For most people, the stages of quarantine have gone something along these lines: anger about being stuck inside all day, acceptance that quarantine is a necessary measure, militance in making sure that everyone follows the rules, confusion as to what to do with all this free time and resignation that quarantine is going to last a whole lot longer than anticipated. If your quarantine hasn’t gone down this way, you haven’t been adhering to social distancing and isolation measures, which is wack, and you will therefore be considered a buster. All of these emotions and feelings culminate in what will be known as the “quarantine blues” from here on out. As a way to combat the quarantine blues, I’ve thrown together a quick playlist composed of songs that I enjoy and feel embody the process of going through the quarantine blues.
It all starts with Suicidal Tendencies’ “Institutionalized.” Singer Mike Muir’s palpable anger is bound to resonate with anyone upset about the forced quarantine, even though it’s what’s best for everyone. Next, “Counting Days” by The Fight and “Army of One” by Drain are two hardcore shitkickers that take listeners toward acceptance as they count the days and slowly begin to understand that the fight against the virus starts with you, an army of one. Pop Smoke’s “Get Back” and Lil Uzi Vert’s “You Better Move” usher in the phase of enforcing the militant sanitary standards that are needed to keep every at-risk person healthy. “Don’t Call Me” by Young Thug carries this militant attitude toward social distancing, but he does so in a pensive, conflicted tone. The next two songs, “Where Do I Go (Bbq Music)” by Max B and “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” by Merle Haggard, both realize that all we can do is stay home and stay safe, though all we want to do is literally anything else. “I’m Not That Lonely Yet” by Reba McEntire and “A Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams Jr. transform the confusion into resignation that we’re stuck in quarantine and there’s nothing we can do about it, but we’ll make it through (eventually). The last song, “Good Times” by Eric Burdon, serves as a bonus track of sorts, something of a final reminder to everyone to use their time wisely in quarantine. That is to say, make sure you’re doing exactly what you want to be doing, whether it’s being productive, chatting on the phone, reading a book or drinking a couple beers while watching TV.
— Jim Wilson, Daily Arts Writer
Most notable to me during this quarantine: the building blocks of my conversations have vastly changed. I’ve been asking my pals for one word to describe how they’re feeling (a support group tactic, perhaps) and I’ve been leaning on metaphors heavily. My pals and I metaphorize the waves of quarantine: We talk of feeling like sedimentary rocks, losing their sediments (ha), of how the days feel like getting on a roller coaster (when “I’m okay” suddenly turns to “get me the fuck out,” then you’re off the ride, feeling all bad-tempered, until you grab some carnival food and the cold-sweat is gone). I told another friend of the candle-girl-metaphor I've been utilizing. I see how much progress the candle makes, as a way to keep track of the time. Like tallies on the wall. Like watching paint dry, but better.
To me, that’s the primary component of playlists: making metaphors. These quarantine playlists feel like a ton of metaphors to try out, trying to find enough representations of and deep dives into the moods you’ve lost or the moods you think you need.
And so in my metaphor campaign, I keep coming back to "Aquemini" by Outkast, the intro of my quarantine playlist:
“Even the sun goes down, heroes eventually die / Horoscopes often lie and sometimes “y” / Nothin’ is for sure, nothin’ is for certain, nothin’ lasts forever / But until they close the curtain / It’s him and I Aquemini”
No one was expecting this. Josh Peck’s armpits are sweaty because the forecasts have lied; quarantine is not an A, E, I, O, or U situation, it’s a sometimes Y, it's maybes and uncertainties. But through it all, there's a team effort. It’s Andre and Big Boi till the end, and it’s me and my pals til the end, because who else would we share our metaphors with, and send our playlists to?
— Sam Cantie, Music Beat Editor
This playlist is not full of cheesy tunes like “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” but rather the songs that creep up on you when you’re alone, when the Netflix show you’ve been binging fades out at 3 a.m. and your half-awake face shines back in the darkened computer screen. Yeah, these are the isolation blues, baby. Stuck inside our houses, things can get a little bit foggy, so let this mix guide you through the blur as easily as a thumping bass line or a synthy undertone seems to weave its way through good music. With a sprinkling of psychedelia, folk, jazz, soft rock and everything in between, the same atmosphere of vibey lethargy is present in each song on this playlist. It’s good for throwing on at the end of the night, while you attempt to bake bread for the twentieth time or even dance by yourself trying to shake away some of that social distancing delirium. Let it play on … this is not the time for shuffling.
— Clara Scott, Daily Arts Writer
“It’s a reference to — ”
“‘The Lighthouse.’ I know. I looked it up,” I said, cutting him off, knowing he would laugh.
I was on the phone with a friend whose parents had whisked him off campus with little notice earlier that week (not an uncommon practice these days, but everything has this way of feeling both blindsiding and maddeningly feasible). He had proposed we do weekly phone calls, and I was grateful; this was our first one. We were talking about our quarantine playlists, his most recent quoting a line from Willem Dafoe, as I learned by googling the title of his playlist.
I could decrypt almost anyone’s Spotify playlist like this (routinely, I scroll through the Friend Activity sidebar, especially when I try to feel less alone), but he’s one of few I’m open about that with. He knows it’s an odd but well-intentioned display of attention and camaraderie, but also a game. I think we both need it right now, to say I’m still me, you’re still you — not everything has to come to a screeching halt.
In the same phone call, I mentioned something I’d been trying lately: bookending playlists with disparate tracks by the same artist. One such post-quarantine playlist of mine, called “Wake up in this comic book, plant forsythias,” is an example. It starts with Rodriguez’s melancholy but relevant “Cause” (the final line of which inspired the title), and concludes with the more lilting, sarcastic but varying “Jane S. Piddy.” In between, you’ll find hopeful peaks — like The Monkees’ “Me & Magdalena” — and dips — like Damien Jurado’s “Everything Trying.” Much like my days, my moods, under this quarantine.
“One of these days I’m going to make a playlist you can’t decode.”
I smile, say yes, welcoming the challenge, our game, the continuity, the comfort of knowing someone and being known.
— Julianna Morano, Managing Arts Editor
I won’t pretend my quarantine playlist is original. It’s a short, sweet blast of nostalgia, thoroughly ripped off from my dad’s (admittedly cooler) playlists. There’s nothing on here you probably haven’t heard. Then again, that’s the point.
To survive these volleying times, I turned back to the “oldy-but-a-goody” tracks of my childhood. Between Buddy Holly’s bouncing love ballads, to the more modern folk twangs of Caamp, my playlist is an offering in the ritual of happiness. I hope you smile, when ABBA filters through your speakers; I hope you laugh at the end of Rupert Holmes “Escape (The Pina Colada Song),” when the lovers realize how foolish they’ve been –– I always do. I hope that you find hope again, when Marvin Gaye triumphantly proclaims that “there ain’t no mountain high enough.”
These songs bring me back to sunny porches, wide open roads and hot coffee paired with cool mountain mornings. They bring me back home, despite being stranded in Ann Arbor, miles away from my own family. They bring me back to safe, warm, happier moments. They bring me back to my dad.
I hope they bring you somewhere, too.
— Madeleine Virginia Gannon, Daily Arts Writer
What better time to listen to random songs you haven’t heard in years than while stuck in quarantine? That is exactly what this playlist is. Unlike any other playlist I’ve made before, this one has absolutely no rhyme or reason to it, an accurate representation of my current mindset. I am all over the place and therefore, this playlist is too. I doubt any of you would have expected Don Toliver and Doja Cat to be in the same place as David Bowie and One Direction, but alas, they have all gathered here today on this disaster of a playlist. If you’re bored at home and out of music to listen to, here’s your reminder to go back to your music library from eighth grade and revisit those memories. I can’t think of a better opportunity to go down memory lane than when you’re trapped in your childhood home for an unknown period of time. Also, “Michigan” by Brockhampton because I want to go back.
— Gigi Ciulla, Daily Arts Writer
The world feels like a dumpster fire and this playlist is here to help. Instead of dwelling on our scary reality, these songs lean into escapism, my favorite coping mechanism. Every track is a song that I find irresistible to move to; a few throwbacks are mixed in to help recall simpler times. Hopefully this playlist can serve as a reminder that while you can’t always change what’s happening around you, there are some actions you can take to change how you’re feeling. Listening to these songs, I can’t help but feel energetic, a little goofy and most importantly optimistic. If you have the opportunity, I recommend this playlist alongside a long (social-distancing-conscious) walk, or maybe even a therapeutic bedroom dance party. However you listen, all of these songs have nothing to do with the coronavirus and everything to do with being a little more joyful.
— Katie Beekman, Daily Arts Writer