For this month’s theme of recess, Kindergarten contributors hand picked songs we play when we’re walking across campus, songs that get us through the week, and songs we listen to when we study. Essentially, this playlist is your ultimate back to school soundtrack.
“Campus” by Vampire Weekend
The very quintessential studying on the lawn anthem. I used to always play this song my freshman year of college. I would walk around the Manhattan block that was my “school campus” and pretend I went to Columbia University, where Vampire Weekend was formed.
“Make Her Say” by Kid Cudi
Admittedly, I’m including this song solely because of Kanye’s line, “So, that explain why I love college. Gettin brain in the library ’cause I love knowledge.” Whenever I’m studying in the library my brain just repeats that one line over and over again until I leave. I mean what a lyrical genius. No other bar has had that much of an effect on me. Because, like Kanye, I love knowledge. Who doesn’t?
“I Hope To Be Around ” by Men I Trust
Pick any Men I Trust album, every one of them is perfect to study to. But as a college student, some of the lyrics to this particular song really resonate. Phrases like “I dream of my future” and “becoming myself without any end” are ones that seem too relatable as a student. This song is perfect to play while you’re studying, or even while you’re just stressed out about the future.
“Tras De Mí” by RBD
RBD is a band made up of actors from the insanely popular Mexican TV show, Rebelde. The show is about 6 students and their experience at a private college, so obviously the soundtrack revolves around their school experiences as well. This song is about finding freedom away from home while studying, but in exchange for this, you’re leaving behind your childhood. This pop rock anthem is definitely worth a listen, even if your Spanish is rusty.
“Stupid” by Deb Never
“Stupid” is one of the rawest and most captivating songs from her newest album, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” Oh yeah, another sad song, gimme that shit. Let me wallow in my room as my emotions just take over all sensibility. This is one of the perfect songs to listen to when you just know you bombed a test. The feelings of academic disappointment radiate through every note because you just know–you’re stupid.
“No Name” by Kona
I got this song from TikTok, sorry. But at the same time, I’m not because Kona is a fairly talented group of 3 teens that really captivate this idea of a garage band. “No Name” immortalizes the highs and lows of being in high school. Even though I’m almost done with college, this song makes me feel like I’m 16 again and driving to school in my dinky-ass Toyota–counting down the hours till I can mess around after class ends.
“Indecision” by Sampha
I discovered Sampha while trawling through endless Spotify playlists trying to find music I hadn’t listened to a million times before. Sampha’s sheer artistry did not disappoint, especially the song ‘Indecision’. During my time at University, I went through a lot of self-doubt and anxieties pondering if I was really even supposed to be there. I listened to Indecision while studying often to affirm my own self belief, with lyrics that stuck in my mind, ‘let it all work out’.
“After the Storm” by Kali Uchis, ft. Tyler The Creator and Bootsy Collins
‘Isolation’ by Kali Uchis was released during my second year of University, a time where I was slowly figuring out my own personal style and really getting into music for the first time. Kali’s soft vocals, paired with raw and beautiful lyrics, made me feel less alone when studying all night at the library. This track especially spoke to me as someone who struggled a lot with loneliness at University. The lyrics are motivating without running the danger of being classed as corny (a very thin line which can be a make or break for me when listening to songs which are more upbeat in nature). It’s a good reminder for anyone who’s struggling at school or college to stay motivated, after all, ‘after the storm is when the flowers bloom.’
“School’s Out” by Alice Cooper
I know we’re discussing the back-to-school season rather than the celebration that is the last day of school, but this song just must be on the ultimate school playlist. It encapsulates all the aspects of school we love to hate – pencils, books, and teachers’ dirty looks. I think it’s the perfect song to play when you’re fed up with school and need a song to reflect that energy back to you.
“Oh No!” by MARINA
This song captures my inner overachiever and fear of failure. Although the song is intended to reflect the pressures of success as a celebrity, to me, it reflects the pressures I feel to succeed in school and put this academic success above everything else. It was the soundtrack to my middle school years, and when I listened to it in high school and even now, I relate so much to the lyrics it still amazes me how she was able to capture exactly how I feel in a song.
“Rose-Colored Boy” by Paramore
The reality of life outside of academics has to hit you at some point so you have no choice but to take off the rose-colored glasses and truly view people. Yes, question the curriculum, criticize where institutions are lacking, be strong about what you want to learn. I want to turn my anger from classes like ethnic studies or gender studies into motivation to do something important, but at the same time, I am so small and helpless that I just want to cry to an upbeat song with bleak lyrics if that’s ok.
“Brutal” by Olivia Rodrigo
I always play this song on the way to school which probably only fuels the fire of my distaste for where I’m going. Not physically, although I hate that too, but where I’m going in life for the most part. I’ve been beaten up by school for more than 80% of my life so now I’m just tired and in desperate need of a break. My attitude towards school is still very much the same as ever. I think about how academics is such a huge aspect of my life, how it affects my personal ambitions, how it adds to my insecurities and stresses, how it has rudely slashed my mental health, how it ties into literally everything I think, say, or do. All my biggest worries stem back to school. It’s the root of all my problems somehow…
“My Forgotten Favorite” by Velocity Girl
Though often unspoken of, every new academic year brings rose-tinted expectations of who we’ll reinvent ourselves to become. Every new year I imagine myself evolving into a more fascinating version of my previous self by either changing my style, dyeing my hair, getting a new piercing, or becoming more of a social butterfly rather than my usual introverted self. This fixation with becoming more of an “It-Girl” started with nostalgic 90’s films about high school and college I would watch when I was younger. Taken right from the Clueless soundtrack, the most iconic film to come out of the 90’s high school film genre, Velocity Girl’s “My Forgotten Favorite” has been a favorite track of mine since the start of the fall semester. Velocity Girl’s mix of shoegaze distortion along with bubbly pop melodies truly encapsulates the adolescent desire to finally find oneself.
“I Do What He Say I Do” by Memo Boy
I spend most of my waking experience listening to music. Driving? I listen to the rock my dad would play for our drives together when I was younger. Cleaning? I need the catchy melodies of pop to distract myself from mundane chores. Studying? Unless I’ve been stuck on the same frustrating physics problem for the past half-hour, I absolutely need a beat to keep my mind from wandering elsewhere. My criteria for studying music are quite picky: little to no lyrics, consistent mellow sound, and atmospheric ambiance so I can romanticize my rather dull night. Memo Boy’s Songs and Demos 2015 – 2017 is what I gravitate towards when I know I’ll be stuck at my desk studying for an upcoming exam. Though the album is a long listen, I recommend “I Do What He Say I Do,” “Insomniac,” and “Brian is the Most Beautiful” as starters.