When Lady Gaga announced that she would be delaying the release of “Chromatica” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some fans were disappointed because they were hoping her music would help them get through this difficult time, with some even saying that it could have been a “quarantine anthem.” While some musicians are postponing releases because they prefer that we “spend this time focusing on finding solutions,” others have crafted coronavirus songs to boost public morale or to simply capitalize on the virus as a means to go viral.
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) March 24, 2020
Spotify user Glenn McDonald made a playlist called “The Sound of the Virus” containing songs with almost identical titles—there are hundreds of songs simply named “Coronavirus.” As of writing, the playlist contains 1,100 songs. Jody Rosen wrote an article about it for The Los Angeles Times and dubbed these tracks “pandemic pop.” Slate music critic Carl Wilson took the time to listen to some of the more popular songs on the playlist and wrote that it’s “dominated by rap and electronic dance tracks from around the world, including a ton from Europe and many from Latin America.” I gave it a bit of a listen too and I have to admit some of them are pretty catchy. Who would have thought that a song called “I Don’t Want to Wash My Hands (but i guess i will because of coronavirus)” would have a Lo-fi chillwave sound? Not me. Still, it’s concerning that some songs are trivializing the health crisis. If art is a reflection of human experience, then the rise in the number of coronavirus songs was only a matter of time while a lot of communities are under quarantine. We share our thoughts on the coronavirus songs that have been gaining attention and the trend of quarantine anthems.
It’s Corona Time
We’ve mentioned Red Knight’s “It’s Corona Time” in a previous article about viral coronavirus Tiktoks. It was the first coronavirus song that hit my radar because it was the tune playing on the background of a lot of TikTok videos during the early days of coronavirus content as a trend.
The song’s length is over three minutes but is composed of a repetition of the sentences “It’s corona time. Hey, it’s corona time right now.” over a synth-pop tune. A lot of the songs on the Spotify playlist follow the same formula. A snappy beat on top of a single line (or in this case two lines) that banks solely on an attempt to find melodiousness in the word “corona” equals a (hopefully) viral number. It’s vagueness made it a popular choice as background music to coronavirus challenges that were just for the LOLs but were borderline dangerous and insensitive such as the toilet seat licking health hazard.
Norwegian artist TIX’s “Karantene” is the first song listed on Glenn McDonald’s playlist. I don’t know if the dubious cover art with the artist sitting on a throne made of tissue rolls had anything to do with attracting listeners but its chorus, with the first two lines translating to “We are at home alone, at home in quarantine. Can’t do anything about it. Woo-Oo-Oo-Oo,” has the makings of a happy summer track accompanied by an acoustic guitar. While most of us are wishing the quarantine could end so we could spend our summer outside, others are faring much worse. It’s not exactly an anthem if not everyone can relate.
Dominican singer Yofrangel’s “Corona Virus” is a Dembow track with a beat that will get you on your feet. It’s not to be confused with Lil Nix’s song with the same title that’s also been making the rounds online. While the music video on the ambulance could do with a lot of toning down, Yofrangel does tell us to “Take care, the coronavirus is out there.” But that’s about it. Similarly, DJ iMarkkeyz sampled Cardi B saying “Coronavirus. Sh*t is real.” for a remix called “Coronavirus.” I just can’t, in good conscience, dance to these beats when so many have lost so much due to the virus. It kills—not just the mood.
Ghen Co Vy
A public service announcement in the form of a song is how “Ghen Co Vy” is being described. Artist Khac Hung wrote it with Vietnam’s National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health. The song, which borrows the tune of a V-pop hit, gives a crash course on how to “Push back the virus. Corona, corona.” It’s a certified bop to boot and a great way to spotlight safety measures. Billboard even wrote about the song and the TikTok challenge it inspired. Here’s something we can get behind.
Another local coronavirus song is an original composition of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) called “Babangon Tayo.” The organization released it on Mar. 27 as a “tribute to our frontliners and the power of the Filipino people.” Members of CAP performed the moving song whose message is encapsulated in the line “Malubha man ang lagay ngayon, sama-sama tayong babangon.”
The same day they released a message of support and appreciation for health frontliners. In the statement, they wrote, “We vow to use our art to ensure that, in our minds and hearts, we as a society emerge from this crisis not in the decaying model of this regime’s militarist vision—as a monolithic vanquisher of opponents—but as a community upholding shared well-being, equitably distributed resources, and unconditional grace.” The group showed that it’s possible to simultaneously make an effort to uplift the community and take a stand in keeping the government accountable for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Art can heal, and it can also be a form of protest. While there are coronavirus songs that are made with only personal gain in mind, maybe we can benefit from a quarantine anthem—not just to help us get through such a difficult time but to unite us even more.
Art by Tricia Guevara
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