All beats and no lyrics make Jack a better student: A list of the top five albums to study by

By Ross Hettel

TronTron: Legacy

Daft Punk

Daft Punk did the entire soundtrack for the Disney remake of Tron, and it is outstanding. The whole album takes a very classical and orchestral tone, and if what they say is true about listening to classical making you smarter, then this album will certainly boost your IQ. Also, as a computer science major, any song with a voice over of Kevin Flynn saying, “a digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they travelled through the computer,” is the perfect theme to a coding session. 



KakiKingDreaming of Revenge

Kaki King

The only word that comes to mind to describe the way Kaki King plays is beautiful. Her style is composed of acoustic guitars, percussive finger picking and jazzy melodies played at a pace that makes you wonder how many fingers she really has. It somehow has the odd ability to feel both relaxing and energizing at the same time. Anything from her discography is excellent, but my choice would be her 2008 album Dreaming of Revenge. She starts to explore singing in this album, so it’s not all instrumental, I suppose.





Perhaps best known for its song “Wildcat”, which samples an actual wildcat roar, the rest of the tracks aren’t to be missed. The album is filled with plenty of riffs and hooks, but there’s not a solo to be found. The different refrains just come and go: perfect background music. The beats aren’t so fast to make you want to skip that Chemisty final and go dancing; instead, they’re just the right pace to give you the will power to flip through that next chapter.


maseratiInventions for the New Season


Also a great driving album – not just because the band’s name is synonymous with an Italian sports car company – Inventions for the New Season transfers well from captain seat to desk chair. What sets this album apart from any other post rock album is the songs increase their intensity with the pace at which they’re played, rather than the soft, then loud patters of the genre. Perfect for when you’ve got that pent-up energy from your third Red Bull of the evening but are stuck in front of a desk rather than out driving on some back country roads.


Friday NightFriday Night in San Francisco

Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia

One Friday night back in 1981, three of the greatest guitar players got together for a concert in San Francisco. This album is the live recording of that momentous event. To make it even more impressive, almost the entire performance is the trio improvising and passing solos back and forth to each other. I suppose if you had a final exam in jazz or flamenco guitar, this would be YOUR album, but for the rest of us it can be just as inspiring. The amount of genius contained in these recordings will encourage you to be a bit more brilliant in that 20-page essay due in 8 hours.


ImportedradioDigitally Imported App

Honorable Mention 

The Android app for Digitally Imported Radio. Technically this is a website that streams free techno music (offset by a few non-overbearing commercials), so it would work on anything with a web browser, but the app designed for Android is brilliant. Every kind of electronic dance music is cataloged and organized. And boy, do electronic music folks love to organize their sub-genres (trance, vocal trance, classic vocal trance, and goa-psy trance, to name a few). It’s an endless supply of great electronic beats for when you need to be a robot and churn through some textbooks. Try the minimal or progressive channels for some perfect background study music.