When you’re alone for 14 days, the soundtrack you choose is pretty important. It might be the only thing you hear on a long weekend day or quiet night.
I was in quarantine in the Northwood apartments last week, and music was one of the only ways I stopped each bleak, monotonous day from bleeding into the next. While I was lucky to have a few friends in the neighboring isolation apartments, I do maintain that a Northwood quarantine is one of the loneliest ways to spend a week or two. The detachment from Central Campus activities, paired with a barren, drafty, one-person apartment — not to mention the unwelcome addition of some mild yet pesky COVID-19 symptoms — meant this week was really not one of my best.
However, you have to find ways to pass the time up there and, judging by the variety of genres I could hear through the paper-thin walls, listening to music was an apartment-wide activity. This gave me the idea to text some of the people I knew were also in isolation at the time to ask about their most-played songs during their quarantines.
After receiving some responses for this project from friends and roommates, I was shocked at the range of songs and even genres that were chosen. Some people chose to listen to slow, relaxing songs, while others blared what I can only describe as frat music. I personally really leaned into the sad, lonely music: I felt that it would be wrong not to try to set an appropriate Northwood mood, so I listened to almost exclusively what Spotify deems “Edgy Indie Pop” (please note: I would never use those words, but Spotify has spoken).
There was definitely some unnecessary wallowing on my part, but I was able to find some great songs and playlists for the next time that I decide to be mopey. Below is the list of songs that people told me were their most-listened-to during quarantine.
“Moon Song” and “Savior Complex” – Phoebe Bridgers
Both from Phoebe Bridgers’s 2020 album Punisher, these two were my most-listened-to songs during quarantine. Bridgers is the singer who I discovered when everyone was first in quarantine in March 2020, and when I found myself back in isolation, she made a strong return. Her songs have beautiful melodies and dark, biting lyrics that make for a calming yet thought-provoking listen. In one analysis in NME magazine, Bridgers was revered for her ability to “write about death and make it sound like a lullaby.”
“Moon Song” is a heartbreaking love song about loving someone who hates themself. She sings, “I will wait for the next time you want me / Like a dog with a bird at your door.” It’s poignant, tragic and speaks plainly about an impossibly complicated situation. “Savior Complex” is equally dark, with its exploration of what it’s like to be in a relationship with a toxic or emotionally draining person. The recent music video for “Savior Complex” (directed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Fleabag”) provides a triumphant ending to the narrative, implying that the narrator escapes the relationship after being mistreated. Especially on this second album, Bridgers’s songs are introspective and distinctly lonely — perfect for my deliberately sulky and brooding mood while in mid-pandemic solitude.
“Temporary Love part 2” – Easy Life and “Yellow Lights” – Harry Hudson
“Quarantine gave me way more time to listen to more music than usual, and I started listening to my discover weekly playlist again, which showed me these two songs. They’re really catchy and slower songs and ones that you can play on repeat for hours which was nice since I had that kind of time for once!” — LSA sophomore Ritika Shetty
“Jackie Wilson” – Hozier
“It’s just a great song to start the morning and makes everything feel sunnier. I also listened to old Fergie a lot when I brushed my teeth — so there’s that!” — LSA sophomore Evelyn Plonsker
“Bloody Valentine” – Machine Gun Kelly
“This one was my quarantine anthem because it’s a total bop, upbeat enough to keep me moving on a run, and infused with enough anger to match how I was feeling being trapped in my house for three weeks.” — LSA sophomore Allison Kolpak
“So Close” – NOTD
At the opposite end of the range of songs is this quintessential Michigan frat basement anthem, sent to me by my ever-enthusiastic roommate. It’s definitely one that puts you right back into a pre-pandemic headspace. “So Close” reminds me of being surrounded by friends and strangers and not being able to hear clearly the next day.
“This is one of my favorite songs ever. I think it is a good song to listen to while in quarantine because it is upbeat and reminds me of non-COVID times.” — LSA sophomore Emily Wilson
Though this song could not be further from Phoebe Bridgers, the fact that it made it onto this list makes me smile because it reminds me of how differently people handle the 14 days on their own. That said, it was comforting to find that while we went about it in different ways, we all shared the experience of using music to endure those two weeks. When the rap music from the adjacent apartment mixed with the shameless Taylor Swift playlist coming down through the ceiling, it was a reminder that while I may have been alone, there was another lonely person behind each of the walls.
Daily Arts Writer Caroline Atkinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.