Music in the Midst of Mayhem

I’m sure you’ve heard the words “these are unprecedented times.” And, quite truthfully, they are. In almost 3 months of lockdown and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve felt loss in many ways, while doing our best to make things work. Whether it be online classes, video calls, late-night online pictionary , lining up outside the grocery store, or going for family walks, we are all doing our best to maintain a connection.

One of the most comforting things for many is music. It’s easy to lose yourself in it, relax and forget about the insanity in the world–at least for a few minutes. Music is incredibly powerful because it offers an escape, something necessary during a time when leaving your house is a risk. To me, the most upsetting cancellations concerts. From the moment I hear about a tour, to when I buy the tickets, to when I get to the show, I feel this surge of excitement anticipation that cannot compare to anything else. I had tickets to see one of my favourite bands, the 1975, at the end of this month. For a long time it was the glimmer of hope that got me through the end of IB Higher Level Chemistry, Prep exams, and the planned final IB exams. To hear that my glimmer of hope has been snuffed out majorly sucks.

However, in light of today’s issues, musicians of all kinds are stepping up and doing their part to make their fans feel at ease with some sense of normalcy. Musicians continue to share their art and connect with their fans through livestreams on Instagram, new releases, live music video releases, collaborations, song covers, playlist-making, listening parties, and the 30-day song challenge. I am eternally grateful to these artists who continue to make their fans happy, while also supporting COVID-19 relief by raising funds. Because these little musical experiences have been the highlights of my week and one of the biggest parts of my quarantine that help keep me positive, I have decided to share a few of these “events” with the readers.

1. Rex Orange County’s Instagram Live concerts

Rex Orange County has been an absolute gem. He’s known for being very authentic and nothing feels more authentic than watching him at home, playing his guitar or keyboard, singing whatever songs come to mind–from his originals to One Direction. Seeing his tweets about going Live in a few hours makes me smile immediately. It feels very intimate to be watching a mini concert from within his own home. He sings our requests, he jokes around, and he wows the audience with his talent. As I sing or play along, or simply while I stare at my screen in awe, I find myself forgetting about the madness in the world.

2. Beabadoobee’s Instagram Lives and covers

Beabadoobee’s livestreams are little surprises that make my day. Without any warning she starts Instagram Live and it truly feels as if she is simply hanging out with her fans. She talks, jokes, plays her guitar absentmindedly, sings whatever the fans ask of her, shows off her new outfits, and drags her boyfriend Soren into view. It all feels very genuine and authentic, providing an escape to fans. Beabadoobee has also been posting covers in association with magazines, such as Face magazine and 88rising, which have been a blessing–I could listen to her sing the phone book and I’d stay entertained.

3. Ariana Grande's cover of a Disney song & Stuck With You

Many celebrities have done covers of Disney songs but I am obsessed with Ariana Grande’s cover of “I Won’t Say I’m In Love” from the animated movie Hercules. It demonstrates so much talent and creativity since she not only sings the lead as Megara but also all the background singers as the Muses. All recorded from home, this rendition clearly took a lot of energy and work, and fans everywhere appreciated her effort in keeping everyone entertained. She also released a song with Justin Bieber with all proceeds going towards COVID relief, which is certainly very commendable and appreciated.

4. Conan Gray’s album

This isn’t really an event but Conan Gray’s debut album Kid Krow was released March 20th and it has been playing on repeat in my house. I play it as I do my chores every Saturday, sing it in the shower, and I have learned every song in the album on piano. Now more than ever, fans wanted something new to sing constantly and his album has been a gift that keeps on giving.

5. Olivia O’Brien’s covers & music video

Olivia O’Brien has been posting low-key covers of her favourite songs and has also posted her singing ideas from her songwriting sessions. The videos are fun and act as a window into her writing process, as well as the kind of music she enjoys listening to (I also get to appreciate her voice). O’Brien released a music video recently for her song “Josslyn” and the whole thing was done with a cheap Amazon green screen. It was really down-to-earth and playful and showed that she cares about keeping her fans entertained at this time.

6. All-things The 1975

  • The 1975’s Matty Healy’s Spotify playlist

Many fans are fascinated by what their favourite artists listen to and what inspires them. With so much time on our hands, many music lovers are dying to discover new artists and songs. Lots of musicians, like Halsey, have created playlists for their fans or have simply shared theirl playlists. I personally listened to Matty Healy’s playlist (called “At about 6-7” on Spotify). Through these artist’s playlists, I have discovered some really cool music that I would have never come across before and it felt a little magical knowing one of my biggest musical inspirations had crafted this playlist and could be listening at that very moment.

  • The 1975’s single releases, merch drops, and live video releases

The 1975 have been releasing highly-anticipated songs, such as “If you’re too shy (let me know)”, “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America” and “Guys”. The release of these songs have had fans creating covers, making TikToks, dancing, tweeting, etc. The live music video premieres have been super cool too, as fans have the opportunity to experience them together, at the same time. Every week, The 1975 have also been releasing old merch favourites, making fans very, very excited to recieve their own band memorabilia and paraphernalia. All of these things just given people something exciting to look forward to, uniting an international audience.

  • The 1975’s Friday listening parties as they count down to their album

Being completely honest, the 1975 are keeping their fans FED. I feel as though, with every new day, I have some sort of content to consume and be excited about. The band’s fourth album, Notes on a Conditional Form, is to be released on May 22nd, and, on the three Fridays leading up to the release, there are album listening parties. Basically, all fans listen to the same album at the same time and everyone is active on twitter. We also get to read storylines written by band member Matty Healy on Spotify for each song. This has been a highlight of my week for the last 3 weeks. 2pm on Fridays is my favourite time. There is beauty in knowing that thousands of fans across the world–from Manila to New York, from London to Toronto–are listening to the same songs at the same time, with a shared love for the band. Even more magical is knowing the band themselves are listening at the same time as you. Reading fan reactions and tweets from the band members makes one feel as if they belong to a super inclusive community where you can interact with people who appreciate the music as much as you. I think this has been a beautiful gift from the band because, as self-isolation continues, there seems to be less and less to look forward to. Although they may be small, these listening parties give fans something to be excited about as days blend together.

During this unprecedented situation, music has been a rock for me and is the source of much of my happiness. I really appreciate the efforts of artists who are bringing light into their fans' lives and doing their part to raise funds for COVID-19 relief. I also feel glad that I can help bring the artists a sense of normalcy as they perform and release their music. Art has always been a way to heal people during difficult times and I think the current situation has proved this once again. I highly suggest checking if any of your favourite artists have organized special music-related events, and you should also partake in the events that I mentioned above!

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