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  • Mari Kauffman, Staff Writer

Opinion: What are Bearcats listening to right now?

Art by Eli Fukuji.

From reggae to indie rock, pop to jazz, music is embedded into the student life at Willamette, playing in ears as students head to classes. Whether they’re blasting their music from Spotify, Apple Music or Pandora, students find themselves listening to everything from “Praise Jah In The Moonlight” by Jg Marley to Benson Boone’s “Beautiful Things” as they work on homework, prepare for their finals, work out and eat. But how do Bearcats find new songs? How many hours per day are they streaming music and what else are they listening to? 

To a lot of Bearcats, music is comforting. Whether it's soothing and provokes some inner calmness or brings a rush into their blood and hypes them up, music is a resource that is utilized as a way to inspire or awaken students’ minds as they finish or start their assignments. However, not everyone can listen to music while completing homework. Vanessa Wallace (‘27), who’s currently listening to Hozier’s new album “Unheard, spends between two and three hours a day listening to music. She doesn’t listen to music when she studies as it prevents her from focusing on homework. Unlike Wallace, however, Juliana Ha (‘25), whose favorite artist is MisterWives, enjoys listening to classical music while she studies.


Daily habits also mean that Bearcats have a chance to broaden their music affinity to something that challenges their go-to playlists. It gets repetitive listening to the same artist and their songs over and over, regardless of how exceptional their songs are. On TikTok, a social media platform where a lot of students are active, students find themselves singing to current hits such as Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em” or Michael Marcagi’s “Scared To Start” while watching strangers dance or gossip through their screens. However, it’s not just TikTok, YouTube shorts and Instagram reels that are a source of their new favorite songs, it's also the radio and soundtracks of movies and TV shows that provide music that pleases students. Bearcats know what they like, so when they hear a song that amuses them, they quickly add it to their playlists. While rhythm and a good beat can determine the greatness of a song, being able to feel the tone of the song is what pulls students in and prompts them to add it to their playlist. 

Students spend hours listening to music, but there is a limit. Ciandra Choun (‘27) can’t listen to music while she studies because she “gets overstimulated and distracted” by the lyrics and the rhythm of one of her favorite artists, Laufey. There’s a point where listening to music gets to be too much, especially when studying. 

Some students listen to music for more than three hours a day. They spend their time blasting music in their dorm rooms or through headphones, all while trying to get from place to place and preparing for their classes. Whether they’re in Hatfield Library studying or in Goudy eating, Bearcats are usually seen with bulky headphones sitting on their heads or AirPods in their ears.

Whether students are capable of listening to music while studying or not, they are vigilant about when their favorite artists come out with a new album or when they discover a song that's circulating either through TikTok or through their friends' playlists. Music is a valuable tool that Bearcats utilize as they finish their papers or walk to their classes. The screams of Benson Boones’ “Beautiful Things” or Jg. Marley’s “Praise Jah In The Moonlight,” popular background music on TikTok, come to an abrupt end as students find their class and settle down. 

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