Artists across genres release timely songs, whether they intended to or not
The global COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone, including artists. With music venues closed, tours canceled or postponed and album releases up in the air musicians, like many others, suddenly have more time on their hands.
For some, this has led them to pen songs that speak to the uncertain times. Others simply released songs as planned that took on a different meaning.
Below are a few such songs. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list.
‘The World is Ending’– Brent Cobb
In an article by Lorie Liebig for “the Boot,” Cobb said the song was not originally talking about the current global pandemic, even though he admits the song fits the times.
Instead, the song was written back in 2011 when conspiracy theorists believed the end times would be brought about by the end of the Mayan calendar.
Cobb recorded the track last December but said in a statement, “I didn’t plan to release this song, but in light of the current situation, here it goes.” The artist told his fans to “stay safe out there. Let’s love each other…from a distance.”
Cobb’s vocals walk down deserted streets of acoustic guitar while tumbleweed drums roll by blown by the soft breeze of keys. The result is haunting and irresistible.
‘There is No I in Beer’– Brad Paisley
The latest track from Brad Paisley is a fun track that throws it back to Paisley at the beginning of his career. With the humor of “Ticks,” “Me Neither” and “Alcohol,” “There is No I in Beer” is a song that is fun to sing along to.
Paisley originally wrote the track in 2018 with Kelley Lovelace but had yet to release it when the pandemic began. After updating some of the lyrics, he released the song on April 15. Toward the end of the song, Paisley added a toast to those keeping the country going including first responders, truck drivers, farmers and nurses.
Paisley has also been reaching out to fans in a way that goes hand in hand with the message of the song. On social media, the country artist told fans to leave their virtual happy hour conference call links in the comments.
According to a Billboard article, Paisley has since crashed a virtual 21 birthday celebration, joined a group of elementary teachers and a healthcare workers’ video call.
The rollicking guitar sets the mood from the start. Paisley told Associated Press that the song is not only fun. “It’s not just a ‘We’ll get through whatever you’re going through’ thing. It’s literally a rallying cry. It’s a fight song,” Paisley said.
‘Stay Home’– Big & Rich
It is no secret that John Rich and “Big Kenny” Alphin like to have a laugh, but with “Stay Home,” they are also trying to make a point.
In an interview with CMT, Rich said the song ” is basically a public service announcement wrapped in a country song. It puts a grin on your face but reminds us all to do the most important thing we could do right now, and this is to ‘Stay Home.'”
The song’s verses humorously talk about pandemic struggles such as homeschooling, raw hands from washing and hand sanitizer, staying in the clothes you slept in and running out of toilet paper. The latter serves as the album art for the song.
The chorus tells listeners “stay home/ stay home/ no reason in the world for you to roam/ we’re all in this together/ no friend you ain’t alone/ all you gotta do is stay home.”
In the music video for the song, Rich sits with his acoustic guitar next to his guitar-shaped pool as Alphin wears a welding helmet and eating Peace Love & Happy Hour peanuts through Rich’s laptop. The video also uses various fan-submitted home videos.
‘Stay Away’– Randy Newman
For many, Randy Newman’s voice is synonymous with the “Toy Story” movies. He is the voice behind “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” “I Will Go Sailing No More” and “Strange Things.” Newman has also created original music for multiple movies, most recently “A Marriage Story.”
“Stay Away” started out as a public service announcement about social distancing for Los Angeles but warped into a love song for Newman’s wife Gretchen.
Newman mixes humor, heartfelt sentiment and pandemic information into the track. At one point showing surprise that his wife can put up with him 24/7 every day during the lockdown. At another, he tells listeners to wash their hands, not touch their faces and, of course, stay away.
‘Inside Friend’– Leon Bridges and John Mayer
While the title of the song may suggest it was written specifically for the lockdowns and stay at home orders currently in place around the country, that is not the case.
The song was actually written last year and came out of a conversation about an ideal date for Bridges. In a statement, Bridges explained that as an introvert who is often away from home touring, he would rather chill with a date at home than go out somewhere.
“‘Inside Friend’ stayed on the backburner for a while because it didn’t fit within the context of my third project, but the current state we’re in globally compelled us to dig this back up and finish it. I hope people find it soothing and uplifting while we hole up indoors and get through this,” Bridges said.
‘Lay Your Head on Me’– Major Lazer and Marcus Mumford
The fact that this song of love and support fits in well with the times is a coincidence. As with others on this list, the track was actually written and recorded last year.
Anthony Mason for CBS This Morning said that the music video, which included home videos from Mumford and fans from 29 different countries “‘Lay Your Head on Me’ almost feels like a global group hug.”
In the interview with CBS Mumford said that videoing his parts took multiple takes because of background noise, including his kids scolding him for sitting on the kitchen table because it was against the rules.
The song assures that better days are ahead and that we will all get through this together.
‘Bored in the House, Pt. 2’– Ajay Stephens
Since the pandemic forced people to self-quarantine and stay at home orders were put in place, the original “Bored in the House” by Tyga and Curtis Roach blew up on TikTok. To say the song is grating is putting it nicely. The most frustrating part is that it instantly gets stuck in your head.
Luckily, Ajay Stephens created a much smoother version he titled “Bored in the House, Pt. 2.” Of course, this song is already making the rounds on Tiktok, but the original won’t die anytime soon.
‘Coronavirus’– Tom MacDonald
To those who have followed rapper Tom MacDonald’s career, it was a question of when not if he would write a track about COVID-19. The song is heavy with meaning and drives home the uncertainty and fear many are facing currently.
MacDonald also talks about how some people continue to deny that the pandemic is a serious problem and get others sick as a result, as well as hoarders of necessities.
Youtube channel Too LIT Mafia known for their music reaction videos said in his review of “Coronavirus” that “Tom MacDonald is the real deal. He don’t sugarcoat nothing. It’s the real deal and the actual truth.”
‘Level of Concern’- Twenty One Pilots
Twenty One Pilots came out with a quarantine love song that is uncharacteristically upbeat for the group. The song is at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week.
The song opens with “panic on the brain/ the world has gone insane/ things are starting to get heavy.” Later the lyrics ask if his love will be his “little quarantine” and stay with him in his underground bunker.
‘Is Everybody Going Crazy?’– Nothing But Thieves
This alt. rock song fits in well with quarantine even if it wasn’t written specifically about it. In an article for “Kerrang!,” the band says the song is about someone feeling disorientated and disconnected in a world where their morals and principles don’t seem to make sense.
“There are a few elements of escapism throughout the song, whether it is through another person, stealing a moment to switch off or changing their mentality,” the band told “Kerrang!.”