I’ve been skipping through my regular playlist for hours now, trying to find the right background vibe for the hours of homework I have ahead of me, but the same dumb songs coming on repeat are starting to piss me off. When I give in and click on one of those lofi hip hop streams, it isn’t a victory — it’s a last resort — and almost certainly a trap. The beats from my regular study playlist are usually better than any coffee or energy drinks are convincing me that I’m still lucid and able to write coherent sentences, but at this point it’s a lost cause. Lofi hip hop is useful in one specific aspect — it’s not silence.
For whatever depressing side effects working in dead quiet with only the sound of my own company would cause, there are equivalent ones for listening to lofi hip hop beats. They’ll market themselves as ways to chill out, but the unintended consequences of lofi hip hop streams don’t take too long to take effect. These streams on Youtube are recommended for studying, but I can’t focus on my work because now I’m busy. Busy being emo.
There’s something existential about lofi hip hop, and now I keep writing paragraphs tinged with the inherent sad, contemplative nature of these songs. I can’t stop getting distracted by staring out of my window thinking I look really philosophical, but at least I’m “chilled out,” I think. The little anime girl on my screen has probably written more than me at this point, but staring at her writing nothing but squiggles for hours is much more aesthetically pleasing than writing my essay.
At 4 a.m., I’m definitely leaning towards giving up on this assignment. It’s just not worth losing so much sleep over. With the melancholy way I’m feeling now, though, I am willing to give up sleep to stare out my window and think about the one who got away. Even though I’m still an angsty teenager, and I’m wondering if I would be good at that one kind of poetry where the words make shapes. I’m not sure if I’ve actually had a bad day, or if lulling bass and 80s synth are just convincing me that I did. But damn if it’s not going to convince me that I need a “me day,” even though needing a “me day” isn’t a very good excuse when I don’t have a paper to turn in tomorrow morning.
Forging on, I vaguely consider the benefits of giving up student life and living permanently as the person that lofi hip hop makes me feel I could be. A quiet, simple life. Maybe in a tiny village in rural Japan, where I only wear loose linen clothing and drink tea out of speckled ceramic mugs. There I am in a perpetual state of chill or vibes or something else similarly indescribable but equally pretentious.
At the end of a very long night, my paper is petering off into a half-hearted conclusion that’s perhaps a little more pessimistic and existential than I would have usually written, but at least it’s finished. I have to resist my mood urging me to finish off the paper with “but what does it matter, nothing is real,” and shut my laptop. While I might be finished with schoolwork for the night, lofi hip hop isn’t done. The anime girl writes on, and the livestream waits for me for another “chill” night.
Gabriella Chu is a Humor Columnist at The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at email@example.com.