The Quarantine Genre Of Music



Anyone and everyone can tell you that the Coronavirus has taken a lot from us. Social events such as concerts being one of those things. 2020 has set us in a world where we haven’t been left with much, and being stuck in quarantine can take a pretty big toll on people; again anyone can attest to that. But fortunately, the music industry has kept itself going even when the world has been put on pause. ‘The Quarantine Genre’ of music has blossomed in the current months, ‘pandemic pop’ and other styles becoming a platform for artists to find footing in. Plenty of new songs inspired by self-isolation and COVID-19 have sprung up and taken a strong hold of the charts, skyrocketing in popularity, now that everyone is stuck inside with a dire need for something positive and uplifting to chew on in such negative and depressing times. 

Alternative rock and schizo-pop band Twenty One Pilots took advantage of this new opportunity, and did so graciously. Being one of the first songs to kick start the ‘Coronavirus Genre’ of music, the band’s new single, Level Of Concern, basks in modern pop-funk and 80s vibes to spread a message of hope during very anxious times. In a world panicked and crazed with worry, lead singer Tyler Joseph explores this new, confusing world we’ve all been thrown into, asking his wife to tell him, even if it’s a lie, that “we’re alright” and “we’re okay.” The accompanying music video shows the band’s new life, the two halves of the duo living so close together, yet feeling miles apart; sending each other a flash drive of this song via the mail. Meanwhile, the two perform their parts of the song with their significant others, Joseph’s wife and newborn daughter with the lead singer, and Josh Dun’s newlywed and ESA dog with the drummer. The song radiates with positive energy intermingled with the anxiety that this pandemic has embedded in society, keeping the uncertainty of the situation in light while reminding listeners that everything will be okay, even if it seems like the world is coming to an end. 

Taking a more personal approach to the quarantine and pandemic, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber have come together, for a second time, to sing about being stuck inside, focusing on the positives of being on lockdown in their song Stuck With U. The two bring a doo-wop and pop ballad mix to the concept of being quarantined with loved ones, Grande complementing this new situation with the verse “Got all this time on my hands, might as well cancel our plans, yeah. I could stay here for a lifetime” Bieber furthers this rosy look on self-isolation, “Kinda hope we’re here forever, there’s nobody on these streets. If you told me the world’s endin’, ain’t no other way that I can spend it.”, showing this lighter aspect of being trapped inside. The song feels like it came straight out of one of Grande’s past albums, a positive or negative depending on what you were looking for from her, but regardless, carries this nice and optimistic message of looking on the bright side in these dark times. 

Sticking to the simple and positive, but jumping over to the country genre in the world of music, Six Feet Apart compiles Luke Combs’, and many others, feelings toward self-isolation. Combs sings repetitively about the people he misses, such as his parents and band mates along with being on the road and performing shows. This coalesces with the reminder that one day this will all be over; that the world will reach the light at the end of the tunnel and won’t be constricted by a six-foot barrier. 

Written before it’s time but released at the perfect moment, Living In A Ghost Town by The Rolling Stones, is an elementary song about the loneliness everyone is feeling nowadays. Lead singer Mick Jagger sings about how he feels like a ghost, left to wander an abandoned world where everyone used to have fun and forget about life. Enriched with Keith Richards’ power over the guitar and harmonica solos that give this orange-soaked feeling of roaming a deserted town in the middle of the arid midwest, the song captures the vibe of The Rolling Stones while equally depicting the sense of lost and feeling of isolation that anyone can relate to these days.  

Similar to what happened with Mick Jagger, lead singer for OneRepublic, Ryan Tedder, had written the chorus for a song on the band’s new album, Human, which was to be titled Better Days. Once the Coronavirus spiked and lockdowns were being issued across the globe, Tedder found the inspiration to finish the song, deciding to focus on the overall problems people are facing now, singing “Oh, I know that there’ll be better days. Oh, that sunshine ‘bout to come my way. May we never ever shed another tear for today.” The song takes another approach towards retaining positivity and hope in these “dark nights” and “dark days”. This message is continued through outlooks on the future being brighter and that time can change things quickly, something we have already experienced early this year. 

But out of all the songs to come out in these past months, one of the most interesting and encouraging was released by indie power pop and alternative rock band OK Go. Known for their more elaborate and meticulous music videos, such as one’s surrounded around a complex Rube Goldberg Machine, walls of printers creating massive murals, or just the four band members jamming out and dancing on treadmills, the group has come together — from a distance — to perform a song regarding the aforementioned issues with COVID-19 along with the lead singer’s personal experience with the illness. All Together Now takes on a “more somber” tone from the band’s other songs, exploring, not the positivity in the world currently, but instead the potential we have now in this moment of chaos. The song goes into that concept more, focusing on the two sides of chaos, the destructive storm that annihilates all in it’s path, and the creative potential that unfolds before everyone, a platform to transform oneself into something more than who they were in the beginning. Lead singer, Damian Kulash, equates this to metamorphosis, “All of it dissolved, all together in the chrysalis. Together in the chrysalis.”, stating that we are no longer the caterpillar, nor are we the butterfly yet; instead we are that liquid state a caterpillar becomes before transforming into a butterfly. We are currently fluid and malleable, and that will allow us to grow and change from this experience. Kulash and his family dealt with being infected early in February, and though they are healthy now, the moments where he was confined to his bed and his wife was momentarily hospitalized, changed his entire outlook on this pandemic. Kulash embodies this all in the line “Though they’re all still the same, everything’s untouched but forever changed.” The Coronavirus has shown how fragile the world is, but what matters is how we’ll change from this chaos. Kulash sings, hoping that this will bring us closer together, even if we’re alone right now.  

Many artists have taken on the task of making music regarding this topic, delving into the sounds of a virus and writing songs that reflect both our current emotions as well as our outlooks towards the future. There are thousands of songs out there, from original works to parodies, all about the Coronavirus, the quarantine, the self-isolation, everything. 2020 has been one of the most daunting years in recent history, one that will not only change all of our lives but also how the world works. It’s shown us just how brittle our foundation is, how easy something can just come in and tear it down, separate us, divide us. It’s nice to know that even in the chaos, we still have music to help get us through the darkness and will support us during our evolution through said darkness. This is a chance, a chance for us to change, and music is just the first step in our own metamorphosis.