If you’re reading this, you’re probably putting off homework or responsibilities of some kind. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. School is stressful, life is pain, we all know these things. We all need a break from work now and then, but breaks can still be productive.

Listening to music is a common way to relieve stress, but people tend to stick to their favorite artists. Why not expand your music selection? The world’s a big place with lots of different styles and sounds coming from different backgrounds and cultures. With this list, you can avoid that essay while sampling some international music. It probably won’t help in terms of your GPA, but it can help you relax while expanding your taste in music. 


Hailing from Ghana, Kdei makes music that’s easy listening yet danceable. Think pop-y synth drum beats underly piano and smooth guitar riffs. His music is the kind where you find yourself bobbing your head after listening to it for a few minutes. It’s fun to dance around to whether you’re doing laundry or just killing time in your apartment. Alternatively, it could be a great soundtrack for a weekend at the beach.


BIGBANG’s mix of R&B and K-pop could fit in anywhere from the club scene to crashing at a friend’s apartment for drinks. The mix of singing in both Korean and English is a cool touch so that even if you don’t know Korean, you can always sing along to the chorus. The beat drops are on point. The synths are come in strong without being overbearing. As someone who doesn’t know much about K-pop, BIGBANG has me interested in discovering more from the genre.


I f*cking love Wolfmother. They’re one of those bands where you know their one big hit, but you have no idea who they are. In this case, they’re the people whose big song is “Joker And The Thief.” Their sound is kind of like if Rush and ACDC had a kid who ate too much sugar then was handed a guitar. It’s a lot of loud, fast-paced guitar that somehow comes across as relaxed and even a little trippy.


Stromae is pretty well known throughout Europe, but if you generally listen to music in English, you might not know who he is yet. The Belgian singer has a solid anthology of pop music that sounds catchy, but also addresses social issues from the cycle of abuse in Dodo to growing up without a father in Papaoutai. But don’t let the heavy lyrical content put you off - his songs are super upbeat and great for a party.

Latin America

Listening to Gente De Zona makes me wanna dance, even if I look like a dad at a barbeque. This Cuban duo mixes reggaeton with salsa beats, giving you a sound that’s happy, catchy, and fun. Their stuff cheers me up just listening to it. Sometimes they get Mr. Worldwide himself in on a song or two, which makes things a little more silly than their normal stuff, but it’s all the kind of music that mentally transports you to a summer night with good friends and good beer.

Middle East

Namira is an Egyptian pop artist who takes inspiration from rock, jazz, and Latin music. His music varies in style, but is overall upbeat, yet chill. His voice is very melodic and calming so even if you don’t understand Egyptian Arabic, it’s still a nice listening experience. And if you do know Arabic, his lyrics address topics like hypocrisy, immigration, and the state of Egypt’s education system, so in addition to some good jams, you get some food for thought. 

UK & Ireland

Turns out Ramsay Bolton plays music. And it’s not about skinning people alive. Game of Thrones actor Iwan Rheon writes really sweet acoustic songs mainly about love and relationships. Think along the lines of Jack Johnson. It’s chill, it’s pleasant, and it serves as great background music either for doing homework, or having a lazy Sunday morning.

USA & Canada

This French Canadian singer-songwriter’s music has an almost retro feel to it, which makes you feel a lil’ sophisticated for listening to it. Most of her albums are in French, but her latest has songs in both French and English. All of it’s good, but it’s interesting how she sounds like a different person when she sings in English. Fun fact: Coeur de Pirate made the soundtrack for the video game Child of Light, so if you’re into sweet instrumentals, she’s got some of that too.

Final Thoughts

Now that the article’s over, it’s probably time to get back to work. If you found something you like, you can now continue down the Spotify rabbit hole and enjoy some international music. If you didn’t, that’s cool too, everyone’s got their preferences. Whether it’s for taking a mental break or making homework go by more easily, music can help with that. So put on your favorite song and keep on doing you.