Eight years ago, musician Nick Pittsinger made Justin Bieber’s “U Smile” sound like ambient pop band Sigur Rós by slowing it down 800%. Bieber haters celebrated this beautiful edit, and ever since then people have been slowing down songs by 800%, 1000%, or more, and uploading them to YouTube and SoundCloud.
The genre’s smooth sounds and lack of discernible lyrics makes it great background music for creative work, so we’ve collected some of the best in a YouTube playlist, “All Music Sounds Good at 1/10 the Speed.”
Feel like this at your desk, without microdosing
Our playlist starts with a few pop edits, followed by some famous theme songs, then a wider assortment of sources. For example, the original version of Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” already sounds ghostly; the edit, as the uploader calls it, is “a symphony of the human voice in octaves.”
It takes some extra processing to slow down the tempo while maintaining the original pitch (and without introducing an ugly churning sound). Most of these edits, including Pittsinger’s Bieber edit, use the free audio program Paulstretch, which “smears” the sound out by stretching out overlapping sections of music. It gives pop vocals a rippling waterfall effect, but leaves simpler instrumental parts smooth.
If you like our playlist, you can hear a few more tracks on SoundCloud or via the SloMusic subreddit. There’s not a whole lot of this music out in public, especially since it’s vulnerable to copyright takedowns. But with Paulstretch, you can always make your own. For every typical pop song you slow down, you’ll have a half hour of new background ambience.