Intro: So finals are upon us and existential dread is setting in. You need to do well on these finals to get passable grades, but your roommate keeps playing Battlefield at full volume. Then, you go to the KC where the girl next to you is Facetiming. Fear not: I have created you solitude in the form of a playlist. If you’re like me, music with words can be distracting while trying to focus on work. So here I have chosen my favorite albums that are (almost) entirely instrumental. Now grab some noise canceling headphones, search for these albums in Spotify and get cracking on some studying.
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
Artist: Godspeed You Black Emperor
This is one my favorite albums, not only for studying but of all time. The guitars build so subtly yet so powerfully. All of the orchestrations are beautiful yet heartbreaking. Be sure to bring a box of tissues with you to the library with you.
Preludes, Airs and Yodels
Artist: Penguin Cafe Orchestra
This compilation only scratches the surface of the sprawling genius that is Penguin Cafe Orchestra. The upbeat chamber orchestrations sound like tea time in a garden during Elizabethan England. If you close your eyes hard enough while listening to this album, you might actually feel like you’re lying in the grass on a sunny day instead of praying that your biology professor has mercy on your soul and curves your test.
Stranger Things volumes 1 & 2
Artist: Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
Man, the 80’s were the best: windbreakers, Michael Jackson, Reaganomics, etc. Last summer, “Stranger Things” tapped into everyone’s 80’s nostalgia. The show was so rad, in fact, that people may have missed the even radder soundtrack tying it all together. These wicked synths will help you ace that term paper. My favorite track: “Where’s Barb?” Because shame on you and everyone else for immediately forgetting that she existed.
The Abandoned Lullaby Instrumentals
Hip hop producer RJD2’s claim to fame is writing the Mad Men theme song. In 2011 he teamed up with Philadelphia soul singer Aaron Livingston. It may seem like a strange combination, but the result is one rocking funk album. While Livingston has a great voice, it can get in the way of your concentration. Thankfully, Spotify has an album of only the instrumentals.
Kind of Blue
Artist: Miles Davis
Hot take alert: “Kind of Blue” is the greatest jazz album of all time made by the greatest jazz artist of all time. Yeah, I said it. Fight me jazz nerds. “Kind of Blue” will breathe relaxing fresh air into an otherwise stressful study session. Or, if you’re strung out on Adderall and growing increasingly frantic, I suggest another Miles Davis classic, “Bitches Brew.”
Artist: Boards of Canada
Although it’s probably not the best Boards of Canada album, it’s my personal favorite and probably the best for studying as it lacks the glitchy distractions of “Music Has The Right to Children” or “Geogaddi.” These crackling atmospheres will inspire a whole universe inside your mind where you can be alone.
Rebirth of Detroit Instrumentals
Artist: J Dilla
It’s a question people have been asking themselves since the dawn of time: to study or to listen to dope beats. Wonder no longer, for you can do both. Hip-hop instrumental albums are great for studying. J Dilla was one of the greatest producers of all time, and all his work is worth your time. This is probably the most upbeat of all the albums on the list, so crank this loud if you need to pull an all-nighter.
Ambient 1: Music for Airports
Artist: Brian Eno
Aside from producing/writing for artists including David Bowie, Coldplay, U2, Genesis, DEVO and the Talking Heads, Brian Eno is the king of minimalistic ambient music. This album is for people who really don’t want to listen to anything, but need some sort of noise to block out other noise. Brian Eno is the best noise you could ask for. Also, it’s only four songs ranging from 6-16 minutes, you can just enjoy the ride without worrying about switching songs.
There Will Be Blood
Artist: Jonny Greenwood
This more acts as a stand-in for all movie scores, which are great study tools. Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood composes the eery string pieces for this Paul Thomas Anderson flick. While it is my favorite score for one of my favorite films, it can be strange at times. Look up the soundtrack from your favorite movie and enjoy.
Artist: Julian Lage
This is the first solo album for acoustic guitarist Julian Lage. It is very soothing. I don’t want to say anything snarky or try to be clever. This is just a really nice album and it makes me very happy.
So there you have it. Maybe if we believe in ourselves and listen to some great music, we can survive the next two weeks. I guarantee that if you listen to these albums while studying you will get straight A’s on your finals, and if you don’t, the Nevada Sagebrush will reimburse you for the money you spent on this copy of the newspaper.