Ever had those moments when it’s crunch time at work and everyone’s running around in a panic and your boss is minutes away from biting some poor idiot’s head off and spitting it out for the whole office to see?
While finding the appropriate soundtrack isn’t the first thing on your list of priorities on such hellish work days—there are calls to be made and reports to be rushed and heads to see roll, after all—there’s no denying that the right song can help ease your frayed nerves and guide you straight to the finish line.
Take your pick from these 12 songs covering different genres that any embattled employee, regardless of musical taste, will find solace in. You’re welcome.
Now get cracking; your boss is on his way to your desk and he looks pissed.
LISTEN TO: JAZZ
Brad Mehldau – “When It Rains”
Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/track/7eYF1tAcKBvhJU4W9K0Uca
Tasks that require creativity and focus are better accompanied by songs that don’t have words, which makes jazz a godsend for harried minds. Roll out this relaxing number by the jazz pianist and let the calm take over.
Duke Ellington and John Coltrane – “My Little Brown Book”
Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/track/0WPHL9IRv1Nm4xu21qxgnw
Two jazz greats team up for this slow and sensual track: Ellington’s piano tinkles softly while Coltrane’s saxophone casually yet gracefully blares, as if chuckling in the face of all your deadlines.
LISTEN TO: POST-ROCK
Mogwai – “Two Rights Make One Wrong”
Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/track/74pYTiFjRkxxE5sWcUswZs
Because post-rock songs are generally lyric-free, they can stand for virtually anything you want them to stand for. This track by the post-rock royalty conveys an infectious sense of onward momentum, making it a great soundtrack to a first kiss or a solo drive or you finally getting that damn presentation done.
LISTEN TO: AMBIENT
Brian Eno – “An Ending (Ascent)”
Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/track/1vgSaC0BPlL6LEm4Xsx59J
Ambient music, with its unobtrusive, atmospheric qualities, is a blessing for the stressed. Look no further than this track by the man credited for coining the term “ambient music,” which has the effect of lifting you off your office cube and whisking you way up into the clouds. Bye, stress!
Modulogeek – “Around”
Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/track/2QysM4RXnc8NtIj3PIasra
In this hypnotic track, the Filipino electro-ambient act sets late-night brooding to a languid beat. Prepare to chill the eff out.
LISTEN TO: ELECTRONIC
crwn feat. Jess Connelly – “Wait”
Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/track/5JZsOsMrWF6udVCDnWQAI2
The Manila-based bedroom beatmaker enlists the stunning Jess Connelly for this super-swabe track. Imagine her breathing the words into your ear, and feel yourself relaaaax.
Petit Biscuit – “Sunset Lover”
Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/track/0hNduWmlWmEmuwEFcYvRu1
Teenaged French prodigy Petit Biscuit delivers a feel-good alt-electro cut that’s upbeat enough to make you bob your head, yet laid-back enough to keep you from getting up off your seat and doing the #RunningManChallenge in the aisle.
Porter Robinson feat. Amy Millan – “Divinity” (filous Remix)
Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/track/5EEb0Vm8xUKjpwH2jlftOl
Remixes can take already-great songs down a totally different path you’re unprepared for, yet end up loving nonetheless. This remix of a Porter Robinson original is one such example, subtracting the rough, glitchy synths of the original and building on Amy Millan’s ethereal vocals to amp up the ~chill~.
LISTEN TO: FEMALE INDIE FOLK
Feist – “Mushaboom”
Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/track/66olzBxCgKlpFRB1LKH5pO
Indie-folk songstresses have an earthy, nurturing quality to their voices that’s just soothing to hear, period. Take for example Feist, whose thick-like-honey vocals add gravitas to the track’s kindergarten-y vibe.
Azure Ray – “Just a Faint Line”
Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/track/451DyBPRUDpMqt4H1Vdct5
The indie folk duo provides salve to your stressed-out soul with warm, whispery vocals hovering over an even, monotonous melody. Just try not to fall asleep.
LISTEN TO: FILM SCORES
Cliff Martinez – “I Drive” (from the Drive OST)
Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/track/5f9FtptYX3YSE45n8PuonL
The seamless, wordless soundscapes of film scores are another option for worker bees in dire need of music they can ignore. Like “I Drive,” the rest of the Drive score is a cool, droning collection that you can leave playing in the background while you smash that deadline’s head in, Ryan Gosling-style.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – “Hand Covers Bruise” (from The Social Network OST)
Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/track/1v0uVPU6BWcbog5BiWLWVa
The soundtrack’s opening song, “Hand Covers Bruise,” sets the tone for the rest of the dark, sinister, tension-filled tunes in the Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning musical score—a set that steadily ushers you along in your work while also mirroring how you feel about your boss right now. Of course, you’ll still play nice and do your work—you wouldn’t him biting your head off next.
What's in your stress-busting playlist?