10 Songs To Cure Your Mid-Semester Blues With

By the middle of the semester, you’re definitely feeling the heat from your professors and your courses. You feel that you should be refreshed by the spring break and even the Easter break, yet you’ve had a pounding headache as a result of your studies for the past three days.

You begin to wonder that perhaps you haven’t utilized your time to relax well enough. Maybe you’re not drinking enough water. Perhaps you’re simply not sleeping enough.

This is not your excuse to start napping incessantly throughout the day. That’s bad.

Truly, the issue is that you’re not taking enough “you time” throughout the day. It’s easy to get caught up in the schoolwork you’re doing and not think about the toll it’s taking on your mental and physical health. What you need to do is listen to the playlist below and forget about your schoolwork for a while.

I know, it’s hard to do. However, cramming for calculus or writing that paper into the wee hours with no relaxing break is not going to help you get your work done faster, let alone produce quality work. Grab your headphones, lay back on your bed and take just a mere 37 minutes to listen to these 10 tunes that are sure to get you back into prime student mode.

You can thank me later.

1. “Number One” by Tuxedo, off of their eponymous debut.

I’m very much in love with this push to bring the funk genre back to the forefront of music. Forget mainstream R&B – this is where the feel good music is at.

“Number One” blends funk and blue-eyed soul to create a brilliantly sexy and smooth song to decompress to. The warm, harmonious vocals of Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One literally undo any mental knots (and perhaps even the physical ones in your strained shoulders) that the spring semester has tangled in you.

The bouncing bass and swirling synthesizers additionally make this track a pretty good dance song for when you’re not stressed out and inundated with work.

2. “Shadows” by Petite Noir, off of his EP, The King Of Anxiety.

“Shadows” is a track that is wonderfully loaded with cool emotion and a serious rhythmic section. Petite Noir unleashes a brutal, desperate honesty when he wails, “I’ll be here forever / Baby tell me more / Tell me if you want me / I’ll be there for sure.”

If those lyrics don’t hook you, then you’re just not listening to music correctly.

There is something about this song’s hollowness, despite the constant presence of percussion instruments. It’s overwhelmingly haunting, as if you shouldn’t be listening to “Shadows.” Call it an auditory diary entry of sorts. Petite Noir’s voice flows as gently as a river and quietly beckons you to forget about the pressing real world and focus on drums and emotional vulnerability.

3. “Uncle ACE” by Blood Orange, off of his record, Cupid Deluxe.

The ACE line is known to some people in New York City as “Uncle Ace’s house” and is used as a place to rest their weary heads on the cool metal walls of the subway in the evenings. The motion of the train is mirrored in the opening guitar work of “Uncle ACE,” a song that features intricate rhythms and an effortless cool than only Dev Hynes could create.

“Uncle ACE” is a song that features a groovy pulse and a radical saxophone outro. The constant repetition featured in the track will easily lull you into a trance – a trance where you’ll find yourself mimicking Hynes’ low vocal grumbles and his melodious and graceful high bits.

4. “The Brae” by Yumi Zouma, off of their eponymous EP.

Sometimes you just need some good ol’ dream-pop to help you push through your pounding, academia-induced headaches. “The Brae” features a warm bass line and a calming guitar riff that blends together wonderfully to create a hypnotizing sound.

The actual lyrics need not be paid attention to. All you need to do is lose yourself in Christie Simpson’s airy vocals and forget that you’re a member of the planet Earth for a moment. Indulge yourself in the soft guitar and the gentle fade of the track. You’ll be glad you did when you return refreshed to your 10+ page paper.

5. “Mrs. Cold” by Kings of Convenience, off of their record, Declaration of Dependence.

I’ve always liked Pitchfork’s description of Kings of Convenience’s sound: “hushed politeness.” There’s no better descriptor for the seemingly introverted band’s music.

“Mrs. Cold” is a track that is oddly warm (with a name like “Mrs. Cold,” you’d be expecting a song that lashes out at the song’s subject). The acoustic guitar beckons you closer to Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe as they tell a story about “Mrs. Cold” who was “fronting” because she found herself vulnerable around the speaker. It’s an acoustic, chilled-out song that has just the right amount of influence from pop music (meaning that you could get up and sway-dance to it if you wanted).

Really, it’s an honest track that puts the most complicated bits of human emotion into words. If descriptors of sound and timbre is not enough to convince you to listen, then let Kings of Convenience’s ability to verbalize the impossible persuade you to plug in your headphones.

6. “Chinatown” by Wild Nothing, off of their album, Gemini.

A shimmering, echoing synthesizer opening that gives way to round pizzicato and bass – it’s awesome.

“Chinatown” is a song that has a bright sadness about it. Jack Tatum yearns for “someone / somewhere,” succinctly immortalizing that awful lonely sensation we have all felt at some point. He continues in the chorus, noting that, “We’re only happy when we’re running away,” suggesting that there is a hope to be happy, but only when you’re running away from your responsibilities. Lovely.

It’s easy to lose yourself in the haze of airy sound in the song. Tatum’s voice is a concrete presence that cuts through the atmospheric instrumentals and brings you back to reality.

While it’s nice to float away for a little bit, the real world has to call you back eventually.

7. “She Lies Awake” by Younghusband, off of their record, Dissolver.

A classic, feel-good guitar sound that introduces the bedroom-recording voice of Euan Hinshelwood. Hinshelwood has a voice that is delicate and near whisper-like – as if, like Petite Noir, you’re not supposed to be listening to the track. The simplistic melody of “She Lies Awake” adds a certain charm to the song, suggesting that you don’t need complicated rhythms and melodies to create a great tune.

“She lies awake / Every morning” is yet another relatable lyric. This is the perfect song to laze about in bed and ultimately be five minutes late to class to. If there was any song you needed to forget that you existed for a little bit, here it is.

8. “Deadbeat Girl” by Day Wave, off of his EP, Hard To Read.

I make it no secret that I really love everything that Day Wave does. Let it reflect again in this entry.

“Deadbeat Girl” is a quintessential Day Wave song, featuring sun-stained guitars and echoing vocals. There’s an inherent emotional honesty within this song that makes you wonder if you’re the “deadbeat girl” the speaker is talking about.

Despite the fast pace of the song, “Deadbeat Girl” asks you kindly to slow down and rest your head. It wants you to take the time to be melancholic and invent some sort of personal tragedy in order to feel the song that much stronger. Dramatic? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.

In short, Jackson Phillips is a sad man who writes brilliant songs to soundtrack your momentary blissful ignorance.

9. “No One Wants It To Happen To You” by Small Black, off of their album, Best Blues.

The opening on “No One Wants It To Happen To You” is reminiscent of Joy Division, New Order and The Killers (are things allowed to be reminiscent of The Killers or is it too early to say that?). The dark, Joy Division-inspired opening bass line gives way to bouncing and weaving New Order-inspired synthesizers which is absolutely a good thing. More things should be inspired by those two, closely-connected 80s bands. Small Black is doing it right, man.

Josh Kolenik’s voice is gentle, smooth and near-desperate at times. He is adamant to warn people against whatever “it” is, suggesting that tragedy can befall anyone at any time. However, the instrumentals promise a better, brighter future – you just need to suffer for a bit.

Suffer through your studies, that is.

10. “Mood” by Porches, off of their record, Pool.

If you haven’t been purged of your studies-induced stress, then, wow. You must be under a level of pressure unseen and unfelt before.

Aaron Maine’s plain vocal style has an aimless nature about it, but it works.  The heavy bass intertwines with shimmering synthesizer notes and gives way to Maine’s smooth vocal style. “Mood” is a slinky, chilled-out electronica song that repeats, “I don’t want to be here / Don’t want to be here,” which is probably how you’re feeling at this point of the semester.

You’ll be begging for the song to rush to the instrumental breaks between Maine’s lyrics because of how euphoric you will feel after the shimmering sounds wash you over. It’s overwhelming, wonderful and heartbreaking all at the same time.

If you can find another song that can emotionally destroy you in less than three minutes. Let me know. I doubt that there’s another track.

You can listen to this week’s playlist via Spotify below.