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‘When You’re Down and Troubled’

Our five top picks for musical antidotes to feeling depressed

Music is often something that we jump to, to help deal with our emotions. We asked fifteen of our readers what songs and bands they listened to if they were feeling down. Unsurprisingly, we got a range that went from relaxing tunes, to the classic, upbeat, cheer-up songs to the loud, deafening and depressing.

Broadly the responses fell into three groups:

Rock / emo / sad songs. This is 'wallow in it' music. 'No matter how bad I feel this is just so much worse.' You have to ask: 'does getting into that deep abiding sadness really allow you to feel better?' Maybe. On the other hand perhaps the sheer volume helps to drive out other thoughts.

Happy days and Party Time. For some folk clearly listening to cheerful music and pop songs helps them to feel upbeat and take their minds off whatever it was making them down. Some took inspiration from party playlists they’d created to help remind them of when the good times rolled. Equally, some people picked a band or song purely because it brought back a fond memory. The first band they'd seen live, the first CD they'd bought, or a night at a gig when the band had put on a particularly good performance.

Ambient and relaxing music. This was our final category that featured. 'Wash over me gently music' people said was good at acting as a calming background noise. Good when feeling down is linked to feeling angry. This was popular when people related their feeling down into work or anxious situations.

So, our top five picks, in reverse order are:

5. Don’t be so hard on yourself by Jess Glynne. Deffo in the ‘it can’t be as bad as all this category’. “Makes me remember everybody has down moments and that’s OK,” said one of our pickers.

4. ‘MigrationBy Bonobo. This comes into the relaxing music category. One person said, “it’s not got any particular narrative lyrics so it doesn’t provoke any negative emotions”.

3. Last Hopeby Paramore. “I like to listen to sad music. It lets me wallow in my sadness.”

2. Don’t Worry Be Happyby Bobby McFerrin. Obvious and therefore probably had to be in, after all, the clue’s in the title. Fine if you like to be told in a cheerful laid-back sort of way to perk yourself up. If you prefer a change to the Ferrin version check out 'Playing for change'

1. ‘Hey Now’ By London Grammar. Top of our picks.

The instant cure for ‘downness’ this offers a little bit of something for everyone. It blends sad and atmospheric whilst at the same time taking you on a journey. Hannah Reid’s voice, deep at the start, picks up pace and volume as it goes along. Plus how could you not like the little blonde furry thing in the video.

Hey now! Don’t you feel better already.


See also


Remembering Dusty

It's twenty-two years years since Dusty Springfield, died at the age of fifty-nine. One of a group of female singers in the mid to late 1960's, her troubled life was both a product and a symptom of her times.

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