Take a few minutes to be completely and utterly distractedAnna Web for Varsity

So here we are. The last stretch. The final study sessions. The plod to freedom. If, like me, you’re feeling mushy-brained and over-saturated with information, this might be the playlist for you.

We’ve all heard thousands of suggestions for revision soundtracks, whether it’s lo-fi or minimalism, video game music or white noise, even those ten-hour YouTube videos of “coffee shop ambience”. While I often prefer good old-fashioned silence, a controllable background hum can be a valuable weapon against whirring laptops, squeaky chairs or a neighbour with an obtrusively noisy cereal bar.

“My revision-drenched brain is frankly screaming for some variety”

This playlist is an invitation to brief rebellion. My revision-drenched brain is frankly screaming for some variety, an escape from the blend of cereal bars and Steve Reich. So, in that spirit, here are five tracks that are horrendous for revision. Listen to them on your five-minute break, your walk to the library or as you’re brushing your teeth. I invite you to take them as an opportunity, for a few minutes, to be completely and utterly distracted.

‘WELLLL’ - Jacob Collier

If you couldn’t tell from the four Ls, this isn’t a track that shies away from the limelight. Jacob Collier is perpetually fizzing with energy and this is unapologetically exhibited in ‘WELLLL’. Power chords blend with layers upon layers of voices to an unrelentingly celebratory effect. Collier’s commitment to maximalism can’t be argued with and is perhaps only matched by his commitment to multi-coloured crocs.

‘Movies Of Myself’ - Rufus Wainwright

Turning away from Collier’s positivity takes us to the equally maximal, if far more emotionally ambivalent, ‘Movies Of Myself’. Wainwright consistently combines lyrical complexity, characterful vocal performance and a rich musical language. This track takes these elements to a level of well-judged, energised desperation. The momentum never lets up, even as clashes set your teeth on edge and disparate lines are meshed together. It’s kaleidoscopic yet retains Wainwright’s characteristic emotional depth.

“Nutini’s voice affords a tension, a straining that craves more”

‘Everywhere’ - Paolo Nutini

Eight years after Caustic Love, 2022 saw the long-awaited return of Paolo Nutini. I’ve been a bit of an obsessive ever since, with the Spotify Wrapped record to prove it. Last Night in the Bittersweet is beautifully paced, emotionally varied and well worth the hour and a quarter it takes to listen to the whole thing. To suit the strictures of exam week timetables, I’ve reluctantly picked ‘Everywhere’ out of the mix. The track’s opening is confessional, introverted, subtle. Yet Nutini’s voice affords a tension, a straining that craves more. And that’s exactly what we get. The second half of this track is rich and cathartic, enveloping you with its drama, whether you like it or not.

‘Mood Swings’ - Little Simz

Much of Little Simz’s output is characterised by an incredible balance of economy and intricacy. The opening track of Drop 7 is a shining example. It has an assured clarity quite different from the other tracks on this playlist. There’s no need for extroversion here; there is instead a level of detail that demands your attention. It’s truly hypnotic – you couldn’t look away even if you wanted to.

‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ - The Bad Plus


Mountain View

Your personalised guide to Cam FM

Nirvana purists, close your ears. This cover, by the then piano-bass-drums jazz trio The Bad Plus is, on first hearing, somewhere between ridiculous and hilarious. Just as you think you’re used to it, it becomes more audacious, reaching rumbling, chaotic heights before dissipating into thin air. It brilliantly pushes the boundaries of what a cover can be, giving you just enough for recognition before taking a turn for the whacky. If this tickles your fancy, the fun doesn’t stop here – their version of ABBA’s ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ is an equally fantastic example of bold, well-executed, creative, audacious musical transformation.

Next time you reach for the ambient mixes, lo-fi playlists and background hums of Easter term, spare a thought for the maximalists you have left by the wayside. While my chosen tracks may not be your cup of tea, take this as a sign to add some musical punctuation to your day. You’ll feel better for it. I promise.