12 Songs For Mid-Term Midnights

If there isn’t any music playing on my iPod, my phone, or in my room, chances are I’m probably not ok. I need music to be playing, either ambient or a full-on jam, to function well.

This is especially true of my study sessions. Admittedly, I am one of the lucky souls who’s never pulled an all-nighter but it’s first year. Anything can happen…

Below are some of my music recommendations on how to make your next sesh more productive.


Classical music is not often composed these days to stand alone. Luckily for classical buffs, films in general utilize musical accompaniment to further intensify narratives, characters, and emotions. I love listening to film scores when I study because the lack of lyrics prevents distraction and, more importantly, impromptu karaoke sessions.

Piero Piccioni’s score for the Italian film Colpo Rovente is peak 70s suave. It sounds like what slicked, gelled hair looks like.

Bernard Hermann’s Taxi Driver theme is essential. Without such a powerful score, I don’t think Taxi Driver would be the iconic film we know today. The sultry saxophone exudes nighttime vibes.

Mark Mothersbaugh’s work for Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums is awesome. The tip-toeing harpsichord embodies the walking-on-eggshells dynamics between the dysfunctional family members.



Contiguous to film scores/classical music, in my opinion, is ambient music. These instrumentals are great for studying. They’re unobtrusive, but still fill the awkward void of silence when you’re on your second to last reading and it’s nearing midnight.

Boris is a Japanese group that makes fantastic ambient music. This one is Flood Part 2, my favourite part of the Flood masterpiece.

You can’t go wrong with Brian Eno. Not only is he one of my favourite glam rock artists of the era, but also a favourite producer who’s worked with Bowie and U2. This track is called 1/1.

I just recently stumbled upon Rabih Abou Khalil’s Blue Camel. I’d never listened to Arab jazz, but I’m hooked.

Another late night YouTube find: Sven Grünberg’s Hingus. Whether 1970 or 2016, I imagine this is what meeting aliens would sound like.



If you’re more into background music with a beat, try math rock, a cousin genre to progressive rock.

Elephant Gym is a Taiwan-based math rock trio. Finger, above, has a mesmerizing bassline.

Weye’s We Miss You, Piglet is as mesmerizing as Finger, but moreso with the drums.


Saved the best for last: jazz. This seems like a no-brainer if you’re like me, who spent way too much time reading books in Borders (RIP) but never bought them.

The Big Plus’ Empire Strikes Backward is a wild ride.

I was obsessed with Badbadnotgood’s III. This was the soundtrack to late summer nights a couple of years ago.

Can’t go wrong with Horace Silver. Here’s Song for my Father, with its swing-like beat and lively brass.

I hope this is enough music to get you through a night or two. I wanted to make this list relatively extensive so you (and I) can refer back to it as a playlist of sorts.

What do you like listening to when you study?



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