This feature was originally written for The Oxford Student
From the first week enthusiasm to the end-of-term exhaustion, via the fifth-week blues, the bleary-eyed all-nighters, and the excruciatingly under-prepared tutorials, these five essential playlists will provide the musical accompaniment to your academic year.
1. The post-essay, pre-exhaustion, feel-good mix (Key track: September – Earth, Wind and Fire)
You’ve just put the finishing touches on that week’s essay, checked it through, and emailed it to your tutor. From the moment you hit send until the inevitable wave of exhaustion hits, you have a few hours at most to embrace the welcome exhilaration that accompanies your temporary freedom. To completely relieve any residual essay-tension, open the windows, stick this playlist on as loud as you dare, and enjoy. Jumping around your room is optional, singing along is compulsory.
2. The ‘Okay, I should actually do some work now’ mix (Key track: Your Hand In Mine – Explosions In The Sky)
Once you’ve completed the traditional six hours of procrastination, and realised you now have less than twenty-four hours to read three books and write 2500 words, you need something conducive to the kind of articulate, original thought you were once capable of. Or else you need something that will not distract you (too much) whilst you cobble together some second-hand arguments your tutor can smirk knowingly at. Something not too upbeat, not too soporific, that allows you to really concentrate. Unless your sock draw needs re-organising of course.
3. The fifth week blues mix (Key track: Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson)
For those moments that apparently occur most often in fifth week, where you lose all enthusiasm for anything except curling up in bed and watching thirteen back-to-back episodes of Family Guy. This needs to be sympathetic, gentle, and comforting; the musical equivalent of a twelve tog duvet. Some reassuringly familiar Jack Johnson, for example, goes a long way to help you on your road to recovery, if you can fit it in between your fourteen hours of sleep and six hours of mind-numbing sitcom watching.
4. The pre-exam hype mix (Key track: Finale – Madeon)
Although questionable whether it is advisable to get so pumped prior to the most important exams of your life, it doesn’t half feel good at the time. With an hour before the exam starts, put this playlist on, warn everyone to leave you alone if they value the symmetry of their nose, and feel it get you in the mood.
5. The end-of-year hero mix (Key track: Goodnight Goodbye – John Newman)
Anything goes, as long as its epic finality resounds like a drum. Like Jamie Foxx at the end of Django Unchained, you can hold your head high as you ride away from the exam schools on your stallion of sweet freedom. Tear off your red carnation, soak yourself in champagne, fling your mortar board to one side, and listen to this playlist as the credits roll on your academic year (some well-practiced slow-motion walking would not go amiss here).