By Evan Ross
If you’re like me you’re about 5 foot 10, love Sour Patch kids, and absolutely cannot concentrate when it comes time to study. This is the worst time of year for students; everybody else is preparing for the holidays while we prepare for the seasonal joy that is exams. I myself have spent the past few days freshening up on European politics, so join me on my journey for songs that will prevent me from smashing my head against the wall while I hit the books.
1) “I Love NYE” – Badly Drawn Boy
I find it much easier to study with music that doesn’t have lyrics, and this track is an instrumental gem off the (excellent) movie soundtrack for About A Boy. A sweet, light piece of music, this is the perfect song to trick you into thinking what you’re about to do is enjoyable. It’s ideal for preparing your soon-to-be disorganized study area, and for convincing yourself that you care about the life of Charles de Gaulle
2) “Eg Anda” – Sigur Ros
If you want music that’s calming and surreal, look no further than Sigur Ros. This songs takes a while to get going, but once it does you’ll feel like you’re in a fairy tale dream world (if fairy tales took place in Robarts Library). It’s perfect for calming pre-exam jitters, when you realize you weren’t paying attention in class nearly as well as you thought.
3) “Michicant” – Bon Iver
Staying calm during the exam period is absolutely essential, and to stay calm you NEED Bon Iver. This song sounds like some sort of lullaby and every time I put it on I imagine myself in front of a fireplace in a cabin somewhere (snuggled with the hipster hunk of my choosing). This song is perfect for getting you into the zone of hardcore memory retention. Once you realize you haven’t actually done any readings this semester and have to do all of them within a 12 hour period, this song might cool you down.
4) “With Your Friends (Long Drive)” – Skrillex
The biggest challenge for me when I’m studying in a quiet place is trying not to fall asleep. It’s so easy to give in to the temptation to just put your head down for 5…10…15 minutes. Fight it! Fight it with dubstep (something which I imagine the soldiers of the future will scream during the robot uprising, but I digress)! This Skrillex tune finds itself in the weird genre of “upbeat chill-out song,” which I may or may not have made up just this second. It keeps you in the study zone but shakes off those sleepy cobwebs.
Note: feel free to substitute this song with a large serving of a caffeinated beverage.
5) “Angels” – The xx
Just because this playlist is for studying, it doesn’t mean it can’t be cool. The xx sophomore album Coexist was the it-album of fall (pair it with oxblood pants and a beanie and transform into the most on-trend person in the area). It’s also one of the most relaxing albums I’ve ever listened to. “Angels” is the lead track, and singer Romy Madley Croft’s soothing voice will lull you into a sense of security almost deep enough to convince yourself that you will get an A on your midterm.
6) “The Escapist” – The Streets
It’s my opinion that every playlist you listen to do unpleasant things should have some “all-time favourites” on it. It’s very comforting, almost the musical equivalent of being wrapped in a Snuggie and eating cheese. This song is one of my personal favourites; off Mike Skinner aka The Streets’ penultimate album Everything is Borrowed, this track is less rap and more like musical philosophy. Perfect for when you’re facing 150+ pages of reading and feel there’s no end in sight.
7) “C’mon C’mon” – One Direction
Taking a break is crucial to the studying process. After all, there are only so many hours you can read about European integration theory without wanting to strangle the person nearest to you. These breaks should be achieved by listening to the cheesiest, most danceable, bubblegum pop you can think of. This song is fantastic (totally not just saying that because I want Niall Horan to father my children), and if it doesn’t lift your spirits then there might be something clinically wrong with you. Fun tip: if you’re at home (or are very confident) why not make your break even more fun by making it a dance break.
8) “Radio” – Lana del Rey
Okay, time to get back to work, you filthy animal. Calm down and get back to the books by having Lana croon confusing lyrics at you. Now, I’m not really sure where Lana del Rey came from, but I’m really enjoying her album Born to Die: The Paradise Edition. She sort of reminds me of Lady Gaga, if Lady Gaga had an ongoing prescription for Xanax. This song is perfect for spending “just five more minutes” before you actually pick up a pen and start making notes again.
9) “Quelqu’un M’a Dit” – Carla Bruni
Foreign songs are some of my favourite to study to because I can’t get distracted (as it oh so easy to do) listening to the lyrics. The French in this song floats pleasantly in my mind, alongside all the information I’m studying, complimenting it perfectly. It’s best for humming pleasantly along with and making it seem as though studying is an enjoyable experience.
10) “Wayfaring Stranger” – Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran has one of the most beautiful male voices on the scene right now and he really gets to show it off on this song. Ed is his only accompaniment in this song and if you have the right headphones it sounds like he’s sitting beside you singing directly into your ear. If getting sung to by Ed Sheeran isn’t motivation for staying in the library than I don’t know what is. Perfect for little in-your-seat jam session.
11) “Great Love” – Vacationer
It’s 1 am, you really want to go to bed and watch the last episode of Downton Abbey, but you can’t. You only have one more chapter! You need one great song for one big push towards the finish line. This song has a driving bass line that just makes you want to keep going if just for a little bit. Perfect for making the last set of notes on foreign policy in Germany.
12) “Banana Pancakes” – Jack Johnson
I like to end my study sessions with songs that help me to envision the freedom that lays just out of reach of exam period. Exams are especially brutal with Christmas just around the corner and sometimes it helps to remember that in a week you’ll be free to not wear pants and watch the complete collected works of Hugh Grant on DVD. “Pretend like it’s the weekend, now,” he says. Gladly Jack. Gladly.