What songs bring you comfort in times of stress? Do you reach for old school hits or new pop? The soothing sounds of classical music or the rush and rage of rock? Music is one of the best ways to help us unwind when it feels like the world is falling apart.
In an episode of Rolling Stone’s podcast Music Now, presenter Brian Hiatt spoke to a handful of musicians and magazine writers to find out what they were listening to as a way to soothe the soul during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The results were both surprising and startlingly personal. From death metal to dance music, the songs of a ’90s childhood to the classics of the ’60s, and even a bit of Harry Styles, it seems everyone has a different song for getting through times of stress.
It is a sentiment echoed by Dr Tim Byron, Lecturer in the School of Psychology at UOW, who says that contrary to what we might think, there is no one song or one type of music that can provide comfort. It is often a matter of choosing music that echoes a place of security for the listener on a personal level, rather than an engineered Spotify playlist that promises to boost your mood (although those can be good, too!).
“There isn’t one playlist for everyone,” says Dr Byron, who studies music psychology. “People have different experiences with music. For some people, classical music is what they’re comfortable listening to, others may like hip hop.“There’s no universal type of music that makes everyone happy. The notes in music itself are just vibrations in the air, and the same vibrations have been taken in different cultures to mean quite different emotions. It comes down to what you like and what you respond to.”
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