The 5 Albums to Help You Cope With Stress During Finals (or These Trying Times TBH)

Finals, the most stressful time period for any student. Finals are even worse when your professors have taken way too long in giving out grades and you don’t know if you can afford to study less. For the unlucky students who have to deal with irresponsible professors, those last two weeks can easily turn into a month of finals altogether.

Regardless of how hampered you currently feel—if you’re taking finals as well, I assume you must be feeling at least some stress—there are ways to relieve stress and enjoy getting your work done! Recently, I’ve taken a liking to listening to music while studying or working on my final projects. I wasn’t too fond of listening to music before, because I’d get distracted, but I seem to have picked up the habit when I was feeling too stressed to focus on what I needed to study. I’ll let you know what I listened to during these last weeks. I hope they help you destress!

  1. 1. ''Love + Fear'' by MARINA

    This album was released on April 26th in its complete form—''Love'' had been released on April 4th. The album is a considerably more optimistic take on emotions than her previous releases.  MARINA (previously known as Marina and the Diamonds) tackles themes of love, solitude, emotions, and human nature. This album feels like a less quirky, more mature version of her previous album, FROOT, but just as analytical. 

    It might feel a bit disingenuous to say that FROOT was less mature than this album—really, they’re equally mature and introspective—but Marina seems much more decided and less doubtful this time around. While ''Happy'' explored the theme of self-liberation, ''Soft To Be Strong'' retakes this theme and gives a definite conclusion to what was missing all along in Marina’s life. ''Handmade Heaven'' explores the balance of nature, the desire of understanding one’s purpose, and the simultaneous desire to simply enjoy one’s place in one’s own ''handmade heaven.'' ''No More Suckers'', on the other hand, takes a jab at all those people who drain the energy out of your life and don’t contribute to it at all. The album, as a whole, seeks to deconstruct human relations in hopes of creating a more healthy and able-minded self. 

    You’ll find your fair share of inspiring motifs to help you feel more at peace with yourself during this hectic period. I recommend ''Enjoy Your Life'', ''Handmade Heaven'', ‘'Soft To Be Strong'’, ''Life Is Strange'', and ''No More Suckers”.

    Overall, the album is more relaxed than her previous release and offers a plethora of advice in the form of self-empowerment anthems. This time around, dance-pop and electronic beats dominate the alt-pop soundscape she’s cultivated all these years. MARINA delivers yet another great album. Stream it on Spotify

  2. 2. ''Golden Hour'' by Kacey Musgraves

    Whenever I want to chill in general, I just play this album. It’s great for car rides and study sessions alike. The versatility of sounds and musical experimentation on this album is reason enough to explain how it won Album of the Year at the 61st Grammy Awards. Is it pop? Country? Crossover? Country-pop? The short answer: it doesn’t matter. All I know is that everything fits perfectly together and I stop caring about what it’s called and just focus on how it sounds. 

    Golden Hour is just a feel-good album. "Slow Burn", "Lonely Weekend", and "Happy & Sad" all lean towards the more self-aware side of the album. ''Rainbow'' and ''Space Cowboy'' are ballads where Kacey pushes herself and listeners to aspire to be their best selves—which includes not letting others walk over you. The rest of the album covers themes of love and heartbreak alike. Kacey’s lack of pretentiousness, twangy voice and her soft melodies just make for a completely enjoyable album. Her self-awareness is welcomed in a genre isn’t too keen on experimentation. The record is full of gorgeous sentiments and existential questions that take a look at the bright side of life. Her perspective is a fresh one, and I can’t wait to hear more from her. Stream it!

  3. 3. ''WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?'' by Billie Eilish

    Probably early 2019’s the most anticipated pop album by edgy teens and pop-lovers. This album is pretty experimental in comparison to other major pop releases from this year (such as 'Thank You, Next'), yet it manages to capture the essence of Billie Eilish as a whole. A bit dark, a bit somber, exciting, and over everything at the same time, it’s definitely worth checking out even if you don’t buy her artistic image—or, rather, her schtick. 

    Billie’s first long-length major release was hyped for a long time, and despite releasing a long strain of solid singles, she only included a few pre-album promotion singles; the relatable and tear-jerking ''When The Party’s Over'' and the eerily empowering ''You Should See Me in a Crown.'' These downtempo releases contrast wonderfully with most of the other tracks on the album. ''Bad Guy'' and ''Bury a Friend'' favor electronic beats and ominous lyrics which could make you mindlessly sway back and forth on a dancefloor while ''Listen Before I Go'' and ''I Love You'' are somber ballads that focus on Eilish’s emotional self-discovery within relationships. The mid-tempo songs are probably the most interesting cuts from the album, lyrically speaking. ''All The Good Girls Go to Hell'', brings the motif of a female cutthroat God who kicks good girls out of heaven, while ''My Strange Addiction'' balances metaphors for obsessions between sound clips extracted from ''The Office''.  Billie’s voice gracefully lulls over each track, tempting the listener to hum to her songs rather than scream them out loud. Her album is perfect for studying because it’s pretty easy to feel pleased rather than irritated by her voice. This is especially true for the downtempo tracks. Be careful with some of the tracks that have a really boosted bass in certain parts—these tracks are the exception, they could actually pull your concentration out of whack. For this purpose, I recommend avoiding ''Xanny’’. '

    Overall, this record doesn’t really remind me of anything else, which is pretty good as far as originality goes. Even the Melanie Martinez comparisons fall flat in my opinion—I don’t consider she was this versatile with her lyrics nor her musical style. Regardless of how ''good'' or ''bad'' this is, I still think it’s worth a shot. Give it a listen. 

  4. 4. ''Ctrl'' by SZA

    I’m still not over the fact that this masterpiece got SZA nominated for four Grammys (in case you’re wondering, SZA received five nominations at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards including Best R&B Song for "Supermodel", Best R&B Performance for "The Weekend", Best New Artist, Best Urban Contemporary Album for ''Ctrl'' and Best Rap/Sung Performance for "Love Galore'' featuring Travis Scott,) BUT she won none! She should have gotten a sixth nomination for ‘’Most Snubbed Artist on a Single Night.’’ GDI. That aside, this album really hit a sensitive spot. SZA explores womanhood and feminine sexuality in alternative R&B up-tempo jams such as ‘’Prom’’, but she prefers the mid to slow tempo much more. Smooth songs such as ‘’Love Galore’’, ‘’Supermodel’’, and ‘’The Weekend’’ suit SZA’s silky vocals and rap-singing flow much better. Her lyricism is just as captivating as her voice. ‘’20 Something’’, ‘’Normal Girl’’, and ‘’Drew Barrymore’’ all present a self-aware analysis of women’s needs and place in the world in comparison to the expectations that society has for them. 

    The album transitions smoothly from song to song and is fitting for a study session—as long as you don’t get too caught up in the lyrics. Otherwise, you might get the feels and forget to study. However, with an album this good, I believe that any excuse to listen to it is a good one. Here, it deserves more streams.

  5. 5. ‘’Melodrama’’ by Lorde

    Okay, I’m not sure if this will relax you per se or just send you into a spiraling depression (key exhibits: my best friend, who finally listened to this album two years later and understood what my fuss was all about,) but I do know it’s worth your time. 

    Lorde released back in 2017 the critically acclaimed Melodrama. The title is fitting; this album is a rollercoaster from beginning to end, exploring themes of self-liberation, toxic relationships, breakups, soberness, and finding one’s self. At first glance, this all sounds very generic, but what makes this album stand out is the sheer attention to details in both production and lyrics. Most songs feel like they’re stuck between fast and slow (the ballads ‘’Liability’’, ‘’Writer in the Dark’’, and ‘’Liability (Reprise) being the clear exceptions) so there’s this rush of emotions that get you caught up between moving and staying still. This is taken even further along by songs like ‘’Green Light’’ and ‘’Supercut’’ which just SCREAM ‘’crying in the club anthems’’. 

    I honestly cannot be brief when it comes to the amount of amazing lyrics that can be found throughout this album, so I’ll let someone else do the honors. Regardless, I think ‘’Liability’’, ‘’The Louvre’’, and ‘’Perfect Places’’ are good enough examples of creative songwriting. Possibly, maybe, if you STILL haven’t listened to this album, I believe that after reaching an emotional climax and self-realization due to listening to this album, you will probably feel better about yourself and be able to focus on your finals just fine. This album is not lacking in feel good moments either. I believe it’s meant to be heard in order and shuffled: the empowering messages are universal to the entire album. Enjoy.

Good luck on finals, and remember, if all else fails, you’re only human, and the least you owe yourself is a break before you continue cramming.