Music has an effect on our bodies, something psychological and physiological happens when you listen to music. The right song will make you produce dopamine and improve your mood, relieve stress, or fall asleep. You can use it to get motivation and energy or help you wind down after a long day. But what exactly makes a song relaxing? Generally, a slow beat-per-minute, unpredictable melodies, and a lack of sharp changes in sound are all traits of relaxing music. But vocals can play just as much into a song as the instrumentation.
In this article, we’ll go over 25 of the most relaxing songs to drift off to.
1. Weightless – Marconi Union
It’s almost cheating for Weightless to rank number one. I mean, sound therapists teamed up with the band to design the most relaxing song they possibly could. Research on the song proved it could lower blood pressure, slow your heart rate, and lower cortisol in the body. (Cortisol is the hormone related to stress, by the way).
This song is eight minutes long, but for a good reason. Its slowdown from 60 to 50 bpm will trick your heart into matching the rhythm, which takes at least five minutes. It had deliberate gaps in the song to create comfort, and it stays unpredictable in the melody to keep your brain from trying to predict the next note.
Weightless is easily the most relaxing song in the world, and strangely, it’s one of the few times that scientific studies will back that claim up. One study states that 65% of participants’ anxiety levels dropped, and one doctor says you shouldn’t listen to it while driving because it could be dangerous.
2. Single Phial – HM Surf
Here, we depart from scientific studies and lean on personal experience. Single Phial is a lo-fi hip hop song that appears in regular rotation on a few lo-fi stations on YouTube. It’s a bit of a mash-up/remix of some background music from the video games from the Pokémon franchise. It has the slow beat per minute you want in a relaxing song, but the lo-fi quality (and the familiarity of the tunes) both bring a level of comfort that helps you begin to relax.
3. Canzonetta Sull’aria
Classical music should always be on your playlist if you’re looking at something to help you relax, and Mozart is one of the best composers you can pick. While there are plenty of stimulating songs in his discography, Canzonetta Sull’aria is one of your lighter options. Honestly, Mozart’s work is very mathematical and precise, but this song doesn’t require a trained ear and will ease you into a state of relaxation.
4. Electra – Airstream
The optimal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute for adults, and with entrainment, you can bring your heart rate into that range (like with Weightless). Electra by Airstream has many of the same qualities that make Weightless one of the most relaxing songs. It has a chill vibe that lacks any sort of heavy bass but still has more of a hip hop beat to it. It’s the perfect background song for yoga, napping, or working if you’re stressed out.
5. We Can Fly – Cafe Del Mar
We Can Fly lacks a lot before its drum track begins, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It sounds like a bunch of noise, which can work for relaxing. White noise is a common thing for ambient songs to include, so this song isn’t outside of the norm at all. It’s definitely worth a listen if you’re feeling stressed out after a long day at work or the kids won’t stop screaming.
6. What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
What A Wonderful World has the perfect vibe to it. Louis Armstrong’s deep vocals evoke a loving grandfather while the twinkling instrumentals in the background lull you into a state of ease. Honestly, it’s one of the best-known songs of all time, but its slow tempo and positive message are perfect for relaxing in bed or setting the mood in a film.
7. Mellomaniac (Chillout Mix) – DJ Shah
One of two things that happens with repetitive music is that you either try to predict what’s next, or it frees your brain from trying to do so. Mellomaniac by DJ Shah relies on the latter with its repetitive reverb guitar. Everything about this song is mellow, so much so that you could picture yourself listening to it while sitting on the beach with a cold drink.
8. Let It Be – The Beatles
A title track for the Beatles, Let It Be had a single version and an album version. The single version stays soft throughout, with an easy guitar solo and orchestral sections mixed into it. If you want to relax with the song, this is the version you should be listening to, as the album version has a heavier guitar solo that can throw you off a bit.
9. Please Don’t Go – Barcelona
Please Don’t Go plays with the higher ranges of the piano and string instruments, tuning them into a minor key that you would typically associate with a sad song. It’s meant to stir emotion in you, even to the point of making some listeners cry. While that might not sound relaxing, it’s still got a slow tempo and lacks any sort of grating bass that would keep you wound up. On their own, those two things can make it very relaxing as a song.
10. Watermark – Enya
Enya is a bit famous for relaxing songs. Almost anything you choose from their music catalog makes for a relaxing time, but Watermark hits slightly different. White noise is one of the best background noises for reducing stress or sleeping, and this song aims to emulate it. The layered synthesizers create a wall of white noise, which means you don’t need a white noise machine to sleep at night. Just play this on repeat.
11. Summertime Sadness – Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey’s version of dreamy, trippy pop music is perfect for winding down, with Summertime Sadness being one of the best songs to turn on and just lay down. The song got Lana her first hit in the US and was a big deal on international charts, instilling a bit of melancholy contentment in any listener.
12. Pure Shores – All Saints
Dream pop, as a whole, is pretty relaxing. It’s meant to be a soundscape, keeping things light and dreamy. Pure Shores is a groovy track with an uplifting vibe that will make you feel like you’re sitting on a beach (that’s a very relaxing place, by the way, hence why it’ll come up a few times here). It’s one on the list that isn’t almost putting you to sleep too, which means you can relax and still keep an eye on the kids.
13. Strawberry Swing – Coldplay
Relaxing doesn’t just have to be winding down to a state of almost falling asleep. It doesn’t even have to be something with such a slow tempo that your heartbeat mimics it within optimal resting ranges. Strawberry Swing from Coldplay instills a carefree and content feeling in the listener, which can be just as relaxing as something designed to reduce stress.
14. She Will Be Loved – Maroon 5
She Will Be Loved has a very relaxed Spanish guitar to it. It’s a bit more uptempo than most of the songs on this list, with rising vocals and a more energetic chorus that may throw off the vibe a bit. But that’s okay. It’s one of the most mellow songs Maroon 5 has produced that can put you in the right state of mind.
15. Someone Like You – Adele
Adele has earned her fair share of awards, with Someone Like You earning her a Grammy. The whole point of the song is to be as emotional as possible, potentially even forcing everyone listening to cry. It’s not a typical song for relaxing, but if you’ve got a lot of pent-up emotions that need to come out, this song might make you do it, and you’ll feel much less stressed afterward.
16. Babylon – David Gray
Babylon is one of those songs that just makes you take a pause and contemplate your life, which on its own is pretty relaxing. That’s especially true if it can make you stop no matter what you’re doing. It has a bit of a rise to it, but it stays relatively mellow throughout despite having a faster tempo than our top 10 songs.
17. Come Away With Me – Norah Jones
Come Away With Me opens with some incredibly relaxing piano notes, but Norah Jones’s voice will really put you into a relaxed state. The song actually stays pretty steady throughout, even with the piano rising a bit, and the interspersed acoustic guitar strums are perfect for throwing off your brain. Overall, it’s a beautiful and relaxing song to listen to.
18. Somewhere Only We Know – Keane
Somewhere Only We Know isn’t exactly the song to put you to sleep. It’s more of a mid-tempo song to help you on your way down. The crooning lyrics are more relaxing than the actual background instrumentals are, helping you down into a place where you can just chill.
19. I Say A Little Prayer – Aretha Franklin
If you’ve only heard Aretha Franklin’s funky hits, you’re missing out. This is a jazzy relaxing song that’s definitely over the tempo you’d expect to find in one of the most relaxing songs. But her iconic voice will put you at ease the way your mother’s or your grandmother’s voice would.
20. Smile – Lily Allen
Smile is one of the few songs on this list with some element of a heavier bass. The jazzy background beat isn’t slow enough to be relaxing on its own, but the delivery of Lily Allen’s lyrics definitely is. She’s so smooth throughout the song it’s hard not to fall into a flow state with this song.
21. Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
Here’s another one of the most iconic songs of all time. With a bit of flair, Bobby McFerrin’s whistling layered on top of a smooth a capella background is ideal for relaxing. His deeper, accented voice brings that kind of beachy, Jamaican vibe to it that just puts you in a good mood. Plus, the entire message of the song is about being happy and letting go of your worries, which is ideal for relaxing.
22. Orinoco Flow – Enya
We said almost anything you pick made by Enya is going to be relaxing, and we weren’t kidding. If you enjoyed Watermark, a good place to start checking out the rest of their discography is going to be Orinoco Flow. It’s almost as relaxing as Watermark is.
23. Peaceful Easy Feeling – The Eagles
The Eagles’ best songs could almost all seem relaxing. They just had a way of laying down a soft guitar track with lyrics that made you feel at ease. Plus, the title of this one is literally Peaceful Easy Feeling and is all about being content, satisfied, and happy. Come on.
24. I’ll Be There – Jackson Five
Sometimes all it takes to be able to relax is knowing that someone is there for you and that you don’t have to do it on your own. The Jackson 5 might have laid down this hit song a long time ago, but I’ll Be There is still one of the most iconic and relaxing songs there is, even if it’s only thanks to the support you feel from it.
25. White Flag – Dido
White Flag is another one that has a bit of bass to it. The lyrics are broken up, both in delivery and verse, which helps make it more unpredictable and easier to shut your brain off. Plus, her voice in it is both beautiful and soft, making it a good one to help you relax despite not fitting a lot of the criteria our other songs did.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.