Scene Selections: Your perfect midterm study playlist
With midterms in full swing, we college students are never in more need of music than now. When studying, music can either help us or hurt us. Regardless, it is an important part of the midterms process. We here at Scene have compiled a list of our favorite songs that we use to help us study or help distract us from our work.
“Echo” by Olivia Dean
Maggie Eastland, Assistant Managing Editor
A lukewarm take: Olivia Dean should be more relevant. Listen to this single from 2020 to hear why. Her timbre is unmatched. This particular song sets just the right longing yet upbeat mood for studying. “Will you be my echo?” I don’t know about you, but I tend to say that to my accounting study guide five minutes before the exam. Both jazzy and lyrical, “Echo” will help you get the pen to the paper with slightly less dread than usual.
“Ceilings” by Lizzy McAlpine
Christina Sayut, Scene Writer
As someone who values understanding my feelings, this song has been very instrumental in how I cope with the stress of midterms. As this week has been stressful, having the emotional release from this song helps me do a little reset on how I am feeling. While this song is, in my opinion, truly devastating, I have listened to it about 50 times since last week. It has become so normal for me to start my day with it that it may be a bit concerning. I recommend you listen to it if you feel like crying during watercolor class or any studying that you might do. Let go and let God.
“When You Were Young” by The Killers
Gabriel Zarazua, Scene Writer
One of the more underrated songs from the band, if for some reason you are tired of “Mr. Brightside,” this is a good substitution. This is more of a nostalgia pick for me since I jammed to this song on Guitar Hero daily. This is not a song to bang your head to, but it’s one that I find myself singing even when I don’t have music on while studying. Just give it a listen and enjoy it.
“Ok Not To Be Ok“ by Marshmello, Demi Lovato
Andrew Jitendran, Scene Writer
“Ok Not To Be Ok” by Demi Lovato is a great stress reliever song. The lyrics of the song remind us that it is normal to not always feel our best, and that it is okay to acknowledge and accept our emotions. This can be a helpful message for students who feel pressure to perform at their best and are struggling with feelings of anxiety or self-doubt during midterms.
The upbeat and energetic tempo can also be helpful in improving mood and providing a brief escape from exam stress. The message of the song can help students to feel less alone in their struggles and may even encourage them to seek support or help if they need it.
Overall, this song can serve as a reminder to prioritize self-care and mental health during periods of stress and can provide a brief moment of positivity and inspiration during a challenging time.
“This Hell” by Rina Sawayama
Anna Falk, Scene Writer
Rina Sawayama, according to Elton John, is going to be the next best thing in the music industry — and “This Hell” is an example of her star power. I don’t recommend listening to it while studying (unless that’s your thing), but it’s perfect for a dance break or taking an extensive trip to the dining hall. It’s a pop anthem that demands to be put on repeat. Heavily inspired by country pop icons like Dolly Parton, Kacey Musgraves and Shania Twain, it shows Sawayama’s mastery of her sound. “This Hell” is all I’ve listened to for the past few days, and I know that my Spotify Wrapped will show it.
“Herz uber Kopf” by Joris
Peter Breen, Scene Writer
Unlike in high school — when a 25-minute commute through East Cleveland afforded me a regular interval to jump on Spotify — I have no set time for listening to music in college. Since I broke my last pair of Apple EarPods about a month ago, I work out, study and bike to class in silence. Honestly, it’s best for my mental health that way. After a fruitless trip to the dining hall, it’s better that I not blare “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath as I huck it on two wheels to Club Hes. Sometimes I get a fix of wholesome music from church — I always feel good singing out of a hymnal. In a vain attempt to learn German this summer, YouTube’s algorithm showed me about half a dozen lousy German pop songs. Do I know exactly what’s going on? No. But can I feel it? Yes.
“Succession (Main Title Theme)” by Nicholas Britell
Christine Hilario, Scene Writer
It’s impossible for me to concentrate while studying if I listen to anything with lyrics, so I usually turn to soundtracks for my study music. One of my go-to soundtracks is for the TV show “Succession.” I listened to it so many times last year that Nicholas Britell, the composer, was my number one artist on Spotify Wrapped. “Succession” follows a family of evil rich people as they fight for who gets to take over the family media company after their dad retires or dies — whichever comes first. It’s also hilarious. The “Main Title Theme” is one of the highlights from the soundtrack, which combines classical strings and piano with a driving 808 bass drum that gives the piece a bit of an edge. This soundtrack will make you feel like you’re living your best finance bro life as you study for midterms. Also, catch the final season of “Succession” on HBO Max, premiering Sunday, March 26 at 9 p.m. ET.
“Copacabana” by Barry Manilow
Sofia CrimiVaroli, Assistant Photo Editor
Never before have I been on such an emotional rollercoaster. “Copacabana” makes you laugh. It makes you cry. And that is pretty much the epitome of being in the architecture studio during midterms week. It is why you will find me in the studio with tears streaming down my face for the 168+ consecutive hours before spring break listening to nothing but “Copacabana” on repeat — a bottomless cycle of emotional trauma and heartbreak. 10/10 would recommend.
“Aria Math” by C418
Yes, this is a song from the “Minecraft” soundtrack, and it is an excellent score for writing a paper. It’s an expansive dance of synthesizers that is simultaneously relaxing and inspiring, fitting for the game’s creative mode and for creating a semi-coherent submission for class. “Aria Math” evolves significantly throughout its runtime, flowing relatively freely and washing over the listener. There’s a bittersweet quality to it, too — a yearning that can be inspirational and cathartic. It has been on my playlist for writing of all kinds, as I believe it captures the experience of creative thought, the simultaneous boundlessness and ephemerality.
“Scott Street” by Phoebe Bridgers
I am a strong advocate for studying while listening to sad music, and “Scott Street” epitomizes sad music in the best way possible. If you’re in the mood to study, the song’s instrumentals are soothing enough to block out any unwanted peripheral noise. If you’re in the mood to get distracted, “Scott Street” can do that just as well. One close listen to the lyrics and you’ll have your head in your hands, going through the semi-nostalgic, semi-heartbreak experience of reaching out to someone you’re no longer meant to be close with. Absolute banger.