Music To De-Stress To: NME Readers Pick Their Choices

In times of turmoil (or when you’re just getting really angsty waiting for the bus), what tunes do you turn to to bring that ocean of calm washing over you? 30 NME readers choose their top picks to help make stress a distant memory.

30 Lou Reed – ‘Metal Machine Music’

An interesting choice from @millerrice_, who picks ‘Metal Machine Music’ – Lou Reed’s most industrial, volatile album. Whatever floats your boat, Miller.

29 The View – ‘Tragic Magic’


Scottish indie rock band The View get @iamkieranmurray’s vote with their track ‘Tragic Magic’. It’s “for the times you can’t remember feeling fantastic”, he added.

28 Prince – ‘Pretzelbodylogic’

“#pretzelbodylogic!” tweets @KIKITkira, Prince’s manager. She might be biased but the latest single from 3rd Eye Girl has sounded totally badass at the Purple One’s recent London shows.


27 Foo Fighters – ‘Breakout’

Foo Fighters might seem a bit raucous to relax to but hey, if it does the job for NME reader @JappTribe then who are we to argue? “I rarely experience stress, but when feeling frustrated this is definitely my tune: ‘Breakout!'” he writes.

26 Anything by Washed Out


“Anything by Washed Out or Toro y Moi,” says Jade Tayla Bate, who digs the US pair’s reverby ways with melody. Washed Out main man Ernest Greene certainly looks the relaxed type, doesn’t he?

25 Van Morrison – ‘Common One’

NME reader @PaulMcDowell4 listens to Van Morrison’s “gorgeous” 1980 track ‘Common One’ when he’s on the verge of tearing his hair out.

24 Palma Violets – ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats’

Palma Violets’ punky stomper ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats’ is NME reader @Finn’s favourite for kicking back to.

23 The Carpenters – ‘Horizon’

“Anything off The Carpenters’ ‘Horizon’,” says @thecolourist. “The vibrations of soothing sibling harmonies have a healing quality to them”.

22 Anything by James Blake

Mercury Prize winner James Blake’s fizzing electronica is @finnfitzgerald’s first pick when it comes to relieving stress.

21 Beastie Boys – ‘Paul’s Boutique’

Andrew Simon Noel says “surprisingly, anything off Beastie Boys’ ‘Pauls Boutique’, always helps.”

20 Lucy Rose – ‘Like I Used To’

@Hernonjoel suggested ‘Like I Used To’, London singer-songwriter Lucy Rose’s 2012 debut, which brims with calming indie pop.

19 Dave Matthews Band – ‘Big Whisky And The Groogrux King’

“Dave Matthews Band’s full big whisky and the groogrux king, it just flows,” says @Infinity_Land.

18 Morcheeba – ‘The Sea’

Iury Matias Soares on Twitter suggested another trip-hop gem for when everything’s getting a bit manic: ’90s trio Morcheeba’s ‘The Sea’. “The perfect chill out music,” he said, also shouting out Chairlift B-side ‘Doves of Summer’.

17 Anything by Haim

“I listen to HAIM cuz they’re happiness in my ears,“ says Alycia Maire. Agreed, agreed.

16 Bombay Bicycle Club – ‘Flaws’

Luke Halls suggested ‘Flaws’ by Bombay Bicycle Club. “Especially when it’s raining,” he added.

15 Anything by Pink Floyd

Variety isn’t just the spice of life according to @JuryChipa on Twitter, but also the trick to effectively de-stressing: Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden and Fiona Apple are their go-to songs for chilling out to. A mixed bag there, Jury.

14 Fleetwood Mac – ‘The Chain’

Finally, @samjw1992 went for ‘The Chain’ from Fleetwood Mac’s seminal ‘Rumours’ for its “solo that just pumps me up if I’m below par”.

13 Nick Drake – ‘Pink Moon’

Typically, music deemed relaxing is usually low tempo (around 80 BPM), gentle, muted and mellow. Hence lots of suggestions were predictably pacific. Nick Drake’s album Pink Moon is “v chilled”, said James Cassidy on Facebook.

12 Anything by Drake

NME reader @matharudavina reckons “every song” by Drake “can get rid of stress.”

11 Bob Dylan – ‘Tangled Up In Blue’

“Bob Dylan is basically musical heroin to me,” said Dave Reed on Facebook. “I get relaxed and euphoric listening to Tangled Up In Blue”.

10 Kanye West – ‘Yeezus’

@minuteforce likes to listen to Kanye West’s grinding, minimalist epic ‘Yeezus’ when stress is getting the better of him and he “feels angry”.

9 The Maccabees – ‘Given To The Wild’

Meanwhile, @Helencoyston plumps for anything taken from The Maccabees’ lush third LP ‘Given To The Wild’.

8 Anything by The Beach Boys

“Obviously The Beach Boys” is @carsonalso’s musical remedy for stress, who can’t get enough of Brian Wilson and co’s good vibrations.

7 Blur – ‘The Universal’

Twitter’s @Lucaslattuada goes for two pioneering Britpop anthems: Blur’s ‘Universal’ and The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’. “The epic atmosphere of these songs makes me feel that all can change.” Which is exactly what you need when you’re stuck on a cramped commuter train and someone’s elbow is digging into your internal organs.

6 Portishead – ‘Dummy’

Moody trip-hop classic ‘Dummy’ does the trick for Eddy Bowes, who says the Portishead track has all the right ingredients to destress. We’re with you, Eddy.

5 Radiohead – ‘House Of Cards’

Radiohead’s ‘House of Cards’ is the “absolute king of all” for Twitter’s @tomrhys_ when he needs to unwind.

4 Alex Turner – ‘Submarine’

“The whole Submarine EP… It’s like he’s singing next to you,” says @chawlihrl of Alex Turner’s subdued, gloriously subtle 2011 soundtrack.

3 Elliott Smith – ’13’

“Anything by Elliott Smith” is a stress buster for Elliot Killicks – “but his cover of Big Star’s 13 keeps me stress free.”

2 Anything by Laura Marling

Anything from Laura Marling’s tranquilising repertoire “does the trick” for NME reader @mrgremarah.

1 The Velvet Underground – ‘Pale Blue Eyes’

“Chilled” isn’t the first word you’d think of when it comes to famously rancorous garage-rock provocateur Lou Reed that’s kind of what makes ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ by the Velvet Underground such a genius choice. Nice one, @Cookiemeyer.