It’s midterm season again, and after months of virtual learning, we are adjusting back to in–person learning, but that also means in–person tests. Good–ole pencil and paper is making a comeback y’all. So when you’re getting the grind down with your next midterm, these are the songs you should play that will get you back into the zone.

 Olivia Rodrigo: "1 step forward, 3 steps back” 

This piano ballad is an underrated cut from Olivia Rodrigo's debut album, SOUR. Interpolating the chorus from Taylor Swift's “New Year’s Day” from reputation (cementing the fact that Rodrigo is a hardcore Swiftie; the 1 and 3 also make 13, Swift’s lucky number), “1 step forward, 3 steps back” details Rodrigo’s feelings of going back and forth in a relationship, progressing forward one step only to go back three. While midterms aren’t exactly like relationships, the song title is basically reminiscent of how many of us feel when studying for midterms, making it the perfect start for our midterm playlist.

Rina Sawayama: “STFU!”

On the other end of the spectrum, if you just have the urge to scream at something, play this jam as you scream along. From her debut album SAWAYAMA, Rina Sawayama sings about her rage against racism in this metal–esque pop song. You can channel this sentiment of frustration towards your textbook when you keep messing up on that one review problem. “STFU!” is the perfect addition to your midterm playlist to let out that pent–up anger. Think Econ Scream, but confined to your room. Just make sure you don’t disturb the people on your floor. 

Dua Lipa: “Levitating”

Levitate to a galaxy without midterms and fly away with Dua Lipa tonight by adding this to your exam prep playlist. “Levitating” is not only a gem in Lipa’s spectacular sophomore album, Future Nostalgia, but it is also a perfect pop song about the thrills of being with a person you have a deep connection with. While this song was released during the pandemic, the themes of escapism and pure joy carried us through the past year of hardships, and hopefully, can similarly carry you through this exam season. After these three minutes of other–worldly bliss, you can go back to the books that are patiently awaiting your return.

TWICE: "The Feels”

Continuing the theme of escapism and feeling joy, “The Feels” by TWICE will make you catch all the feels while studying for your exams. The K–Pop girl group's first English single is infectiously fun, perfectly encapsulating all the feelings one would get in the early stages of a relationship. While marketed toward the Western music industry, “The Feels” sacrifices nothing in quality and perfectly captures TWICE’s “girl–crush” image and brand of colorful K–Pop. Plus, the prom theme in their official music video is on–brand and showcases TWICE’s ability to effectively cater to the West. This song is pure serotonin packaged in audio form, and when that final chorus hits, one cannot resist the urge to sing along. “The Feels” is a must for your midterm playlist.

Ariana Grande: “no tears left to cry” 

From her Grammy–winning, chart–topping album, Sweetener, this lead single is an anthem and arguably Ariana Grande’s magnum opus. “no tears left to cry” announced the pop star's return following the tragic Manchester bombing during her Dangerous Woman tour. Grande shines as she recounts her emotional healing and strength from her trauma. She has never sounded more confident and more assured of herself than in “no tears left to cry,” and Grande shows us that even when you face adversity, there is hope in finding the strength to continue on. Even if our struggles are different from that of Grande’s, maybe we can all learn something from her as we head towards midterm season.

This exam season is always a time of stress and anxiety, and readapting to an in–person learning environment may take some getting used to. These songs showcase the rollercoaster of feelings we all experience during this period of the semester. Whenever you’re feeling in need of a mental break, put these songs on to help you reorient your game plan and get that W.