It’s midterm season, so I am constantly locked up in my room, or sitting in the library trying to focus. I could recommend music that might help you focus, like some white noise or lo-fi beats, but that doesn’t really help me survive this season. Instead, here are 10 songs that have been getting me through midterms. I use some of these songs to help my motivation.
1. “Chateau (Feel Alright)” by Djo
Djo — also known as Joe Keery or Steve from “Stranger Things” — released this song in 2019. He was originally a member of the band “Post Animal,” but due to scheduling conflicts because of his role in “Stranger Things,” he chose to go solo. This song has always been a favorite of mine. It somehow always makes its way into every playlist of mine due to its originality compared with most of the music I listen to.
2. “Show Me How ” by Men I Trust
Men I Trust — an indie-electro dream pop trio from Montreal — released this song in 2018 and it now has over 170 million streams. This song is perfect for getting into the groove of studying. Depending on the music, it is hard to focus on my work with the lyrics in my ears, but this song is so soothing and dreamlike it calms me down for the future study stress ahead.
3. “Some” by Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy has been my favorite artist this year, especially with his new album, “Gemini Rights.” As much as I love his new album, it is more of an upbeat vibe, which isn’t always helpful for studying for midterms. Luckily, his old music such as “Some,” is more fitting. It is still a more upbeat song compared with the others on this list, but it increases my productive mood.
4. “Leah” by Seeing Double
Seeing Double is a band fresh on the scene, with their first song “Leah” released in 2022. Most of their audience found the band through TikTok. All members are students at SUNY Oneonta and created this band in March of 2021. Although the song was released this year, it reminds me of some of my favorite 70s bands like ABBA and Fleetwood Mac. It’s a song to sing out loud, which helps when I am exhausted and need an energy boost.
5. “Midnight” By Toby Sebastian and Florence Pugh
This song is one of my favorite finds of the year. Tony Sebastian is not only the creator of this beautiful song, but is also an actor known for Trystane Martell in “Game of Thrones.” His sister, Florence Pugh is known for “Don’t Worry Darling,” “Black Widow” and “Little Women” accompanies Sebastian with backup vocals. I listen to this song daily because it is so soothing and stress-relieving. I also want to support my favorite actress, Ms. Flo.
6. “Baby I’m Yours” by Arctic Monkeys
This song dates back to 1965, with the original performed by Barbara Lewis. Although I enjoy both versions, the cover by the Arctic Monkeys from 2006 is such a heartfelt love song that I constantly find myself listening to. The lyrics are beautiful and give that warm-fuzzy feeling, especially on a cold day of studying.
7. “Preoccupied” by Mac de Marco
The title ultimately describes how I’ve been feeling this week — preoccupied with work. The song is one of the slower options on this list, but the lyrics feel very relatable to my current state. The song is also so calming with the acoustic guitar opening it up — giving it an intimate feel.
8. “You Might Be Sleeping” by Jakob and Clairo
This song represents the height of the bedroom pop era, which I would argue was around 2017. Accompanied by the bedroom pop queen Clairo, I think this genre is the perfect music to get you studying at the library. I also am filled with the nostalgia of studying for AP tests in my childhood bedroom when I listen.
9. “Self Control” by Frank Ocean
The title itself is relatable for this week. I need some self-control. Frank Ocean writes this song about a relationship that is falling apart. Although the meaning behind the lyrics is not the most motivating thing, the music and his voice are soothing to get things done. I love a song that I know all the lyrics to when I’m doing something tedious — it distracts me from the horrors I may face ahead when studying.
10. “Always Forever” by Cults
Released in 2013, this song is a go-to for me. There is a common theme in this playlist: older indie-pop, but I think it’s the perfect fit for studying. Brian Oblivion, a member of the Cults, says, “There’s a feeling our generation has. The feeling there’s always something better around the corner, that everyone is born to be a star. The feeling that life is waiting for you, and yet it’s not happening. All of that is static.” This sort of static feeling feels relatable to college students. The message that Oblivion shares is very inspirational — especially when feeling stuck on the continuous essays and exams.
Music therapy improves mood and relieves stress. These songs are my music therapy. I hope you give these 10 songs a listen, or find your own music that helps you through this stressful time.