Commentary: How listening to uninterrupted noise helped millions to focus


Last month, YouTube suddenly suspended Lofi Girl, a music live-stream that had been broadcasting, uninterrupted, for about 20,843 hours – more than two years – gathering 660 million views in the process.

The takedown was due to a false copyright claim and was later reversed. But such is Lofi Girl’s popularity that its fans were, briefly, bereft.

Why? Lofi Girl is a nonstop playlist of “lofi beats”, set to a video animation of a student working at her desk. Lofi (low fidelity) beats are soft hip-hop rhythms with no vocals, optimised to engender calm and focus.

The images of the student, made by Colombian artist Juan Pablo Machado, are also vital to the channel’s purpose. As day passes into night, the cityscape changes, a cat wags its tail, and Lofi Girl keeps writing as the beat goes on.