It’s a known fact that great struggle produces great art. When it comes to the past 18 months, we’ve had just about as much struggle as we can take.
While most of us are just sitting at home waiting for the storm to pass, musicians and artists have been using lockdown and the pandemic as sources of inspiration for new tracks.
In fact, there’s a burgeoning new sub-genre on the rise that we think needs to be termed ‘quarantunes’; songs dealing exclusively and specifically with COVID-19 and the associated social/cultural fall-out of the virus.
Spotify data analyst Glenn McDonald actually maintains a playlist called The Sound of the Virus, tracking tunes about the pandemic.
The playlist has over 8,300 songs and counting which are updated daily and ranked by popularity. It covers all genres and deals with every aspect of the outbreak. Currently, the most popular coronavirus track is ‘Stuck With U’ by Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber.
Recent research has found that music, parody, and singing has kind of been our go-to outlet when it comes to the pandemic, helping us understand where we are and that we’re all in it together.
We’re expecting So Fresh to bring out a 2020-202? era album to capture the theme of the decade presumable titled ‘So Depressed – Hits of Bummer’.
Here’s a quick round-up of the best viral hits we’ve heard so far.
Times Like These – BBC Radio 1 Stay Home Live Lounge
An early one in the pandemic, BBC Radio 1, who normally host their famous ‘Live Lounge’ sessions in-house, put together an incredible all-star collaboration for a cover of Foo Fighters‘ ‘Times Like These’.
The collab featured Bastille, Ellie Goulding, Paloma Faith, Rag’n’Bone Man, Rita Ora, AJ Tracey, and of course the Fooies amongst a tonne of others.
Proceeds from the track went toward the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Coronavirus – Gordon Koang
Legendary Aussie adoptee Gordon Koang’s ‘Coronavirus’ is a fun take on the pandemic and full of sentiments we all share. The blind, South Sudanese artist is endlessly positive and his music is unwavering in its messages of peace, love, and unity. We could definitely do with more Gordon Koang.
Lockdown – Anderson.Paak
A throwback to the events of May 2020 and the killing of George Floyd, Anderson .Paak released this funky number to coincide with Juneteenth and the emancipation of enslaved people in America and check in with how the world is dealing with the pandemic.
Inside Friend – Leon Bridges and John Mayer
Leon Bridges and John Mayer get soulful to dish on the joys of being locked down with that special someone.
It’s a bit of an inversion of many of the sad songs on the list and a welcome silver-lining take on the situation many of us find ourselves in.
Gotta be Patient – Michael Bublé, Barenaked Ladies, Sofia Reyes
Another all-star collaboration in isolation. Barenaked Ladies teamed up with Michael Bublé and Sofia Reyes for ‘Gotta Be Patient’, which is not exactly the best phrasing but we get their point.
This was just one of their #SelfieCamJams that they’ve been doing in support of Food Banks Canada.
Living in a Ghost Town – The Rolling Stones
British rock legends put this one together incredibly quickly as lockdowns rolled out across the world in 2020.
The band had apparently been working on new tunes before the pandemic and re-worked this one to fit with the current era. It’s no ‘Gimme Shelter’ but it’s pretty catchy.
You Are The Champions – Queen + Adam Lambert
That other massive British rock band, Queen, had to postpone their world tour due to the pandemic. Instead, they covered their classic ‘We Are the Champions’ to celebrate everyone out there putting their lives at risk to bring the disease under control.
Life in Quarantine – Benjamin Gibbard
Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard penned a folk number to commemorate the hysteria that swept through society in the depths of the pandemic as people were just getting used to the ‘new normal’.
Gibbard also recorded daily video request covers for fans on his YouTube channel.
My Shot – Mount Sinai Health System
Someone had to do it and we’re glad it was this lot.
Staff at Mount Sinai hospital in New York got together to cover the hit ‘My Shot’ from Hamilton to encourage people to get vaccinated and not ‘throw away their shot’. It’s a banger.
Quarantine – Blink-182
Aging rock stars seem to have had little to do during the pandemic except try to stay relevant – kidding, Blink are still great – and the pop-punk icon’s did what they do best in giving COVID the Blink-182 treatment. It’s angsty, rough, and full of frustration which is pretty much exactly what you’d expect.
Stay Away – Randy Newman
What was written for an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert quickly became a pandemic success as American country staple Randy Newman gave his own piano-ballad take on how to live well during the pandemic.
Tryin’ To Keep It Together – Norah Jones
Slowing things down in the way that only Norah Jones can, this bluesy number sees the singer at rock bottom, trying to maintain her sanity and composure during the unending lockdowns. If you’re already right there, maybe give this one a miss.
You’ll Never Walk Alone – Michael Ball, Captain Tom Moore, The NHS Voices of Care Choir
The Brits kept busy in lockdown.
WWII veteran Sir Tom Moore became an overnight sensation as he decided to help raise money for the National Health Service in the only way he could: by walking 100 laps of his garden.
The 99-year-old sadly passed from COVID this year but is immortalised in this cover of the Liverpool Football Club anthem.
Quarantine Clean – Turbo, Gunna, and Young Thug
US hip-hop stars came together to riff on the theme of being ‘clean’ during COVID. It’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek take on the pandemic and features the artists wearing hazmat suits on the cover art.
We Gon’ Be Alright – Tye Tribbett
Grammy-winning gospel singer Tye Tribbett took the hook from Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’ – which in itself became an anthem during the Black Lives Matter protests – and re-worked it into an uplifting reminder that everything is going to be okay.
Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing) – Fred Again
British singer-songwriter Fred Again mixed this electronic ode to the thing that we’ve all been missing during lockdown: dancing. Infused with lo-fi, uptempo beats, the vocals speak to the importance of music and clubbing and ends with the promise that “what comes next will be… marvellous”.
This Too Shall Pass – Mike Love
Mike Love from the Beach Boys takes on one of the oldest phrases in the world to remind everyone that this, too, shall pass.
The line can be traced back to the poetry of Ancient Persia and is timeless because of its mindful message. The track is also super upbeat and a great one to bop along to in iso
Between Me and the End of the World – Adam Hambrick
While singer-songwriter Adam Hambrick was trapped in lockdown, his wife, DR Merritt Hambrick, went off to work saving lives during the pandemic.
Hambrick wrote the song in tribute to her and all medical staff working to keep things under control and recorded the whole song in his bedroom in isolation.
Get on the Beers – Mashd N Kutcher and Dan Andrews
No pandemic-themed playlist would be complete without this absolute belter from the comedy electronic duo Mashd N Kutcher.
The boys took a sample of Victorian Premier Dan Andrew’s instructions not to ‘get on the beers’ and party during lockdown and made it the isolation-drinking theme song of 2020.
Do What You Can – Bon Jovi, Jennifer Nettles
Bon Jovi took a moment to reflect on this period in history on ‘Do What You Can,’ a track about empowering people to help in any way they can during the pandemic.
“I am a witness to history,” Jon Bon Jovi has said of the song. “I believe the greatest gift of an artist is the ability to use their voice to speak to issues that move us.”
I know Alone – HAIM
Haim’s single, ‘I Know Alone’ from their album Women in Music Pt. III was not actually written about the pandemic.
Recorded months before the outbreak in March 2020, the song quickly took on new significance and became a powerful outlet for people to acknowledge their feelings of despair during lockdown.
Grateful – Jewel
90’s folk-rock icon Jewel finds light in the darkness on ‘Grateful’, a great reminder to consider all of the things we still have while in lockdown. She has spoken on the mental health benefits of gratitude and how practising this has helped her through tough times.
If you want to hear all of these songs back to back, we’ve got you. Check out the Spotify playlist below for the entirety of The Latch’s Quarantunes.