Top 10 Comforting Pop Songs

Simon And Garfunkel Perform In Central Park
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Beatles - "Let It Be" (1970)

Beatles Let It Be
Beatles - "Let It Be".


There are many times in which the three words "Let it be" are "words of wisdom." Although the lyrics may have originally been written in reference to interpersonal difficulties within the Beatles, the song does possess a universality that makes "Let It Be" one of the great pop songs of all time. It became the last single released by the Beatles prior to Paul McCartney announcing his departure from the group. "Let It Be" debuted at #6 on the pop chart in the US, the highest debut ever at that point in time. Ultimately it reached #1 and stayed there for two weeks.

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Mariah Carey - "Hero" (1993)

Mariah Carey Hero
Mariah Carey - "Hero". Courtesy Columbia

This is one of Mariah Carey's most enduring hits and is centered on the reassurance that ultimately the hero "lies in you." The lyrics are delivered with the power of one of the great voices in pop music. Initially, the recording received some mixed critical reviews, but fans immediately connected with the meaning in the words. It is one of her few hit songs for which she takes sole songwriting credit.

"Hero" became Mariah Carey's eighth #1 pop hit single. It also went to #1 at adult pop radio and #2 at adult contemporary radio. Mariah Carey earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal with "Hero."

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R. Kelly - "I Believe I Can Fly" (1996)

R. Kelly I Believe I Can Fly
R. Kelly - "I Believe I Can Fly".


Although it might seem out of character for much of R. Kelly's sexually suggestive material, his soulful voice soars on "I Believe I Can Fly." This song proclaims the power of all-encompassing love to help you rise out of difficult times by starting internally. The gospel influenced song earned three Grammy Awards including for Best R&B Song and was nominated for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. It peaked at #2 on the pop singles chart. Rolling Stone magazine listed "I Believe I Can Fly" as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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John Lennon - "Imagine" (1971)

John Lennon Imagine
John Lennon - Imagine.


This simple visionary song has given comfort to millions for nearly 35 years. The heart can find great solace in John Lennon's vision of a world living and being "as one." John Lennon was inspired by poems from his wife Yoko Ono's 1964 book Grapefruit when writing the lyrics for "Imagine." He was also inspired by a Christian prayer book he received from activist and comedian Dick Gregory.

"Imagine" was co-produced with Phil Spector. It was released in October 1971 and became a major pop hit peaking at #3. The album Imagine peaked at #1. John Lennon's recording of "Imagine" is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

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Sarah McLachlan - "Angel" (1998)

Sarah McLachlan Angel
Sarah McLachlan - "Angel".


The simple beauty in Sarah McLachlan's lyrics about seeking comfort and refuge "in the arms of an angel" are significantly enhanced by the ethereal beauty of her voice. This song is perfect for providing quiet comfort when the storms of life become intense. Sarah McLachlan has said writing the song came easy and it was, "a real joyous occasion." 

Sarah McLachlan performed "Angel" live in 2005 at the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia as a duet with Josh Groban. "Angel" reached #4 on the pop chart in the US in 1999.

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R.E.M. - "Everybody Hurts" (1993)

R.E.M. Everybody Hurts
R.E.M. - "Everybody Hurts".

Warner Bros.

Beginning with the words "When the day is long and the night is yours alone," and ending with "Everybody hurts. You are not alone," this is a song to provide support that is needed to make it through painful darkness in life. No song has ever been more convincing in assuring you that you are truly not alone. The accompanying music video illustrates the sentiments of the song by showing the thoughts of a wide range of people stuck in a traffic jam. It was partially inspired by a traffic jam in the opening sequence of the classic Federico Fellini film 8 1/2. 

"Everybody Hurts" was selected as the song to be recorded as a charity single to aid victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. It sold over 200,000 copies in its first two days of release in the UK. R.E.M.'s original version of "Everybody Hurts" reached #29 on the US pop chart and peaked at #13 at mainstream pop radio. 

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Diana Ross - "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" (1970)

Diana Ross Reach Out and Touch
Diana Ross - "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)".


This has been Diana Ross' favorite live anthem for decades. It is a celebration of the power of people coming together to improve the world. The song closes with the simple instruction "Make this world a better place if you can." Married Motown songwriting couple Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson wrote and produced the recording. Diana Ross intended for the song to help express her devotion to social causes.

"Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" was somewhat of a commercial disappointment upon its initial 1970 release peaking at #20 on the pop chart. However, it has endured to become one of Diana Ross' top classics. She performed the song live at the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize Concert.

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Simon & Garfunkel - "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (1970)

Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water
Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water.


The spirit is guaranteed to brighten as Art Garfunkel's voice takes flight in the final moments of this classic. At one point during its development, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was called simply "Hymn," and it does indeed have a hymn-like quality celebrating the power of someone simply being there to help ease troubled times. Paul Simon wrote the song very quickly and felt that it was not a typical song for his work. The chorus and title were at least partly influenced by a line in the song "Mary Don't You Weep" recorded by gospel group the Swan Silvertones in 1958.

"Bridge Over Troubled Water" was a commercial smash reaching #1 on the US pop chart and adult contemporary chart for six weeks. It was the biggest hit of the year for 1970. The song also earned Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Aretha Franklin took the song back to #6 on the pop chart with her version in 1971 and won a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal.

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James Taylor - "You've Got a Friend" (1971)

James Taylor You've Got a Friend
James Taylor - "You've Got a Friend".

Warner Bros.

There has never been a song that is a more powerful tribute to the value of friendship. Carole King wrote and recorded the original version, but it is James Taylor's gentle performance of "You've Got a Friend" that is the classic interpretation. Carole King says the song was "as close to pure inspiration as I've ever experienced. The song wrote itself." She said that it was written as a response to James Taylor's line "I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend" in his song "Fire and Rain." Carole King did record her own version and Joni Mitchell and Danny Kortchmar perform on both recordings.

"You've Got a Friend" reached #1 on both the pop and adult contemporary charts. It was James Taylor's first #1 pop hit and he earned a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal.

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U2 - "Beautiful Day" (2000)

U2 Beautiful Day
U2 - "Beautiful Day".


This song kicked off U2's memorable performance at halftime of Super Bowl XXXVI before a nation still grieving from the horrific events of September 11, 2001. The power of this anthem to comfort and encourage perseverance is possibly best represented by the first two lines of the song "The heart is a bloom / Shoots up from the stony ground." U2 recorded the song as part of an effort to return to a more classic rock sound for the band after experimentation with electronic dance music.

"Beautiful Day" peaked at #21 on the US pop chart but reached the top 5 on both adult pop and alternative radio. It hit #1 on the dance chart. "Beautiful Day" later went on to win Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.