Playlist: The Most Beautiful Song in the World

Last week, Redditor McSlurryHole asked other users what the most beautiful song they’ve ever heard is.

Think to yourself, what is the most beautiful song you have ever heard, im not talking about your favourite song, or the most technical, or something that made you cry, I just want to know the song that made you say “holy shit… I could die to this”

I’ve listened to the top 100 songs on the public Spotify playlist and while I’m in love with a good quarter of the songs the Redditors chose (“Your Hand In Mine” by Explosions in the Sky? Yes! “The Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel? Double yes!), I have to admit that it’s a little heavy on Radiohead and light on ladies for me (for the statistically-inclined among you, 4 songs were by only women, 10 songs were by bands that have at least 1 woman, and 3 songs include an unknown number of women). So we decided to take things into our own hands.

The Most Beautiful Song In The World

The Most Beautiful Song In The World from Autostraddle on 8tracks Radio.

Malaika: The Magnetic Fields – 100,000 Fireflies

Fonseca: Metric – Soft Rock Star
Metric’s “Soft Rock Star” (Jimmy vs. Joe mix) is a song for people who are on the mend/rebound. It’s about being in a dire situation and still milking it for what it’s worth. It’s also about balancing wistful thoughts about the past with hope and ambition for the future.
The healing process is unapologetically bipolar; one second, you’ll find comfort in the fact that things can only get better. The next, you’ll be sobbing into a box of Kleenexes and wanting to press rewind on the past year of your life. Both parts are equally as integral. When you’re in a dark place, sometimes light comes in the form of someone like Emily Haines reminding you that it’s okay to be melancholy.
Choice lyrics: “Choose the highest bidder,” was my answer when they told me I was up for sale.

Kristen: Marina and the Diamonds – Obsessions

Gabby: Maxwell – Pretty Wings

DanielaSimón Díaz ft. La Rondalla Venezolana – Madrugada Llanera
When I think of beautiful, I usually think of things that are equal parts haunting and familiar. I guess I like things that give me a sort of soft sadness I can get comfortable in. Simón Díaz -Venezuela’s most beloved folk artist, is into that sort of thing, too. Here’s “Dawn In The Fields,” a song about the dawn before the start of the work day.

Kate: Wagner – Vorspiel
I’m going to die to wagner’s vorspiel from the ring cycle at a very, very old age and my body will ascend beauty and the beast-style and it will be glorious

Julia: Regina Spektor – Samson

Alice: James Vincent McMorrow – We Don’t Eat (Adventure Club remix)
This is actually a remix of a folk song, but it beautifully captures the best of the original song and recreates it into this amazing song that inspires a delightful dizziness like an aural opium den for my mind.  I have trapped a whole car full of people and made them listen to this without speaking. Several times, actually.

Laneia: Band of Horses – I Go to the Barn Because I Like

Laura: Calle 13 – Latinoamérica
The first time I heard this song, I was driving to work in the morning and switching through radio stations hoping to find something to keep me awake. The slow start and the voice that couldn’t decide if it wanted to talk or sing caught my attention but I was running late and had to leave my car before I got to the chorus. With the last words I heard – “la cara bonita que he conocido…” – scribbled down and the beat pulsing through me all day, I looked up and listened to the whole song as soon as I got home. No matter how many times I’ve heard it since, I still can’t get over how insistent the song is. It wants you to listen and feel it and sing the words if you know them or at least try twisting them around in your mouth if Spanish isn’t your language because it’s just that beautiful.

Jess R: Fiona Apple – I Know

Vanessa: Ani DiFranco – Small World
I really love listening to “small world” by ani in the winter (I mean I love everything by ani ever all the time, but I particularly enjoy this one in the winter) because it’s so hauntingly beautiful and reminds me of this very mysterious intriguing girl I used to give rides to when I was a senior and she was a freshman in high school. I hope this doesn’t sound creepy because maybe that can be construed as creepy — but basically I had no idea I was gay, I was going about life dating/kissing boys, blah blah blah, but this girl was so fascinating to me, and so wise even though she was 3 years younger, and she’d sit on the floor outside the photo lab (lots of kids sat on the floor outside the photo lab) and whenever I left the photo room i’d kind of stop and just be really taken aback by how…not beautiful, just, striking? lost? perfect? she was..anyway she lived near me, I knew because she told me NOT BECAUSE I AM A CREEPY STALKER, and she used to walk home in the snow so one day I saw her and offered her a ride and then it sort of just became a thing, and I had a boyfriend and she was just some girl in my brother’s grade, but anyway we were listening to ani one day and she asked if i’d ever heard “small world” and I said no and she took her ginormous headphones out of her backpack and had me park and put them on and listen to it, and I sort of felt like crying, and it’s so obvious now that I wanted to date her but at the time I just could not comprehend that so I just kept giving her rides and dating my boyfriend and listening to “small world” on repeat.

CaraDeerhunter – He Would Have Laughed
The first time I listened to this song it was really late at night, I was alone in a building, I was staring at a large fishtank, and I knew I was going to see someone I was in love with the next day. Putting it on brings me back to that, but it manages to be right for every mood, somehow. It is also a eulogy song (for musician Jay Reatard) which is a beautiful idea.

Crystal: The Foo Fighters – Everlong
If I was a betting woman, I’d have thrown down some serious cash on my pick for this playlist being by Cold War Kids or Holly Miranda, as they make the most amazingly beautiful music in my iTunes library and also on the planet. The embarrassing truth, however, is that the one song that is capable of slaying me harder than any other is actually written by every white American male’s favorite rock band, the Foo Fighters.
The first time I heard this acoustic recording of “Everlong”, I was so completely overwhelmed by the vulnerability and quiet desperation in Grohl’s tone, it was like I’d never believed in something as much as I believed his words right then. When he sang “if everything could ever feel this real forever”, all I could think was how if the world was to end right at that moment then listening to this song would be the perfect way to go. I still feel that way whenever I hear this recording. A lot of people think the lyrics are cheesy but whatever.

Carrie: Yann Tierson – Comptine d’un autre été, l’après-midi
This is a song for staring out the window on a rainy day or taking a long walk without a destination. When I hear it everything feels beautiful and nothing hurts.

Rose: The Beatles – A Day in the Life

Riese: Bach/Gounod – Ave Maria
I will listen to this over and over and over and over again until everything is so tragic and beautiful that my soul explodes

Whitney: Sharon Van Etten – Give Out
“Give Out” is haunting — the beautifully hollow, effortless quality to Sharon Van Etten’s voice always makes me feel like my heart is falling out of my chest. The song is spare, but its elements — acoustic and electric guitar, percussion, Van Etten’s voice and its harmony — move together to create a atmosphere that’s as thick as fog, and a sense of longing that’s just as palpable: “You’re the reason why I’ll move to the city / Or why I’ll need to leave.”

Hansen: Iron & Wine – The Trapeze Swinger
The most beautiful song in the world is “The Trapeze Swinger” by Iron and Wine.
IT JUST IS. Goodness, this song just makes my chest swell with its beauty. It’s so simple, just a plea or a prayer, but also so complicated with symbolism and lushness. I could listen to it on repeat for days (and have, which works out because it’s a really long song and you don’t get bored with it as easily). Sam Beam is a gorgeous man with a gorgeous voice and I love everything he does, but there’s just something about this song. I’d say my perfect moment would be listening to this song on vinyl, lying on the floor with a breeze in the window. But I’m a romantic like that.

Let’s talk. What’s the most beautiful song in the world to you? We’ve got 18 tracks which means we need you guys to help us with the other 82.

Want to suggest a playlist theme? Hit Crystal up on Formspring and someone of the team will make it for you.

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 1 article for us.


      • i went to a regina spektor concert last month and i’m not ashamed in the slightest to say i cried during ‘samson’

        it is just such a beautiful song and it was a beautiful moment and honestly i was not the only one there getting a little bit teary

        (well, until she stopped halfway through because there was a ‘velcro ghost’ on stage. goddamn it, it’s regina spektor, she’s allowed to stop halfway through highly emotional songs for completely random reasons.)

  1. Shocked and pleasantly surprised to see the two songs I always associate with this title on the list — Everlong and A Day in the Life.

    Marina & Regina are always in my tops, too. But this list wouldnt be well-rounded without Sufjan Stevens. Either Romulus or The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades for my pick.

  2. Jeff Buckley’s cover of Hallelujah because shut up I’m not sobbing about it, that’s why.

    R.E.M.’s Find The River because I would say ‘Automatic for the People’ but that’s an album, not a song. This one just gives me Lots Of Feelings and I can’t really describe wanting to curl up with a song while it plays with my hair and hums nonsense with a thunderstorm going on outside.

  3. My girlfriend was recently in Florida where she sang Ave Maria for her grandfather’s funeral mass. The same day as the funeral, I happened to watch the episode of the West Wing wherein Josh becomes obsessed with Ave Maria. The fact that she could sing such a piece made me want to listen to it again and again, forever.

  4. dark parts – perfume genius
    you are a tourist – deathcab for cutie
    asleep – the smiths
    kids on the run – tallest man on earth
    amsterdam – coldplay
    the first time ever i saw your face – johnny cash (or the flaming lips version with erykah badu)

  5. So hard to pick just one… but I can narrow it down to three:

    Oxygene 2 – Jean-Michel Jarre
    Non, je ne regrette rien – Edith Piaf (no, I’ve never seen Inception)
    Hello – Tegan and Sara

    …and now that I’ve made that list, I’ve decided: I want to die hearing Oxygene 2 in the early morning on one of the Gulf Islands, say, Saturna, seeing the sun as it breaks through the low clouds hanging over the water and the island-tops!

  6. @Hansen That song, I listened to over and over again while grieving over the death of a dear friend. Such a beautiful song.

    Have you ever heard the ukulele cover by Danielle Ate the Sandwich? I find her version even more soothing. Plus she’s really cute to boot (and an LGBT ally or possibly a ‘sista’)

  7. And my 2 ultimate songs would be Tennis – Waterbirds. Her voice, the lyrics, the melody… Everything, I can drift myself to sea listening to this song.

    And Santo & Johnny – Sleepwalk. I’m a big doo-wop fan for its simple melodies and I’m also sort of a hopeless romantic. Who says you need to have vocals happening all the time? This song is beautiful for its simplicity.

  8. Harmonic Journey by Phantom Regiment (2003)

    Unfortunately it’s not on 8tracks, or Spotify, or iTunes, but there are some clips on youtube and you can buy it on the DCI fan network if you are so inclined. I just feel like everyone should know about it.

  9. The Tumbled Sea. All of their songs are so beautiful, but I’d recommend listening to:
    We’re Turning Into Regular People
    Children Building This Rainman Out of Snow
    The People You Never Knew About

    To Be Alone With You – Sufjan Stevens
    Possibility – Lykke Li
    Flowers on Your Grave – Catherine MacLellan
    Heartbeats – Cult of Luna (until the 2:59 mark!)

  10. The “Adagietto” movement from Mahler’s 5th symphony. I’ve actually only ever listened to it once – when the T[oronto]SO performed it a few years ago – because it was just so intense and perfect and that’s the way I want to remember it.

    • yes! i was waiting for someone to post sigur ros. “von” was the first song i heard by them and it remains my favourite. i would die to that song. i could probably die to all of their songs.

      i mean, if my death was me sleeping peacefully on a really comfy bed in rivendell if you know what i mean whoa this took a weird turn.

  11. My list of hauntingly beautiful songs:

    Bach – Air on a G String
    Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata
    Erik Satie – Gymnopedie for piano 3 (Lent et grave)
    Missy Higgins – Forgive Me (and Secret)
    Rachael Yamagata – The Only Fault (and Duet)
    Clint Mansell – Requiem for a Dream
    Band of Horses – Marry Song
    Robin Thicke – Dreamworld

  12. This is so hard. Right now, I’m gonna say Beach Baby by Bon Iver

    Honourable mentions go to:
    Any other song ever by Bon Iver, or including Justin Vernon’s voice in any way
    Biko – Bloc Party
    Give Me My Month – James Blake
    Knife – Grizzly Bear
    Voodoo – Frank Ocean
    Tell Me What To Swallow – Crystal Castles
    Arabesque #1 – Debussy

    I just know I’m gonna think of loads more later, too much beautiful music out there!

  13. I should say that the Beatles selection is just out of my popular music stuff. Add my classical collection in there and I have no idea what to choose…

    (but probably the prelude to Das Rheingold by Wagner. the problem is it doesn’t really end comfortably…)

  14. Heh. The process of choosing a favorite has caused me to end up with a whole playlist. The top of the top from the list is Kate Bush’s Cloudbusting, as it makes me cry pretty much 100% of the time. Specifically between 0:45 and 1:10. Every. single. time.

    Because a couple other people put Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah on here let me recommend i.m.h.o. a slightly more uplifting weeping experience: his duet with Elizabeth Fraser singing “All Flowers in Time”.

  15. So this is a strange one, but when I was a very strange and very closeted high school kid back in 2001 or so, a girl who I was desperately and secretly in love with told me that the song Coma White by Marilyn Manson reminded me of her. Then she said it had to be the acoustic version, because you could really hear the words and they made her think of me. Kind of a dark compliment but the song gives me chills every time. Marilyn Manson isn’t known for his beautiful songs, but this time he got it right.

  16. oh, why did this have to be so hard;beautiful is such a broad term. I find beauty in so many songs, but to choose a few, Damien Rice has the honour of featuring three times:

    Bjork: All is fill of love
    Kate Bush: Running up that hill
    Damien Rice: 9 Crimes
    Damien Rice: Rootless Tree – there’s a brilliant live version on youtube i think performed at Abby Road
    Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue – Where the wild roses grow
    Elbow: The night will always win
    Athlete – Chances
    Depeche mode: Enjoy the silence
    Mirror project with Dave Gahan – Nostalgia
    Manic Street Preacher – Motorcycle emptiness

    You know, I could really change my mind about this..

  17. I was getting chills the whole way through Laura’s pick, “Latinoamérica” by Calle 13. What a beautiful and powerful song (and video! I agree that it’s all of that even without knowing Spanish, but the lyrics are so poetic and moving that everyone who can’t understand Spanish would be doing themselves a favor by asking a friend to tell them what it says (or finding a good translation on the internet). Not the sort of song my brain initially went to when I began to read this article, but wow.

    • oooh i’m glad you liked it. and yes! the video! calle 13 has a documentary called “sin mapa” that i’ve been dying to see and i’m pretty sure they filmed this video in peru while they were working on it.

  18. Each Coming Night – Iron & Wine
    Oh My Stars – Andrew Belle
    Sort Of – Ingrid Michaelson
    Are We There Yet – Ingrid Michaelson

    Towards the Sun – Alexi Murdoch
    Orange Sky – Alexi Murdoch

    Those two by Alexi Murdoch/all Alexi Murdoch songs make me want to watch the movie Away We Go over and over again.

  19. Fiona Apple, Sullen Girl
    Jeff Buckley, Lover, You Should Have Come Over
    Schiller and Moya Brennan, Miles and Miles
    Kelli Rudick, Unfaithful
    The Jezabels, Mace Spray or Long Highway or Sahara
    Mahala (or almost everything they do) :)

  20. YES The Trapeze Swinger. I think the closest I’ve ever come to what I would call a “religious experience” is when I heard Iron & Wine play this live in Memphis two years ago.

    Another most beautiful song is “The Sun”, by Mirah

  21. I’d have to say it’s a tie between Burning the Midnight Lamp- Hendrix and Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple’s duet version of Bridge Over Troubled Water. Seriously if you haven’t heard that version look it up, it’s AMAZING! Anything Pete Miser or Girlyman is great too.

  22. Messiaen’s Oraison for Ondes-Martenot

    I had a hard time deciding between this and his adaption of it for cello and piano. I drool every time I hear either version.

    In the cello adaptation, the tempo marking given is “infinitely slow”, which in itself is incredibly beautiful

  23. hans zimmer – time

    jónsi – aevin endar

    sigur ròs

    lisa gerrard

    nina simone – wild is the wind

    brad mehldau – the falcon will fly again

    keith jarrett – the köln concert

    esbjörn svensson trio – seven days of falling/elevation of love

    pat metheny – a map of the world

    gustavo santaollala – leyendo en el hospital

    rodrigo leão – cinema

    brian eno – by this river

    sara bareilles/ingrid michaelson – winter song

    patrick wolf – overture

    … endless beautiful songs — great thread!

  24. Oh man, there are all kinds of feelings here.

    For classical I like Eric Whitacre (Sleep, Lux Aurumque) and Michael Nyman (Gattaca score).

    For other things I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS.

    One time when I had a lot of feelings about a girl I heard “Sometime Around Midnight” by the Airborne Toxic Event and then I found it and listened to it OVER AND OVER AND OVER again and now it still makes me sad.

    Also sad/good: “Have to Drive” by Amanda Palmer
    Lots of things, including “The Quiz” by Hello Saferide.
    “Love Song Requiem” by the erstwhile Trading Yesterday.

    I’m gonna have to come back to this.

  25. my turn my turn! the first one i thought of is Paperweight by Joshua Radin and Schuyler Fisk ( because i think i could listen to it forever.

    also Jeff Mangum’s cover of I Love How You Love Me is beauuuuuutiful (

    and recently i’ve been listening to Josephine by Brandi Carlile (

    and of course America and Only Living Boy in New York by Simon and Garfunkel.

  26. This Will Destroy You: “Happiness, We’re All in it Together”.

    It’s instrumental, yet so damn beautiful– my friend says this song “rips his soul out and has sex with it”. So there’s that. :-)

  27. Oh hey Malaika, who introduced you to that song? XD
    I can’t wait to listen to all of these! For the kind of person who’s always running out of music, this a great playlist. And there’s so many suggestions in the comments!! Yayyyy!

  28. I have to give it to Hansen, “Trapeze Swinger” is a phenomenal song! It’s such a beautiful story and I fell asleep to it, or cried to it, or had it in the background of my life everyday for a solid 5 months.

    But Pearl Jam “Release Me” is it for me. It’s the end all be all of what I need in a song. It has the ability to bring me where I need to be. Whether up, down, or out of a funk…it is there, it is what I put on, and Eddie Vedder just leads me through it all.

  29. Ooh, forgot my favorite piece of classical music: “Selig sind, die da Leid tragen” (“Blessed Are They That Mourn”) from Brahm’s German Requiem. We played it in band in high school and it’s one of the only pieces of music to give me chills and/or make me cry every damn time I played it.

  30. Star Witness — Neko Case
    A Nervous Tic — Andrew Bird
    Master of None — Beach House
    Kiss Me Again — Jessica Lea Mayfield
    Galaxies — Laura Veirs
    & the requisite ghey submission: Watering Hole — Missy Higgins

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