Sad songs can go a long way to making us feel happy again, as if they suck all the depression from your life with their melancholy sound and lyrics. Like you’ve been given the right medicine at just the right time, some songs have the power to get you back on your feet again when you think you’re at your lowest point.
Some people relish in catchy up beat tunes when they’re upset and burn out their depressions through dancing. But for others, nothing works better than a song that tells them that they are not alone with their feelings, that someone else out there is feeling the exact same way.
This feel good playlist is hopefully going to do just that for you. There’s a mix of genre, and old and new sounds to be had here, so I hope you can find at least one song to help you through this difficult time you’re having.
Remember, you’re not alone in this.
1. Johnny Cash – Hurt
My first go-to song on my feel good playlist is a song that needs no introduction. Hurt is a Johnny Cash masterpiece that perfectly contains what it means to feel utterly alone and left behind in the world. Within Cash’s lyrics are the perfect imagery of that feeling of transcending into emotionlessness that we all know too well.
2. Linkin Park – Numb
Speaking of being unfeeling, does anyone else just get a little numb when they’re upset? The meaning of Numb by Linkin Park takes on a whole new depth of meaning with the recent passing of lead singer Chester Bennington.
When You’re just “caught in the undertow” and feel as if everything you do is a mistake in the eyes of others, this is the song that effectively summarises that sensation.
3. Chaos Chaos – Do You Feel It?
Chaos Chaos’s song Do You Feel It? was popularised through the hit cartoon show Rick and Morty and was featured in just one scene. When Rick was at one of his lowest points and was ‘messing around’ with a death ray, this song was playing unsuspectingly in the background. The tone of this scene was different from anything else ever witnessed on the show and made it a fantastic stand-alone sequence.
The Song itself is quirky and individual with breathy, almost exhausted sounding vocals which captures perfectly the lethargy that comes with depression.
4. Anna Nalick – Breathe (2am)
Taking a step away from the heavy realness that comes with sad songs is Anna Nalick’s Breathe, which let’s everyone listening know that it’s perfectly ok to slow down, take a step back and let yourself take a minute to relax and get away from it all.
There are various meanings that can be taken from Nalick’s hit song. However, the most popularly approved and generic interpretation is that the song is simply about looking past our mistakes and moving forward. It’s a song that’s meant to bring comfort, to be relatable, and give you the chance to “just breathe”.
5. Jess Glynne – Take Me Home
Take Me Home became an instant Jess Glynne classic after it was featured on Children in Need as the official song for Appeal 2015.
That being said, the song itself has nothing to do with children. In fact, it’s very personal to Glynne. To see just how intimately involved she was with this song, take a look at her one-shot music video for Take Me Home up on YouTube.
“I wrote this song when I was angry and nothing felt right. I didn’t know how to get past the emptiness I was feeling.” Glynne states in the description box of the video. “…I was naked and alone in a room with a camera, bare, fragile and empty” epitomising entirely her raging emotions at the time. For us as the audience, we get to share a very private moment of Jess Glynne’s life, which is a very precious thing.
6. Coldplay – Fix You
Whenever I ask someone I know what they listen to when they’re upset, Fix You usually always features somewhere on their top 10 list. In an interview Martin once revealed that he wrote this song for his now ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow when her father passed away. His late father-in-law’s old keyboard was even used in the production of this song, and is the first instrument you hear in the intro.
Regardless of the singer’s personal reasons for creating this beautiful piece of music, it seems to be a song that hits home with everyone. I don’t now a single a person that doesn’t get choked up when that chorus hits, “Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones. And I will try to fix you.”
7. Florence and the Machine – Shake It out
“And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back.” It seems all the best songs for relieving you of depression are also the most personal to the singer. In her second debut, Florence Welch literally tells her fan to deal with depression by ‘shaking it out’.
The singer states that this song is about “getting through something or seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
8. Gabrielle Aplin – My Mistake
Forget the rest. I could just listen to Gabrielle Aplin on repeat when I’m feeling depressed. Apart from My Mistake, Home and Losing Me (ft JP Cooper) are also great depression curing songs that’ll hit you with the feels so hard you wont even see happiness creeping up on you.
Aplin’s lyrics are always brutally honest and raw in a way that most artists tend to shy away from. My Mistake does a good job of keeping up this trend. Her inner thoughts are completely exposed on this track as she tells her fans to own their mistakes. It’s as if she’s saying the best thing about screwing up, is that you did it all on your own.
9. Andra Day – Rise Up
In Rise Up, Andra Day is giving us exactly what we need when we’re feeling completely swept away by the terrors of this world. The song’s lyrics are a reminder that we can rise to overcome the our own anxieties, and that in the face of the world’s difficulties, we can’t lose hope.
When you’re feeling down, sometimes the best remedy for that is a message of hope. And that is exactly what Andra Day delivers with this one.
10. The Killers – Smile Like You Mean It
Smile Like You Mean It falls into that happy/sad category that has people becoming as self-deprecating and ironic as the song’s title.
While this song isn’t actually related to mental health, it’s become a sort of anthem for those with depression; it pays homage to that feeling you get when all you want to do is sit and cry but you have to put on a fake smile for the public. It’s a song about being real and honest to yourself, and forgetting about the façade you have to put on when other people are present.
11. Fort Atlantic – Let Your Heart Hold Fast
Let Your Heart Hold Fast rose in popularity after being featured on an episode of the American sitcom How I Met Your Mother, becoming the official engagement song of Barney and Robin. But apart from rising through sitcom fame, the song itself has very little do with comedy.
The song’s potent message to “hold fast” is about feeling lost and overwhelmed in a world moving faster than your mind can keep up. And most importantly, eventually coming out the other end as a survivor.
12. Grace VanderWaal – Clearly
In 2018, Grace VanderWaal took Johnny Nash‘s 1972 overly chirpy and slightly comedic I Can See Clearly Now and turned it completely sideways. VanderWaal’s take is shockingly empowering and emotional with full on choir vocals and messages of suns coming out tomorrow.
Clearly is the perfect pick-me-up song for a terrible time as it takes all the negatively charged and pent up emotions your feeling and tells you to “find the strength in your despair”. It doesn’t bother telling you that terrible things won’t happen, but that you should look towards tomorrow and have strength for that.