Beyoncé is good – but she’s not that good.
If you’ve overcome your incessant desire to fit in with the mainstream and have decided to continue to read this article after that statement, then, welcome! I’m glad you have an open mind. I like you already.
Put it this way, Beyoncé certainly knows how to get a party started and she certainly knows how to get you prepared for your exams, but she isn’t the only artist out there today who is making empowering music. In fact, the indie world is churning out thousands of empowering tunes – they’re just a little harder to find.
In lieu of the college semester beginning to get more difficult, you need something to power you through the endless hours of studying and essay writing. I’ve compiled 10 songs for not only your personal empowerment, but for your listening pleasure. Get to that library, get listening and get working!
“You Get What You Give” by The New Radicals, off of their album, Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too.
This classic 90s tune is here to remind you that you only receive what you put in. Cut the procrastination and get to work. You’re not going to miraculously get all of your work done by just thinking about doing it.
The constant piano drives this song and will ultimately drive your entire studying session. It’s also a really good frantic dancing song – but you’re only allowed to do that once all of your papers have been written and revised.
“The House That Heaven Built” by Japandroids, off of their record, Celebration Rock.
The guitar in “The House That Heaven Built” is relentless. Brian King’s vocals are desperate and passionate; the bolstering “ohs” of David Prowse urging you to conquer more of your work faster.
During this incredibly fast tempoed song, you might find yourself headbanging at your desk while completing your math problem sets. That’s fine. At least it isn’t Beyoncé telling you about putting your love on top or whatever she sings about.
“Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt” by We Are Scientists, off of their album, With Love And Squalor.
We Are Scientists have arrived with the perfect studying motto. Nobody better move because that means you’re not doing your work and you’re probably going to get hurt. That could be mental pain, physical pain – really anything. It’s up to you to decide.
We Are Scientists’ track is equal parts of California cool and Brit-Rock attitude. Take your typical indie-rock track with drum, guitar and bass and amplify those sounds by ten. This song doesn’t care about being too loud – and you shouldn’t either.
It’s perfect “block-out-the-world” music. Put on your headphones and be one with your English paper.
“Mirror Kissers” by The Cribs, off of their record, The New Fellas.
It’s been just about seven years since I first discovered The Cribs and I still smile to myself thinking about how wonderfully round the bass is in “Mirror Kissers.”
Gary Jarman’s voice is packed with energy, cursing all of those blasted hipsters hanging out in Brooklyn and doing no work whatsoever. The fast pace of the song will get your blood flowing and your heart rate going. Forget coffee – all you really need is this track to get you through your studies.
“Gun” by CHVRCHES, off of their album, The Bones Of What You Believe.
We needed some girl power in this playlist.
The twinkling synthesizers welcome you into a track where Lauren Mayberry confidently states, “You had better run from me / With everything you own / Because I am gonna come for you / With all that I have.” It’s a pretty good set of lyrics to sing to your professors when they insist on giving you impossible deadlines.
The fierce drums wake you up with each individual hit. If you felt yourself falling into a studying rut, let CHVRCHES literally shock the exhaustion out of you.
Who’s Beyoncé again?
“Uprising” by Muse, off of their record, The Resistance.
Any time I listen to Muse, specifically “Uprising,” I feel like I have to go out and light a car on fire or something. They’re very chaotic – but in the best ways possible.
“Uprising” roars into your auditory space and chugs forward without stopping. With Matt Bellamy howling, “They will not control us / They will not force us / … We will be victorious” it’s hard to not do work after listening to this song.
Don’t even get me started on the use of bass octaves and the guitar solo in the middle of the track. The two by themselves redefine what it means to be “epic” in rock music.
“Papillon” by Editors, off of their album, In This Light And On This Evening.
If you ever had your doubts about the synthesizer being one of the coolest instruments of the contemporary era, let “Papillon” by Editors quench your doubts – quickly.
The synthesizer opens “Papillon” with a comforting, steady presence. Intertwining with the solid drum beat and Tom Smith’s dark vocals that recalls influences from Depeche Mode, this song is here to keep you focused.
Did you ever think a rock track would be defined solely by the synthesizer melody? Neither did I. However, it’s this exact synthesizer-emphasis that will inspire you to get through your papers. Who needs Beyoncé howling through 700 vocal scales? Not you.
“Everything With You” by The Pains of Being Pure At heart, off of their eponymous debut.
Those opening chords will shock you out of the hypnosis that “Papillon” put you under.
The inherent fuzziness of this track is almost-expertly designed to block out any potential distractions you might encounter in your study session. Kip Berman’s usually distinct high voice is quiet is comparison to the roaring lo-fi guitar work. He sings about being “with you and there’s nothing left to do.” By the end of this playlist, you’ll will be just like the speaker with “nothing left to do.” It’ll be great.
Get up – shake the stiffness from your bones. Get back to work.
“Climbing Walls” by Strange Talk, off of their record, Cast Away.
“Climbing Walls” is just a great, fast-paced song that inspires you to keep up with the choral “oohs.” Can you write as fast as they come along? I don’t know – but you can sure try.
The song opens up with guitar chord pulses that eventually bend to the strength of the “oohs” and the heavy synthesizer. You’ll quickly find yourself tapping your feet, your pen, really anything, to this track.
The ending bit of the chorus, “I keep trying to run away / But I stay standing,” should be your work motto. Sure, it’s easier to run back into the “inspiring” arms of Beyoncé, but you’ve got to remain strong in the face of mainstream pop music. Stick to the work, the playlist and all of the academic glory will come in due time.
“Battle Born” by The Killers, off of their album, Battle Born.
In this track, The Killers amplify the drama by bolstering the opening guitar chords with a string section. If there’s anything that The Killers are really spectacular at, it’s getting the lazy masses off their *sses and back to work. It’s only fitting that “Battle Born” closes this playlist – and the album of the same name.
“Battle Born” is like riding a wave. There’s the slow build-up, the budding crest and then the crashing climax. The instrumentals’ volume grow in volume and intensity as the song builds. Between the increasing volume of the instruments and Brandon Flowers’ crying about how you “can’t stop now” with the help of a gospel choir, there mere thought of quitting will become repulsive to you.
With the strings and Flowers’ lovely, warm voice still pulsating in your ears, let us take the time to remember that you didn’t even need Queen Bey’s help to get you through this study session. Isn’t the music world vast and full of wonder?
You can listen to this week’s playlist via Spotify below.