Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues (Live at Folsom Prison)
This might seem like a pun on “pickup”, cause you know, country, am I right? But seriously, I challenge you to listen all the way through Folsom Prison Blues without feeling pretty good about life. Sure, the lyrics are pretty down-and-out, but Cash’s voice is just so warming and the closing solo is charming. And, a word of warning – you will get far, far less out of this if you go in with one raised eyebrow and a sense of irony. It’s easy to engage with country music in this way, but you get far more out of the music if you go for it wholeheartedly. This is possibly the snuggest song ever recorded inside a prison.
Chance The Rapper – No Problem (feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz)
I wasn’t a huge fan of Chance the Rapper’s third mixtape Coloring Book, but even I can’t deny that “No Problem” is a fantastic song. Chance the Rapper has a wonderful energy coursing through him on this track. He’s gone full-blown on the happiness and is so exuberant on the hook that the first time I heard this song I rewound just to hear that intro one. last. time. And if you don’t like 2 Chainz or Lil Wayne, then all I can really do is urge you to reconsider that opinion. Hey, I found this song which might help you change your opinion – it’s called “No Problem”…
MF DOOM – Datura Stramonium
Sometimes it’s just nice to have a little something to throw on in the background while you get up to more important things – whether that’s work or just self-care, one of my personal favourites for that kind of thing is MF DOOM’s entirely instrumental Special Herbs series. “Datura Stramonium” is a particularly great cut from later in the series – you might have heard it supporting Joey Bada$$’s “World Domination” or midway through DOOM’s own MM.. FOOD. It’s a really simple loop, just wonky piano and drums, but it’s so masterfully done that you can find yourself listening to it on repeat for hours without realising.
The Internet – Under Control
If it hasn’t yet been scientifically proven impossible to worry while listening to The Internet, then I don’t know what all the psychology students have been doing this whole time. As an English student, I have no idea how psychology (or really anything) actually works, but I reckon it’s a pretty good hypothesis nonetheless. In any case, “Under Control” is probably the most relaxing track on former Odd Future affiliates The Internet’s third album Ego Death – packed to bursting with twinkling keys and effortless guitar work, it’s a real treat. The addition of Syd The Kyd’s vocals is really what pushes this into essential territory, though. She drapes her voice languidly across the track with so much relaxed confidence and self-assurance that some of it is bound to rub off onto you.