It’s very hard to focus on e-mail correspondence when you’re blasting a Lizzo song in your ears. Believe me, I’ve tried. But it’s also mind-numbing to not have music at all. Time seems to go three times slower if all you’re listening to is the tick-tacking of keyboards and the low hum of the air conditioner.
Instead of a catchy pop song, why not try some ambient, lo-fi music instead? With the death of our beloved 24/7 lo-fi streams, we’ve had to do the manual work of creating our own work playlist.
Our checklist for a perfect work or study lo-fi song is that a) it shouldn’t be too uptempo, lest you risk involuntary butt wiggling, b) it also shouldn’t be too slow, because you can drift off into a nap, and c) they also shouldn’t have too many lyrics, because you might end up singing in your head instead of focusing on your budget report.
Armed with these criteria, we went through a mixture of Reddit deep dives, lucky shuffle finds, and friend recommendations to find some chill SFW lo-fi artists. Enjoy your desk work, fam.
Song: “i miss you”
This one’s for the peeps who like to work with a little white noise in the background. Mt. Marcy’s beats are often accompanied by the crisp crackle of an old recording on blast. Is it rain? A river? Just an extremely loud old vinyl? Who knows. But it’s relaxing.
Vintage electric piano? Check. A lowkey bassline? Check. The essential vinyl effect in the background? Check. This particular track has buttery R&B chords that dress the flitting, light melody that sayso ! weaves.
Song: “pine tree”
The steady thump of Milkz’s “pine tree” can keep the humdrum vibe of an office setting at bay. This track has the quintessential lo-fi sound of slightly muffled synths and wholesome beats down pat.
Song: “Long Ago”
You’ve probably heard Wun Two’s lo-fi hit, “Again.” If you liked that, might we interest you in his lesser known but equally vibe-worthy “Long Ago”? The “Pirata” album track has a lovely mix of crisp snares paired with a dream-like harp.
Song: “hues (feat. 40-Mid)”
Apostrophe’s “hues” has just the right BPM to keep you productive and awake at your desk job. The song keeps you on your toes, with a key change where you don’t expect or a sudden shift in stereo channels.
Photo from Garden State (2004)