Human’s affection for music extends far beyond mere appreciation. Over the years, numerous studies have highlighted the therapeutic advantages of music, such as alleviating depression, anxiety, and stress. Hence, it’s unsurprising that certain songs possess an innate ability to induce relaxation, offering the ideal blend to put your mind at ease.
The potency of music in stress relief is so profound that research suggests it can influence brain function akin to medication. Moreover, a study has unveiled that 75 per cent of individuals experience a stress reduction when indulging in their favourite tunes. This therapeutic power of music is increasingly recognised, with a recent 103 per cent surge in global Google searches for “songs for stress relief”, indicating a growing trend in seeking musical solace during challenging times.
When singling out the most effective songs for relaxation, there have been a number of studies over the years that each look at the musical arrangements within a song, alongside its calming and meditative capabilities. Some have been crafted with this in mind, like Late Night Drive Home’s ‘Stress Relief’, which factors in known relaxing sounds like rain, coupled with ambient soundscapes which provide the perfect soundtrack for winding down.
Others, like Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ and ‘I Wanna Be Yours’, become natural relaxation tunes in part due to their inherently laid-back pacing and chord progressions but also due to their intrinsic simplicity and easy-listening intent. Some of the more romantic pop tunes, like Adele’s heartbreaking power ballad ‘Someone Like You’, and One Direction’s hit ‘Night Changes’, each adopt a similar sense of straightforwardness that makes for that much-welcomed, comforting listening.
Derived from the gentle, melodious keystrokes reminiscent of traditional Celtic music, Enya’s ‘Watermark’ distinguishes itself as a purely instrumental piano composition. Interestingly, the initial intention was to incorporate a poem, but the final result became an exceptionally tranquil instrumental piece. On a different note, All Saints’ ‘Pure Shores’ opening notes are widely recognised, given its status as the iconic dream pop track originally composed for the film The Beach, directed by Danny Boyle.
Other studies found that the most relaxing song in the world is ‘Weightless’ by Marconi Union, an English ambient music band formed in Manchester in 2003 by Richard Talbot and Jamie Crossley. The eight-minute track was released in 2011 in collaboration with Lyz Cooper of the British Academy of Sound Therapy, and Radox Spa. The song features guitar, piano and manipulated field recordings alongside low tones that supposedly induce a trance-like state.
Barcelona’s ‘Please Don’t Go’ also incorporates a soft piano melody, haunting vocals, and slow, simple arrangements, evoking a similar sense of ease as Electra’s ‘Airstream’, DJ Shah’s ‘Mellomaniac’, and David Kushner’s ‘Daylight’. While there are a number of reasons why a song might encourage or cause stress relief or even happiness, the ones that secure a top spot in this art form all share a common thread of unhurried tempo and minimalistic arrangements. Take a look at the full list below.
The most relaxing songs, according to science:
- ‘Stress Relief’ – Late Night Drive Home
- ‘Weightless’ – Marconi Union
- ‘Carry Me’ – Euforbia
- ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ – Arctic Monkeys
- ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ – Arctic Monkeys
- ‘Someone Like You’ – Adele
- ‘Night Changes’ – One Direction
- ‘Pure Shores’ – All Saints
- ‘Electra’ – Airstream
- ‘Mellomaniac’ – DJ Shah
- ‘Daylight’ – David Kushner
- ‘Please Don’t Go’ – Barcelona
- ‘Moonlight’ – Ariana Grande
- ‘Cardigan’ – Taylor Swift
- ‘Watermark’ – Enya
- ‘Strawberry Swing’ – Coldplay
- ‘Canzonetta Sull’aria’ – Mozart
- ‘We Can Fly’ – Cafe Del Mar
- ‘Pull Through’ – Suburban Dream
- ‘Learning To Fly’ – Pink Floyd