Fellow college students, let’s face it: finals are quickly approaching. Whether we like it or not, big study sessions are encroaching on the time we wish could be spent outside in the sun. Lucky for you, here are 10 movie soundtracks that can warm up your impending study hours.
Yann Tiersen’s delicate score adds whimsy to the popular French film Amelie, and can alleviate the pain of studying. The film’s main theme flows elegantly with accordion, keeping your mind active and focused. Tiersen’s compositions are easy on the ear, like a baguette for the brain.
For a purely instrumental study session, Hans Zimmer’s score proves its spot as a candidate. Dream-like melodies blur into rising action moments, creating a soothing environment. If you’re lucky, the score might even plant the terms you need to memorize in your head.
For those who like to be aesthetically pleased, refer to Alexandre Desplat’s inspiring 2014 score. His European-infused tracks can power you through any subject faster than they pushed Zero through his snowy adventures. Desplat’s ethnic instrument choices—the three-stringed, Russian balalaika, the Hungarian Cimbalom, and the German, harp-like zither—truly give the impression of an old-world ski resort.
With paralleled tracks from Arcade Fire and Karen O, the soundtrack to Spike Jonze’s 2013 film feel futuristically fresh. “Moon Song,” sung by Ezra Koenig and Karen O goes down smooth, and The Breeders’ “Off You” adds a touch of soft alt-rock to the new-age compilation.
Composed solely by Chris Baio of Vampire Weekend, the score creates a steady atmosphere—perfect for rapid exam review. Baio uses his Vampire Weekend side to articulate the protagonist’s constant mistakes in Bob Byington’s indie comedy. The tracks are performed by artists ranging from Albert Hammond Jr. to Sandie Shaw, even with a throwback from The Cars. Allow Baio’s nostalgic melodies to help you steer clear of failure.
Just like he did with Garden State, Zach Braff presented the world with another flawless soundtrack. For 2014’s Wish I Was Here, Braff outsourced Justin Vernon to write a track for the film. Sure enough, Vernon presented Braff with the hauntingly beautiful “Heavenly Father.” With other tracks from artists like Gary Jules Radical Face, and the Shins, Braff’s compilation keeps a mellow atmosphere.
Director Rebecca Thomas’ 2012 indie drama Electrick Children feels like an alternate, teen-dream universe. Music already plays a large role in the film, considering the premise is a Mormon girl impregnated by a rock cassette. The soundtrack features upbeat tracks from bands like Flowers Forever, Conduits, and Cursive.
Joe Swanberg’s films consistently deliver in the music department. His standout film Drinking Buddies was sprinkled with punchy tracks from bands including the reggae-pop group Rubblebucket and the modern-psych duo Foxygen. The soundtrack, released by indie label Jagjaguwar, may in fact be a good drinking buddy. But it’s better for the books.
Sofia Coppola’s dreamy movies are consistently accompanied by equally iridescent soundtracks. For 2010’s Somewhere, Coppola chose juxtaposing tracks, setting Gwen Stefani’s “Cool” against Foo Fighters’ “My Hero.” To even out the mix, Phoenix’s “Love Like A Sunset” adds an extra ooze of shimmer.
When studying has become too discouraging and you need a break, turn to the Frances Ha soundtrack for an impromptu dance break. With uplifting tracks like Hot Chocolate’s “Every1’s a Winner” and David Bowie’s “Modern Love,” the compilation is sure to be a reviver. Plus, you know Frances would rather you dance than study. Or preferably, both at once.