We all need to breathe to survive. And we all wouldn’t survive without music. So why not craft a rundown of some amazing songs about breathing?
Sounds like a great idea to me! So in this article, I’ll provide you with some of the best songs I’ve encountered on this unique topic, and a little breakdown as to why I think they’re so impressive!
Songs About Breathing That Are Awesome
Let’s begin with the incomparable Toni Braxton.
Breathe Again by Toni Braxton
We you see the name Toni Braxton, you know you’re getting one thing—one hell of a ballad.
In “Breathe Again,” Toni sings of a woman who feels her life will never, ever be the same without her lover around anymore. A song about the despair of heartbreak and the emotional tortue one goes through in its wake, Toni promises that she’ll never breathe again without the touch, kiss, and love of her man.
If I never feel you in my arms again (If I never ever see you)
If I never feel your tender kiss again (No, no, no, no)
If I never hear “I love you” now and then (Now and then)
Will I never make love to you once again? (Will I never make love, never make love?)
Please understand if love ends (Please, please understand, if it should ever end, oh no)
Then I promise you, I promise you that
That I shall never breathe again
For a song sung so tenderly and passionately, “Breathe Again” wades in pretty dark emotional waters. This is in no way a depressing song, but “Breathe Again” does show the sad flip side of being madly in love with someone—pain, regret, and deep sorrow.
Breathe by Telépopmusik (feat. Angela McCluskey)
If it weren’t for this Indie Deep House song, I’m not sure how I would have ever gotten through school. There’s no way to pinpoint the best quality this song has to offer.
From the relaxing upbeat music to the soothing vocals, to the insightful and wise lyrics, Telépopmusik’s “Breathe” is an all-around loving beacon of hope. In the first verse, Angela McCluskey sings to us a tender poem of a gift she received through her personal experiences and now offers to us.
Whatever she is going through that may “haunt [her] dreams,” it taught her that if all else fails in life, we still have the power to hold onto our beliefs, and most of all, our breath.
After all, as McCluskey points out, we’re used to it by now.
Breathe by Taylor Swift (feat. Colbie Caillat) (Taylor’s Version)
This old-turned-new Country-Pop song highlights how the people in our lives contribute to our self-regulation and sense of wellbeing. Taylor Swift describes the heartbreaking feelings of sadness she’s experiencing after going through a rough time with a band member.
While she understands that “people are people and sometimes it doesn’t work out,” she can’t help but feel helpless. Being without this person who is like a best friend to her is akin to not being able to breathe because she feels like she lost a vital part of herself to the fallibility of human nature.
This is a very powerful point she has made because breathing sits at the core of the human experience. When we encounter tragedy, it affects the way we breathe, which can throw us off balance.
Swift needed to go through a recovery period, and “Breathe” was a tremendous and brave way to process her emotions.
Breathin’ by 2Pac (f/Outlawz)
Off of 2Pac’s posthumous album entitled “Until the End of Time,” this is yet another track by ‘Pac in which he’s being brutally honest about the paranoia he feels regarding his enemies wanting to see him dead.
Or, perhaps it wasn’t paranoia after all.
This is kind of an unusual motivational song. In most motivating songs, lyrics will build you up about chasing your dreams, or there’ll be metaphors of “elevators” and “mountains” laced throughout the song.
But “Breathin’” by 2Pac takes a different approach. On this track, 2Pac believes without a shadow of a doubt that his enemies (a whopping fifty of them) want to see him dead. So Pac goes on the offensive, vowing (in violent fashion) that he’ll be the last one standing.
He’ll outlast them all.
He’ll be the last one breathing.
Lose My Breath by Destiny’s Child
Beyonce has become show a massive star and entertainment that it’s almost easy to forget that she was the lead singer of one of the most successful female groups of all time.
This is a group that’s known for their women empowerment songs, and this anthem falls right into that category.
On “Lose My Breath,” Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle sing about being disappointed in men that can’t match their effort and interest level when it comes to a potential relationship. The women sing of some men not being able to “keep up,” as their faults (lack or assertiveness or lack of affection) cause the ladies to lose interest.
They’re looking for a man that’ll make them lose their breath. And if that’s not you, well, you’ll just have to “get to steppin” (according to Kelly on this track).
Pink Cloud by Little Dragon
There’s something about songs that have a consistent breathing sound effect in the background; it’s very soothing and also centers us in the moment of the song.
Little Dragon’s Soul-Electronic Indie Pop “Pink Cloud” does just that, but instead of offering a calming set of lyrics to accompany their unique sound, they instead reflect on the state of our minds in the age of technology.
Due to the addictive qualities of our cellphones containing “electric clouds of information”, “we are all in search of speed”, leaving “mankind for machine”, reducing us to “nameless souls, staring screens.”
Even the singer, Yukimi, Nagano, finds herself “so caught up with the things I don’t need,” as she watches her world, your world, our world, spin faster and faster….
What does this have to do with our breath? Well, believe it or not, this dreamy track helped me to center myself in my most dissociative phases; the breath in the background is a subtle psychological cue for our brains to match the slow rhythm and get ourselves reacquainted with our surroundings.
How cool is that?
Breathe by CharlestheFirst
I wouldn’t be staying true to myself if I didn’t include a vibey Experimental Electronic track, especially if it has a hint of Hip-Hop!
CharlestheFirst is known for his electronic tracks that were all founded on his love of hip-hop. Just by listening to “Breathe” once, you will understand the power fueling his profound sound. He is moved by the lush, enchanting awe of nature and the soul-moving feelings of psychedelia and he takes his listeners on a journey that brings them back to the calming universe within us all.
If it weren’t for amazing EDM artists like CharlestheFirst, I would have never embarked on my own personal spiritual journey. Take a moment and listen to this track…breathe…and let in the love and light from which you were birthed.
Breathe (In the Air) by Pink Floyd
When most people think of music to vibe and chill to, we’re often taken back to the 1970s, where psychedelic music was at its peak and brought about an era that explored the curiosities of the mind and body.
Pink Floyd’s Classic and Progressive Pock track, “Breathe (In the Air)” is a perfect example from this era that is designed to encourage open-mindedness. “Breathe,” the first verse advises, “don’t be afraid to care, leave but don’t leave me; look around and choose your own ground.”
The singer, Roger Waters, inspires us to enjoy our lives and love one another, but to also never forget the ones that we love, and take on the responsibility of our freedom of choice.
After all, “all you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be.” He is advising us to embrace the wonders of our life, for it is very fleeting.
Biting Down by Lorde
“It feels better biting down,” a hauntingly melodic sound consistently fills our ears as a deep, repetitive bass pulsates in anticipation of full, yet hollow drums. I have easily put hours, if not days, into this minimalistic Alternative Indie hit, for it is utterly tantalizing and pacifying to the senses.
While the message of this song is clear, it is quite fascinating to hear Lorde’s direct perspective of her inspiration behind this track. According to Lorde, “Biting Down” reflects “small moments of intensity that help you understand something greater, whether that be intense pain or shock or even being super cold or something; sometimes those things, whether or not they’re pleasant, can really tell you something about yourself or what you’re feeling.”
Her sentiment makes perfect sense to the sensations we all feel in all our body parts. When we’re feeling anxious, for example, Lorde accurately describes the experience as someone who’d “breathe so deep I thought I’d drown.” As we breathe and embrace the feelings that swell within us, she asks us to observe “the electronics of your heart,” and “see how fast they fall apart.”
Although this feeling is scary, she coaxes us to “listen to the beats resound” because it will eventually feel better to bite down.
Breathe In, Breathe Out by Tony Lewis
As a concert band nerd, I adore Classical music and Tony Lewis’s “Breathe In Breathe Out” is no exception. I feel so awake and alive when I hear this song rise and fall in each measure, and it’s almost as if I can feel my lungs expanding and contracting as the brass swell in the expectation of the violins whisking us away on a cloud of our own perception.
The impact this song has on me reminds me of the power of Pixar movies as Lewis is taking us on a journey we have never been on before. Imagine gazing out at the amazing scene of greenery before you after climbing a tall mountain.
Or visualize feeling the wind in your hair as you run alongside your children or little cousins. “Breathe In Breathe Out” centers us in the moment and wordlessly asks us to take a moment and appreciate all that we have.
Breathe by 88rising (feat. Joji & Don Krez)
Why are all the best songs so brief? 88rising’s slightly Caribbean Dancehall and R&B Electro-Indie Pop hit, “Breathe”, is just too good to be so short! Reported by 88rising to be a song “about love, lust and missed connections,” both the producer and Joji collaborated to create this entrancing track to help their listeners relate to those end-of-summer feelings of bittersweet memories and nostalgic longings for that one absolutely mesmerizing connection at a summer event.
One of my favorite lyrics from this track is “Hold my breath, until you call my name, again.” This is a perfect example of how our breath reacts to the moment in time we perceive ourselves to be. Whether it be 20 minutes ago, or 10 years ago, Joji accurately captures how we sometimes give way to the feelings we wish to have again. All is not lost, as the summer will always return. You can breathe.
Into the Past by Nero
Nero’s Electronica Dreampop track for the 2013 film, The Great Gatsby was inspired by the last sentence of the original book: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
For those who are unfamiliar with the plot of this novel, Gatsby, a wealthy, mysterious man, appears seemingly out of nowhere in the lives of a married couple, for he wants to rekindle a relationship with his lover from a past life who is now the wife of a man for which she has no romantic feelings.
Despite the story’s tragic end, Nero’s mesmerizing hit enkindles a deep sense of hope for all of us. Featuring a consistent deep breathing sound effect in the background, paired with singer, Alana Watson’s, wistful “I’ll follow you; I’ll find you,” the song’s core message is bound to touch the hearts of anyone who may be longing for anything from their past.
In my personal experience, this song helped me to find myself once again; like the lyrics, I once found myself submerged in darkness, but a light – a shimmering reflection of my true self – appeared in the darkness and I followed it to my salvation. Just as Gatsby’s green light in the novel was meant to lead himself and his lover back to one another.
Breath by Breaking Benjamin
At first, you would think the singer of Metal band, Breaking Benjamin, is woefully singing about someone who betrayed him. But as the first verse progresses, you realize that he’s at war with himself.
He’s been constantly battling his demons, which has left him weary and asking “Is it over yet?” In the chorus, he vividly describes the exhaustion he feels in his personal journey through self-hatred; “you take the breath right out of me,” he breathlessly expresses.
His breath, the very root of his stability and survival is at risk, as he fears he’s fighting a losing battle. Fortunately, “Breath” is nearing its 20-year anniversary, and the singer is alive and well, assuring us that he won the fight and has much more control over his breath.
Leave My Mind by Modestep
This amazing Drum & Bass Dubstep track is a personal shoutout to all of my anxious people; I see you and your experiences are valid. Sometimes when we’re feeling anxiety we need the opposite of relaxation, and Modestep’s “Leave My Mind” offers us an energetic release from our thoughts.
As the music begins its slow rise, anticipating the euphoric climax, we hear Josh Friend’s voice ring over and over, “I can feel this leave my mind!” Then suddenly, the melody becomes submerged, taking us back to that initial steady billowing of sound; we hear a repetitive melodious “breathe in…breathe out…breathe in…breathe out…,” right before an explosion in the center of the track that makes you dance involuntarily.
I’d use this song to work out right before a day I’d perceive to be stressful, and it helped to bring me back to a state of equilibrium every single time.
Tanjiro Rap (Breathe) by Daddyphatsnaps
Daddyphatsnaps’s passionate Trap-style Rap is the embodiment of the character, Tanjiro, from the highly acclaimed anime, Demon Slayer. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a Grade A certified weab, but I haven’t gotten around to Demon Slayer just yet (anime lovers, don’t cancel me please).
What I do know is that the breath plays a major role in each character’s fighting style, which is so cool! We all have learned about the importance of maintaining our chi, which flows through our energy centers in our body and is largely controlled by our breath; therefore, a person whose entire fighting style is borne from breathing is peak spiritual power!
Tanjiro has lived a long and hard life, but that only encourages him to just breathe and fight his way to salvation for himself and his family. A sentiment from which we all can learn!
Breathe Deeper by Tame Impala
Musicians have the amazing ability to teach us how to cope with uncomfortable situations. According to front man, Kevin Parker, “Breathe Deeper” is a tribute to our breath, for it is a powerful tool we can use to calm us down and focus our intentions on what we do best.
This psychedelic pop funk hit brings forth unbridled confidence, as, almost in a childlike manner, Parker taunts “If you think I couldn’t hold my own, believe me, I can.” He inspires us to “breathe a little deeper,” until we’re “having fun,” so we can “do this and get through this” and once again “see the sun.”
The groove of life is slow and we are given the extraordinary gift to live it to our fullest potential. So have a listen, breathe deeper, and dance through the wonders of life because right here, right now is a wonderful time to be alive.
Imagine That by Owsey (feat. CoMa)
Owsey’s Chillstep track, “Imagine That,” is my #1 go-to song for meditation; it offers us an otherworldly perspective of the lives we live, and the power we carry as humans. CoMa whimsically speaks on the power of our imagination.
As if she is revering an ancient relic (which she actually is), she says that though us influential dreamers have been lost to the obscurity of time, we are far from lost and obsolete.
She is reimagining a future where people can turn their dreams of coexistence and harmony into reality by simply remembering from whence we came. CoMa inspires us to take our power back by “dreaming every day; dreaming with our hands and dreaming with our minds,” for our planet is facing great problems that can be remedied with our help. In the end, she finds comforting resolve and says, “so whatever you do, don’t be bored; this is absolutely the most exciting time you could have possibly hoped to be alive.”
Beyond everything, the universe “ebbs and flows,” and we must “keep breathing” because “it’s all okay.”
Breathing Underwater by Hiatus Kaiyote
Inspired by Stevie Wonder, Hiatus Kaiyote’s Soulful and Funky R&B hit, “Breathing Underwater,” describes the fanciful feelings of falling in love. Ask any elderly couple and you will find that love indeed feels like breathing underwater. This flighty and fleeting romantic song explores singer, Nai Palm’s, love language as she offers meaningful spiritual gifts to her lover, and embraces how “the word [love] hurts in water.”
My most favorite lyric is “I could call your demons inside, soak them in Camomile” because it speaks to me on a deep level; I hail from a culture that is picking up the pieces of our past that were demolished by generational trauma, so it’s not uncommon that most lovers from my culture are battling many demons at once.
Camomile, the European spelling of chamomile tea, is a soothing herbal remedy that calms one’s spirit. The process of loving someone who has been through unfathomable horrors is a lot like breathing underwater, wouldn’t you think?
In the end, as the song fades into a dreamy soulful and funky vibe, Nai persuades us to let it – falling in love – happen with grace; “I want you to breathe it in.”
Songs About Breathing: Honorable Mentions
Let’s add in a couple additional songs I also really love!
Take My Breath by The Weeknd
How could I forget the relatively new track “Take My Breath” by The Weeknd. This song comes fresh off The Weeknd’s excellent album Dawn FM (you know the cover, where he’s in full old man makeup)?
Anyway, this is an excellent song on a really memorable concept album that deserves be listened to with your undivided attention.
I Can’t Breathe by DAX
DAX has my full attention in hip hop. And despite having millions of followers on his social media, it still feels like everyone is sleeping on this man’s skills.
Whether it’s Tupac or Kid Cudi, there’s nothing more vulnerable than a rapper that lays his or her heart and emotions out on the table for everyone to see–and criticize. But what I like about DAX is he’s just always going to be him, warts and all.
And on this track, kind of like Kid Cudi’s “Soundtrack 2 My Life” record, DAX is open and honest about his struggles to find inner peace and happiness.
And yes I’m looking for help
I wanted to love, but I couldn’t love, ’cause I didn’t love myself (Can’t love myself)
I done blaming everyone else
No more blaming everyone else
From now on I’m blaming myself
Protest Songs About Breathing
If you’re seeking some great protest songs on this topic, here is one that’s a true standout.
I Can’t Breathe by H.E.R
If you’re looking for a moving song, and a socially conscious song, then it probably doesn’t get much better than I Can’t Breathe by H.E.R., which of course is a song that debuted in the wake of the George Floyd protests.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the breath is a very powerful thing. Quite frankly, it is all we have. Our breath is the first thing we draw when we’re born, and the last thing we take when we pass.
These songs about breathing offer a soothing reminder that if we maintain control of our breath, we maintain control over our lives and life decisions. Go forth in the world with confidence now that you know you’ll always have life within you as long as you keep breathing; and that is a very powerful thing.
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