What Is LO-FI and Why Does It Work So Well?

Quinn Pedrick, Managing Editor

Well, just last week I only thought of the LO-FI genre as boring, flavorless music that wouldn’t help me study or focus. I wanted to know why it was so appealing to such a large audience. While researching and writing this article, I listened to this exact soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s49CT4DTAkw, Chillhop Yearmix 2019 ☕️ jazz beats & lofi hip hop. The majority of people flock toward the live 24/7 streaming of LO-FI soundtracks, but this 149-minute mix had 5,545,490 views as of July 27, 2020 at 11:33AM. 


Millions of people spend hours sitting at a desk listening to these handcrafted soundtracks that have a mix of jazz, soul, and ‘80s and ‘90s hip-hop. The soft beat partnered with sometimes odd but soothing background noises with strong instrumentals help bring focus or relaxation to the mind. 

Music can affect someone’s mood by making them happy when an upbeat song is on or energetic when a fast tempo with loud instrumental aspects. That type of music is intentionally aimed to affect mood. LO-FI is typically slow tempoed with calming, soft instrumentals plus nature noises blended in. The effect of music like that is to be calm and relaxed, which is the ideal mood to be productive or to completely relax. LO-FI music is aimed for people not to have any sort of reaction towards the music emotionally. 

The positive or more so neutral effect that LO-FI music has on a person helps improve cognition, which is practically the brain’s ability to work well. Having improved cognition increases productivity, which is why the mass majority of people will listen to LO-FI while working or studying.

I am the type of person who needs music in order to focus on a task for longer than five minutes because, apart from my attention span issues, music has always been an important factor in my ability to function. Even when I am not allowed to listen to music in class, I will be thinking of lyrics or tapping out rhythms. That is simply part of my personality as a musical person that many people can relate to. I have never had issues with listening to music with lyrics while working because I somehow manage to tune it out, but I most definitely see the appeal of just having an instrumental version. Listening to LO-FI while working on this has made it much easier to work consistently, which is one of the most difficult things for me.

Music in the workplace has been a recurring experiment for scientists, and LO-FI has shown one of the most clear directions to an answer to their theories for the first time ever. LO-FI has been scientifically proven to be useful to a large number of people, so students should give it a try and see how much homework they can knock out in 149 minutes.