I was studying for a midterm in the library, deep into a favourite album of mine, when I saw from the corner of my eye — another student wearing headphones. They were drumming and bobbing their head to music, and using their pens as drumsticks in an imaginary jam session. I’m sure all of us music-loving students have done the same before.
I have many opinions about music as a person constantly seeking out new songs, who listens to music as a stim. For this article, I want to offer you some albums to enjoy. I’ve chosen albums that meant a lot to me during my first year of university, and continue to be my favourites.
This is an ode to all the first-year students who are struggling with midterms and exams in general, but also to the upper-years who need a bit of comfort while studying! There’s an album for everyone.
- Penguin by Fleetwood Mac
This album was the Fleetwood Mac album that I had a ton of trouble warming up to. I streamed Future Games, Kiln House, Rumours — all of their other albums. I enjoyed them all thoroughly, and streamed them in my headphones every chance I could get. But, near the end of April, before my exams, I decided to give this album another chance. I’d encourage you to give this one a listen if you’ve wanted to get into Fleetwood Mac and don’t know where to start.
I was hooked. It was constantly playing in my ears at all times — while I was studying, walking to finals, and packing up my dorm. While I grew my affection for this album during the summer and when I was moving back to Calgary, I still find myself playing it on repeat while studying. It works for all seasons; I might even say it’s a timeless study soundtrack. And, if I don’t feel like streaming the whole album, I’ll play “The Derelict,” “Did You Ever Love Me” and “Night Watch,” which all seem to scratch my brain just right with the instrumentals and vocals.
- Revolver by The Beatles
I am well aware that The Beatles are a controversial topic, for various reasons. Mostly, not a lot of people enjoy their music. I used to feel the same way, until I went on a Beatles binge in October of my first year, when I became addicted to streaming everything and anything by them and their members. I became the friend who’s obsessed with The Beatles, and my knowledge of them runs deep after hours upon hours of researching. I even have every single Beatles CD, including all the Anthologies.
This is my favourite Beatles album, and has been with me through thick and thin. It has literally sang me to sleep while I was wearing my Revolver hoodie, in my dorm room, after a long night of studying. If you’re looking to start getting into The Beatles, or just “acid rock” as Taylor Swift calls it, you’ll definitely want to listen to this album. I also love the novelty of having George Harrison playing the sitar while I study.
- Red (Taylor’s Version) and Midnights (3am Version) by Taylor Swift
This one is a double feature. Red (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift has always been one of my favourite albums, even before the re-recordings. But, during my first year, this album literally saved me from going crazy. I included Midnights (3am Version), because right after streaming Red, I would also stream Midnights. It’s like they went hand in hand for me. Plus, Midnights was such a great album for walking in the snow to my lectures.
So, if you’re feeling like you need a pick-me-up and or an ego boost, Red and Midnights have tracks like “Karma,” and “I Bet You Think About Me,” which are my personal favourites from the albums, that will make you feel like an academic weapon while walking to your midterms and lectures.
- Live It Out by Metric
This one is more of a fun one that might help you get out of your comfort zone a little bit. I am a huge Metric enjoyer, but this album gets me hyped up every time I study. Plus, it’s great for people-watching on campus to get that main character feel! It’s also super awesome to listen to while writing an impassioned essay for your English class, which is due the same night at 11:59 p.m.
Metric is technically categorized as an alternative rock band, and their lead singer Emily Haines has a unique and killer voice that hooked me the first time I ever listened to them. If you’re looking to experiment and get into different forms of rock, I’d start here, then go back to Fleetwood Mac.
- Yard by Slow Pulp
I first discovered Slow Pulp after listening to their song “Falling Apart,” and fell in love instantly. “Falling Apart” is a broken-heart anthem that I played everywhere this summer. However, when their new album Yard came out this September, I literally couldn’t stop playing it.
“Doubt” and “Broadview” — both songs off of Yard — followed me in my headphones everywhere I went. I always recommend this album first when people ask what they should listen to while studying. Slow Pulp has a specific sound similar to the band Momma, whom I also love. But, Slow Pulp is definitely more intimate for me.
I hope that these music recommendations help you find some comfort and motivation during school. One of these albums might also become your favourite, and be the soundtrack to new memories! If you want to listen to my favourite songs from each album for a casual listen, scan the following QR code to access my playlist.