Music is a magical thing: it can invoke memories, affect moods and tell stories. For me, music has been a part of my life since the beginning, as both of my parents were involved in musical theatre and they brought me to see their numerous productions (just for the record, my favorite one is Mame). Nowadays, I listen to music all the time, whether I’m working, at the gym (or on the trail, since I haven’t been able to go to the gym in a while) or just doing other menial tasks. Ever since being stuck in isolation, I’ve been frequently turning to music as a way to cope not only with my own emotions but with everything else that’s going on in the world. So, I thought I’d share my special “quarantine playlist” with you and explain why I picked some of the songs that I did. Also, keep in mind that I picked some of these songs not specifically because of the current situation, but because they spoke to me on a personal level. That being said, here are some of the songs in my playlist:
Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root – When I was growing up, it seemed like this song was in every single movie I saw, usually accompanying a montage of some kind (the ones that immediately come to mind are Matilda and Harriet the Spy, but feel free to let me know if you know of any others). That being said, this song is a perfect upbeat tune to have playing while you work out, do chores, or just want to frolic about the house (yes, I’ve done it, sue me). Part of the reason I think this song has stuck with me since the nineties (a time when, keep in mind, I was a drooling child with a tendency to paint myself blue) is that when I hear it, it automatically brings me back to my childhood and all the fun things that went along with it.
King of Anything by Sara Bareilles – This is the obligatory “screw you” song on the list. But what I like about this one as opposed to other, more scathing songs like You Oughta Know or Praying (and believe me, I LOVE those songs) is how the lyrics really paint the picture of someone who is realizing that they are allowed to have their own thoughts and opinions, and that the person who’s trying to bring them down is really the one who is insecure and powerless.
Unstoppable by Sia – In my humble opinion, this is one of Sia’s best songs, and absolutely deserves to be as big of a hit as Chandelier (make it happen people). This is also my go-to workout song, as it’s driving beat and message of empowerment are the perfect motivators to get moving and crush my workout.
Tiny Dancer by Elton John – When I was a teenager, I used to dance intensively every day of the week, and this was the first (and only) solo that I ever performed at a recital. As such, listening to this song brings me back to that time when I was so deeply involved in dance, and how I felt like I was on top of the world (sadly, I don’t remember the solo I did).
Dog Days are Over by Florence & the Machine – I had to have a song from my favorite band on the list (seriously, check them out). This is the most obvious song to pick from their catalogue, as it has a message of hope and happiness that is so desperately needed right now. Fun fact: it’s also very easy to play on guitar or ukulele, as it only requires three chords.
Dancing On My Own by Calum Scott (originally by Robyn) – I had to have a sad song on this list, and although I like the original, more dance friendly version by Robyn, I slightly prefer this version due to it being a more stripped down version.
Good as Hell by Lizzo – A song that makes you feel awesome even when you’ve been sitting around the house in sweats all day and your hair has started to grow out, literally revealing your true colors.
Exogenesis Symphony Part 3: Redemption by Muse – I discovered this gem due to it being a modern figure skating warhorse (my mom tells me that figure skating is a niche sport that won’t help me connect with people, but it is a sport, so that’s a step forward for me). What I like about this song is that there aren’t many lyrics, it’s mostly instrumental, and to me it tells more of a story than if there had been lyrics throughout the whole thing. It starts out with a very slow, somber piano solo which builds as other instruments come in and reaches a crescendo that leads to the lyrics finally coming in asking the lister to start over and forgive themselves. It’s an extraordinarily well constructed piece of music that manages to be both introspective and epic at the same time.
No One is Alone from Into the Woods – The last two songs on this list are showtunes, which is to be expected when a theatre person gives you their personal playlist. Into the Woods is one of my favorite shows ever, and this in turn is one of my favorite songs. Hearing the message of how despite the fact that people may leave you, no one is ever really gone forever and thus you are not alone, is especially comforting in this crazy and troubling time we’re living in.
We Raise Our Cups from Hadestown – The final song I’ve picked for this list is from the Broadway musical Hadestown. In the show, this song happens after the curtain call, when the audience is on their feet from applauding (this show absolutely deserves every standing ovation it gets). The song itself is about how, even if they may fail, the people who may fail but try their hardest despite the odds deserve to be celebrated just as much as the people who succeed. Listening to the song now with all that’s going on in the world, it has become a tribute to all the people out there on the front lines of this crisis. These are the people whose names we may not know, but whose efforts are extraordinarily brave and demand our utmost respect, and so as the song says, I raise my cup to them.
These are just a few of the songs that I’ve been listening to during quarantine, and if anyone is so inclined to check them out, I hope they bring you as much joy as they do me.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe!