Songs for Staving Off Stress

Stress is a part of life, but we can’t let it consume us. We all need a breath of fresh air once in a while and some time to decompress, doing activities we enjoy that allow us to recharge. Listening to music is a great way to relieve stress and center yourself, so sit back, relax, and listen to these mellow tunes. 


My Ever Changing Moods (piano version) – The Style Council 


Singer/songwriter Paul Weller has a unique, rich voice that moves between notes smoothly and adds life to the lyrics. His voice is enhanced by the piano, and both blend well, as they are the only sources of music in the song. Although the tempo of the song is lively, the piano and lyrics give it a relaxed atmosphere. The mood is supported by the imagery and lyrical content. Imagery and diction include sugar, moonlight, statues, and the phrase ‘calm before the storm’. 


Aries – Gorillaz ft. Peter Hook and Georgia 


‘Aries’ is a collaboration performed by Joy Division/New Order bassist Peter Hook, ex-Blur and current Gorillaz singer/songwriter Damon Albarn, and singer/songwriter Georgia. Peter Hook’s distinct style of playing high notes on the bass has a repetitive pattern in this song. The repetition and mid-low tones create a relaxing melody. 

Additionally, Damon Albarn’s voice is soft on this track, and it sounds quieter and even muffled by the instrumentation at certain points. Imagery in this song includes high tide, volcanos, and far-away lights. The BPM of 120 is a moderate pace, but the imagery and vocal qualities, as well as bassline, create a relaxing instrumentation. 


Dangerous Blues – The Young Veins 


In this love song, singer/songwriter Ryan Ross uses first person pronouns, directly addressing the listener (“why do your eyes feel like shells in a dune”, “step outside your door”, etc). This adds a level of personal connection and engages the listener. Imagery in this song includes the beach, seashells, and sand dunes. The beach is a universal symbol of serenity, thus using imagery connected to it creates a peaceful atmosphere. The use of the word ‘bloomed’ also calls to mind new life and spring. The line ‘I’ve never bloomed such a beautiful blue’ communicates the singer finding beauty in his sadness. This song’s tempo is slow and waltz-like, with a BPM of 96.


Northern Downpour – Panic! At The Disco 


Many people find rain soothing, so the title by itself sets a nice tone. Furthermore, ‘weathervanes’ may remind the listener of peaceful countryside homes and southern hospitality. The concept of peaceful country homes is furthered by the line ‘you clicked your heels and wished for me’, a reference singer/songwriter Brendon Urie makes to The Wizard of Oz. With the line ‘Melt your headaches, call it home’ the singer is encouraging listener to be at ease and accept the place they’re in. Furthermore, ‘hey moon, please forget to fall down’ communicates the singer’s desire for the moon to stay up and prolong the nighttime. Piano music and a BPM of 85 add to the easy mood of the song. 


You Are The Everything – R.E.M 


Singer/songwriter Michael Stipe is confiding in the listener, expressing his feelings about them and the world. With the line ‘here’s a scene’, he hooks the listener and proceeds to describe a peaceful image. The song’s comforting lyrics include scenes of laying in the backseat of a car, stars in the sky, and feeling time stand still. The BPM is fast, 163, but it’s countered by the vocal quality and lyrics. 


Cornerstone – Arctic Monkeys 


‘Cornerstone’ is a love song with a sad but humorous twist. We find singer/songwriter Alex Turner believing he’s seeing his, we can assume, past partner in various locations, only to discover ‘she’ was different people. His voice is wonderfully dynamic and smooth, allowing him to hit and move between notes with ease while telling an interesting love story. Simple guitar work and steady bass pair well with the waltz BPM of 84.


Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House, covered by Sixpence None the Richer 


In this cover, singer Leigh Nash’s soft, almost ethereal vocals add depth to the song and lyrics, supported by the instrumentation and a walking pace of 80 BPM. Although it’s not blunt, one of the topics in this song includes love, seen in the lines ‘Counting the steps to the door of your heart’ and ‘To build a wall between us/We know they won’t win’. The song is melodious and light in slight contrast to the original version. The song’s story is a gentle warning (‘you’ll ever reach the end of the road when you’re traveling with me’) and critique (‘tales of Tales of war and of waste/But you turn right over to the TV page’) as the singer addresses the listener.  


After analyzing these songs, common themes can be identified among imagery, topics, tempo, and vocal quality. These include: 

Imagery: beach, rain, water, nighttime 

Topic: Romance 

Tempo: Slow to mid 

Vocal quality: Rich, smooth, low, soft-spoken, strong