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What songs help get you "unstuck"?

graciegregory profile image Gracie Gregory (she/her) ・1 min read

Hello friends!

In honor of Monday and the new season swirling around outside my window, I have a simple question about productivity and resetting your brain...

Assuming music is part of your daily life, is there a particular song that helps rest your focus? Maybe you listen to it while coding, or maybe you take a walk around the block with headphones in when you need a context-switch...

For me, it's Avril 14 by Aphex Twin. I've loved this beautiful melody for a long time, but it actually really helped to clear my writer's block last Friday — and inspired me to buy a keyboard piano over the weekend so I can learn to play it myself! How about you?

Music is magic and the great equalizer, as far as I'm concerned. Happy Monday! Wishing you a productive and melodic week.

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Gracie Gregory (she/her)


Content Manager @ DEV. "You know what this sentence needs? An Em dash!" - Me to Me


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It depends which kind of "stuck":
-For stuck creativity what works better for me is doing something else taking a walk or watching a movie or leaving things for another day.
-For stuck in life eventually I always end up reaching the bottom and reborn when I listen to this song:
TOOL - Parabol/Parabola
I know Tool is too intense for a lot of people but it is what works for me.
'We barely remember who or what came before this precious moment
We are choosing to be here, right now'
'Recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing
The chance to be alive and breathing'
'We are eternal, all this pain is an illusion'


Slight correction: Tool is not too intense - its people who have weak musical taste.


"For stuck in life eventually I always end up reaching the bottom and reborn when I listen to this song - Tool - Parabol/Parabola"

YES!! I forgot about this song, so amazing and perfect for the above ^ Thanks for the reminder! :)


Tool is perfect.


Always knew that Tool existed, but it wasn't until Fear Inoculum that I really loved it. Don't know this song, but will listen.


When I need stuff done my go to is:

JVNA Light with amazing mix.


Tommee Profitt who makes epic movies / game soundtracks.


Also love some good epic Anime soundtrack from Hiroyuki Sawano:



Man, Tommee Profitt should really be appreciated more! He deserves to be known by more!


Yes totally agreeeee


This japanese song about my dog Linda

I love tango so this one too

Celia Cruz for reminding me that "Life is better when you sing"


I like silhouettes by Avicii, it's so motivating, especially that part of the lyrics where it says

Straight ahead on the path we have before us
Day by day, soon the change will come
Don't you know we took a big step forward
Just lead the way and we pull the trigger

If I really need to get "unstuck" I listen to nothing and walk around somewhere.

I usually work playing music of all kinds (rock, EDM, chillwave) but sometimes it does turn into somewhat of a distraction, rather than something to work with.


Thank you Gracie for the song recommendation.
For me, a song that gets me going is Grieg's - In the hall of the Mountain King. I've always been into soundtracks so my playlists always include John Williams, James Horner and Hans Zimmer.


Wow. Now that is a great pick. As I like repeating, Aphex is a genius.
Depends if I need to clear my mind or feel energized. The former? Rhucle and Chihei Hatakeyama 🌊
The latter, Grischa Lichtenberger and Wowaka 🔥


Missing some rap in the comments.

Mama Said Knock You Out

and 'Till I Collapse

never fail to reset my focus and make me feel pumped.


Gotta love LL Coooool J! :)


I've got a "daily playlist" that helps me focus a bit and keep me in the right mood. It's all music I like, obviously, but almost none of it is there just because I like it. Beyond that, it depends in what way am I stuck. And I'll admit, at least some of my choices are outright attempts at self-manipulation.

If I'm feeling overwhelmed, I've been known to put the Eagles Get Over It on loop for an hour or two.

Undermotivated? The Secret of My Success, and if underappreciated as well, Paul and Storm's Opening Band.

Sluggish? Monkey and the Hitman by Kitsch In Sync. It's what my wife refers to as "Muppet music" and always puts me in a bouncy mood. Good luck finding that one, though. I got it as a sample with a Turtle Beach Audiotron a few decades ago and haven't been able to find as much as a reference to the band since.

Heather Alexander or Alexander James' March of Cambreadth, because some times I need to feel like it's time to hit back (problems, not people).

Sometimes, when I'm in the groove and want to maintain it, Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries hit's the spot. That just goes really well with being so productive you feel like you're a force of nature.

Of course, despite how precisely I chose some songs, other songs make the list without having any kind of message. Blinded by the Light might as well be random syllables for the amount of message there, but there's not that many songs that make me feel like the words are another instrument as much as that one.

So yeah, I think I just dated myself, as if some of my opinions on software didn't already do that. :-)


Really depends on the mood.

Mostly stuff like:
Primary - Depressing
Yorushika -ただ君に晴れ
Sokoninaru - re:program
Silent Siren - Routine

And if heavier, then things like this:
Dexcore - Brain Washing
Broken By The Scream - アイハキミノモノ
This is a curveball since it's basically a pop-metal mashup. So if you ever wondered what normal singing sounds like over 210bpm drums and 8-string guitars...

inspired me to buy a keyboard piano over the weekend so I can learn to play it myself

Already have like 5 guitars at home so I got myself a drumset some weeks ago. Have fun learning keyboard/piano, instruments are rough and often frustrating when starting out! Just keep practicing :)


Thank you for saying this! I am already frustrated 😆 But I'm determined to learn!


If you like this one, you might enjoy Ludovic Einaudi's work, simple atmospheric piano.
It gets the grey cells moving.


I have a habit of singing while coding. But yes, sometimes I listen too.. my playlist keeps changing over time but my current playlist includes

  • Shallow
  • I never love again
  • Perfect
  • Photograph
  • Set fire to the rain
  • When we were young
  • Killing me softly

Depending the situation at work, i go for one of two paths

  • A more calm and relaxing style, like instrumental, smooth classic/jazz or lo-fi. My best example is a song recomended from a friend "A cycle" by Men I Trust
  • An intense and strong song to focus in moment of urgency (because we have 1 day to deliver that feature to prod). Hanz Zimmer has a lot of soundtracks like "Red Warrior" or "Ronnin" (I just love 'The Last Samurai' album).

I thought I tripped when I saw Aphex Twin posted 😍 The guy is a genius and was way ahead of his time in 80s and 90s, when he started 😉🎵
Other favs include Boards of Canada, Bonobo, Tycho 🎶


Unstuck, you say? Why, "Doing the Unstuck", of course. It would be criminal not to include it in this discussion.

Probably the most widely panned Cure song, but one of my favorites (from Wish, their best album, don't @ me with Disintegration or Pornography), and my go-to for tearing down the nonessentials and focusing on what matters (in work, love, or life in general).



While I don't have a "specific" song that helps me get unstuck I listen to a varity of music genres.
Main ones are rock, hard rock, dubstep and hardstyle. Somehow my mind will get a bit more loose when some good base is in the songs.


When I need to thrash I go for J Church...
When I am pensive I put on Robyn Hitchcock...
When I want to go "HUH!?!" I listen to Cinnamon Girl...


I don't have a specific song or a specific genre. What I do instead is throw something on I'm listening to right now, and then just block everything out for a few minutes. It usually work.

These day it's Megadeth, but last week it was some EDM I recently fell in love with :)


Other than the usual music and soundtracks from legends like Hans Zimmer. I also like to listen to anime soundtracks.


when i want to unstuck i just move away from my desk for a little bit


I got one album that helped me just today

for those into post rock and stuff like it, this band is formed by the guy from Slint.


The Vamps Paper Heart




Any of Lauren Babic's work does the trick for me


Gangnam style😆


Something completely different and unusual ;)
youtube.com/watch?v=tDroa5WTU34 and other 24-tone stuff like youtube.com/watch?v=un4Zhrb-nLA


Mostly dubstep songs like purge planet 2 from midnight tyrannosaurus