Dark Academia

With Midterms done and the air suitably crisp, I’m sure everyone is feeling down and overwhelmed with school. But this is the perfect concoction for one of my personal favorite aesthetics: dark academia. As winter rears its head and fall leaves us behind, let us enjoy what remains of the season. I’ve always been a lover of this genre but never really knew the name for it until recently. I read Picture of Dorian Gray as a teenager and have been mentally changed ever since. As a result, I think it best to share a playlist of all my favorite dark academia-esque songs. I chose each based on its instrumentals, themes, and/or vibes.

Instrumentals: Since the dark academia aesthetic is all about studying, libraries, and old-school semi-formal fashion, I feel as though the instruments that best accompany dark academia are acoustics like guitars and drums, classical/orchestrals like violins, or (since I’m being pretty liberal with this) lofi-esque electronics. Because if you’re a student, I know you know how integral lofi is to the academic experience. Moreover, some of the artists I chose have folk inspirations behind them like Mitski and Hozier. 

Themes: Delving into books a bit more, most dark academia books revolve around themes of obsession which is something I explored with these songs. However, I wanted to explore songs that interpret this topic in a nuanced way. For example, "Running with the Wolves" by Aurora seems to explore a freedom from obsession, letting go of what you once held dear like societal expectations to embrace your true wild self. Death is another topic found in dark academia (I mean they don’t call it dark for nothing) so they’re also some more macabre subject matter. With fall having Halloween, I think that theme is appropriate as seen through songs like "Achilles Come Down" by Gang of Youths or "Young And Beautiful" by Lana Del Rey. Another thing some people can’t get enough is love. Fluffy love, unrequited love, love for your work, love love love love love. Love can work hand in hand with obsession since the most dramatic (and thus entertaining) forms of love require a bit of obsession such as in "Heather" by Conan Gray.

Vibes: I’ll admit, I am a sucker for vibes and Greco-Roman mythology. Some of these songs, I slapped on there because of the Greco-Roman mythological name (sue me) like "Icarus & Apollo" by Ripto or "A Boy Named Pluto" by Hailey Knox. More so than just mythology, autumn is the season of winding down. The trees lose their leaves in a final burst of glorious colors only to remain bare and brown for the rest of winter. The songs I chose reflect that sense of a fading or transient beauty, one you should enjoy while it lasts. With midterms and assignments bringing us down, we might forget the inherent beauty of autumn.

I hope this playlist helps you romanticize your academic lifestyle. When we’re dealing with the stress of assignments and work, a little imagination goes a long way to make it easier to deal with. All the songs I curated elicit feelings of dreaminess in the face of the work I have to do. I hope they do the same to you.