It’s nearly 8.30AM. You’re standing at the bottom of Forum Hill in a swarm of doubt, wondering if you’ll ever make it all the way to Peter Chalk. You can’t even see the top of the hill from here. Who thought it would be a good idea to build a university campus on a massive hill? Skinny, gym-kit-clad girls power past and a cyclist flies all the way, showing no sign of stopping. How will you ever manage with your Norton Anthology of Criticism and three folders weighing you down? With some motivational tunes, that’s how.
Jungle – The Heat
21 October 2013, Chess Club Records
We’ve had some intensely cold weather over the last few days, but somehow, thanks to Exeter’s fluctuating landscape, dressing up in eight layers of thermals, your scarf and bobble hat isn’t the answer, as you’ll still get sweaty on the mountainous trek to campus. The walking pace of this song is perfect motivation to stay in time to, and the 70s-style funky “tropical percussion and falsetto yelps” combined with their ease into effortlessly cool soul sound will make you want to dance your way up the hill. Don’t struggle. You will be, as Jungle say to open the track, “right on time”.
Arcade Fire – Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)
28 March 2005, Rough Trade Records
This song drives you forward by building up a bass drum and snare rhythm followed by pretty guitar harmonics, then a distinctly French sounding accordion to mix things up a bit. The chorus may be a little unusual for first time listeners of Arcade Fire, but once you get past its slightly whiny quality you’ll see why their debut album Funeral was universally critically acclaimed. It is bizarre yet familiar, and makes you want to dance but also tear up. Several critics have labelled it “empowering” which is exactly the mind set Laika puts you in. The verse shouts at you: “Come on Alex, you can do it! Come on Alex, there’s nothing to it!” Thanks Win Butler, that’s exactly the kind of motivation needed for us struggling students.
Bombay Bicycle Club – Carry Me
4 November 2013, Island Records
If the past two songs have not given you any motivation or desire for crawling up the hill, the final (and frankly, best) option is get a friend to carry you. Bombay really branched out on their most recent album (2014) by experimenting with Indian vibes and interesting rhythms. Opening with some stabbing synths and cymbal splashes, Jack Steadman’s perfect vocals along with the catchy main melody is more than enough to carry you up the hill, maybe even all the way to the Sports Park if you’re feeling particularly inspired.