Are you trying to enjoy another round of summer under tight quarantines, but don’t seem to know how? Music might help make it a little less dull and we got you covered in that department. Check out these 12 selected tracks you or your friend might want to consider adding on your next pandemic playlist:
- “Sunshine” by Atmosphere (2018)
From the rapper and DJ hiphop duo out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, this song tells a simple story of someone dealing with a bad hangover who decided to step out and enjoy the sun to make himself feel better. Combining straightforward lyrics with calm and relaxed beats was a recipe for success for Atmosphere as the song became indispensable in their setlist during concerts.
Key Lines: “Ain’t nothin’ like the sound of the leaves / When the breeze penetrates these Southside trees / Leanin’ up against one, watchin’ the vibe / Forgettin’ all about the stress, thankin’ God I’m alive…
- “Colors” by Black Pumas (2019)
This psychedelic soul band from Austin, Texas recently won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, and deservedly so, after coming up with a stellar self-titled debut album featuring this smash hit. “Colors” not only played on the usual summer vibes with some retro-funk twist but also low-key tackled racial tensions in the United States. The core message of the song is all about finding beauty in diversity.
Key Lines: With all my favorite colors (yes, sir) / All my favorite colors (yes, ma’am) / My sisters and my brothers, see ’em like no other / All my favorite colors…
- “Blame Summer” by Radwimps (2020)
Yojiro Noda and his bandmates remain consistent in their sound following their successful collaborations with Japanese animè director Makoto Shinkai in his recent films. Last year, they released this track with an official English version to make it accessible for their fans outside of Japan. But hearing the song in its original language is so much better for the sake of argument. “Blame Summer” takes on the classic songwriting trope of making good memories with the people you love that are hard to let go of in the changing seasons.
Key Lines: This season won’t last / Moves five times as fast / Over in what seems just like a blink / So, why don’t we just try to stay here for all time or even more?
- “Lockdown” by Anderson .Paak (2020)
Before teaming up with Bruno Mars for their Silk Sonic project, multitalented artist Anderson .Paak released this track to help some people process the Black Lives Matter (BLM) uprisings in the US that happened against the backdrop of massive coronavirus shutdowns last year. “Lockdown” deftly integrated the easygoing sounds of summer, but the words are rich with strong political statements that made the BLM movement inevitable. If you ever find yourself sympathizing with the victims of hate crimes and racial injustices that are happening of late in America and even in our own territory, then this song is highly recommended for you.
Key Lines: We was tryin’ to protest, then the fires broke out / Look out for the secret agents, they be planted in the crowd / Said, “It’s civil unrest” but you sleep so sound / Like you don’t hear the screams when we catchin’ beatdowns…
- “Everytime the Sun Comes Up” by Sharon Van Etten (2014)
People say this song is dark and funny, which kind of makes sense. But according to singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten, the song just came out after she spent a whole day in the studio while working on her fourth record ‘Are We There?’ Consider it an accidental hit, as the track was eventually chosen to serve as the promotional single for that album, which received widespread critical acclaim upon its release. One can never really underestimate the potential of random thoughts.
Key Lines: We broke your glasses / But covered our asses / Take time silently / Feel real room high five / When every time the sun comes up I’m in trouble…
- “Lies of Summer” by Aimee Mann (2017)
If you are someone struggling with mental health issues and doesn’t want to bother with random motivational videos and podcasts spreading toxic positivity, you might want to check out the record Aimee Mann has put out in 2017. Fittingly titled “Mental Illness,” this 11-track album is replete with songs that honestly describe the existential pain of ordinary people struggling with extreme psychological conditions. The stories behind “Lies of Summer” and all the other songs included in the record may sound depressing for the uninitiated, but there’s a strange level of comfort one might feel if he or she can deeply connect with the words and music of Mann.
Key Lines: We’ll all rewind and just / Listen for the lies of summer / Who gets hurt the most / The guys that you would call brother / Girls that loved a ghost…
- “7/4 Shoreline” by Broken Social Scene (2005)
There is something very 2005 about this song released by the Canadian supergroup Broken Social Scene. It feels both nostalgic and current at the same time; foreboding yet also unworried. We included it on this playlist just for the fun of it. But, seriously, there’s so much rhythm going on in this track propelled by the energy of the band and how well each member plays off with one another. Canadian supergroups are really some of the best around the world when it comes to making this kind of music.
Key Lines: And you’re walking away / And you try to get through / But you’ve got another life / From the lies they told you / And you try to do it right / And they all will see you / If you try to steal the beat ohh / The beat will steal you…
- “One Summer’s Day” by Joe Hisaishi (2001)
Fans of the Japanese animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli will easily recognize this track from one of the best animated feature films of all time, “Spirited Away.” The collaborations between master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and genius composer Joe Hisaishi have been a gift to so many kids and young adults who remain enthralled by the wonderful world of animé. If you are someone who had come of age during the ‘90s and early 2000s chances are high that the movie and this soundtrack still affects you to this day in a nice way.
- “Seasons” by Chris Cornell (1992)
If Chris Cornell is still around today, what kind of song could he have written about the strange era we are living? Although “Seasons” is featured as one of the songs in the official soundtrack of Cameron Crowe’s romantic comedy film “Singles” in 1992, we cannot help but take this song as one of the quintessential summer anthem for all millennials who feel betrayed by the system. Millennials are the most misunderstood generation and this is not an opinion but a fact. Anyone who will also dare to ask for an explanation behind this statement can probably go and eat their own frustrations instead.
Key Lines: Sleeping with a full moon blanket / Sand and feathers for my head / Dreams have never been the answer / And dreams have never made my bed / Dreams have never made my bed / And I’m lost, behind / The words I’ll never find / And I’m left behind / As the seasons roll on by, yeah…
- “Once In A Lifetime” by Talking Heads (1980)
Uncertainty meets absurdity meets monotony. Nothing quite captures that feeling of spending yet another round of mundane summer under a coronavirus lockdown than this classic ‘80s hit from David Byrne and the Talking Heads. “We operate half-awake or on autopilot and end up, whatever, with a house and family and job and everything else, and we haven’t really stopped to ask ourselves, ‘How did I get here?’” Byrne once explained about the song and we couldn’t help but agree. This song is 40 years old but it’s still so relevant. Talk about timeless art.
Key Lines: Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down / Letting the days go by, water flowing underground / Into the blue again after the money’s gone / Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground…
- “Last Day of Summer” by The Cure (2000)
One of the most successful bands that came out of the New Wave movement still rocks to this day. The Cure has been an antidote for so many music fans after all these years and this song automatically made it to this list. We understand summer has just started but time flies like a thief in the night. Before you know it, it’s all over, so why not prepare ourselves to let it go like it never happened with this song? In all seriousness though, one can listen to this track and all songs by The Cure at any given season for all kinds of reasons.
Key Lines: It used to be so easy / I never even tried / Yeah, it used to be so easy / But the last day of summer / Never felt so cold / The last day of summer / Never felt so old…
- “We Will Become Silhouettes” by The Postal Service (2003)
You never judge a song by its sound. If you listen to this song by The Postal Service mindlessly, you might find yourself nodding along its cheerful melody. But once you pay attention to the lyrics, you might be surprised at how prescient the song became, especially considering the pandemic season. Although Benjamin Gibbard eventually wrote a song called “Life in Quarantine” to chronicle our collective experiences in the time of coronavirus, one can’t help but always go back to “We Will Become Silhouettes” as a fitting soundtrack for every kind of quarantine mood.
Key Lines: I wanted to walk through the empty streets / And feel something constant under my feet / But all the news reports recommended that I stay indoors / Because the air outside will make / Our cells divide at an alarming rate / Until our shells simply cannot hold…