Music, with all its transcendent power, can help us through some tough times. For some, music helps those who need to assuage their anxieties caused by depression. Other times, it can just be for a troublesome problem sweeping the nation.
Since we all are experiencing that similar problem right now, let’s dive into some good music to help alleviate everyone’s cooped-up feelings. Skip to the right mood for you, or ride the whole wave beginning to end (I promise it will leave you will a hopeful ending).
Now presenting, your new QUARANTINE PLAYLIST for 2020!
If you’re feeling
"Cold and Isolated"
“Station to Station” – David Bowie
The first avant-rock foray for David Bowie pulls the listener into his uniquely devised world, at once inviting and alienating to outsiders. Atmospheric sound gives way to a grooving rock riff replete with major key melodies, contrasting beautifully with Bowie’s alluring harmonized vocals and mysterious lyrics.
Bowie knows better than almost any rock star how his loneliness translates perfectly through the headphones of his isolated fans.
“Map Ref. 41°N 93°W” – Wire
This original post-punk band helped define their genre in the late 70s with early records like Pink Flag (1977) and Chairs Missing (1978). Though their third album is not as well known, it contains one of their most exceptional yet coldly abstract songs, “Map Ref. 41°N 93°W.”
A shimmering vocal track combined with pulsing synths and guitar effects does not make for a great party song, but it's essential for the desolate pre-Spring weather.
“Comfortably Numb” – Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd’s true epic, The Wall, came almost exclusively from the troubled brain of Roger Waters – and its conception and release proved the resonance of the solitary songwriter. “Comfortably Numb” musically exemplifies its subject by contrasting the warm vocals and soloing of David Gilmour with the biting lyrics and performance of Waters. These dynamic shifts never feel at odds with one another; instead, the song unites into a blissfully moving experience, somehow inciting tears of joy and sorrow simultaneously.
If you’re feeling
"Annoyed and Bitter"
“Even Flow” – Pearl Jam
Grunge music has to be the essential “annoyed and bitter” genre (at least, for non-metal fans). Pearl Jam captured their fans' attention by appealing more towards rock than their metal-focused peers, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden.
Though any song on PJ’s debut would work out your angsty anger, “Even Flow,” released at the height of grunge’s 1992 heyday, is an eternal staple of rock radio to this day.
“It’s the End of the World as We Know It” – R.E.M.
Is there a more on-the-nose song for this time? It may not be the end of the world, but this raving rattle of rock riffs and random references became one of R.E.M.’s best-remembered singles, even after 30-plus years.
If you don’t believe me, check out this quote from Wikipedia: “Amid the global coronavirus pandemic, the song re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 in March 2020 alongside other apocalypse and sickness themed songs […] online downloads of the song rose 184 percent and streams rose 48 percent.”
“God Is Dead?” – Black Sabbath
As bleak as this English band has ever been, Black Sabbath’s 2013 album (the first original set of songs with Ozzy Osbourne since 1978) hit a high point the group had not seen in decades. The first single “God Is Dead?” is one of their best songs ever, heavy and stretched to its most raw potential.
For those worried about their religious beliefs during a widespread panic, the metal lords will continue to fuel your fire and leave your questions unanswered.
If you’re feeling
"Searching for Meaning"
“Maybe It’s Time” – A Star is Born Soundtrack
Everyone knows about 2018’s A Star is Born remake, but those who know about music will be more interested in the soundtrack.
Lukas Nelson (son of Willie) co-writes eight tracks, and the most famous song “Shallow” features contributions from Mark Ronson and Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt. “Maybe It’s Time,” written by the superb Jason Isbell, searches for meaning like many of us will today, with the lyrics repeating: “maybe it’s time to let the old ways die.”
“Trampled Under Foot” – Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin rambles through their music differently than most. While the band tightly constructs many of their songs and riffs, the blues-jam background never leaves the croon of Robert Plant or the shuffle of John Bonham’s drum patterns. With funky keyboards and a killer groove, all six minutes of “Trampled Under Foot” feel like driving passionate wander through these sunny days.
“Two of Us” – The Beatles
Let it Be, the last Beatles album, is probably their worst (unless you count Yellow Submarine, which I don’t).
However, it has its moments – the folky, Dylan-esque “Two of Us,” for example, captures the attitude of the Beatles during its tumultuous recording. None of them knew what the future held, only that they needed to find their purposes outside of their typical circle.
If you’re feeling
"Bummed Out and Brooding"
“The Wind Cries Mary” – Jimi Hendrix
The delicate “The Wind Cries Mary” proved Jimi Hendrix was far more than a loud rocking blues guitarist as many had thought. His debut album has breathtaking songwriting infused with psychedelic tendencies, but this song, in all its wearied sadness, holds power above them all. The poeticism of the lyrics helped make it one of his most famous and original songs.
“One More Night” – Phil Collins
Everyone remembers Phil Collins for “In the Air Tonight” and “You Can’t Hurry Love,” the hits of his first two albums; however, his third record, No Jacket Required, had four solid singles that deserve more attention.
One of those was the ballad “One More Night,” a very touching song about longing for love. Its repetitive phrase, as well as the narrator’s shred of optimism, makes the song all that more sad, pleading for a perfect night never experienced.
“Nothing but Time” – Metric
Pensively gazing out the window? Metric has a great blend of synthy atmosphere and melodic hooks to keep you engaged with your thoughts while drifting from reality. Though the music is dreamy and ambling, the lyrics of Emily Haines are surprisingly positive, transitioning you from your gloomy mood into the dramatic end of the playlist.
If you’re feeling
"Optimistic and Accepting"
“Just Dance” – Lady Gaga
The opening of “Just Dance” still pulls listeners onto the dance-floor faster than almost any song post-2008. One simply cannot help the urge to shake it to its Madonna-esque pulse. As the song that introduced us to Lady Gaga, show it your appreciation today by blasting it full volume and knowing it’s “gonna be okay.”
“Say Amen (It’s Saturday Night)” – Panic! at the Disco
Brendan Urie knows how to take advantage of the hype for his music. The party vibe of “Say Amen” gives his fans freedom to throw the rest of the world away, an anthem for the culture-obsessed indulgence of the weekend. Just as he leaves his individuality behind for a club-worthy pop-appeal track, we listeners can forget our troubles and continue to dance instead.
“Make Me Feel” – Janelle Monáe
Far funkier than anything from 2018 deserved to be, Janelle Monáe’s “Make Me Feel” was a standout song, even on an album filled to the brim with standout songs.
Anyone who’s heard it knows how irresistible it is.
Turn it up in glorious protest of quarantine sadness today!