While many of us have been on lockdown in our homes in recent weeks, one of the coping mechanisms has been to use music as a distraction and much needed tonic.
Radio stations have altered their playlists to include music that seems to me bordering on wartime nostalgia, as if they’re preparing us for an epic struggle — although it does feel like an epic struggle.
One national radio station has begun a karaoke session every morning, encouraging people across the country to video themselves singing the song they play at a particular time. The song is usually a rousing people-pleaser, such as ‘Sweet Caroline’ by Neil Diamond, or ‘Raspberry Beret’ by Prince.
As our memories align themselves to music many of us will remember this period by the songs they heard and the feelings felt, guiding us through troubled times.
Recently I ventured out for the first time in 12 days to the local shop to get some vital supplies — bread, milk and few bottles of something red and delicious. From the car park to the store inside, there were two-metre markers stuck on the ground to ensure shoppers kept well apart in line with the current social distancing regulations. Inside was pretty much the same with markers telling people where to walk and where to queue.
Overhead the supermarket annoy projected various chart hits, while myself and my fellow shoppers circumvented the aisles and each other’s personal space in a loopy ballroom dance, every paranoid step taken with expert care to beats that clashed horribly with our erratic movements while we attempted to choose what bread to place in our antibacterial baskets. The acute awareness of other people and potential danger abounded in a surreal scenario from which I was glad to finally emerge.
Back at home, the days are strange, but at least I’ve been able to work from home, and as such I can listen to the radio and my own music. I’m mostly in front of the computer while my partner slopes around the house aimlessly looking for something to clean or wash or entertain himself with. Silent howls of boredom emanate from him as he wanders from one room to the next, and have often driven me to the solace of the bedroom to continue my work. I direct him to social media and TV — screens are saviours during this time. And through social media, there are some songs that seem to have become anthems for the current quarantine.
Social media has been saturated with people of all ages filming clips of themselves and their families dancing along to pieces of music. It’s almost become a new quarantine pastime. Most notably, The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights has taken off as the go-to tune for those desperate for something to do while they linger at home with their loved ones.
There are videos aplenty of people from all walks of life and all ages performing a specific dance to the song — some funny, some hilariously tragic, yet all united in their torment. It’s a wonderful unifying act and one that is certainly keeping me entertained during this period. Before you ask, no, I have not partaken in the dance craze just yet. I need to convince my other half to do it with me first — and convince myself too.
Even though we’re all isolated we are still yet searching for that which unites us and revelling in the spirit of unity, whether this is over the airwaves or through screens, it is with laughter and joy. This is humanity at its simplest and best — with the aid of amazing technology, of course!
As our memories align themselves to music many of us will remember this period by the songs they heard and the feelings felt, guiding us through troubled times. May we come out the other side better and stronger — and perhaps with better musical taste.
— Christina Curran is freelance journalist based in Northern Ireland.