Let’s face it: college is rough. Sure, it’s fun, but once finals week hits, you’re studying nonstop, sleeping much less, and if you’re like me, you might even forget to eat. Not to mention the stress of term papers, or any friendship or relationship issues you might be dealing with. When I feel overwhelmed or stressed, I usually turn up my music, and go for songs that almost sound like they’re giving me a hug.
1. "Broad-Shouldered Beasts" by Mumford & Sons
“But when you feel the world wrapping round your neck
Feel my hand round yours
And when you feel the world wrapping round your neck
Since Mumford happens to be my favorite band (they’re tied with Imagine Dragons, and they’ll probably show up more than once in this list), this was a given. Broad-Shouldered Beasts is just plain beautiful, and never fails to warm me up when I’m feeling down. Bonus points for it being about New York City.
2. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel
“When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I'm on your side. When times get rough
And friends just can't be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down”
Yes, this is an oldie, but my God is it a goodie (I am so sorry for making you cringe but I had to). This is undoubtedly my favorite song to listen to when I’m sad, stressed, overwhelmed, lonely, or literally feeling anything negative. No matter what the problem is, taking a deep breath and listening to this calms me down completely. For that reason, it’s one of my favorite songs of all time. Give it a shot, you will not be disappointed.
3. "By the Grace of God" by Katy Perry
“By the grace of God
There was no other way
I picked myself back up”
I know Katy Perry is a little hit or miss for some people, but this song really is beautiful, and my favorite song of hers. Personally, I draw a lot of strength from God and my faith when times get tough, so this suits me perfectly. Her voice is also incredibly powerful, and themes of strength and confidence are constantly brought up throughout the song.
4. "Destination" by Imagine Dragons
“We stay up late and draw the lines to every constellation
We live with all our sorrows tied to age and separation
These are the days of love and life
These are our expectations
We stay up late to live tonight
This is our destination”
Imagine Dragons is my other favorite band (they stand beside Mumford; expect them to also show up again), and this is one of my favorite songs to blast when I need a little pick-me-up. This song is also from their iTunes Session, so it’s live, and they sound positively amazing. Turn this up, close your eyes, and imagine laying in a field of soft grass beneath a blanket of stars next to the people you love most.
5. "Iridescent" by Linkin Park
“Do you feel cold and lost in desperation?
You build up hope, but failure’s all you’ve known
Remember all the sadness and frustration
And let it go. Let it go”
This is from the credits of Transformers 3, so I understand why some people wouldn’t give it a listen (I’m sure most people turn off the TV the second credits start rolling in). However, it’s still a great song to listen to when you’re feeling overwhelmed. As usual, Linkin Park sounds great, and sometimes you really do just have to gather up all that stress and frustration and let it out. This song can absolutely help you do that.
6. "Eyes to the Sky" by Jon Bellion
“I'm trying live, I'm trying rise, above the sh*t, the devil tries
Which is why I keep my eyes to the sky
(You’re gonna be okay kid, you're gonna be okay)”
Okay, yeah, there’s some profanity in this, but the last line literally tells you that you’re going to be just fine. Also, Jon is probably one of the most underrated artists out there. He’s energetic, creative, he’s got a great voice, pulls off an undercut and quiff combo fabulously, and you can download his music for free on his website. This is perfect for when I’m tired of listening to slower, acoustic songs.
7. "Lay It All On Me" by Rudimental (feat. Ed Sheeran)
“All alone as you look through the door
Nothing left to see
If it hurts and you can't take no more
Lay it all on me”
You and I both know that Ed Sheeran has a voice like dripping honey, and it will transport you to wherever you need to go. This song is incredibly comforting, and quick and upbeat at the same time. I caught myself dancing to this without realizing it in a crowded library many times.
8. "Below My Feet" by Mumford & Sons
“Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn”
Look who’s back (you knew this was coming). Again, this is one of my favorite Mumford songs, and Jesus is it fantastic. Whenever I listen to this, I feel like I can handle whatever I’m dealing with. In a way, it grounds me.
9. "Warriors" by Imagine Dragons
“Will come, when you'll have to rise
Above the best, improve yourself
Your spirit never dies”
This is one hell of an anthem. The original version is great, but Imagine Dragons also created an acoustic version, which is soft, but still powerful. I feel like I can pick myself back up and take on anything after listening to this.
10. "Smile" by Mikky Ekko
“Smile, the worst is yet to come
We'll be lucky if we ever see the sun
Got nowhere to turn, and we've got nothing but time
But the future is forever, the future is forever, so smile, so smile, so smile”
This is the ultimate let it all go, laugh, dance, and let the stress fade away song. It’s youthful, upbeat, and catchy as hell. Mikky Ekko also has a great voice (I’m going to start advocating for underrated artists, I swear).
11. "When the Darkness Comes" by Colbie Caillat
“When you're feeling lost I'll leave my love
Hidden in the sun
For when the darkness comes”
This song is from the film The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which was originally a popular Young Adult fantasy novel, so some people might overlook it. I’m telling you right now that you shouldn’t, because it really is beautiful. Colbie Caillat has a lovely voice, and this song is soft and powerful all at once.
12. "Afire Love" by Ed Sheeran"Darling hold me in your arms the way you did last night
And we'll lie inside, a little while he wrote
I could look into your eyes until the sun comes up
And we're wrapped in light, in life, in love"
Personally, I think this is one of Ed's most beautiful songs. It's soft, the lyrics are emotional, and it's easy to clap along to. The story behind it is also extremely touching.
13. "Remedy" by Adele
“When the pain cuts you deep
When the night keeps you from sleeping
Just look and you will see
That I will be your remedy”
Let me make this abundantly clear: I am not trying to make you cry, I promise. But, as we all know, Adele’s voice is beautifully soothing, and this song’s lyrics are truly comforting. It’s easy to get lost in this song, and that’s a great feeling.
14. "Paradise" by Coldplay
“Life goes on, it gets so heavy
The wheel breaks the butterfly
Every tear a waterfall
In the night the stormy night she'll close her eyes
In the night the stormy night away she'd fly”
Even though they’re not a favorite band of mine, Coldplay makes incredibly unique, dynamic music. Chris Martin’s voice is incredibly smooth and mellow, and suits the band’s sound perfectly. Paradise sounds like a dream, and it’s perfect for when you just need to disconnect from all the mayhem (the music video is also adorable).
15. "Autumn Leaves" by Ed Sheeran
Like autumn leaves
And hush now
Close your eyes before the sleep”
This song, like the vast majority of Ed’s music, is extremely calming. It’s so easy to close your eyes and imagine the tranquil scene he describes, making it perfect for when finals week is becoming a bit too much.
16. "Wait" by M83
“Send your dreams
Where nobody hides
Give your tears
To the tide”
This song is from the soundtrack of The Fault in Our Stars, and once again, I am not trying to make you cry. This song is slow, gentle, and soothing. Even though it’s played in during a truly poignant scene in the film, it does sound uplifting.
17. "Safe & Sound" by Taylor Swift (feat. The Civil Wars)
“Just close your eyes
The sun is going down
You'll be alright
No one can hurt you now
Come morning light
You and I'll be safe and sound”
Personally, I think this is one of Taylor Swift’s best, even if you don’t enjoy her music that much. This song is soft, comforting, and almost haunting to listen to. You could easily fall asleep to this.
18. "Fix You" by Coldplay
“Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you”
By far my absolute favorite song by Coldplay. It’s emotional, dynamic, and positively beautiful. If the guitar piece in the bridge doesn’t lift your spirits, I don’t know what will.
19. "Salted Wound" by Sia
“You can do it,
Yeah, you'll pull through it,
I know this is from the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack, but please don’t panic. This song is amazing. Sia’s voice is ethereal, and the lyrics are so beautifully written. If you can get past the initial 50 Shades creep factor, I promise you’ll enjoy this.
20. "Hopeless Opus" by Imagine Dragons"I’ve got this place
That I’ve filled with empty space
Oh I’m trying not to face what I’ve done
My hopeless opus"
When I saw Imagine Dragons in concert, the lead singer of the band actually told the crowd to relax and imagine all stress just melting away while listening to this song, and God, does it work. This song is perfect for just sitting back and swaying away your worries.
21. And last, but definitely not least:
"Sigh No More" by Mumford & Sons
“There is a design, an alignment to cry
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be”
This song is an absolute masterpiece, and I promise you I’m not just saying that because I already love Mumford. This is the kind of song that knocks you off your feet for a second, and then picks you back up; almost as if you’re being reborn. The lyrics are also straight up beautiful. This song never fails to relax me, and almost warms me from the inside.
These are the songs I reach for when I’m feeling like I’m about to cry, and playing them never fails to pick me up again. Just trust yourself, surround yourself with those you love, and take a deep breath. You’re going to be just fine.