Soothing songs to help you study

Illinois– Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens’ 5th album Illinois takes listeners on a journey through the midwest. From beginning to end, Stevens fills 73 minutes of sound with familiar references to the state ETHS students call home. Stevens combines subtle references to darker moments in time, under the guise of a calm and soothing tone. Through this journey, Stevens and his strange song titles float across our state. Tracks like “Come On! Feel the Illinoise! Part I: The World’s Columbian Exposition-Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream” prove this point fairly clearly. Despite the mouthful of a title, this song in particular is an exercise in enthusiasm. “Come On!…” is one of the most upbeat and percussive songs on the whole album, boasting drum fills, glorious horns, harpsichord riffs, shakers, and of course the beautiful voice of Sufjan himself. On the contrary, the album also features slower, quieter songs (also with mouthful names), such as “Riffs and Variations on a Single Note”. “Riffs…” is merely an instrumental, but is beautiful, wallowing you in symphonic bliss. Although his folk style and wonky song titles can be an acquired taste, it becomes a great backdrop when you’re facing a mountain of work.

MALIBU by Masayoshi Takanaka [Song]

A masterful mix of RnB, jazz, city pop, and jazz fusion, Masayoshi Takanaka’s craftsmanship creates a state of bliss. He creates a whole world of soothing, seaside music—emphasized further by his tropical album covers. Malibu is the second track from his 1977 project An Insatiable High. The song opens with a thrumming bassline, a guitar and a sparse shaker. Strings began to accompany, giving the feeling of floating, like a feather, in a tropical breeze. Then the drums enter. They have a jazzy essence, cool and collected as the keyboard gently plays. These elements shift around, taking brief spotlights, and occasionally dropping out for a few measures. Finally, the song reaches what feels like a climax, as the guitar croons a warbling tune, coasting the listener to the end. Takanka creates this effortless environment; relaxed, but in touch with the surroundings. It feels as if you are lounging, breathing in the beauty of a beachside view. Whether you’re doing extensive equations or endless essays, Takanaka’s mastery makes everything easier.

Scenery by Ryu Fukui [Album]

A self-taught piano wizard, Ryu Fukui has become a hidden gem of the internet. Lurking in Youtube recommendations and communal music lists, his beautiful works resurfaced in the past decade to widespread acclaim. Coming much later than many of the big names in jazz (1976), Fukui shines in his latency. The essence of this project lies in simplicity; the drums are quiet brushes and snares, the piano plays thoughtfully and the bass resonates along the background. It is plain and easily digestible. It has no shocking technique demonstrations or elaborate cacophonies of brass and string like some of its earlier counterparts. Even amidst this bare-bones composition, there is a wide variety of emotion and sounds. Songs like “Early Summer” and “It Could Happen To You” invite motivation, boasting a larger and livelier drum presence in the track. On the contrary, songs, like “I Want To Talk About You”, and the titular “Scenery” have a much more wistful tone, as if observing the world and its beauty. Every song is a swirling wind that encapsulates you. They captivate all your attention, perfect for focusing on even the most onerous work. Perfect for an art project that needs a thoughtful outlook, or a simple study session in East library—Fukui’s album is a breath of fresh air beneath the weight of your work.

Mario Kart Soundtrack

What started as a TikTok trend almost two years ago is now considered by some as the perfect studying soundtrack. While that is a big generalization to make, listening to the Mario Kart soundtrack makes the mundane task of studying just that much more enjoyable. The energetic, electric and fast paced sounds of Mario Kart strike a nerve of childhood nostalgia. Yet the upbeat music, with its lack of lyrics, creates a musical medley that evokes images of video games and race tracks, and motivational, encouraging feelings. The perfect backdrop to hours spent studying is one that makes the time go by just that much faster and can make the time feel that much more fun, something that Koji Kopando of Nintendo was able to achieve through the classic soundtrack that is Mario Kart.