Unprecedented Times, Unbelievably Good Music

by MARGARET BARNETT - October 15, 2020 - A review of new music releases during quarantine.


Leaving the doors of WHS on the 13th of March, we walked to our car in the parking lot, eager for an extra couple days of spring break. Nearly six months later, we returned from that vacation.


Although the world seemed to stop for those few months, the pop and alternative music industry remained in full swing.

Among these big releases was Taylor Swift, who announced on Twitter that her surprise eighth studio album would be dropped July 24th at midnight. In an Entertainment Tonight interview, she explained the bizarre timing of her release stating, “‘Before this year I probably would’ve overthought when to release this music at the ‘perfect’ time, but the times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed’” (Swift).


Swift’s sixteen track album, titled Folklore, features collaborations with big artists such as Jack Antonoff and Bon Iver, while still being completely written and recorded in isolation by Swift. Given the genre label of “alternative,” Swift’s album touches various styles and sounds, while still displaying her renowned lyrical strength. The tracks on Folklore hit a wide spectrum of themes and emotions including nostalgia, self-growth, and her ever-recurring themes of heartbreak and love.


Within the first day of the album release, Folklore was streamed over 80.6 million times on Spotify, breaking the record of the most streamed pop album by any female artist in the first 24 hours of release.


Another ground-shattering release in the pop world was Future Nostalgia, an album by English singer and songwriter Dua Lipa. Originally announced April 3rd, Future Nostalgia arrived on all platforms on March 27th. The impromptu release proved to be exactly what fans needed in the midst of the global pandemic, reaching #2 on the iTunes Charts and remaining on the charts for 121 days in a row. This album comes just two years after the release of Lipa’s self-titled, debut album Dua Lipa.


Future Nostalgia pairs Lipa’s vivacious pop vocals with bright synths to create a collection of disco-inspired songs that are sure to inspire dancing from any listener. Lipa begins her album with a bold single titled Future Nostalgia. The album walks the listener through a nearly extraterrestrial experience, boasting booming baselines and unmatched energy.


Among the 11 songs included on the album, two songs stand apart from the rest; “Don’t Start Now” and “Physical” both impressively peaked at #2 and #3 on the Billboard charts.


Countless other bands and artists dropped albums and singles during this time; some of these artists include Wallows, the 1975, Still Woozy, and 5 Seconds of Summer, just to name a few. Of course, this only includes the alternative and pop genres.


The release of new music during quarantine not only gave fans something to listen to with their extra time, but it also gave artists an outlet for their creativity. Lead singer of the 1975, Matty Healy, explained in a Los Angeles Times interview that his new album Notes on a Conditional Form, was simply a product of his “weird compulsion to make stuff” to distract him from uncertainty during the pandemic.


While many of us may have felt everything from anxiety to extreme boredom during quarantine, there’s comfort in knowing that some of our favorite artists were feeling all of the same things. Plus, we had some good tunes while distancing ourselves from each other.

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