Your New Favourite Revision Playlist
By Faiyaz (he/him), whose favourite band right now is black midi.
Like many people, I hate revising. It's an annoying necessity that's very easy to lose sleep over — because revision is self-paced, there's always that nagging feeling that you're not doing enough. But there are ways to make the process easier, and one such method is to have a study playlist. Music is a great way to relax, so why not use it for one of the most stress-inducing parts of school life?
For me, the problem is that if I put on a song that I really like, I'll stop paying attention to the studying and start paying attention to the song. I figure that's a common theme among most people, but it doesn't mean that you can't have a good study playlist — you just need different music. My study playlist, which you can listen to below and here, is quite varied. It ranges from niche tracks by well-known artists, to massively obscure songs that are highly loved by those who know them. So, if you’ve managed to finish your past paper five minutes early (congrats!), let’s get into my study playlist.
"Hey, I know that band!"
- Daft Punk: Nightvision, Veridis Quo
- Radiohead: Kid A, Treefingers, Untitled
- Mac DeMarco: 20191229
Let's start with what’ll likely be some familiar faces. The most recognisable of the three is Radiohead — even if you haven’t heard of them, you probably know their most famous song ‘Creep’ (the acoustic guitar song that Rocket languidly sings along to at the start of the new Guardians of the Galaxy film). Ever since that song, Radiohead have evolved massively, becoming an enormous force in music whose influence is matched by very few. As part of their journey, they released the album ‘Kid A’, from which three of the songs on my study playlist come from. ‘Kid A’ melded their previously fine-tuned alt-rock with electronic elements; and while some tracks do this very successfully (check out ‘Optimistic’ and ‘Idioteque’), others lean very heavily into the electronic side, which caused the album to be quite controversial. The upside is that these songs are very relaxing and low-key, making them perfect for studying. It's sort of a similar story with Mac DeMarco, whose most recent album ‘One Wayne G’ is a 199-track behemoth encompassing everything from alt-rock to — you guessed it — relaxing electronic ambient. Daft Punk were an electronic band from the start, but if you only know them for their dance hits like ‘One More Time’ and ‘Around The World’ then you might be surprised to hear some of their frankly depressing songs. Trust me though, ‘Veridis Quo’ is perfect for studying.
Soft Like A Mallow
- A.L.I.S.O.N: Subtract
- Aphex Twin: #3
- Otik: Eden Portal
- Moderat: FAST LAND
- deadmau5: cabin
- Sweet Trip: Design: I
- Have A Nice Life: A Quick One Before the Eternal Worm Devours Connecticut*
- LSD and the Search for God**: Starshine
* If you think this is a ridiculous song title, you’ve clearly never encountered Lana Del Rey.
** To be fair though, this is an outlandish band name.
As much as I love the ambient adventures of the bands above, they of course did not invent the genre. In fact, there's a lot of hard-working artists in these fields putting out high quality music — the field is bigger than you’d think. Admittedly though, I know very little about A.L.I.S.O.N, Otik, Moderat and deadmau5. They were just songs that Spotify recommended to me, and I liked them. I do, however, know about Aphex Twin. Widely regarded as the most important electronic artist ever, his work ranges from insane party noise to sublime ambient soundscapes — ‘#3’ is a perfect example of the latter. As a matter of fact, Aphex Twin was one of Thom Yorke's (singer of Radiohead) biggest inspirations when making the aforementioned ‘Kid A’. There's also shoegaze, a subgenre of neo-psychedelia which in itself is a genre characterised by awesome guitar noises. Shoegaze has its own history and heroes, but for now all you need to know is that ‘A Quick One Before the Eternal Worm Devours Connecticut’ is full of brilliant fuzzy noises that you can stuff in your head while you're making a mind map. Lastly, ‘Design: I’ is more electronic, even though its creator Sweet Trip prefers to straddle the line between alt-rock and electronic.
The Easiest Way To Find New Study Music
- Funk Fiction: Aquatic Ambience
- Hans Zimmer: Cornfield Chase
- Justin Hurwitz: Engagement Party
- Lena Raine: Golden
- HOYO-MiX: Illuminated Coral Palace, Island of Crystal and Pearl
I get that a lot of people probably aren't all that interested in spending hours seeking out the best seven minutes of weird background noise, but luckily there's a very easy way to add it to your study playlist: look through the soundtracks of your favourite movies, TV shows and video games. Chances are there's a really chilled out composition that you can just pop on while you're studying. It's not the favourite song that'll distract you because you're mouthing the words so hard it hurts, but you also know where it's from which makes it cooler. I’ve included some examples to get you started — ‘Aquatic Ambience’ is one of my favourite ambient tracks, ‘Cornfield Chase’ builds up slowly and is very whimsical, ‘Engagement Party’ is a sentimental little piano piece, ‘Golden’ may be a bit too loud for some people but I like it, and the HOYO-MiX songs were practically made for studying. All of these songs are taken from some of my favourite media (Donkey Kong Country, Interstellar, La La Land, Celeste, and Genshin Impact respectively), but I’m sure that your favourite franchise will also have some relaxing music ready to slot into your playlist.
So feel free to listen to these songs on my playlist, and see if you like them. Of course, there’s always the option of studying without music, but I think a good study playlist is the best way to get yourself in the mood. On which note, good luck with your exams!
Looking for something exciting to do once exams are over? Then check out the NCS experiences.
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