Well, it’s that time of year again: finals are upon us. Classes are almost finished, and soon we will all be drowning in study guides and primary sources. As if tests weren’t enough to worry about, most of us have research papers, oral language exams, and presentations, too. This much work can only mean one thing: all-nighters. Pulling an all-nighter is a college rite of passage. It’s not fun, but every once in a while, it must be done. After my first all-nighter, I promised myself that it would never happen again, but here I am going strong five all-nighters later.
My experiences have taught me that there are a few key assets that anyone pulling an all-nighter will need. First, a good location. I try to avoid the 24-hour room crowds and opt instead for the Retreat. It may be closed, but anyone is free to stay at those tables as long as they want. Plus, I challenge you to find a quieter place at 3:30 a.m. Second, snacks. Health aside, you will need plenty of good, sugary snack to make it through the night. I recommend Coca-Cola and gummy bears for the perfect combination of caffeine and sugar. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you will need a stellar playlist. I’ve found that the average all-nighter has five stages. Each stage requires a different type of music. As an example, I’ve assembled a five-song playlist as a model of how to build your own all-nighter music library.
Stage One: Panic
The first stage of any all-nighter is panic. This stage is marked by overwhelming feelings of desperation and frustration. Not only will you doubt your ability to pull of your task, you will be positive that you cannot do it. For this stage, you will need songs to encourage you and lift your spirits.
My Choice: “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister.
This lost gem from 1985 is a fantastic motivation song. Its lyrics are about overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, and the melody will give you the strength to charge through. This song provides the playlist with the stadium anthem and power pop that it needs.
Stage Two: Getting It Together
After the panic comes the planning. Once you’ve sufficiently freaked out, you can redirect your energy towards deciding how to handle the task at hand. Now that you’re motivated, you’ll need steady yet upbeat songs to keep your momentum.
My Choice: “The Mother We Share” by CHVRCHES
The first single from Scottish band CHVRCHES’s debut album is a great song for organizing. It is equal parts steady and uplifting with a solid beat and euphoric synth background. It’s sure to help you pay attention while you prioritize.
Stage Three: Hitting Your Stride
Once you’ve made you’re plan, you can start working. At this point, you’ll be getting into a groove. You’ve found your focus and you’re finally making real progress. Here, you’ll need music that will allow you to stay with your rhythm.
My Choice: “Strong” by London Grammar
This new song by electronica trio London Grammar is an excellent pick for stage three. Its perfect combination of simple and beautiful is sure to please your ears without providing any unwanted distraction. Whatever song you pick, it’s important that it not break your focus.
Stage Four: Despair (Panic Part Two)
By this point in the night, it’s approaching 4:00 a.m. and you’re starting to lose faith again. You’re running out of steam and it’s starting to feel like you will never see the end of this night. Now, you’ll need a second round of inspiration.
My Choice: “Easy to Love” by The Jezabels
While this song’s lyrics are not definitively optimistic, its instrumental build is sure to lift your spirits. The soaring hook and chorus will reaffirm your self-confidence and make it easier to push through. Remember to pick songs that will remind you of how far you’ve come and help push you through those extra steps to the finish line.
Stage Five: Second Wind, Triumph, and Exhaustion
In this stage, you’ll get that last burst of energy and then quickly burnout. It’s probably around 6:00 a.m. and the sun is rising (which after an all-nighter can be simultaneously beautiful and sickening). You’ll just need one more charge song to make it through before getting a full night’s sleep (aka, a two-hour power nap.
My Choice: “You’re Not the One” by Sky Ferreira
Sky Ferreira’s latest single is just the kick you need to get the job done. It’s a pump-up song that’s both motivational and rewarding. This is the part of the playlist for all your fun music.
Good luck this finals week! I hope you all have a great winter break.