Most students spend their days glued to their desks during exam season. As the days start becoming repetitive and arduous, sometimes everyone needs music to accompany them as they study.
For those of you struggling to find good music that will keep you from nodding off at your desk, this playlist is 9 hours and 6 minutes long and perfect for a productive study session. From lofi R&B to acoustic pop to smooth jazz, this playlist has something for everyone.
Here are 5 local artists, along with one song of theirs from the playlist. They are calming yet catchy earworms that don’t leave you too distracted – a suitable accompaniment for studying.
- evanturetime – featuring together pt. 1
Local music producer and songwriter Evan Low, also known as evanturetime, commonly explores a blend of electronic and pop. His songs feature conducive rhythms and soothingly engaging melodies with the cadence of steady background beats perfect for focusing. However, ‘together pt. 1’ is a unique departure from Low’s usual style.
‘together pt. 1’ is the first single part of an unreleased EP dedicated to his partner. Low collaborated with Japan-based composer and producer Eiji John Mitsuta and Singaporean singer-songwriter Linying to produce a song that feels like it’s floating above the clouds. A soothing melody is delivered by Linying’s ethereal vocals, accompanied by a beautiful string ensemble that is pushed to the forefront and builds in between pockets of the lyrics.
Mitsuta drew from his experience in music scores for film and theatre, allowing him to capture the essence of the dream-like feeling of being in love. The wistful melody allows for a very calming background to accompany a focused studying session.
- iNCH – featuring trees
Inch Chua (stylised as iNCH) is a Singaporean singer-songwriter, known for using her music as a vector to express her interests in environmental sustainability and conservation. She takes advantage of her experiences by immersing herself in new environments. From Antarctica to Pulau Ubin, she explores human emotions and draws inspiration for her music through these various landscapes, often sampling sounds from the environments as well.
iNCH’s most recent single, ‘trees’, comes ahead of an unreleased two-part EP ‘Childish’. After spending time away from her music career, this will be iNCH’s first EP since ‘Letters from Ubin’ in 2015. iNCH said that the pandemic has given her the opportunity to rediscover herself and her priorities, and this new direction will manifest itself in ‘Childish’.
‘trees’ is inspired by iNCH’s experience during the lockdown. The song encapsulates the solace she found in nature and how the trees, sun and wind outside her window provided respite while she was confined at home. The song eases in with a simple acoustic guitar, followed by electric guitars and a mid-tempo R&B beat that creep up behind her vocals midway, providing a shift in the song’s dynamic. For the people that feel trapped at their desk studying all day, iNCH’s music is a solid companion to calm them down.
- Vivien Yap – featuring Part II
For those who enjoy acoustic music, Vivien Yap brings her tales of romance and heartache to life through acoustic folk-pop. Her music generally lies within this genre, but she continuously experiments with every song she creates. Yap radiates the essence of a contemporary singer-songwriter – stripped-back, raw and personal.
With the Cafe Hop playlist featuring eight of her songs, listeners have the chance to hear a myriad of Yap’s music from folk-pop to soft acoustic ballads to indie jazz. Each song exudes wistful charm and melancholy, complex in its lyrics and instrumentation.
‘Part II’ is Yap’s debut single released in January 2019. In its first four bars, the song alludes to a melancholic ballad with a slow acoustic guitar tune, but almost instantly the listener is thrown into an upbeat indie jazz pop song that ironically tells the story of heartbreak. An honest and unembellished peep into Yap’s romantic endeavours, her soft vocals and calming melodies are never overpowering – a good accompaniment for focusing.
- Marian Carmel – featuring Pause + Reset
Singer-songwriter Marian Carmel has been releasing singles and EPs since 2018, but finally released her debut album ‘to you, to me’ in late-2021. Born in the Philippines and raised in Singapore, Carmel draws her listeners in through her ethereal and versatile voice. She blends elements of acoustic ballads and lofi beats to create a contemporary R&B sound riddled with vulnerability and emotion.
‘to you, to me’ features eight tracks split into two parts. An intimate view of a breakup, Carmel explores a mix of other people’s stories and her own experiences. The first half, ‘to you’, is inspired by letters Carmel wrote but never sent, and the second half ‘to me’ are Carmel’s letters to herself as she matures and overcomes her inner turmoil.
‘Pause + Reset’, which falls in the second half of the album, deals with the aftermath of a broken relationship. The stripped-back R&B song ebbs and flows in energy as the song cruises through its acoustic verses, soothing piano pre-choruses, and vibrant yet laid-back choruses. Carmel’s angelic vocals and harmonies make the song a dynamic yet dreamy reverie, perfect for people that need calming music for focusing.
- thecolorfractal – featuring waiting room
For people that need more upbeat music to keep them awake and hyped while studying, Weiwen Seah (aka thecolorfractal)’s music might be better suited for them. Seah is a singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer. A familiar name in the Singapore music scene for over a decade, he has reinvented himself as an artist – under the new moniker thecolorfractal – after spending time away to pursue a formal education in music.
Since returning, Seah has released outstanding singles like ‘twenty three’ and ‘don’t lose the plot’ with his ruggedly-smooth vocals, refined songwriting and solid instrumentation. He later released an EP ‘in metanoia’ in August 2019 that takes its listeners on a unique journey with every song, venturing from indie folk to dream-pop to jazz-funk to soul in just five tracks. It is evident that Seah cares deeply about his work, putting care and attention into the writing, recording and mixing of all his tracks.
‘waiting room’ is a standout from the EP, oozing of top-tier indie pop. The song instantly draws its listeners in with its strong bassline and powerful instrumentation. The vocals take a backseat but remain a valuable asset to the main melody, creating an overall layered and unforgettable song. A venture into the rest of thecolorfractal’s discography will expose listeners to other chill dream-pop tracks that can accompany a good study session.