International Day of Happiness: The Songlines Playlist

Posted on March 20th, 2015 in Recent posts by .


It is a well-known fact that the Songlines team and its collection of writers are a jovial bunch – hardly a surprise given we get to spend all day exploring music from around the world. It’s not uncommon to see one of us having a boogie at our desks. With this positivity in mind, today we are celebrating the UN International Day of Happiness by selecting tracks that make us tick.

Tell us what songs make you happy on Twitter and Facebook. Listen to our full playlist here.

Angélique Kidjo – ‘M’baamba (Kenyan Song)’ (pictured above)
The opening track from Angélique’s award-winning Eve album kicks off with a joyous burst of ululation from the queen of positivity. Angélique never fails to create a party atmosphere.
Jo Frost (editor and habitual foot tapper)

Raghu Dixit – ‘Lokada Kalaji’

A ridiculously catchy song in Raghu’s native language, Kannada. The chorus says, ‘don’t worry, be happy, but if you want to worry, I don’t give a damn.’
Alex Petropoulos (deputy editor and boogier extraordinaire)


The Very Best (feat Ezra Koenig) – ‘Warm Heart of Africa’
That glorious moment on a summer’s evening when you kick back, crack open a beer and realise that there is nothing left to worry about in the day summed up in one song.
Edward ‘Sweet Moves’ Craggs (online manager)


Justin Vali – ‘The Sunshine Within’
The title says it all, this is an uplifting combination of accordion, tabla and the plucked Malagasy valiha, like a go-faster guitar.
Simon Broughton (prominent shoulder shuffler and editor-in-chief)

Mariza – ‘E Ou Nao E’
A nimble, light-hearted nonsense song just to prove that the genre doesn’t have to be melancholic.


The Four Brothers – ‘Nhamo’
The epitome of sunny music, this jit jive from Zimbabwe will leave you with a silly grin and dancing limbs.
Jim Hickson (contributor)

Bernard Kabanda – ‘Abakazi be Kibuga’
A beautiful voice, a pleasant whistle and some understated guitar mastery make this Ugandan kadongo kamu musician a pure joy to listen to.


Ed Motta – ‘Marta’
This is my go to summer tune. Funky grooves, incredible vocals, and some silky piano lines. A really great record, and this has to be my favourite track off it.
Alex de Lacey (contributor)

Mixed Grill – ‘Brand New Wayo’ 
This is off a really great compilation of Nigerian funk from the late 70s and early 80s. It inspired a DJ collective on Brownswood who have taken up the name and deservedly so! I have a 7” of this and it’s one of my prized 45s.


Hamish Imlach – ‘Cod Liver Oil and the Orange Juice’
Never fails to raise a smile, and hard not to chuckle along with the infectious laugh of Hamish.
Billy Rough (contributor)


Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars – ‘Living Stone’
I first heard it on Top of the World in #68. Every time I listen to this joyful slice of reggae, infused with a West African highlife spirit, I beam from ear to ear and cannot keep still. It’s one of life’s great ironies that some of the happiest music derives from the hardest of circumstances.
Mark Sampson (contributor)


T-Kolai – ‘Zouk!’
From the Afrique C’est Chic compilation – without a doubt the happiest track I have ever heard. You don’t think you will move at the start, but I dare you to survive the whole song without a body roll.
Nathaniel Handy (contributor)


Caetano Veloso – ‘London, London’
Veloso clearly had some dark times after being exiled from Brazil in 1969, but none of these are apparent on a song overflowing with the optimism and freedom of ‘swinging’ London, where Policemen are pleased to speak to the public, where everyone is living in peace and where Veloso daydreams of seeing flying saucers in the sky – the capital has rarely been so elegantly immortalised.
Russ Slater (contributor)

Listen to the official UN playlist here.

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