15 Songs to Cool Off Your College Burnout

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You’re staring at your computer screen, trying to find the mental strength to work on your paper instead of hitting up Netflix for round four of Stranger Things. Every word you type and every email you send feels like the ultimate chore. What do you do when you’re already burned out and finals are nowhere in sight?

Play these songs to get you out of your #burnout.

1. “Infinite Child” by Fletcher Pilon

I don’t know about you, but TV talent show auditions make some of my favorite YouTube videos. At age 15, Fletcher Pilon auditioned for Australia’s Got Talent and ultimately won the show after auditioning with the song “Infinite Child,” an original about his younger brother who passed away. Even if writing isn’t your thing, maybe you can pick up on Fletcher’s singer-songwriter vibe and write about your own stresses in your slam book.

2. “The Big Bang” by Rock Mafia

You might remember “The Big Bang” from your junior high days when Miley Cyrus starred in the music video. The song has a catchy groove but doesn’t try too hard to be epic. Treat it as a pick-me-up during your late night homework sesh. You’ll get just enough of an energy boost to get things done, but still vibe in that chill zone so you can go to sleep right after.

3. “Let It Go” by James Bay

We all love Elsa, but James Bay’s hit of the same name actually talks about moving on from a relationship with insightful lyrics and raw emotion. The subtle and quiet song can still serve as some background music for a good cry that might actually make you feel a lot better…and then you can focus on that problem set. And perhaps cry some more. No one’s judging.

4. “Not Easy” by Alex Da Kid, X Ambassadors, Elle King, Wiz Khalifa

The cross-genre hoopla of “Not Easy” pretty much describes college: Nothing really comes that easy except for drowning your sorrows in Fireball and tequila. The song reminds you that changes are not always fun, but hey, at least we all go through them.

5. “The Sound of Silence” by Maccabeats

This update on the Simon & Garfunkel classic takes angst to the extreme. The Jewish collegiate a cappella group stays true to the original with the haunting lyrics and clear vocals, but the layered voices really give this song a horror movie vibe. I would recommend putting this back-to-back with “Creep” by Radiohead on your playlist if you really wanna enter The Twilight Zone.

6. “City of Stars” by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone

If you’re not on the La La Land train yet, get on it, my friend. This song puts a darker, minor-chord spin on the classic musical duet, and I’d bet my iPhone that it’ll win Best Song at this year’s Oscars. What could give you that little bit of inspiration to finish your paper more than the lovely couple of Ryan and Emma in song form?

7. “Unsteady” by X Ambassadors

“Unsteady” is loud and emotional and not afraid to say it…or sing it. If you’re looking for a subtle segue into the world of emotion, maybe listen to a live acoustic performance before you go for the fully produced power ballad.

8. “The Other” by Lauv

Put this song on your playlist, and I guarantee in a month you can say you heard it before everyone else. “The Other” adds an ethereal sound to the classic pop ballad (think Ellie Goulding in male form). You’ll have a new song to hum on your walk to class and maybe even help you reflect on your relationships.

9. “Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur

We all love Ed Sheeran’s new hits, but James Arthur brings a more subtle, gravelly tone in his British songwriting. As the winner of The X Factor UK in 2012, Arthur proved to everyone that a commercialized talent show can actually shape some real talent. If you need a new song to get you out of your rut with bae or just to remind you that love exists, put on this track…and the rest of the album.

10. “Love Me So” by Stereo Kicks

Remember when Simon Cowell created One Direction out of five X Factor contestants who didn’t know each other? Well, a few seasons later he did the same thing…with eight boys this time. While the group wasn’t able to land a record deal, they created this beautiful power ballad written by one of the members before they disbanded. If you’re feeling blah, this song lets you relive your fangirl days with eight cute faces.

11. “Afraid with You” by Christon Gray

A nice piano ballad never hurt anyone, and neither did Christon Gray (despite his Fifty Shades­-esque name). Gray says he makes his music “about being human,” and nothing helps a burnout better than feeling like you belong a little bit in the world.

12. “It’s Gotta Be You” by Isaiah

Don’t confuse this one with the classic 1D hit “Gotta Be You.” Singer Isaiah Firebrace released the track as his winner’s single after winning the eighth season of The X Factor Australia. The classic love song takes you to the beaches of Australia with its 90’s Savage Garden feel.

13. “You Raise Me Up” by Jai McDowall

Yeah, yeah, you’re probably already attached to the Josh Groban version, but trust me on this one. Jai McDowell’s operatic pop voice puts a unique spin on songs like “Bring Me to Life.” And what better song to show off that male vibrato than this classic?

14. “Somebody Else” by Vérité

This cover of “Somebody Else” has found success with music fans everywhere. The song’s thumping beat will bring you back to when Disney Channel rocker chicks ruled your world. And that modern alternative spin will give you an outlet for that angst that’s been building up all semester…OK, for three weeks but still.

15. “A Drop in the Ocean” by Ron Pope

Okay, sure, maybe your bae left you and you have four tests to study for during midterms, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Ron Pope reminds you that even the most tragic seeming situation will eventually dissolve into the ocean of your life. Deep, I know.

Hi, my name is Meghan and I'm a sophomore at Northwestern University. I've had a passion for creative writing ever since I was creative editor of my high school paper, and now I'm pursuing the creative writing major at the college level. I love writing in my own voice to help other people get through tough times.

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