This is a very stressful time of year for a lot of people, whether they’re sitting exams in school or spring cleaning or making life-changing decisions, it all seems to happen when the weather gets a little warmer and the days grow a bit lighter. So, in order to help manage these stressful times, here are some relaxing choices to help you cry out your hurt, recentre yourself, and focus on the good in life.
- Perfect Day by Lou Reed
Written by Lou Reed with production from David Bowie, this song is truely cathartic, effortlessly swinging between minor and major keys in order to show how people can switch between emotional highs and lows in everyday life. The mixture of sadness with hope for the future ultimately relaxes and soothes the listener. If you like this version, you should listen to the one by Lou Reed and Various Artists for BBC’s Children In Need charity. It’s utterly legendary.
- Lovers by Anna Of The North
This song is soothing and catchy and really captures love in all its forms. When talking about this track and the album as a whole, Anna stated that she always referred to her fans as “lovers”. She then went on to say that the concept of the song isn’t just about a romantic relationship, but all kinds of love. She confesses that she was going through a break up when writing this and hopes the message of helping those we love through a difficult time and having hope for the future comes through despite the sadness within the lyrics.
- Easy by The Commodores
This song is well known everywhere as nonchalance personified. Lionel Richie, the lead singer, croons about feeling “easy like Sunday morning”, and he’s so secure and relaxed in the knowledge that life will work itself out. The main message of the song is life will work out in the end as long as we take time for ourselves and focus on personal happiness. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut or just plain stressed, this is the song for you.
- Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish
This was Billie’s first single and shows a surprising level of maturity and understanding considering she was just 13 when she released it. The lyrics are highly relatable as they portray the disappointment of being let down, however, it’s the melody that’s the true genius. The song is soft and gentle and distinctive, her voice mimicking the swell and fall of the waves as the tide comes in and recedes. She does such an amazing job at letting the music wash over the listener and lull them into a relaxed state, it’s easy to forget how young she was at the time.
- Betty by Taylor Swift
Swift has claimed that this song is from the point of view of a teenage boy losing his first love after he cheated on her, stating “This is a song that I wrote from the perspective of a 17 year-old boy. And I’ve always loved that in music you can kind of slip into different identities and you can sing from other people’s perspectives.” Whether you agree this is the song’s meaning or if you subscribe to one of the many fan theories, we can all agree that the song is beautifully written, sung, and performed. The harmonica in the background gives a haunting feel to the song, lending a ‘times gone by’ feel to the song, while Swift’s vocals are measured and relaxed, never once straining. It really speaks to mistakes and having to face the consequences of poor choices when growing up. I also feel like the faster tempo near the end of the song gives hope for the future. Yes, there’s heartbreak and regret, but life goes on and love can be found in many unexpected places.
- Truth by Zayn Malik
This song covers Zayn’s journey from being in a boyband to becoming a solo artist. He has often stated that he felt stuck when in the band and it’s no secret that he suffered a lot of racism at that time as well. Leaving the band, although surely difficult for him and everyone involved, must have been much like being able to breathe a little easier after always watching every step you take. There are many mixed feelings about the reasons why he left and what effect that had on the band, but we can all agree that Zayn and the boys were all devastated and had to take some time to adjust.
This song, I feel, really captures the idea of having your own truth inside of you that you must eventually be true to, even if it hurts. We can all relate to that to some degree with our lives and Zayn’s voice really captures the complicated mixture of pain, anxiety, and hope that occurs when we are faced with a dramatic life change.
- From Eden by Hozier
Hozier often writes about religion within his music, but not in the usual manner people have come to expect. Usually, songs of this type are about celebrating creation and a higher power, but this song takes on a rather different perspective. When talking in an interview with The Sun, Hozier stated, “It’s a song about idolizing somebody from a distance…I wrote it jokingly from the perspective of the devil.” He then expanded on this in later interviews, explaining that Blues music really influenced him in this song, as in that genre the Devil is often a human character. He confesses that he plays “around with the idea that the song is sang by the snake. That it’s the devil looking longingly at something he desires – for everything that he does not have.”
This is a really interesting and refreshing perspective to have in a song, as religion can often be a source of upset for people who struggle with their wants and feelings when they conflict with their religious teachings, such as struggling with your sexuality for example. When I listen to this song, I can imagine someone having a difficult time trying to align their sense of self with their idea of expectations for themselves. I go on a journey as the song progresses, thinking of how the character in the song feels, and by the end, I feel lighter for it.
- Little Things by One Direction
Written by Ed Sheeran for the band, this song is truly beautiful. It takes all the things that people would usually see as imperfections within themselves and turns them into the reason for loving someone. Everyone can relate to struggling with how they look or come across and everyone has at least one thing about themselves they dislike and would love to change. However, this song acknowledges this and, instead of suggesting change as some songs have done, or stating love for the person in spite of those things, this song boldly claims that these perceived imperfections are the reason they love them. The flaws are a unique part of the person and make them who they are, and therefore they are loved because of them rather than in spite of them.
This is a stunning concept and makes me feel so much better about being too fat or too tall or too loud, or any of the things ex-romantic partners have accused me of in the past. I may be those things, but they’re part of me, and everyone deserves love for all of them and not just the commercially attractive parts. I’m sure I’m not the only person who falls a little more in love with themselves and with One Direction when they hear this song.
- Yesterday by The Beatles
This song is one of the most covered Beatles songs ever and it’s easy to see why. The melody is simple, the lyrics poignant and recurring, and the overall message of loss is something everyone can relate to on some level.
The song, written by Paul McCartney, is about a breakup after the singer has said the wrong thing and driven their lover away. The idea of loss, regret, and just wishing to turn back time to right a wrong is a powerful one, however, it also gives a little bit of hope too, as if the singer felt love so strongly before, then it stands to reason that level of love could be felt again. Also, they seem to realise what they have done and learning from mistakes and personal growth is definitely a positive thing.
- What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
This song is self-explanatory in my opinion. It has a simple, almost lullaby-like melody and lyrics, stating plainly the idea that there is beauty in the world if you look for it. This is such an important message, especially with all the atrocities happening in the world today. We have mass shootings and wars and the world is still recovering from the pandemic. Even on a smaller, more personal level, every day people deal with grief, stress, heartbreak, and financial pressures which can make living day to day life that much more difficult. It’s not surprise that with all the things that affect each of us on a personal and global level, it’s no wonder that more people than ever are being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. With all of these things and more, it’s easy to despair when watching the news or interacting with others, but this song sends the very much-needed message that we should never lose hope in beauty within humanity and the world, because it’s still there if you look for it.
The No Stunts playlist can be found at the link below –