I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about getting ready for exams, and mentioned in it that sometimes I like to stick music on to shut the stress out a bit. I specifically mentioned a couple of pieces of classical music that I love, and I would definitely still recommend them, but at the same time sometimes I need something a bit less time consuming, and so here are three recommendations for songs I like to stick on when I need 5 minutes off.

Joni Mitchell – Morning Morgantown

George Michael – A Different Corner (Live)

Randy Crawford – Last Night at Danceland

These aren’t necessarily my favourite songs of all time – much as I like them – but they are perfect for my needs when I want to switch off and lose myself for a bit. They’re soft – which I think is key. Hectic songs won’t let your brain settle, and while that’s brilliant when it’s brilliant, (see this for an example) it doesn’t do much for relaxing and chilling out. They’re specifically chosen for their sense of peace, and innocence. That sounds ridiculous, perhaps, but if I’m relaxing I don’t want difficult lyrics that challenge my thinking and incite my inner rebel. That’s also brilliant when it’s brilliant, but it’s not what I need right now. Peaceful songs are not all that easy to come by, but these are the three I always look to. I don’t know what separates them from other peaceful songs by artists I love, but there is something about these three that helps me find a few minutes of calm no matter how stormy the outside.

Joni Mitchell is a bit of a Marmite artist for me; when I like her stuff, I love it, and she’s at her absolute sweetest in ‘Morning Morgantown’ – a song that almost drips with hippy peace and love, but in a way that never gets annoying and I find deeply soothing. George Michael’s ‘A Different Corner’ is a clunkingly 80s record in its original form, but this live version from 1998 is beautifully rendered in soft luscious sorrow. It doesn’t make me sad though, it just drains my stress. Finally, there’s Randy Crawford’s peerless disco classic, ‘Last Night at Danceland’ – which actually might be one of my favourite songs of all time. It’s a happy song, it ticks every box you’d want for soft-pop-disco, and I find it infinitely relaxing and joyous.

Incidentally, if you don’t already have some, I would recommend investing in a pair of noise-reducing headphones. A good pair will set you back maybe £40, but the benefits are huge. Obviously these songs might not work for you, and if they don’t, please accept my apologies and let me know what your song choices would be – I’m always on the lookout for new things to add to the playlist!


About PS

English teacher in Shanghai.
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