel to walk on her new legs.

    Key lyric: “Sure, you’ll trip and make mistakes, but you’ve got what it takes.”

  5. 5. “Almost There” - The Princess and the Frog

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this feminist anthem on the list. It appears early in the film as Tiana describes her big dreams and plans to her mother.

    Key lyric: “Just doing what I do, look out boys, I’m coming through.”

  6. 6. “Bring It On” - Bring It On

    “Bring It On: The Musical” might be one of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lesser-known works, but it’s got some worthwhile motivational melodies. “Bring It On” is sung by protagonist Campbell as the first act comes to a head and she realizes what she has to do.

    Key lyric: “Think you can beat me? Go ahead, c’mon.”

  7. 7. “Watch What Happens” - Newsies

    The third song on this list written by Alan Menken, “Watch What Happens” follows the quick and brainy dialogue of Katherine Pulitzer as she figures out how to write her first-ever news article.

    Key lyric: “It just so happens that we just might win, so whatever happens, let’s begin.”

  8. 8. “To Break In a Glove” - Dear Evan Hansen

    The characters in this song might be singing about a baseball glove, but the message can be applied to nearly anything, especially a tough test or a nerve-racking presentation.

    Key lyric: “It just takes a little patience, takes a little time, a little perseverance and a little uphill climb.”

  9. 9. “What Baking Can Do” - Waitress

    “What Baking Can Do” is all about taking your worries and frustrations and turning them into something beautiful. As Jenna bakes her pies, it helps her cope with everything she can’t control, kind of like turning your worries about finals into an A+ paper.

    Key lyric: “I can fix this, I can twist it into sugar, butter-covered pieces.”

  10. 10. “Non-Stop” - Hamilton

    There are about a dozen songs in “Hamilton” that deserve a spot on this list, but since I had to narrow it down one, “Non-Stop” was the obvious choice. It’s the finale of Act I, and instills the highest spirit of motivation into any listener.

    Key lyric: “Why do you write like you’re running out of time?”

  11. 11. “Get Back Up Again” - Trolls

    The music of “Trolls” might seem like an odd pick for this list, but this song isn’t. It’s an upbeat, Elle Woods-energy bop that will put you back on your feet after an exam that didn’t go so well.

    Key lyric: “Got a pocket full of songs that I’m gonna sing and I’m ready to take on anything.”

  12. 12. “Learn to Do It” - Anastasia

    Written for the 1997 animated film and updated for the Broadway version, this tune carries the simple message that anyone can do anything if they just put in the time and work.

    Key lyric: “Tell yourself it’s easy and it’s true.”