We can still rock out even if we’re shut in
There’s no shortage of bad news these days, but we’re doing our best to stay upbeat. Here are 20 songs the editors have been cranking while isolated (as loud as our families will allow, at least).
“What A Man Gotta Do” by the Jonas Brothers
I may not have the most refined taste in music, but if enjoying this early 2020 hit by the comeback bros of the late 2000s is wrong, I don’t want to be right. It harks back to simpler times (three months ago), when singing about being “locked up” with someone wasn’t in poor taste. –Alyssa Hirose, assistant editor
“I Already Forgot Everything You Said” by the Dig
Given where we’re at, it’s hard to think about anything other than the current state of the world. But for five blissful minutes, you can plug in some headphones and turn on this effort from Brooklyn rockers the Dig. It ramps up nicely and, most important, puts you in a pleasant little daze. –Nathan Caddell, associate editor
“Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by the Police
The chorus of Sting’s catchy yet cringey answer to Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is a PSA for the age of coronavirus. Oh, and as usual, drummer Stewart Copeland has no right to be this good. –Nick Rockel, editor-in-chief
“Send Me on My Way” by Rusted Root
This is the only song I recommended that isn’t a Top 40 hit or sung by a guy from Hamilton, but I still shouldn’t get any credit: I only know it from the Ice Age soundtrack. Give it a listen and try to be in a bad mood, I dare you. –A.H.
“Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads
When I was a teenager in the 1980s, with America and the Soviet Union playing nuclear chicken, this rave-up nailed our Cold War fears of societal collapse. “I got some groceries, some peanut butter/To last a couple of days”—you can relate, right? –N.R.
“Martin” by Car Seat Headrest
Indie rockers Car Seat Headrest aren’t exactly known for feel-good anthems. And while recently released “Martin” doesn’t perfectly fit into that box either, its charm is irresistible. Part of the band’s upcoming album Making a Door Less Open, it opens like most Car Seat tunes (effective bassline, singer Will Toledo’s monotone musings), only to explode into an infectious (oops) chorus:
“And when I’m high on things that bug me, the morning news and instant coffee/I’ll forget, and forget and remember.”
Rinse and repeat. (Like Toledo washing dishes in a hazmat suit in the music video.) –N.C.
“Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell
“Don’t it always seem to go/That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?” You called it, Joni. –N.R.
“The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars
The Internet is crawling with articles about increasing productivity while in isolation, but I think it’s ridiculous to expect everyone to learn a new language or write a book or bake your weight in sourdough in these trying times. It’s cool to steal a page out of our man Bruno’s book and do nothing. –A.H.
“Waiting in the Garden” by Howard
As a stubborn Apple Music user, I love to celebrate when the service comes through for me. This week’s New Music Playlist made the grade by introducing me to Brooklyn musician Howard Feibusch. It’s hard to resist tapping your feet and nodding your head while he sings contemplatively about being “a one-man show, don’t know where to go.” Sound familiar? –N.C.
“Texas Sun” by Khruangbin and Leon Bridges
My daughter introduced me to this beautifully understated love song, which has made it onto the set list of the dad band I play in—if we ever get back together. When the smoke clears, I’m taking a cue from Bridges and going for a long ride. –N.R.
“That’s great, it starts with an earthquake,” burrs Michael Stipe as he unloads a tongue-twisting barrage of images gleaned from channel surfing. As R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills recently pointed out, the 1987 hit mixes dread about the state of the world with silly fun, something we could all use at the moment. –N.R.
“Auntie’s Basement” by Anthony Ramos
Thanks to my musical-obsessed sister, I saw this Hamilton star live in Vancouver a few months ago. Before he performed this song, he told the audience that even the fanciest of celebrity soirées still weren’t as cool as partying with his cousins in his aunt’s basement. Highly recommend for those currently stuck in basements. –A.H.
“Random Rules” by Silver Jews
Sadly, late frontman David Berman never got a chance to train his laser-guided wit on the COVID-19 crisis. “I know you’d like to line dance/With everything so democratic and cool,” he drawls here. “But baby, there’s no guidance when random rules.” –N.R.
“Broccoli (feat. Lil Yachty)” by Dram
It’s not about the vegetables, it has very explicit lyrics, and it’s the absolute perfect dance-party-in-your-living-room jam. –N.C.
“Isolation” by John Lennon
Rock ’n’ roll stripped to the bone, Plastic Ono Band is arguably the best album by an ex-Beatle (sorry, Ringo). “The world is just a little town,” Lennon croons in this gorgeous ballad, which speaks to the public abuse that he and Yoko Ono suffered. “We’re afraid of everyone.” Enough said. –N.R.
“Slow Burn” by Kacey Musgraves
In the opening track from her lovely Golden Hour, Musgraves reminds us of the world we’ve lost—for now. “You know the bar down the street don’t close for an hour/We should take a walk and look at all the flowers.” Remember when? –N.R.
“Shampoo Bottles” by Peach Pit
The Vancouver quartet puts out its second full-length album this week, and it promises to be a smash. That’s because Peach Pit has already released three songs from it—all of them certified jams—including this triumph, about an ex who left a bunch of stuff at the singer’s house. It hits harder right now because, well, you can’t go anywhere else. –N.C.
“I’m on a Boat” by the Lonely Island
“Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees
The Gibb brothers’ slinky disco classic, a staple at my elementary-school dances, has never sounded so comforting. And if self-isolation keeps me away from the hairdresser much longer, I’ll soon be sporting a Barry Gibb mane… –N.R.
“Comeback Kid” by Sharon Van Etten
I can’t say enough about Van Etten’s recent album Remind Me Tomorrow, but if you listen to this banger and don’t immediately think, “We will beat this,” you might be beyond saving. –N.C.