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When boredom sets in it's easy for our minds to wander. Here is a list of songs that can keep you entertained but also help you with the task at hand. David & Maxim
10. Center Point Road - Thomas Rhett ft. Kelsea Ballerini
This might not have the repetitive, focusing beat that some of my other choices have, but regardless, this song always helps me zero in on whatever it is I’m trying to work on. The chorus is so emphatic, with Rhett and Ballerini’s layered vocals twisting into the instrumentation to produce a euphoric euphony. It’s a full-blooded anthem, but the nostalgia and emotion that the Country duo bring gives ‘Center Point Road’ a vulnerability and tenderness that artists sometimes lose in their quest to create a ‘big sound’. When I listen to this song, I can’t help but feel a strange mix of being both wistful and energised, and I find this reflective mindset is always a good starting-point as I turn my concentration to the day’s assignments.
9. Everybody Loves The Sunshine - Roy Ayers Ubiquity
This song is the embodiment of chill. It’s simple melody, lyrics and texture make it the smoothest and easiest listen and I’d enjoy it under any circumstances. The reason it makes such a good song for concentration is that it sits at a great tempo – not being slow enough to bore you but not fast enough to heighten your stress levels. It sits back on a cool and easy andante and because of its simplicity never really presents you with enough to take you too far away from what it is that you’re doing. If you want to relax while you get your work done this has to be your jam.
8. Passionfruit - Drake
In typical Drake fashion, this song hits the sweet-spot between melancholic and chilled. The gentle vocals are laconic enough to stop your mind racing too far ahead of itself, while the repetitive beat helps you zone in on the task at hand. The lyrics are uncomplicated, and I’m not sure Drake ever actually says the word ‘Passionfruit’, but either way, they wash over you and blend seamlessly into the relaxed backing track. There’s also a humorous introduction from the rap superstar as he modestly advises, “Y’all get some more drinks goin’ on, I’ll sound a whole lot better”, which will bring a welcome dose of levity into both your work and head space.
7. Let's Do It Again - The Staple Singers
This song is included for very similar reasons to ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’. Smooth vocals and cool as they come, funk/soul backing is just a match made in heaven. The song has a bit more lyrical content so watch out for getting caught out singing along! It’s another song perfect for helping you stay relaxed and concentrated, and at the same time by being at the absolute peak of easy listening.
6. Willow - Taylor Swift
While this isn’t necessarily a song I’ll turn up when it comes on in the car, it’s nonetheless well-suited for getting you in that elusive ‘zone’. The playful, rhythmic beat is energetic whilst not being so uptempo or irregular that it proves overly distracting. Taylor’s vocals are pointedly reserved, and this adds to the mellow ambience of the song. Perhaps it’s just the warm flannel jacket that Taylor’s wearing in the album artwork, or maybe it’s the imagery of a willow bending in the wind and shedding its leaves, but for some reason this track has an Autumnal feel to it. So as the days grow shorter and the temperature starts to drop, this will serve as the perfect soundtrack to help you ‘rise’ to the occasion this Fall (see what I did there?).
5. Electric Relaxation - A Tribe Called Quest
Despite it’s high lyrical content, Jazz Rap seems to be my go-to focus music at the moment. I think it’s a combination of the smooth beats and the smooth vocals. Even the harder hitting Jazz Rap tunes sound like velvet coming out of the speakers; this is especially true for the geniuses that are A Tribe Called Quest and I could have used this song or a few of their others. ‘Electric Relaxation’ is the perfect example for me though, as despite starting in a more agitated manner the beat settles down into a smooth and chilled vibe, whilst the tone of the vocals is a nice listen but won’t take you away from the task at hand.
4. The Great Divide - Luke Combs & Billy Strings
I love bluegrass, and I also love Luke Combs, so when he announced that he’d recorded an album’s worth of bluegrass music, it’s safe to say I was a tad excited. ‘The Great Divide’ doesn’t disappoint, and in a similar fashion to Taylor’s ‘Willow’, the light-hearted banjo acts as a steady pulse running invigoratingly throughout. Luke’s deep, raspy vocals bring gravitas, while the optimistic, motivational lyrics about bringing people together and loving one another cements ‘The Great Divide'’s status as a feel-good track. I like to think of this as a great ‘morning song’ - it’ll give you a gentle lift as you ease into your work for the day, without being so animated or in-your-face that it makes you feel like you’re forcing anything.
3. Treasured Soul - Michael Calfan
This song is one of those summer anthems that gives you a craving for a holiday. It is uplifting, catchy and chilled all at the same time. It’s actually at a slightly quicker tempo than some of the other songs I included, but sometimes you need a bit of a pick-me-up and this can provide it, whilst still not being so fast that smoke will start billowing from your pen. The lack of lyrics means that you can still enjoy the music without it pulling away too much from what you’re trying to do. The only problem is that you may find yourself booking plane tickets to somewhere warm!
2. Back of My Mind - H.E.R ft. Ty Dolla $ign
R&B is always a go-to for me when I’m trying to concentrate. There’s something about the hazy, sinuous vocals floating over you, coupled with a deep, muted beat, that continually refocuses your mind. H.E.R is a maestro at creating this kind of sound, and I’d listen to the whole Back of My Mind album on repeat whilst working on my coursework last term. Without doing a disservice to the project, because H.E.R produces this moody, laid-back atmosphere that glues all the tracks together, in a way, all the songs blur into one another. When you want some calming music in the background to help you focus, without it bursting onto centre-stage and eclipsing the task at hand, ‘Back of My Mind’ is ideal. But don’t mistake this cohesiveness for monotony or a lack of variety - this is a great project that is subtle in its flourishes. "It’s a vibe", as the cool kids say.
1. Heat Waves - Glass Animals
This song is just a great listen from start to finish and a showing of real productive talent. The way the song starts by almost sounding like it is in the background before bringing in a really solid drop is so effective. The song is a bit of an earworm and a toe tapper, but it’s also a really great listen and I find that it sits at the perfect intensity for focus. It’s got enough drive to keep you moving and a solid beat, but not so much so to ruin your work flow. This song is a great addition to any playlist but I recommend you add it to your focus one too!
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