As the new school year approaches, it’s once again time for me to settle back into my study routine, which means re-acquainting myself with someone I haven’t seen all summer: the Lo-fi Girl. Although she was taken down for a few days over an alleged copyright claim, she has returned to once again accompany the popular lo-fi YouTube stream she appears in just in time for the beginning of the semester.
Lo-fi, or low fidelity music, is characterized by its contrast to high-fidelity music. In other words, most lo-fi music has clearly not been through a high-quality production process, and tends to have background noise or other noticeable “flaws” throughout. The genre’s popularity has grown throughout the last few years, with listeners turning toward different streams or playlists for some relaxing beats.
I tend to prefer studying with some kind of background noise playing, but finding something that wasn’t too distracting (like music with lyrics tends to be for me) but also engaging enough to fill the silence was a constant struggle of mine. So after discovering lo-fi music, it quickly became an integral part of my study routine. I’d even try out a few different lo-fi playlists on Spotify while I was walking to class.
But after all this time, I never thought to question why lo-fi music is actually so appealing. What qualities have made it so soothing, so popular that at the time of writing this article, the Lo-Fi girl YouTube channel has 11.3 million subscribers?
Listening to lo-fi can also help you better focus, as its repetitive beats create a sense of predictability, especially when the music is played on a loop. This is what helps lo-fi avoid becoming too dull or overly distracting — rather it maintains an ideal balance. The “flaws” that characterize the genre can also heighten the listener’s sense of focus. This effect can be described as “cocooning,” which essentially means that the sound helps create a cocoon of focus around you.
Similarly, since music can influence the listener’s mood, lo-fi’s slower tempo can foster feelings of relaxation, while a lack of lyrics reduces distractions. In other words, lo-fi may be able to help with feelings of stress that tend to emerge when preparing for a prelim, or at least put you in a more positive mood.
As such, it seems lo-fi’s appeal is not without reason, and it might even enhance your next study session. Its unique elements can help create an environment that boosts both your focus and mood. And with its growing popularity comes an increasing number of tracks to discover and listen to. So in the coming weeks as we all settle back into the chaos of the school year, maybe some soothing lo-fi beats will be just what you need for a productive study day.
Aditi Hukerikar is a rising senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She currently serves as an Assistant Arts and Culture Editor on the 140th Editorial Board. She can be reached at [email protected].