Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Saturday, June 15, 2024
The Observer

Beautiful music for beautiful grades

ERIN RICE | The Observer

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a recurring series, Alternative Top 40, which brings you new and newsworthy alternative music.

Since the inception of Spotify, I’ve become more and more informed about what people listen to and when they listen to it. As my Spotify account is connected to Facebook, I can see what my friends are listening to during the wee homework hours of the night. Indie jams, pop tunes, metal screamers and club bangers scroll in the sidebar on the daily. But in addition to modern music, my feed is full of classical music — the homework weapon of choice for many.

Most people I talked to listen to such music only when they’re doing homework. The classical genre provides pleasant background noise without distracting vocals or crazy guitar solos, making it perfect for the task.

This week, Alternative Top 40 turns to modern music that’s well-suited to the late night study fiend. Atmospheric yet engaging, these artists all provide rich music that does well in both the background and the foreground.

Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós is an Icelandic post-rock band that creates jaw-droppingly gorgeous musical soundscapes. Vibrant, joyful and often victorious, the music of Sigur Rós is a wonder to behold. Yet the vocals are in a lingual hybrid of Icelandic and nonsensical non-words, allowing the soaring vocal melodies to sit nicely in the background. If you want to do your homework in efficient yet epic style, Sigur Rós is the musical companion for you. Check out their breakthrough classic, “Aegitus Byrjun,” to catch a glimpse of the magic.

Recommended tracks: “Starálfur,” “Hoppípolla,” “Olsen Olsen”


If it were up to me, Tycho’s sophomore album “Dive” would be prescribed to patients suffering from chronic stress. The chilled-out, ocean-evoking atmospheres and steady, calming beats are enough to take any poor soul out of the freak-out danger zone. Crisp production and driving crescendos of Tycho’s tracks prevent any sort of sleepiness from happening. It’s quite a miraculous balance — completely relaxing but not in any way sedative. Tycho’s aforementioned record “Dive” serves is the perfect introduction for future Tycho fans. If you stick around, you can also look out for his new album “Awake” to be released this year.

Recommended tracks: “Dive,” “Coastal Brake,” “Epigram”

Todd Terje

This super-chic, bouncin’ dance music makes for a bob-yo-head homework sesh. Lacking any loud elements or drops of most modern dance music, Todd Terje’s jams roll on toward awesomely groovy infinity. Never distracting and yet infectiously catchy, Terje’s music puts the listener in the zone. The zone, of course, is one of intense focus and the false belief that you could at any moment out-dance Michael Jackson.

Dancing delusions aside, Terje’s music offers a perfect balance of focus and energy to keep you going during the late hours of the night. Check out his excellent “It’s the Arps” EP to begin your homework domination.

Recommended tracks: “Inspector Norse,” “Strandbar (disko),” “Spiral”