An Alternative Playlist for Your Exam Cramming


All difficult academic tasks call for an intense mood-booster. Rather than recommending the usual cookie-cutter “soothing” music, check out this inspiring, mood-based playlist for an alternative source of study music, spontaneously curated by The Ridge writer Janice.

3:03am: Breathe in deeply and let it out. Vacuous as may you feel, brace yourself for the unrelenting night.

Glass Animals, ZABA (2014)

15 songs, 1hr 1min

The soundscape of dreams — full of lush echoes and sylvan synths. Keep it in moderation, though, lest the magic wears down too fast

4:47am: Weary? Between the covers of Rang and Dale’s Pharmacology, 7th Ed. and endless scrolling on 9gag, you’ve lost track of time again. Perhaps you feel sleep beckoning; perhaps you think it unnecessary and unimportant. So take another deep breath, and exhale before switching gears.

The Neighbourhood, Wiped Out! (2015)

11 songs, 45min

Hazy, gritty follow-up to the juvenile stream of invectives populating your consciousness.

Arctic Monkeys, AM (2013)

12 songs, 41 min

Modernised ’60s pop sounds culminated in some desperate 3am thoughts: some horny, some bleary, some a bit frightening. Why, we all know ‘frightening’ well, don’t we?

6:53am: *blinks heavily*

6:54amWha–Did someone just (rubs eyes) walk right by with no panI just wanna go back to sleep.”

7:36am: *checks phone*

7:36am: *gasps, unsettling palpitations*

Here’s to the overwhelmed, for those well-acquainted with late-night frenzy – you’ve made it.

Kashiwa Daisuke, 88 (2011)

11 songs, 58min

Sincere and impeccable, delicate — an album whose sounds will remain with you through several more years.

Ólafur Arnalds, For Now I Am Winter (2013)

12 songs, 53min

Think of mindscapes and sirens’ laments, of glaciers melting in monochromes.

10:46am: For what it’s worth, you’re feeling better after two hours of shut-eye.

10:52am: As soon as realisation dawns — that time spent studying was apparently not proportional to the amount of knowledge gained you inhale another long, slow breath and beat on; holding on to the hope that hard work eventually pays off. But for now, my friend, rest your tired heart.

Check out several other acts (London Grammar, Rhye, Banks, CHVRCHES) for more alternative synth-pop jams. Also, these websites could use more love for obvious reasons:

  • Hillydilly: When it comes to playlist, Hillydilly can be a hit-and-miss, but their HD selection never disappoints.
  • Indie Shuffle: A music discovery website? Handpicked by real people and not robots? Yes, please!

These YouTube channels too:

  • Wave of Good Noise: For the folk indie, singer-songwriter lovers, I hear you. WOGN features the lesser-known territories of indie music, and some deep cuts never hurt.
  • La Belle Musique: A trove of chill mixtapes like whoa. When it comes to new tracks, though, chill is not their philosophy — one track every two days.

What kind of music do you listen to while you study? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below!

Disclaimer: In accordance with the Attention Drainage Effect, which ‘occurs when a distraction causes the attention capacity of a person to be unconsciously reduced or “drained” while they are performing a single cognitive task’, I should add that studying might best be done in a silent room.