The Actor's Playlist: Songs for Motivation or Relaxation

Whether you're looking to be uplifted, energised or relaxed, there's a song to help your mood. Niamh McEnhill shares the tracks on her actor's playlist. 

By Niamh McEnhill

We all have a special connection with music. It can be an effective stress reducer, it can lift you up out of the heaviest of moods and make you feel like a superstar in seconds. So, if the coronavirus lockdown life has got you feeling dazed or distracted then pop on these tunes for the extra motivation you might need. 

The Actor's Playlist

1. Don’t Let Me Lose This Dream - Aretha Franklin

The lyrics always sit with me; it paints the picture of someone holding on tightly to a dream and giving it their all. It’s always a song that I feel helps ease self-doubt and when you feel like you’ve hit a wall. Remember that you once dreamt of following your own creative path and it will always be your own dream, no matter how you go about achieving it. Hold on tight and dream big.

2. Move On Up - Curtis Mayfield 

This song is my go-to for those times when you nailed your audition and have been on cloud nine ever since… right up until you see the email from your agent saying “they loved you, but it didn’t go your way this time.” It might be a 'no' this time but you still made progress. Remember acting is a journey so  “move on up, toward your destination, you may find from time to time, complication”.

3. Heroes - David Bowie 

If you need an excuse to take a step back and remember that you're a creative powerhouse full of potential and endless talent then look no further than Heroes. Any David Bowie song is injected full of self-affirming magic so find your motivation, reclaim your power and take inspiration from Bowie’s words, “I'm an instant star. Just add water and stir”.

4. I’m Still Standing - Elton John

Thank you for the reminder, Elton, yes, we are still standing. Give yourself a huge pat on the back for your resilience and persistence as an actor, it isn’t easy and you’re stood to stand the test.

5. Sweet Dreams - Eurythmics 

Anyone who works in a creative industry knows the pace we're used to moving at. We're always on the go, focused on the next job, task or project. So much so that it's easy to overlook the exciting environments we've found ourselves in and the amazing things we've accomplished. There's nothing quite like 80s synths to fill you with optimism and help you appreciate the ‘sweet dream’ moments you've experienced in your career and in everyday life. 

6. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger - Daft Punk 

“Work it, make it, do it, makes us, harder, better, faster, stronger” - sound familiar? Actors are no strangers to working hard and this energising track will give you the boost you need to keep going. As we push ourselves to be better, we may inevitably struggle along the way so it’s important to know when to take a break. Our struggles, and how we overcome them, are what helps to shape us into resilient super performers. 

7. Get Your Freak On - Missy Elliot

When it’s one of those days where you need to loosen up and blow off some steam, crank the speakers up and “getcha getcha getcha getcha getcha freak on”. This track is on my playlist for when I want my day to be full of fun and freaky goodness.

8. Uptight (Everything’s Alright) - Stevie Wonder 

Do you sometimes feel like your mind is racing with all the things you need to do? Speak to any actor and they will always have a huge to-do list; take a class, update your Spotlight profile, learn a new accent, general life admin… the list goes on! Naturally, this can get on top of anyone resulting in feeling a little uptight and strung out. Take a breather and remember that no matter what you have or haven’t done today everything’s going to be alright in the end.  

9. Unstoppable - Lianne La Havas

Remember when you rang your Mum to tell them that the part you just bagged has been recast? Or that awful day when you missed your best friend's wedding to shoot a commercial only to find out you weren’t featured? Maybe there were a few tears but you've lived to tell the tale and it hasn’t stopped you from moving forwards like a true pro. Remember that you are unstoppable and no matter what hiccups you may face along the way, you're ready to take on the next opportunity with open arms. 

10. Cabaret - Liza Minelli

Of course, I absolutely had to end my playlist with a show tune! Channel your most enigmatic self, shake your jazz hands and belt this out at the top of your lungs. Your neighbours might not be pleased but, damn, you’ll feel good. After all, any creative life is a wonderful, unpredictable and ever-changing cabaret and don't we just love a cabaret?

Bonus tracks - for when you need to take some time for yourself to focus or relax

Six Mile Cross - The Lost Brothers

When you have a lot on your mind, a few emails to send or maybe a script that you’re keen to pitch, then playing instrumental background music can help get the creative juices flowing. This one would be my go-to for getting in the zone.

Como Me Quieres - Khruangbin

Sometimes the tasks we find ourselves doing like learning lines or updating our CV in silence can be daunting. Playing this dreamy instrumental track will get you in the right headspace to get on with the task at hand. 

La - Nils Frahm  

On a day where your mind is going a million miles a minute and you need to relax, try popping on this instrumental track to allow you to drift off into a wonderful imaginary abyss.

You can listen to these tracks in The Actor's Playlist on Spotify.

We'd love to hear the songs that motivate or relax you so get in touch @spotlightuk to let us know what is on your own playlist.

Niamh McEnhill is an Irish actor and writer currently based in London. A graduate of both New York Film Academy (Acting for Film) and London Met, Niamh continues to work across film, theatre and voice overs, most recently lending her voice to the Spotify Ads for the Channel 4 hit 'Derry Girls'. 

Image by Emilio Garcia via Unsplash.