Music heals. We don’t just know this intuitively, we feel it. While it may not cure cancer, dengue or coronavirus, music can heal our humanity by rallying us to stand up to racial injustice. It can also be a tool for supporting our fellowmen affected by COVID-19. On an everyday level, music provides the solace that we sorely need, especially now as we face imminent recession and brace ourselves for hard times ahead. To this end, we bring you some music recommendations. It’s a music playlist that speaks to the heart and soul, and hopefully also gives you the strength to unwind and get through another day.
(If you’re looking for music for your commute to work, you can check it out here.)
Music playlist to unwind with soft beats
‘Fire on Fire’ – Sam Smith
English singer Sam Smith’s OST work didn’t stop after 2015’s Spectre. He did it again for BBC-Netflix series Watership Down (2018) with “Fire On Fire”. Watership Down is an animated series adapted from Richard Adams’ novel of the same name. It follows a group of anthropomorphic wild rabbits fighting against the status quo of an oppressive environment.
“Fire On Fire” expresses the resilience and hope of the protagonists in the story, in the face of deadly oppression. You can feel it most when Smith goes in with his emotive and nuanced vocals: When we fight/We fight like lions/Fire on fire/Would normally kill us/But this much desire/Together we’re winners. It’s a ballad that gives you goosebumps by way of extending a spiritual hug which makes this music a part of our playlist to unwind.
‘One time’ – Marian hill
Marian Hill is the duo of production artist Jeremy Lloyd and vocalist Samantha Gongol. You may have noticed it on Apple’s first AirPods commercial Stroll. But even if you haven’t, it’s really hard not to like Marian Hill, once you’ve heard its 2015 Billboards chart-topper “One Time”. As with every Marian Hill song, it details Gongol’s “wavy” vocals juxtaposed against Lloyd’s jazzy drum beats. What the duo has is an altogether cheeky and cool sound that we can’t get enough of.
‘Bad Days’ – Chance peña
What difference does a day make? Don’t go confusing Chance Peña’s “Bad Days” with Daniel Powter’s 2005 hit song about a singular less-than-perfect day. As an American singer-songwriter who got his break after appearing on The Voice (2015), Peña is making a name for himself in the music industry. At 20, he’s already written a song for John Legend, contributed to OSTs for Nashville and Five Feet Apart (2019), as well as produced an EP and a new single.
Peña’s “Bad Days” is a salve for tired souls. It takes listeners back in time through light beats, a touch of glass harps, and a synthesiser. Peña’s own soft vocals make it a song that grabs you as soon as you hear it, especially if you’re in need of a friend. Because If you’re feeling down these days/Confide in someone, somewhere, someplace/You’re not alone, see/You know everyone has had their share of bad days.
‘Do you remember’ – Jarryd James ft. raury
Since clinching the ARIA Music Award for Best Pop Release in 2015, Australian singer Jarryd James has had a dry spell. His latest singles “Slow Motion” and “Problems” were only released in 2019 and 2020 respectively. While these have their merits, we prefer the tracks on his debut album High – specifically “Do You Remember”.
“Do You Remember” is James’ award-winning track, with lyrics that uncannily describe how much some of us may miss WFH after three months of settling into a now-old routine. Phase Two is like a breakup, if you will. As James sings “Don’t forget it was real/Do you remember the way it made you feel?/Do you remember the things it let you feel” so emotionally. Well, do you remember staying up until the wee hours binge-watching Netflix? Or baking batches after batches of sourdough? Or even properly trying out new grooming products?
‘Ripples’ – Maximillian
Danish singer Maximillian ignited his music career in 2017 with a hit single “Higher”. Then came “Feelings”, and “Hollow Days”. But our favourite track (because it showcases his arresting vocals most) is “Ripples”.
Granted, “Ripples” is a depressing, painful breakup song. But what it also does is lay out that it’s OK not to be OK. Everyone has their share of bad times after all. You wake up on the wrong side of the bed. The traffic is horrible. You get rained on your proverbial parade. You dropped your ice cream. Maximillian empathises. Still, I’m stuck here thinking why you’d give me this/How many hours must I wait?/How much more trust have I left to give?/’Cus you really got me where it hurts the most.
‘Self Care’ – Mac Miller
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Laced with melancholy and pinings of a lost love — some have speculated it to be about his ex Ariana Grande — this track off the late Mac Miller’s final album Swimming, is an oddly relaxing tune to unwind to. Clocking in at nearly 6 minutes, it’s a long track, but features a fascinating tempo switch midway through that infuses it with some R&B and soul sensibilities. Its accompanying music video is visually stunning and worth the watch.
‘Higher Power’ – Coldplay
Perhaps the most upbeat tune on our playlist, “Higher Power” is a spacey, catchy song with a soaring chorus and captivating mix of synths and groovy basslines. Sometimes we just need a dose of joy and hope to tide us through the tough times, and this single from Coldplay’s 2021 album Music of the Spheres is the perfect antidote.