Eleven coronavirus-relevant songs to immediately brighten up a long day of sheltering in place. 

By Payne Schanski 

I’ve only been on self-quarantine for seven days. How is it that I’m already pining for those halcyon days of spending nearly a quarter of sunlight hours traveling back and forth to places I’m not all that excited about going? If “Working from Home” had an official slogan, it would likely be something to the effect of, “Pretty awesome — for a few days at a time. Then you start to feel it.” And I’m one of the lucky ones that doesn’t have the sickness yet and still has a job to work from home at. If I need a coronavirus-themed playlist to cut through the boredom and face a worldwide crisis with a little irony from time to time, what must everyone else’s needs in that department be? 

My small contribution to universal house arrest season is this Ultimate Quarantine Playlist: Eleven coronavirus-relevant songs to immediately brighten up a long day of sheltering in place. Go ahead and give them a listen, and if I offer you solutions, offer you alternatives, and you decline (similar to a band towards the end of this list), well then there’s nothing I can do for you at this time.

 Corona and Lime – Shwayze 

Remember when you used to hear the word ‘Corona’, and it would trigger a smile, rather than a groan, severe flu-like symptoms, or a full-blown existential panic? A decade ago, I thought this song was super cheesy and pandering, but I also thought Shwayze’s other stuff was underrated, and hearing ‘Corona and Lime’ now makes me feel a decade younger. It’s funny how time can completely change the way you feel about a song (and the connotation of a word, for that matter). 

Alone, Together – The Strokes 

Might as well face the fact that we’re going to be spending a heavy amount of time alone together in Zoom video conferences for at least the next three months. While arranging a 100 person meeting just to see if the premium version of the app can really handle that type of traffic, there are far worse options for background music than the Strokes’ classic ‘Is This It’ album. If you don’t want your co-workers to see what the walls at your place look like, the abstract art from the album cover would make for a sweeeet custom screen background too. 

 Work From Home – Fifth Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign 

Similar to my ignorance two weeks ago about just how big of a deal coronavirus would turn out to be, it wasn’t until recently that I found out Camila Cabello was in Fifth Harmony back in the day. I always enjoy that “Holy crap, it’s [that guy] before they were famous!” moment, like seeing Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, et al in ‘The Outsiders’, or the young Judd Apatow crew in ‘Freaks and Geeks’. 

If you’re around either your parents or kids while listening, ignore all the blatant sexual double entendres in the verses and just sing the “We can work from home” part. Camila is most likely talking about Zoom video conferences anyway (“Ain’t no 40 minute lim-its!”) 

Boyfriend – Ariana Grande 

There aren’t any lyrics related to social distancing in this one. In fact, collaborating with Social House for the second verse would seem in direct opposition to the concept. I’ll give Ariana Grande a pass though, since she was ahead of the game with this self-quarantine thing. Weeks before it was fashionable, she was a pretty vocal advocate in favor of listening to the tens of thousands of health professionals practically begging us all to take this thing seriously. 

Locked Up – Akon 

Steady tryna’ find a motive/Why do what I do?/Freedom ain’t gettin’ no closer/No matter how far I go.” 

The original context is, you know — prison. In the next few weeks though — no matter how different the crowd you run with may be — you’ll find a lot more in common with Akon’s plight than you may have expected. It’s been politely suggested in most places up until now, but the New York/India path of action could become more widespread in the coming days. We’re looking at some time on lockdown, which weirdly is the same thing as being locked up, and soon it won’t be a polite suggestion. 

“Can’t wait to get out and move forward with my liii-iife!” 

Hanginaround – Counting Crows 

This one is unfair, because ‘Mr. Jones’ is like five times better than ‘Hanginaround’ if we’re talking Counting Crows songs. The band members would probably tell you the same thing, but nope, this is the one that laments hanging out and doing the exact same thing for way too long. Couldn’t they have slipped in at least a few coronavirus-relevant lines into the better song, maybe about Mr. Jones needing to wash his hands for twenty seconds after staring at the black haired Flamenco dancer? Or maybe, “Pass me a bottle [of hand sanitizer]…Mis-ter Jones!” 

Only problem is, the world is all sorts of screwed up right now. Hanginaround, it is. 

Mr. Jones – Counting Crows 

You know that old saying, “Focus on what you can control, leave what you can’t”? I’m doing exactly that with this selection. There are quite a few factors of the worldwide pandemic that are out of the control of you, me, and just about everyone else alive. There has to be at least one thing that I can fix right this second though, and including ‘Mr. Jones’ into my Ultimate Quarantine Playlist is that thing. 

Wanna Be There – AZ 

Some men see things the way there are… and say, ‘why’? I see things that never was…and say, ‘why not’? I just wanna be there, you know?” 

Where exactly do we just wanna be? After six weeks of quarantine duty, the answer could be “just about anywhere else.” Vacations, sporting events, concerts, casual hangouts, restaurants, even the office. All I can do is chuckle during the times when I start daydreaming and actually get nostalgic for running to catch a crowded bus to start an hour of commuting through the rain at 8:30 on a Monday morning. 

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – R.E.M. 

How Far We’ve Come – Matchbox Twenty 

Take your pick between either of these alternative rock bands with doomsday songs, with defeated lyrics and a “so what?” attitude that are covered up by catchy hooks and rollicking alt rock tempos. It’s basically a case of same song, different decade. R.E.M. came first (1987), but I like Matchbox Twenty’s version better. Maybe that’s only because it reminds me of hanging out on my friend Brandon’s boat during the summer of 2008, when the real end of the world seemed at least another decade away. 

“Oh well, I guess we’re gonna find out.” 

BONUS TRACK: Piano Sonata №2 in B-flat minor – Frederic Chopin 

You might not know it by its official title, but you know the song. The Darth Vader theme is based on it. It’s better known as the ‘Funeral March’, and now you’re probably going, “ohhh, yeah that one” and humming it to yourself. Let’s hope as few people as possible in the coming months make it to this part of the album, and if staying home and listening to good music is something we all have to do to help with that, then so be it.