21 Most Popular Relaxing Songs

Music can be great for lots of things, including hyping us up and getting us in the mood to dance. But when it’s time to wind down and put our feet up, certain songs can help us set the right mood for relaxation. Whether it’s because of a slow tempo, a soothing instrumental or a stunning voice, some songs are brilliant for helping us to turn our brains off, relax our bodies, and get lost in the music

There are lots of popular relaxing songs out there that can set a great mood for some downtime, but some are universally agreed to be especially chill. Here’s our pick for the 21 best popular relaxing songs. 

“ocean eyes” – Billie Eilish

First recorded when Eilish was just thirteen, ‘ocean eyes’ is a popular relaxing song thanks to Eilish’s gentle, layered vocals. The young singer-songwriter wrote ‘ocean eyes’ with her brother Finneas before she had embarked on any kind of music career, because Eilish’s dance teacher suggested that Eilish create her own backing music for a solo. A couple of years later, ‘ocean eyes’ would become Eilish’s official debut single and the lead track off of her 2017 EP, don’t smile at me. 


“Bel Air” – Lana Del Rey

Much of Lana Del Rey’s discography consists of popular relaxing tracks, but the luscious ‘Bel Air’ is one of her best. Del Rey weaves a romantic story about two lovers waiting to run away together to the luxurious world of Bel Air and smell the rose-scented air. As with many Del Rey tracks, there’s a darkness hinted at underneath the tranquil instrumental and birdsong that makes us think this romance perhaps isn’t built to last. 


“Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran’s emotive love song is a wonderfully relaxing listen thanks to the laid-back guitar-driven instrumental and cheerful sentiment. Sheeran celebrates the fact that he and the object of his affection “found love right where we are” and that they now get to spend the rest of their lives together. The track has become a popular wedding song, with many couples opting to have their first dance to the love song. 

Sheeran revealed that ‘Thinking Out Loud’ was his attempt at channelling Van Morrison, who he was a big fan of as a teenager. It was also partly written as a favour for childhood friend and frequent collaborator Amy Wadge, who was struggling financially at the time. Thanks to the success of the song, Wadge’s financial troubles were no more after working on it. 


“Wish You The Best” – Lewis Capaldi

This may be one of Capaldi’s more heartbreaking tracks, but his stunning vocals and the gentle piano accompaniment make it a relaxing listen, the kind of song you can really lose yourself in. Capaldi expresses that he feels at odds with his real feelings and what he feels he should say in the wake of a breakup. “I wanna say I wish that you never left, but instead I only wish you the best,” he sings. 

The song’s music video went viral in early 2023 after those who watched it found themselves in floods of tears. The video follows a mail carrier and his dog through the cycle of life. 


“Don’t Know Why” – Norah Jones

This gentle track from Norah Jones is a popular relaxing listen thanks to its softy, jazzy sound. Jones’ vocals are typically airy and emotive as she sings about a woman waiting forever for her lover to return to her. “I waited ‘til I saw the sun,” she sings mournfully. Later she assures him, “You’ll be on my mind forever.”

‘Don’t Know Why’ was originally written by songwriter and guitarist Jesse Harris. After Jones performed the track live with Harris and his band a few times, he decided it was a better fit in her voice and gave it to her. The song ended up becoming Jones’ debut single. 


“Strawberry Swing” – Coldplay

This relaxing, cheerful track from Coldplay’s Viva La Vida album paints a beautiful, summery image, perfect for kicking back and closing your eyes to. Elements of the instrumental reflect lead singer Chris Martin’s heritage – his mother comes from Zimbabwe, and Martin included Afro-pop guitar sounds as a nod to the Zimbabwean music that he enjoyed. The lyrics of ‘Strawberry Swing’ are so picturesque that in 2021 they actually ended up in a children’s picture book, illustrated by Mitch Miller. 


“What A Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong

This relaxing song about learning to appreciate every detail of the world around you has become a classic. Louis Armstrong’s emotive voice conveys a genuine love of all the small moments in life and helps the listener to reflect on everything they have to be grateful for.

Armstrong describes the trees of green, red roses, young children and old friends around him that make him think to himself, “What a wonderful world.” Although the track imitates a standard from the 40s, it was actually released in 1967. 


“Rosyln” – Bon Iver ft St Vincent

This relaxing track from Bon Iver and collaborator St Vincent weaves a misty and ambiguous tale about a great fall. The song was featured on the soundtrack of Twilight: New Moon, a franchise famed for working with many prominent and talented musicians over the course of its five films. The guitar-led instrumental and reverbed vocals of the two artists make this an ethereal listen.


“Sweet Nothing” – Taylor Swift

‘Sweet Nothing’ is the most relaxing song on Swift’s tenth studio album, Midnights. It sees the singer reflecting on her relationship with then-boyfriend Joe Alwyn and how it contrasts with her relationships with everyone else around her. Whilst most people want something from Swift, she finds safety in Alwyn’s arms. “All that you ever wanted from me was sweet nothing,” she sings. 

Alwyn is a co-writer on the track, credited under the name William Bowery, an alias he first began using on Swift’s eighth album, folklore. 


“Shattered & Hollow” – First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit’s folk-meets-soft-rock sound has birthed plenty of relaxing listens, but ‘Shattered & Hollow’ remains one of their most beautiful. The sister duo sings about a desire to feel everything they can even if it leaves them broken, rather than never risk anything. “I’d rather be broken than empty,” they sing. “I’d rather be shattered than hollow.” Even though they’re tired, they know that the way they’re living is the right one. 


“Dream A Little Dream Of Me” – Ella Fitzgerald ft Louis Armstrong

Fitzgerald invites the listener to relax, drift off – and dream of her. She wants to know that her lover is thinking about her even when they’re apart, and that the thought of her makes him happy. Louis Armstrong joins her to sing from the other perspective, responding to her requests. 

‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ was written in 1931 by Fabian Andre, Wilbur Schwandt and Gus Kahn. Since then it has been covered many times by the likes of Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby and Michael Bublé. 


“How Long Will I Love You” – Ellie Goulding

Goulding’s soft, delicate vocals make all of her songs easy listening. ‘How Long Will I Love You’ sees her promising eternal devotion to the listener, assuring them that she will love them as long as the natural world endures. “How long will I be with you?” she sings. “As long as the sea is bound to wash upon the sand.” 

Goulding’s rendition is a cover of a 1990s Waterboys track, recorded by Goulding for Richard Curtis’ About Time, with the music video referencing a bunch of Curtis’ most popular films including About Time and Notting Hill. The song was also released as the official Children In Need single for 2013. 


“Moon Song” – Phoebe Bridgers

Bridgers’ gentle guitar-driven ballad from 2020’s Punisher sees the singer patiently longing after someone she loves who pays her only occasional attention. “I will wait for the next time you want me like a dog with a bird at your door,” she sings. Although the subject matter of the song is sad, Bridgers’ stunning vocals and the easy tempo of the track make it a relaxing listen all the same. 


“Let Her Go” – Passenger

This breakup track from Passenger features a gentle, relaxing guitar riff that makes it a popular choice for unwinding. It sees Mike Rosenberg reflecting on the benefits of hindsight, and the fact that sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

“You only know you love her when you let her go,” he sings mournfully. Rosenberg was taken aback by the success of the song, as he felt its folk sound would hold it back when it came to getting radio play. The song was played extensively on radio, however, and topped the charts in a number of countries. 


“A Little More” – Alessia Cara

‘A Little More’ sees singer-songwriter Alessia Cara asking for more details about who her lover was before she knew them. She can’t help but scour through every picture of them and every story from their childhood. “Can you blame me for wanting a little bit more?” she asks. The song’s understated, strummed guitar accompaniment and Cara’s delicate vocals make it a relaxing, comforting listen. 


“Skinny Love” – Birdy

In delicate piano ballad ‘Skinny Love’, Birdy sings about a love that slowly seems to be wasting away. The British singer-songwriter, whose real name is Jasmine Van den Bogaerde, recorded the track at only fourteen years old after winning the under 18s category of UK Idol. ‘Skinny Love’, which was first recorded by Bon Iver three years before, was her debut single. 


“Better Together” – Jack Johnson

Johnson wrote this laidback, relaxing love song for his wife. He sings about how there’s no combination of words he could string together to express how much he loves her – all he can do is emphasise that they’re better when they’re together. Since releasing the song, Johnson has been inundated with stories from couples who have made the song part of their wedding day or the birth of their children. 


“Feels Like This” – Maisie Peters 

Indie pop star Maisie Peters isn’t known for her love songs, often writing more about the end and aftermath of relationships than the happy parts. But ‘Feels Like This’ is a beautiful relaxing love song about feeling like you’re meant to be with someone. “How can I resist when it feels like this?” sings Peters. The track comes from her debut EP, Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket, which was released in 2018. 


“Delicate” – Damien Rice

This appropriately titled track has a relaxing, understated instrumental that reflects the uncertainty of the singer’s feelings. Rice describes a relationship in which the two parties don’t feel ready to throw themselves into it just yet. “We might make out when nobody’s there,” he sings. “It’s not that we’re scared – it’s just that it’s delicate.”


“Lua” – Bright Eyes

This gorgeous acoustic track from Bright Eyes sees them tell a story about a dysfunctional love. It follows addicts who are wondering around the streets in the cold, looking for their next party. They know that the way that they’re living isn’t sustainable, but right now they’re in a moment of calm and quiet. “It’s not something I would recommend, but it is one way to live,” sings Conor Oberst. 


“Chasing Cars” – Snow Patrol

This relaxing love song from Snow Patrol sees Gary Lightbody inviting the woman he loves to lie by his side and “just forget the world.” It’s the perfect song to unwind to when you’re looking to do the same. “Lets waste time chasing cars around our heads,” sings Lightbody. ‘Chasing Cars’ was written on a productive evening for Lightbody – he wrote ten songs in that one night, but ‘Chasing Cars’ was the only one he considered usable. 

Final Thoughts

These popular relaxing songs are perfect to turn on if you need to kick back and unwind. From folk tunes to soft indie pop, there’s something for everyone on this list. Relaxing to music is always a great way to spend your time. What are your favourite songs to relax with?

Writer

Caitlin Devlin is a music, entertainment and lifestyle writer based in London. When she’s not creating playlists for Repeat Replay, she’s reviewing gigs and interviewing artists for Ticketmaster UK and thinking about what her Spotify Wrapped will look like this year.

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