Midterms season’s greetings, everyone! Actually, to all you SEAS people: Y’all have like eighteen midterms a semester, so this post applies to you year round. To everyone else: It’s officially the worst time of the year (yay)! But have no fear; I am here to alleviate a little bit of your stress with this study playlist.
Bonus: all of these songs come from film scores, so it also serves as a list of movie suggestions for your study breaks. Except "Brideshead Revisited." Don’t watch that.
“Swimming” – Abel Korzeniowski ("A Single Man")
I lie awake at night wondering why Korzeniowski and co-composer Shigeru Umebayashi didn’t win an Oscar for this soundtrack. I mean, honestly, it’s a work of art and every song is suitable for studying and just life in general. I’ve singled out “Swimming” because to me its mood is the perfect mix of melancholic and uplifting. My only complaint is that it’s not longer.
“Speaking Unto Nations” – taken from Beethoven's seventh symphony and arranged by Alexandre Desplat ("The King’s Speech")
This song plays during the part of "The King’s Speech" in which King George simultaneously conquers his personal demons and inspires an entire country during a time of war. If that doesn’t motivate you to get your work done, you are hopeless.
“An Ending (Ascent)” – Brian Eno ("28 Days Later/Traffic/For All Mankind")
There is nothing in this world that is more soothing to me than this song. As I write this I’m sitting in JFK waiting for a flight that has a FIVE-HOUR DELAY. Five minutes ago I was ready to burn down the airport and now I’m listening to this song and I’m like, “I could totally live here.” I can very nearly guarantee that this song will relieve your midterms stress.
“Briony” – Dario Marinelli ("Atonement")
Ok, first of all this song has a typewriter sound effect, which I think is perfect for writing a paper. Second, listening to whatever’s going on in the string section has a comparable effect to taking a shot of espresso.
“Bromance” – Mike Patton ("The Place Beyond the Pines")
I got to cover this film for Spec when it came out and I was arguably more excited to get a free copy of this score than I was to talk to Ryan Gosling. As indicated by this post, I listen to a lot of film scores and this is the most unique among them. I love every song, but they tend to have a somewhat ominous tone, which isn’t conducive to studying. “Bromance,” however, is very relaxing.
“Always Summer” – Adrian Johnston ("Brideshead Revisited")
One of the few saving graces of this not-great film is its soundtrack. It’s performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the result is nothing short of gorgeous. That piano composition is the greatest, right?
“American Beauty” – Thomas Newman ("American Beauty")
This movie is a heartbreaker and to some extent I guess this song is, too, but it’s also extremely calming. It plays in the final scene as Kevin Spacey delivers one of the most unbelievable monologues out there. If it’s 3 a.m. and you’re losing hope, give this song a play and that monologue a read.
“In Motion” – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross ("The Social Network")
Reznor and Ross won a well-deserved Oscar for this score---they perfectly nailed the vibe of the film. This particular song will definitely get you in the zone to finish your last stretch of work.
“Shawshank Redemption” – Thomas Newman ("The Shawshank Redemption")
Try not to get bored by the song’s slow beginning because it builds up to one of the greatest musical climaxes of all time that coincides with one of the greatest film moments of all time. This song is perfect for the triumphant moment when you finally finish your last paper.
You’ll feel just like Andy Dufresne: