The struggle of getting into focus mode is real. Sometimes, the ambiance and setting has to just right, from a favorite candle, cozy lighting, and the right study chair down to one of the most important aspects — the playlist. While dependable, we all might want a break from the trusty “lofi hip hop radio beats to study/relax to” YouTube classic — although that option does come with a built-in study buddy.
Below, we’ve assembled a list of ten of our favorite soundtracks and albums that are perfect for crushing the study session.
Call Me By Your Name (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
While this one might qualify as a bit distracting only for the emotional aspect, the soundtrack and score for Luca Guadagnino’s beloved summer romance is relaxing and transportive. The mix of classical pieces, particularly the lush “Une Barque Sur L’océan,” with the original tracks from Sufjan Stevens peppered in makes for a perfect hour and change. By the time “Visions of Gideon” arrives to bring everything to a close, it’ll be time to close the Google doc, too.
La La Land (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Lose yourself a bit in the daydream of the La La Land soundtrack. More specifically, the Complete Musical Experience version includes some of the transitional pieces and moments of the score that go beyond the big and memorable numbers from the film. Justin Hurwitz definitely has a distinct style — check out the more recent Babylon score if there was any doubt of that — but this work is a place where he truly excelled.
If Beale Street Could Talk (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Speaking of incredibly talented modern composers, few can evoke emotion like Nicholas Britell. Even for those who haven’t seen the intimate, tender Barry Jenkins film If Beale Street Could Talk, you might still be familiar with the horn-laden “Agape,” which has cracked through to more pop culture awareness thanks to TikTok, of all things. The score as a whole is romantic and moving, similar to Britell’s work in Moonlight or the more recent Andor series.
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue & An American in Paris
While this “album” is only made up of two of Gerswhin’s most well-known works, nearly 40 minutes will have passed by the time the two tracks pass. There’s something motivational about “Rhapsody in Blue” and “An American in Paris,” with plenty of momentum to go around. We recommend the 1959 recording with Leonard Bernstein — no one does it better.
Finding Nemo (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Pixar scores are known for getting to the heart of things — “Married Life” from Up, anyone? The animation house truly has a treasure trove of scores to sift through — we can’t ever forget Ratatouille or WALL-E — but our money is on the Finding Nemo soundtrack when it comes to optimal compatibility for studying. There’s a familiarity and comforting aspect to the score, but it won’t leave you on the verge of tears the way music from Up or Inside Out might.