Relaxing Music: 25 Songs to Help You Unwind

Music can be some truly potent medicine. It has the ability to change our moods, comfort us, and give us space to process our emotions. Relaxing music is going to mean something different for every person. For me, personally, I find mellow, dream pop to be the most relaxing. I’m lucky to live in one of the best cities in the country for music, Chicago. I leaned into the Chicago artists to feature a few who have some amazing, relaxing music to share.

After I share some of my favorite tracks from the “City of Big Shoulders,” we’ll move on to other recent discoveries that bring that chill you desperately need. I’ve compiled a Spotify playlist of the songs from this list and you can find it at the bottom of this list. It’s a great mix that can be the soundtrack of your workday, help you meditate, or just to sit with. I hope you enjoy this relaxing music!

Listen to These Songs and Discover the Most Relaxing Music to Help You Chill Out.

“Haha” – Mia Joy

This track from Mia Joy‘s album, Spirit Tamer offers a dreamy and ethereal sound with a gentle beat. The concept of the album is the use of music as a tool to heal. If you like this song, listen to the entire album all the way through. You’ll feel lighter after completing it.

“Lonely” – Jamila Woods

If you’re not familiar with Jamila Woods, you are in for a treat. You might recognize her from her work with Chance the Rapper but her solo projects have resonated most deeply with me. This song is from her 2017 LP, HEAVN.

“Would You Mind Please Pulling Me Close?” – Tasha

One of my very favorite Chicago-based musicians performs under the singular moniker, Tasha. This single features a gentle guitar and Tasha’s crystal, clear and calming voice. We will stick with Tasha for the next song as well and discuss the reasoning behind her relaxing music.

“Lullaby” – Tasha

You need more Tasha, trust me. This song is from her 2018 album, Alone at Last. The first track on it is called “Take Care” which hints at the artist’s motivation for the album. It’s centered on self-care, especially for those who have been protesting (as part of the Black Lives Matter Movement) and feel exhausted. This enchanting lullaby will stick with you.

“Utopia Planet” – Lala Lala

Lala Lala names the project that Lillie West has created. On her latest album, I Want the Door to Open, we are allowed an inside look at West’s personal journey of discovery. Listening to “Utopia Planet” feels like you’re swimming in a warm pool and emerging to find the light once more. If you love atmospheric music, give this one a shot.

“Come Back as a Flower” – KAINA

Our final entry from Chicago, KAINA has a voice so pure and direct that it will pierce your heart. This gentle song imagines a reincarnation where the singer is returned to Earth as a flower. This single is an absolute treasure and the definition of relaxing music.

“Wake Up Tomorrow” – Helado Negro

Brooklyn-based Helado Negro has released a total of 8 studio albums and each one seems to improve on the last. His latest, Far In, feels like a warm hug from your dad. “Wake Up Tomorrow” is the first track on the album and its catchy melody will have you humming it far after you’ve heard it.

“Graves” – Hand Habits

Hand Habits is the project of Meg Duffy who has collaborated with a ton of indie artists including Perfume Genius. Their latest album Fun House is a delight from start to finish. “Graves” marks one of the most sentimental songs on it. Enjoy!

“Chamakay” – Blood Orange

Blood Orange is the project of Dev Hynes who has been scoring a lot of film and TV projects to great acclaim lately. Cupid Deluxe was released in 2013 and was roundly celebrated by critics. The opening song, “Chamakay” is a duet with Caroline Polachek. It starts in a whisper and builds to a delightfully gorgeous climax that finds Polachek’s voice soaring.

“Go As a Dream” – Caroline Polachek

I recently saw Caroline Polachek live and what I had assumed was some form of autotune that makes her vocals sound so interesting was not a mechanical feature at all. She has mastered her ability to flip between her head and chest voices and it sounds just as good live (even better) as it does in this recording. This dreamy song, “Go as a Dream” will make you an instant fan.

“It’s All in Vain” – Wet

I’ve recently been told that this album from Wet is the soundtrack to many folks’ sexy times. We’ll let you be the judge if their sound makes you want to kiss someone. We find their 2016 release, Don’t You to be relaxing music from start to finish. “It’s All in Vain” kicks off the whole album and if you like it, go get more of it.

“September Song” – Agnes Obel

If you’re an avid TV viewer, you might recognize this song from Agnes Obel. It was featured in the first season of Big Little Lies, for instance. It’s a piece with just piano and no vocals. This artist also provides vocals on some of her songs so explore more if you’re interested.

“Over the Moon” – The Marías 

Slow and jazzy, “Over the Moon,” is an excellent entry from LA-based The Marías. The lyrics are a touch melancholic but it’s not a deal-breaker for me. We love relaxing music with a good beat and this song bumps.  

“Home” – Kinlaw

Kinlaw is a project of Brooklyn-based Sarah Kinlaw. She’s a choreographer as well as a musician and she released her first full-length album, The Tipping Scale in 2021. Her soaring vocals will convince you that her calling also lies in performing vocally as well. “Home” is one of the dreamiest songs from the album.

RELATED: 11 Self-Care Gifts to Indulge In or Give to a Friend

“Ambiguous Norway” – Cassandra Jenkins

Another excellent album from 2021 was delivered by Cassandra Jenkins in An Overview on Phenomenal Nature. “Ambiguous Norway” is relaxing music at its finest. If you like this track, we encourage you to give the full album a try. It’s remarkably good.

“Arkadelphia” – Waxahatchee

I used to see Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield play in punk bands in Atlanta when I was in college. Her 2020 release, Saint Cloud was a far cry from the sweaty venues and reverb-filled performances I had once known. Saint Cloud is a solid easy-listening album that leans into the Country genre. “Arkadelphia” proves relaxing music with its gentle beat and exquisite lyrics.

“John Wayne” – Cigarettes After Sex

Cigarettes After Sex produced one of the moodiest albums I’ve ever heard in their 2017 debut of the same name. Each song is an edgy dream pop lullaby. “John Wayne” is the perfect introduction to the band if they are new to you. It will sway you slowly and steadily to its measured beat.

“Two Slow Dancers” – Mitski

Mitski‘s 2018 album Be the Cowboy is my desert island album. Each song is like a masterclass on whatever genre she’s riffing. The closing song on the album is a sullen ballad entitled “Two Slow Dancers.” It always comforts me and I hope that holds true for you too.

“Shadow” – Chromatics

Chromatics‘ “Shadow” feels like the sort of song David Lynch would record if he decided to take a career turn to Euro synth-pop. It’s no coincidence, the song and the band itself were featured in the most recent Twin Peaks installment. It’s one of the most up-tempo songs in this list but we still feel it would be relaxing music to most.

“Full Moon In Gemini – Monako Reprise” – Vagabon, Monako

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Vagabon AKA Laetitia Tamko perform live twice now. She’s an excellent performer and something about the directness of her music feels so honest and even earnest to me. “Full Moon in Gemini” is a collaboration with Monako that is a haunting dream.

“Suspirium” – Thom Yorke

The Suspiria remake was a polarizing movie but one thing most could agree on was that Thom Yorke‘s original score for it was pretty fantastic. “Suspirium” is a piano ballad that feature’s Yorke’s poignant vocals. I’ve fallen asleep to this song a number of times. Never would I expect that a song from a horror movie would successfully lull me to sleep.

“I Want You” – Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu‘s 10-minute work of genius, “I Want You,” builds and builds and builds and builds with each layer of the song’s orchestration becomes fuller and more baroque. This song might not strike you as “relaxing music” but there’s something about the way the song is composed that makes it feel interactive in a way as you recognize each new layer coming into play. I can never dwell on the negative when I hear this song.

“California” – Lees

“California” has a lovely R&B bent to it. The song was released in 2021 by a performer who goes by Lees and I hope we get more from this compelling artist in the future.

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“Best Part (feat. H.E.R)” – Daniel Caesar

“Best Part” might be the best relaxing music there is. It’s beautiful, modest in its scope, and is almost guaranteed to improve your mood. Turn this track up to turn the stress down.

“Dream 13” – Max Richter

If you watched The Leftovers on TV and liked the music in the show, you have Max Richter to thank. We leave you with this lengthy composition from him that was composed for the album entitled Sleep. It’s relaxing music expressly created to chill you out. Though it verges from the pop genre, I thought you should know that it’s ready for you whenever you need it.

The Playlist

There you go! I hope you found some relaxing music to help you calm down and take a breath. Music can pierce anxiety and help you feel less chaotic and more centered. Take a listen to these songs whenever you feel overwhelmed and need balance.

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