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Not Your Average Finals Playlist: Suggestions for a Successful Finals Week

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

It’s that time of year again… finals. Some people have multiple papers to write and others have to hit the books studying every last concept possible for exams. Whether you’re the former or the latter (or both!), there are times when music is absolutely necessary to keep chugging along like the Little Engine That Could. There are some people that can listen to lyrics and be totally fine studying without distraction, but there are others who do get distracted and just can’t listen to songs with familiar words. Here are our music suggestions to consider when you need to stay focused and motivated throughout finals.

Soundtracks and Scores

A little unconventional, but movie soundtracks and scores are great to listen to while doing homework. One of the main purposes of a film’s score is to be background music to the main action—essentially, it moves the film along, just like it might help move your studying along. One of the best soundtracks to listen to is from “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It’s relaxing enough to calm you, while still keeping you alert and focused.

Other soundtracks/scores: Any Disney or Pixar movie, action movies, or drama movies. A highly recommended artist is Hans Zimmer—he’s the guy behind a lot of fan favorites, like “The Dark Knight” and “The Simpson’s Movie.”

Music Without Lyrics

This is another category that doesn’t involve lyrics—it could be the karaoke version of a song or just doesn’t have words to begin with. A major go-to genre for this is House or EDM. There are some songs that have a bigger sound and could be distracting but there are definitely some great ones out there that aren’t. 

Examples: “Bangarang” Ft. Sirah by Skrillex, “Heart Upon My Sleeve” by Avicii, “Sky High” by Big Gigantic, “Colour” by Marshmello, and “Summer” by Marshmello, just to give a few examples. Any song by these artists, especially Big Gigantic and Marshmello, as well as a lot of others, are great to listen to when you’re so tired but you have to stay awake. There is something about a great bass drop that can wake even the sleepiest of people.

Music With Lyrics

This category is for the talented few who can listen to music with words while also having their own thoughts, because that kind of skill is rare. This is a broad category that allows a lot of room for variety—think country, EDM, Top 40, rap, and R&B. Basically anything that plays when Ryan Seacrest is talking on the radio falls under this. There are some songs out there with very few words that fit under this category for those that want lyrics but can’t have too many. You should also try out foreign music—not only is it interesting to hear a song from another country, it’s also hard to get distracted when you don’t understand the words.

Whatever music you listen to this finals season, may it bring you great concentration and and even better grades. Listen to what you need and maybe even find a new genre or band in your pursuit of music. Spotify and other music services are great for this because there is a playlist for everyone out there. Good luck on your finals, Collegiettes, and have a wonderful winter break filled with new and old music, Christmas classics and end-of-the-year mash-ups.

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Addie Levine

U Mass Amherst

English major with a love for music, TV, and all things pop culture. Born and raised in MA!
Contributors from the University of Massachusetts Amherst