Updated: Oct 6
So, let’s address the elephant in the room. Big concerts will not be happening for the rest of 2020, possibly not even in 2021. For many artists that rely on touring to make revenue and increase promotion of their latest releases, this is a devastating reality to face. However, although the touring has stopped, it doesn’t mean the love for music has. In fact, we’ve found that many artists from all genres used the time in isolation to write and produce music. Others who had already recorded albums projected to be released this year have decided to move forward with releases instead of waiting for touring to return. Here are some of the quarantine releases we’ve found that in our opinion are worth checking out.
“Don’t Give Up Your Ghost” - Movements
After the release of their 2017 album, Feel Something, Movements have been touring without any word of new music. Then, just last month, they broke their silence to announce they would be releasing their second full-length album, Nothing Left to Give on September 18. With the announcement came the release of the single, “Don’t Give Up Your Ghost” accompanied by an animated music video. Movements is among many in the post-hardcore scene who have decided to move forward with album releases despite the pandemic, wanting their fans to have something to enjoy and listen to in these uncertain times. You can check out the song and music video below.
“exile” by Taylor Swift feat. Bon Iver from the folklore album
Taylor Swift, like many other artists, decided to release an album. But unlike her ultra-hyped album debuts in the past, this one was dropped on her fans with no warning. folklore swept up the internet in the excitement of the release. Fans of all genres were giving it a listen and enjoying the experience. The song we’d recommend checking out from the album is “exile.” Our team member Colleen had this to say about the song:
This is the collab that I didn’t know I even wanted in quarantine. Much like the rest of the folklore album, “exile” has the indie-folk i-can’t-believe-i-was-done-wrong vibe that pairs great with rosé and heartbreak in the rain. I’m a lyrics-junkie myself, so I’m brought back to life when I hear lines like,
“I can see you starin', honey/Like he's just your understudy/Like you'd get your knuckles bloody for me”
This song is such a far cry from “Teardrops on My Guitar.” Plus, who isn’t obsessed with Bon Iver? (<<That’s rhetorical because I can’t bear to hear an opposing answer ;P)
You can check out the entire album below, but at the very least check out, “exile” which is track 4 on the album.
“Pearls” by Kandace Springs Feat. Avishai Cohen
Creativity and deep, meaningful songs didn’t stop for the jazz genre when quarantine began. This is especially true for the latest album release from Kandace Springs. Her third studio album, The Women Who Raised Me is a homage to some of the greatest soul and jazz singers that inspire her. We recommend “Pearls” for the same reason, that Springs herself loves it, “it brings me to tears.” A haunted version inspired by the original sung and written by British artist Sade, the song that makes both Springs and our team, “stop in my tracks” (Source). This is a great song to check out, even if you aren’t a fan of jazz. Give it a listen and see for yourself.
“WAP” by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion
We want to put a BIG disclaimer before checking out this song. While our team has found it entertaining to listen to and quite empowering for women, if you are not the type that likes to hear raunchy language, then this is not the song for you. “WAP” turned the world upside down when it was released in early August. It was met with a mix of praise and jeers. The song is an anthem for women to be proud of their sexualities and bodies. To critics, the song addresses this topic in a vulgar way. Putting all the controversy aside, the song has a great beat that is very catchy and both Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion go hard in the song, rapping about their sexual freedom and appreciation of their bodies. After decades of men talking about women in graphic sexual terms, it is refreshing to receive a song from the other side. If you like Cardi B and hip hop, you might enjoy this song. Below is the censored version, so if you’re curious but don’t want to hear the graphic terms, you’re still safe to give it a listen 😊
“Jessie’s Girl 2” by Coheed and Cambria FT. Rick Springfield
Yes, you read that right. In the midst of a pandemic, a sequel to the iconic “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield has been created. Except this time, there’s a fun twist. In the scenario that Springfield gets the girl, he soon realizes that his dream girl who fantasized about was not who he expected at all, and is in fact a psychopath. It’s a fun and inventive song that really brings you back to the 80s vibe that Springfield was going for. You can check out the music video that includes both Coheed and Cambria and Springsteen.
“Ooh LA LA” by Run the Jewels from the RTJ4 album
An album originally slated for June 5, 2020, Run the Jewels decided to release their latest album in digital format a couple days early. Given that there was still much uncertainty in June with COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests forming after the murder of George Floyd, it was a smart move to release it then. Much like Taylor Swift, the release was meant to uplift fans in an uncertain time. The duo said this when they released it,
“Why wait. The world is infested with bullshit so here's something raw to listen to while you deal with it all. We hope it brings you some joy. Stay safe and hopeful out there and thank you for giving 2 friends the chance to be heard and do what they love. With sincere love and gratitude, Jaime + Mike”
Rolling Stone explained that the album “unloads on racist cops, systemic poverty, corporate media, and other eternal enemies. But the album never feels preachy,” (Source). The entire album is full of inventive and catchy beats that make you want to bump along. However, our team member Adam’s favorite is "Ooh LA LA." This is what he had to say about the song:
The beat and the hook are super infectious. It gets my blood going. The lyrics are clever, and the flow is tight, I've liked Killer Mike for about 20 years now and Run the Jewels have given me a great appreciation for El-P's skills as well. The video is also great speaking to my punk communist side and seems somewhat prescient with the social unrest that would begin shortly after the release of the video.
You can watch the accompanying music video that was filmed just weeks before the pandemic swept the world.
Sure, many releases were just songs/albums of normal nature, but many songs were also released in direct reference to COVID-19. Here are a few of our favorites.
“Coronavirus” by Gmac Cash
While many of the releases have been originally written for other times or written about the current state of things, not many were as obvious of a quarantine jam than “Coronavirus” by Gmac Cash. The song talks about how the rapper wants to stay away from people saying, “If you coughin’, I ain’t wanna be around you.”
If you want a laugh and to hear a sick beat, listen below.
“Life in Quarantine” by Benjamin Gibbard
The singer of Death Cab for Cutie was one of the popular ones seen online playing livestreams to raise money for COVID-19 relief in the first few weeks of lockdowns sweeping the US. Looking for more ways to help, Gibbard wrote “Life in Quarantine” that discusses the environment as people stay inside. The song benefitted the Seattle-area relief organization Aurora Commons, a nonprofit safe space for the homeless. Some of the lyrics really paint of picture of the time and will likely be looked back on for reference in later years. “The streets are empty, the bars and cafes, too/ The streetlights only changing/ Cuz they ain’t got nothing better to do.” Take a listen.
“Quarantine” by Blink 182
Notoriously known for their light-hearted punk style with joke songs like, “Happy Holidays, You Bastard” “Family Reunion” and “Mother’s Day” it’s no surprise that Blink-182 would release a song about the pandemic. And yes, it’s as goofy as you’d expect while still being very relatable and accurate for the current situation. It also goes back the band’s roots, sounding different than their recent releases with Matt Skiba. The chorus insists, “Quarantine, f**k this disease/I’d rather be on Star Tours or stuck at the DMV/Quarantine, nah, not for me/I thought that things were f**ked up in 2019/F**k quarantine.” While the song is goofy, it also calls out the government for trying to open things back up for the sake of the economy before the virus is contained. You can watch the accompanying music video below.
While these are a just a handful of releases, there have been dozens more since this all began. Whether it is previously-written releases, albums written in isolation, or simply songs about the current state of affairs, musicians aren’t going to stop doing what they love. In a world where nothing has been quite the same since March, it’s comforting to know that music is still there, and new music will always be made, no matter the circumstances.
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