Study playlist creates perfect exam cram vibe

By Chris Shores

Courtesy Andrew Bird/Myspace

There is a moment that occurs during a late-night study session when the deafening silence – broken only by the typing of keys, the sniffling and coughing of sick and tired collegiate souls, the crinkly of candy bar wrappers and the slurping of caffeinated beverages – drives any student to the brink of insanity.

Some students depend on absolute quiet to concentrate on their work, but others need background music. There is a reason tears are shed when an iPod battery dies in the middle of a late night; music can be a lifesaver.

But what music should one listen to while studying? People will, of course, gravitate toward their favorite bands or genres, but sometimes this isn’t ideal. While some students may possess the skills to be able to concentrate while blasting Kanye West and Jay-Z’s “Watch The Throne,” Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” or Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” not all possess that kind of talent.

The ideal background music provides a sense of calm and stability for the student, while also providing the energy needed to power through a marathon session of hitting the books. Everyone has their own music tastes, but here are six different albums to consider for the next time you’re in the library.

Andrew Bird – “Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs”

For those who have not yet experienced an Andrew Bird listening/study session, it is simply a must. Like most of his music, his 2005 album utilizes soothing vocals, an overlapping array of instruments and A-plus whistling to create a truly unique and interesting sound. Bird’s music is relaxing and won’t compete against textbooks for the attention of one’s brain. But there may just come a time when the student – despite focusing very little on the music itself – will have a sudden realization of just how awesome this album is.

Avett Brothers – “I And Love And You”

If the stress levels are rising, play “I And Love And You.” This folk-rock album is more energetic than some of the band’s previous work and will – with perhaps the exception of a brief screaming episode at the end of the song “Kick Drum Heart” – succeed in calming any anxious studier.

Bob Dylan – “Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”

Sometimes, however, mellow music is the only way to go. If caffeine or other substances are preventing one from being tired, then there will be no harm in putting on “Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.” This is classic Dylan from 1963 with “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” being two of the most notable tracks. Like the Avett Brothers, Bob Dylan is a powerful cure to handle mounting anxiety and stress.

Fleetwood Mac – “Rumours”

In the late night hours when coffee is beginning to fail, “Rumours” is always a safe bet. The 1976 hit album has enough energy to jumpstart any tired college student and on the plus side, it’s just plain excellent music. Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie even provide an unintentional reminder to focus on work for future classes and tests when they sing, “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. Don’t stop, it will soon be here.”

Lupe Fiasco – “Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor”

For fans of rap and hip-hop that are shaking their heads at this list so far, Lupe Fiasco’s first album may just do the trick. “Food & Liquor” uses very simple background tracks which make Fiasco’s clever rhymes easy to listen to, even during hours of cramming for that final.

Steely Dan – “Aja”

The search for the perfect study album of jazz and rock fusion is over; cue up “Aja” and prepare to be blown away. The 1977 album has the perfect mix of classic Steely Dan vocal magic and incredible jazz instrumental solos. The only downside to this album is that it’s only seven songs long. But the Steely Dan studying/jamming session can continue with their next album “Gaucho,” or with singer Donald Fagen’s solo album “The Nightfly.”

During finals time, the work can be plentiful and the tension high. Sometimes all it takes is listening to the right album to put any mind at ease and back on track.

Chris Shores can be reached at [email protected]