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Five Songs for the Fifth Week Blues

I believe that music makes a lot of things in life better. Fifth week at Oxford is no exception. Whilst it won’t help you in an essay crisis, attend tutorials in your place, or shake a Park End hangover, it can help romanticise your university experience right at the time when it really needs romanticising. So here are five songs that I believe will help get you through fifth week blues:

Point and Kill – Little Simz (feat. Obongjayar) in Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

‘Point and kill’ is a Nigerian expression derived from the marketplace practice of pointing at the live fish you want, and it being killed fresh for you. The song is all about going out, getting what you want, and achieving success; you can’t let anyone get in your way and you must keep your eyes on the prize. If that isn’t motivation to finish your essay, then I don’t know what is. The song is characterised by the distinctiveness of Obongjayar’s Nigerian-British accent on top of a percussive and refreshingly energetic afrobeat rhythm. It features in Little Simz’s album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert which explores themes of self-belief, feminism, and the artist’s own introversion, and is worth a listen.

Keep It Simple – Raleigh Ritchie (feat. Stormzy) in You’re a Man Now Boy

Given that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, it feels fitting to include a love song. Keep It Simple perfectly encapsulates all the emotions associated with a new romance; happiness, nerves, and the incessant desire to spend all your time with that special person. One can imagine listening to it, skipping merrily back from a perfect first date. The title refers to the desire for love to just be nice and simple when everything else in our world can be so complicated. Ritchie’s genre is hard to define, with the artist himself admitting he does not quite know what it is, though one could say, it sits comfortably somewhere between hip-hop and alternative R&B. This track is also blessed with a Stormzy feature (three years before he released his debut album) whose style compliments Ritchie’s more songful vocals.

Comb My Hair – Kings of Convenience in Peace or Love

But if your Valentine’s Day was not all that successful, back, then this song may be more appropriate. “What good is to comb my hair, It won’t be touched by you?” is one of the many elegiac lyrics in this song that really condenses that feeling of having our everyday thoughts revolve around a distant crush. The dreamy guitar arpeggios perfectly symbolise that sense of the daydreaming and yearning associated with an unrequited love. Kings of Convenience are a Norwegian acoustic band, who create the most gentle, sweet, and ‘granola bar-esque’ music, accompanied with poetic and thoughtful lyrics. All their albums make for great music to listen to whilst you study, or equally, whilst you hanker after your lecture crush who doesn’t even know you exist.

But chin-up, there is always Bridge Thursday…

Australia – The Shins in Wincing the Night Away

The Shins use the metaphor of Australia when it was a penal colony to portray the nature of a nine-to-five office job, as repetitive, draining, and limiting to the capacities of humans to really live their lives. Their philosophy is that people should not be confined to weekends to have fun, find love, and do the things that are important to them. The song warns how quickly this can be realised; “Well do it now or grow old, Your nightmares only take a year or two to unfold”. The aim of the song is to persuade the listener to go out, live life, and pursue a career that truly fulfils them. Instead of being stuck in an office, “dammed to pine through the windowpanes” The Shins want you to “give [them] your hand, and jump out the window”. The idea of optimism and looking for a better life is portrayed in the song’s typical upbeat, guitar-led, indie rhythm, despite the bleak sentiments of some of the lyrics; Definitely a song I would recommend to any E&M students aspiring on a career in investment banking.

Space 1.8 – Nala Sinephro in Space 1.8

If you are someone who enjoys listening to music whilst you study, then this is the album for you. I am convinced it makes you at least three times as productive, maybe even four? Sinephro is a Belgian-Caribbean performer and composer, who plays the pedal harp, keyboard, and a whole host of other instruments, including modular synthesizers. In Space 1.8 she is accompanied by other accomplished drummers, reed, and bass players, with whom she creates an ambient, dreamy, soundscape, which one can very easily lose themselves in. The album has 8 tracks, which seamlessly blend into one another. Her motifs are developed gradually throughout, and alternative sounds, rhythms, and layers are introduced, punctuated by delicate saxophone solos. Its intensity and timbre fluctuate and demonstrate Sinephro’s capabilities as an arranger and player. Space 1.8 is a great way into the world of experimental jazz and listening to it is an experience in itself.

So, whether you are stuck on that last-minute essay grind, a hopeful, or hopeless, romantic, or just need something new to listen to, there is something there for everyone. The above songs have some rather interesting qualities and if you enjoy them, I would definitely recommend listening to the albums in their entirety to see if you discover something even more magical. No matter where you listen to these songs, be it alone in the sweet confines of your room, or marching down the High Street to attend your gruelling 9am lecture, I hope that they can help make your fifth week that little bit less blue.

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