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58 Songs About Choices: A Playlist for Making Decisions

FlourishAnyway believes there is a playlist for just about any situation and is on a mission to unite and entertain the world through song.

Make a playlist of pop, rock, country, and R&B songs about choices.

Make a playlist of pop, rock, country, and R&B songs about choices.

Life-Changing Choices

You and I are travelers on this epic life journey, and behind each of us we schlep the totality of our choices, lugging them like baggage through an international airport. Some say there are no accidents or happenstance, only choices. From the minuscule to the monumental, we are each a combination of our history of decisions.

Both large and small choices have the capacity to change your life trajectory, such as:

  • how you spend your spare time
  • whom you select as friends
  • whether to slow down or speed up for that yellow light
  • health habits like smoking
  • how long you hold on to guilt, bitterness, or grudges
  • whether to flirt back
  • which college acceptance offer, job offer, or marriage proposal to accept and
  • whether you buy that raffle ticket.

As you reflect on the choices in your own life, make a playlist of pop, rock, country, and R&B songs about choices of all kinds. We have a long list to start you off.

1. "Diamonds" by Rihanna

Like anything else in life, happiness is a choice that each of us makes every day. In this electronically-tinged pop/R&B hit, Rihanna persuades her lover that their shared happiness is all that matters: "I choose to be happy, You and I, you and I." She sees the beauty within him and feels alive when he holds her. Together, they sparkle like diamonds, shining bright against the sky.

Oh, but if only that feeling was all natural! The 2012 song's reference to "moonshine and molly" means that the couple's happiness is likely chemically enhanced from alcohol and the recreational drug, ecstasy, that is known to evoke sensations of invincibility, love, and euphoria. Of course, how you achieve your happiness is also a choice. Australian singer-songwriter Sia wrote the lyrics for "Diamonds" in a mere 14 minutes.

2. "My Head & My Heart" by Ava Max

The girl in this 2020 electropop hit is having trouble deciding whether to listen to her heart or her head. Her partner has held her hand through difficult personal troubles, and her grateful heart tells her this is love. However, there's an inner voice that is urging her to run from this relationship. Could it be her inner angels trying to protect her? The conflicting messages are creating confusion and mental anguish. She knows she has to make a choice.

3. "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash

The guy in this 1982 punk rock ditty is in a quandary, and he pointedly asks his love interest for information about where he stands in their romantic relationship. She's giving him mixed messages and there's a choice that needs to be made: "Should I stay or should I go?" Even though the song didn't make the Top 40 list of the Billboard Hot 100, Rolling Stone named it to its list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

4. "Check Yes or No" by George Strait

Sweet Emmylou Hayes popped a kiss on the boy while riding the school bus together. They played chase on the playground and (because love works fast when you're young) the girl passed him a love note in class:

Do you love me? Do you wanna be my friend?
And if you do
Well then don't be afraid to take me by the hand
If you want to
I think this is how love goes
Check yes or no.

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The choice must have been mutually satisfactory because Emmylou and the song narrator have been married now for 20 years and have children of their own.

5. "I Choose You" by Sara Bareilles

American author H. Jackson Brown Jr. wisely wrote, "Choose your life's mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90 percent of all your happiness or misery."

In this 2014 indie pop hit, a woman is elated that she and her beloved have finally gotten it right and are ready to embark on a lifelong commitment. Proudly declaring her choice to love her partner for life, the narrator admits her trepidation that she's underprepared. She reassures herself, however, that they will learn from their mistakes on this life journey together.

6. "The End of the World" by Billie Eilish

Looking ahead towards a potential apocalypse, the young woman in this bleak pop ballad from 2019 asks her lover how they would choose to spend the last five minutes on Earth. Would her partner flee in a panic or stay with her until the end? Unlike most of Billie Eilish's songs, this is a cover, but the artist makes it hers with her wispy vulnerability. The end of the song reveals that the end of the world did actually occur already and a definite choice was made. He stayed. (So how is she singing this?)

7. "Hard Place" by H.E.R.

Sometimes love involves difficult choices, sacrifices even. The woman in this 2019 R&B number is kept up at night, wracked with anxiety about what to do and arguing with her lover about a choice that needs to be made. There's no easy answer. She's caught between love and a hard place. Something tells me that she's with the wrong one and she knows it.

8. "I Should Probably Go to Bed" by Dan + Shay

In this 2020 country-pop crossover hit, the narrator is acutely aware that his former sweetheart is back in town. While his well-intentioned buddies have tried to convince him to hit the bars again, this lovelorn fella wants to sidestep her memory. Seeing her out on the town, either in person or on social media, would be too hard right now. He knows that he should probably make different choices: turn off his phone and call it an early night, just go to bed. Moving on can be so damn difficult.

9. "Never Worn White" by Katy Perry

With the prospect of marriage on the table, the woman in this 2020 pop ballad is bright-eyed but also a little nervous about spending the rest of her life with her sweetheart. She loves him so much that she doesn't want their marriage to fail. Having never tied the knot before, the narrator doesn't fully know what to expect.

The bride-to-be intends to pour all of her efforts into making sure her choice to marry is a one-and-done, happily ever after story that spans the decades. In 2019, singer Katy Perry became engaged to actor Orlando Bloom and together they welcomed daughter Daisy Dove in 2020. Both Perry and Bloom have been married once before.

10. "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts

A narrator reveals all the goodness in life that he wishes for his loved one in this tender 2006 country song: opportunity, forgiveness, and dreams fulfilled. It's a perfect song for a graduation or other important occasion. Specifically, the man hopes that his loved one's life will be unburdened and that they will give more to the world than they take. In addition, he wants them to make good choices for themselves and always know that they are loved.

11. "Only the Good Die Young" by Billy Joel

Oh, dear, Virginia, you have a choice to make. In this 1978 classic rock tune, a teenage boy has a crush on a Catholic girl and confesses that he wants to know her in a biblical way. The narrator tries to persuade Virginia that even though he has a rough-and-tumble reputation, it's just youthful fun and games. He invites chaste, overprotected Virginia to come out from behind her rosary and stained glass curtain because he can offer her adventure and salvation of a different kind:

They say there's a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it's better, but I say it ain't
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
The sinners are much more fun
You know that only the good die young.

Billy Joel wrote this high-spirited song based on his own unrequited love with a high school girl, Virginia Callahan, who wasn't aware of his crush until she heard the song 13 years later. The tune originally had a reggae flair.

After being banned by several church archdioceses, Joel played "Only the Good Die Young" on Saturday Night Live. The song jumped from obscurity to become a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

12. "Go Big or Go Home" by American Authors

Loaded up on whiskey and out on the town with friends, the man in this contagious 2015 pop-rock ditty is looking to have a good time. He and his friends are running short on sleep and they choose to throw caution to the wind and risk it all with gambling. Energetically declaring, "Go big or go home," they roll the dice and hope for the best.

13. "High Cost of Living" by Jamey Johnson

Life choices can become abundantly clear in retrospect when you have time to reflect on them from the inside of a prison cell, as does the narrator in this poignant 2008 country song. He's a dejected inmate who recounts the poor decisions that led him to where he now sits.

Once he was an average guy, a homeowner, with a 9-to-5 job and a sweet wife who was his best friend. Some would say his old life was routine and boring. Slowly he found himself slipping into a new normal. The pressures of mounting bills and the choice to spend more time with wilder friends led from recreational drug use to hardcore addiction and to his eventual undoing. The police eventually burst into the motel room that he was sharing with a prostitute and forced him to start a new chapter in his life in prison

He looks back at everything that he wasted by his poor choices:

I tell you
The high cost of livin'
Ain't nothing like the cost of livin' high.

14. "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson

To make the world a better place, choose to make changes in your own life first. That's the compelling message in this 1988 uplifting, choir-backed pop song that topped the mainstream Billboard chart. Seeing hunger, homelessness, and loneliness in the world around him haunts the narrator. He can continue to look away or he can do something, Instead of idly wishing that the world would change, the man decides to take life-altering action, choosing to turn selfish love to selfless love:

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.

15. "Stand by You" by Rachel Platten

This woman has more faith, fortitude, and loyalty than an entire army. When the narrator in this 2016 pop song said she had her beloved's back, she certainly wasn't kidding. She chooses to stay by their side out of self-sacrifice and love. (I only hope she is sticking by someone with a disease like cancer rather than enabling a person with malignant or behavior.) Our Joan of Arc here underlines her loving commitment with examples of how she will walk through hell with them—and will even crawl, if needed. Everyone wants someone like this on their side.

16. "Joy" by For King & Country

With all of the pessimism of world news, the guy in this 2018 contemporary Christian rock ditty has finally had enough. He is making the conscious choice to turn away from negativity. Through prayer, the man is choosing to let joy infiltrate his heart and overtake his life as a choir joins in.

17. "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi

Whose life are you living? Worldwide the average lifespan is just under 73 years, and there are no do-overs. Don't let anyone else steer your ship. This rousing 2000 rock tune encourages you to make all of your own choices:

It's my life
And it's now or never
'Cause I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive.

18. "Midnight Train" by Sam Smith

Have you ever loved someone who drained you emotionally by taking more than they gave? People can learn a lot by following Sam Smith's lead as they (Smith is nonbinary) dump a partner in this 2017 pop ballad.

Slipping off on a midnight train, the narrator chooses to walk away from love without explanation because when someone exhausts you and isn't good for you, self-preservation must come first. Yes, the narrator is crying. Yes, they feel sad and will miss their partner. But they know that they'll both get over this. There is no turning back because:

I choose me, and I know that's selfish, love
You are a dream, and I can't thank you enough
But I give another piece of me away
Every waking day that I'm with you.

19. "Either Way" by Chris Stapleton

Long after their marriage has died, the married couple in this heartbreaking 2017 country song still shares a home, but they sleep in separate rooms, pass in the hallway, and speak only when necessary. To the outside world, they choose to "fake the perfect life." However, with all the anger and bitterness build up between them, I bet they aren't really fooling anyone.

Tired of living such a lonely, loveless existence, the husband declares out of desperation:

We can't go, just go on like this
Say the word we'll call it quits
Baby, you can go or you can stay
But I won't love you either way.

Now that hurts. Someone make the choice to leave.

20. "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" by Baz Luhrmann

Also known as "The Sunscreen Song," this spoken-word track became a worldwide hit in 1997 for its advice on making smart choices throughout life. It remains a favorite graduation song, dispensing advice such as:

  • wear sunscreen
  • do one thing every day that scares you
  • floss
  • keep old love letters and
  • get to know your parents.

The ditty advocates humility and common sense to youth with decades of choices sprawled out in front of them—education, careers, families of their own, travel:

Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much
Or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else's.

“Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we’re proud of. Some will haunt us forever. The message: we are what we chose to be.” - Graham Brown, American writer

“Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we’re proud of. Some will haunt us forever. The message: we are what we chose to be.” - Graham Brown, American writer

Even More Songs About Choices

Know a song about choices that should be on this playlist? Leave a suggestion in the Comment Section.

SongArtist(s)Year Released

21. Dark Horse

Katy Perry (featuring Juicy J)


22. Say Something

A Great Big World (featuring Christina Aguilera)


23. Take a Chance on Me



24. Voice of Truth

Casting Crowns


25. Everywhere

Tim McGraw


26. Drugs or Jesus

Tim McGraw


27. Choices

George Jones


28. You've Got to Stand for Something

Aaron Tippin


29. Paradise by the Dashboard Light

Meat Loaf


30. All at Once

The Fray


31. I Don't Want to Wait

Paula Cole


32. Unwritten

Natasha Bedingfield


33. Bad Decisions

The Strokes


34. Forever Young

Rod Stewart


35. I Can Still Make Cheyenne

George Strait


36. I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)

Brad Paisley


37. Choose Me

James Blake


38. Ladybird

Natalie Merchant


39. The One You Love

Glenn Frey


40 We're Not Gonna Take It



41. I Should Go to Church Sometime

Tyler Farr


42. You're the One That I Want

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John


43. Love the One You're With

Crosby, Stills & Nash


44. We're Not Gonna Take It

Twisted Sister


45. Unwritten

Natasha Bedingfield


46. Put a Little Love in Your Heart

Jackie DeShannon


47. White Flag



48. Holding Her and Loving You

Earl Thomas Conley


49. My Way

Frank Sinatra


50. Singles You Up

Jordan Davis


51. Jumper

Third Eye Blind


52. Hold On

Wilson Phillips


53. Lullaby



54. Miss Independent

Kelly Clarkson


55 Heads Carolina, Tails California

Jo Dee Messina


56. One Beer

HARDY (featuring Lauren Alaina & Devin Dawson)


57. Papa Don't Preach



58. Red Ragtop

Tim McGraw


© 2021 FlourishAnyway


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 26, 2021:

Nithya - Thank you for reviewing the list and for taking the time to leave a comment. Have a wonderful week ahead!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 25, 2021:

A great selection of songs on making a choice in life. One among my many favorites is "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts". I enjoyed going through this list.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 25, 2021:

Heidi - That's a good one! I will add it. Some do better than others. They are a lot of fun to compile and help me stay goal-focused and productive so I can earn a little pocket change for my 8 cats (that's a choice!) and donate to my favorite spay/neuter charity. I hope you are doing well. Enjoy your Sunday!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 25, 2021:

James - I'm sorry I missed the window!

James C Moore from Joliet, IL on April 23, 2021:

Anyone can comment the minute something comes out. Once a hub goes to Discovery only hubbers with access to a hub via the hubpages feed can still comment. The hubsters two who commented on "Phoney Baloney" did so b4 it went to Discovery.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on April 23, 2021:

From the "all 80s all the time" channel, I'll add Papa Don't Preach by Madonna. She's chosen to marry the guy and have their child.

I hope your playlist posts are doing good on HP because you put a lot of research into them. Thanks for sharing the fun! Happy Weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 23, 2021:

James -I love 80s music, too. Thanks for stopping by. For some reason I haven't been able to comment on your last two articles, Imani and Phoney Baloney, due to HP's newfangled commenting setup. I have read them but have no way to comment.

James C Moore from Joliet, IL on April 22, 2021:

Ironic for me. My favorites on your list from The Clash (3), Michael Jackson (14) and Twisted Sister (44) are from the '80s. Choices that I made in that decade both good such as going to the University of Iowa and bad which were way too many have had the most impact on my life. Another creative list.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 22, 2021:

Adrienne - Sometimes it can make all the difference! Thanks for stopping by. Take care.

Adrienne Farricelli on April 22, 2021:

Nice compilation of songs about choices! Making a left turn or right turn in life can lead to substantially different outcomes, so it makes sense for so many singers to focus on the topic of choices.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 21, 2021:

Chitrangada - Thank you for the compliment, my lovely Indian friend. Please be safe and protect yourself from the virus the best you can.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 21, 2021:

Linda - Thank you for that kindness. I hope that occasionally you might find a song that is new to you that you might enjoy. Have a lovely rest of your week and stay safe!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 21, 2021:

Bill - I appreciate the kind comment. I sometimes think about a long distance phone call I chose not to return several decades ago. When we choose the behavior we choose the consequences too (which sometimes includes not knowing what happened). Take care and be happy!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 21, 2021:

This is another amazing list of songs, which you have presented in this excellent article. I enjoyed going through some of them.

Choices—Our life is shaped according to the choices we make. So, we must choose wisely. Happiness is a choice, we should make.

Thank you for sharing.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 20, 2021:

Your descriptions are interesting and informative, as always, Flourish. I enjoy reading them even when I don’t know the songs!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on April 20, 2021:

Great list Flourish. Definitely a topic I think about often, how the seemingly small choices years ago set us on a path to where we are today. For some reason lately I’ve had Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” stuck in my head. The other song that immediately came to mind when I saw the title was Sinatra’s “My Way”. Great job, love the list.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 20, 2021:

Peggy - It is a lovely song. I like that many call him "the former guy." Nice choice of words. Thanks for the well wishes. Hope you are doing well and enjoying springtime.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 20, 2021:

Bill - Blondie does kinda choose her target in that stalking song, doesn't she? LOL I spend a lot of time thinking about the ramifications of my own and other people's choices. There are several instances where something small has resulted in a large consequence months or even years later that could never have been imagined.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 20, 2021:

Life is certainly all about choices. I think that Frank Sinatra's song "My Way" will forever be a classic. I refuse to let our former President ruin that song for me. There were many on your list that I had not heard. Glad you have recovered from your 2nd vaccine shot. Stay well!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 20, 2021:

Devika - Thank you, and I'm glad you enjoyed the list. Be well and enjoy sprintime.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 20, 2021:

Ann - Ever since Donald Trump played it at his inaugural ball in 2016 I've developed a distaste for "My Way." Thanks for the well wishes. I got my second vaccine recently and had a flu-type reaction but I'm ok now.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 20, 2021:

Linda - I agree with the adage about picking your life partner very carefully. Glad you and Mr. Carb picked the right one and lived happily ever after!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 20, 2021:

Dora - Just imagine what the world could become if we all chose to be just a tiny bit better human beings. Have a great day, my lovely island friend.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 20, 2021:

Weirdly, the only song I could think of was "One way, or another, I'm going to getcha, going to getcha, getcha, getcha," but I have no idea who sang it. lol Oh well!

I've thought of this topic often - choices! It's amazing to be 72 and look back at a lifetime of choices; some seemed totally inconsequential at the time, but they had a huge influence on the remainder of my life.

Fascinating stuff!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 20, 2021:

Songs about choices, knew a few and I like this list. The words of thee songs tells us a lot about life.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 20, 2021:

Out of all the ones you mention, I only know 7! They're all good, of course but I particularly like 'Take a Chance on Me' and 'You're the One that I Want'. My least favourite is 'My Way' - it's been done to death!

Choices, choices! Sometimes it's so difficult.

Well done, once again, with your monumental lists of themed songs.

Hope you're keeping safe and well.


Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on April 20, 2021:

Flourish, it's interesting to think about how the minutes and moments in our life, big or small, all contribute in some way to the person we are. I don't believe in accidents; things happen for a reason. I made my big life choice 40 years ago (Mr. Carb) and so glad I chose him and he chose me.

This was a fun playlist (I actually knew quite a few of them). May I suggest one more? "What About Love?" by Heart.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 20, 2021:

Choice is a universal theme, and I think Michael Jackson's lyrics say it best. A change with each man in the mirror could result in worldwide change. Many other good lyrics too--and tunes. Thank you.

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