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Sometimes, you just don’t feel like yourself. Life is stressing you out, relationships are rocky, work is overwhelming, or any number of things is making you feel down in the dumps. At times like these, most people don’t really need cheering up as much as they need to give in to crappy feelings. Personally, when I can feel that I need to exorcise some emotions, I let YouTube do the work for me and have a serious ugly cry to some of my go-to sad music. Here are some of the most... productive songs to listen to when you’re depressed.
Peter Gabriel- “The Book of Love”
Peter Gabriel’s version of this song is hauntingly beautiful. Gabriel’s voice is just perfectly fit to the lyrics, and the arrangement will definitely tug at your heartstrings. Fair warning: the words to this song may very well get stuck in your head for days on end, so be aware of that before you press play. (I usually don’t mind, because the sentiment behind this song is so lovely.)
Bon Iver- “715- CREEKS”
Bon Iver’s entire album “22, A Million” is a perfect combination of sad and weird music, but “CREEKS” is especially soothing when you’re feeling down in the dumps. I recommend listening to this in a peaceful environment—maybe a dimly lit room with a glass of wine in your hand. And definitely check out the rest of the album if you enjoy this song.
Aretha Franklin- “Ain’t No Way”
If there’s a better companion for sadness than Aretha Franklin’s voice, I haven’t found it yet. She sings so beautifully that it’s impossible not to get wrapped up in the sound, and that can be the perfect method for taking your mind off what’s troubling you.
Simon & Garfunkel- “The Sound of Silence”
This classic song is somehow soothing and a little creepy at the same time, in my opinion. (Those first 20 seconds or so have always weirded me out. Just me? Okay.) But the lyrics really speak to loneliness and aimlessness, which can be just what you need when you’re feeling depressed.
Sam Cooke- “Bring It On Home To Me”
The lyrics to this song are a significant downer, all about lost love and wanting someone back, but listening to it has always cheered me up regardless. Sam Cooke’s voice is lovely and uniquely emotive, and listening to him can be a very cathartic experience.
Leon Bridges- "River"
This song is so well done, and so is its music video. This is the perfect tune for when you feel a cry coming on but need a soundtrack to kick it into full gear. Make sure to watch the video for the full experience.
Hozier- “Someone New”
This has a quicker tempo than some of the other go-to sad songs, so it’s more likely to put you in a better mood if that’s what you’re looking for. There’s a cool quality to Hozier’s voice that makes for a unique listening experience, and this song has a semi-hopeful message that you might find helpful.
Barenaked Ladies- "Light Up My Room"
I personally and aggressively believe that Barenaked Ladies are inexcusably underrated and underappreciated, and their album “Stunt,” including the song “Light Up My Room” is a big reason why. This song perfectly captures childhood nostalgia, doing a complicated concept perfect justice. Listen to it, then call your best friend from high school.
Chance The Rapper- "Same Drugs"
This piano part gets me every time, in a beautiful way. Chance the Rapper is crazy talented, and if he’s not on your radar, he should be. This song is perfect for those days when you’re feeling sad and just blah about everything.
Adele- "Hometown Glory"
It would be criminal not to include an Adele song on this list. Let’s be honest—almost every Adele song would fit right in here. But “Hometown Glory” is less about lost love and more about feeling lost in general, making it a fitting song to listen to when you’re not feeling your best.
Father John Misty- "The Suburbs"
This is one of the most compelling covers I’ve ever listened to. Father John Misty’s voice is perfectly suited to this Arcade Fire song, and the lyrics perfectly capture small-town malaise. This is a great one to listen to while driving at night.
Corinne Bailey Rae- "Till It Happens To You"
Be warned: this song is not a great choice for the recently heartbroken. But it is a lovely song, and Corinne Bailey Rae has a unique voice that I could listen to for days at a time. If the source of your sadness is not a romantic relationship gone sour, you should give this a listen. Otherwise, give it six months and then revisit it.
Amy Winehouse- "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?"
Amy Winehouse’s voice was (and still is) indescribable, and listening to her has always been a cathartic experience for me, whether I’m feeling great or lousy. This song speaks to an insecurity we can all identify with, and she sings it perfectly.
Mary Lambert- "She Keeps Me Warm"
You’ll no doubt recognize some of this song from “Same Love,” the huge Macklemore hit Mary Lambert was featured on, but Mary has some gorgeous music of her own that you should definitely check out. “She Keeps Me Warm” is soft and sweet enough to raise your spirits.
Whatever the reason you’re feeling depressed, letting yourself relax and listening to some of these songs could be helpful—even if you don’t feel necessarily better, you may at least feel like you’ve engaged with your feelings and given yourself a chance to cry it out. I hope these songs provide you with a little emotional relief.