About two weeks ago, when the news broke that we wouldn't be returning to school because of COVID–19, I did what I always do in a time of crisis or anxiety—I turned to music.
I created a collaborative playlist, QUARANTINE, and released it to the public to be expanded as a community effort in a time of self–isolation and social distancing. The songs I chose as the original playlist are meant to encapsulate common issues we struggle with in self–quarantine.
Hannah Diamond: "Hi"
The poster child of the UK collective/record label PC Music, pop star, and visual artist Hannah Diamond has made a name for herself with her postmodern pop. I find that she embodies digital isolation with crystalline images photoshopped to 100% HD perfection. On her 2015 single "Hi," Diamond sings about the pain of waiting for a text back or a video call from an unavailable lover and the loneliness of staying in her bedroom. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the song becomes a resonant almost–vocaloid ballad for our Zoom classes, FaceTime group calls, and all the ways we connect with each other on the internet because we can't in real life. As Diamond sincerely intones with all her frustrated longing for real human connection, "I don't wanna be alone in my bedroom, waiting to say 'Hi.'"
Grimes: "Before the Fever"
Released just weeks before coronavirus hit the United States and caused mass panic, "Before the fever" sees controversial indie pop star and producer Grimes seemingly predicting the end of the world. From the submerged, soaring vocals, to the haunting lyrics, "Before the fever" channels that late night, existential anxiety of not knowing if this is the end—a deeply unsettling thought I've had at one point or another in self–isolation. It's a privileged position, however, to reflect existentially on the current situation, but it's a common one for those forced to stay at home, who are not on the frontlines of the pandemic.
Taylor Swift: "Soon You'll Get Better (feat. the Dixie Chicks)"
I included this touching ballad from Taylor Swift's most recent album, Lover, as a voice for those with sick loved ones either at home or in the hospital, whose lives have been endlessly complicated by COVID–19. Written for Swift's mother and her battle with cancer, "Soon You'll Get Better" is perhaps the most emotionally difficult song that I contributed to the playlist, aching with the trauma of coming to terms with the potential loss of a loved one. I hope its inclusion helps anyone in a similar situation cope as they care for their loved one.
Poppy: "Don't Go Outside"
Last but not least, I chose Poppy's "Don't Go Outside" as yet another reminder to stay home. Taken from Disagree, "Don't Go Outside" is an epic conclusion to an album full of high octane adrenaline and pyrotechnics. It is the perfect song to rock out at home to.
Boasting currently over 1,500 songs and still open to the public, QUARANTINE has provided a much–needed sense of community and entertainment in these uncertain times.
While this playlist has helped me feel just a bit closer to my friends scattered throughout the country, I still struggle with the lack of in–person connection outside of my household. Sure, as an introvert I am used to spending time on the Internet, but COVID–19 has forced me, and others in similar positions, into a state of unnatural isolation. QUARANTINE, and the subsequent connections I've made through it, has mitigated that loneliness to a tolerable level for the time being.