The pandemic has not been exactly ideal for our health, with 5.5 million confirmed cases of COVID and up to 40% of adults struggling with either mental illness or substance abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Songs that earlier may have seemed a little melodramatic and doomsaying now perfectly encapsulate what many of us are feeling. It’s not easy to deal with the onslaught of dire political news, depressing COVID-updates and the isolation and economic uncertainty many are facing, but music can provide a shoulder to cry on, especially when all the real shoulders are 6 feet apart. We’ve selected a pandemic rock playlist of local artists and some national ones, so you can at least sing along to some fun tunes during your daily bout of crying, drinking or screaming at the TV.
"Tortured Decline," Rosegarden Funeral Party
Leah Lane sings about the impending end of a relationship, while each time we switch on the news we hear about the impending end of the world. Between Texas’ COVID tallies, the president’s fishy U.S. Postal Service business, protesters going missing in Portland, America’s lockdown embarrassment on the world stage, and that St. Louis couple popping up at the Republican National Convention next week, it can be cathartic to sing along to “I see our tortured decline / every night.”
"God Must Be Doing Cocaine," Charlotte Lawrence
Los Angeles-based Charlotte Lawrence’s track title may be shocking, but it rings true during a pandemic. Concerned citizens ask: If there is a God, just what is he on nowadays? Lawrence brings it back around, though, pointing out that if God is a cokehound, you can’t really blame him: “He probably needs an escape /Looking down at His creation.” Ouch. Clearly those videos of public freakouts on frontline workers enforcing mask rules have gotten back to him.
"Threat Level Midnight," Cure for Paranoia
Deep Ellum favorite Cure for Paranoia has an origin story fit for the end of the world; the band formed after going on a road trip together to wait out the apocalypse. If only they’d known that to find the apocalypse, all they had to do was wait a couple years. Their soulful hip-hop track "Threat Level Midnight" offers a critique of modern-day society and pollution — themes that are deeply relevant today. With many scientists noting that a pandemic was bound to happen, and new reports of blood-borne and tick-spread viruses popping up, who among us has not stopped to wonder if “we've been fucked since start of evolution.”
"Drugs Don’t Werk," dvd
A rare song both liberals and MAGA hat-wearer can jam to, dvd’s psychedelic-indie bop can have two meanings. First, during the immense psychic strain of a pandemic coupled with natural disasters and political unrest, our favorite pick-me-ups are not really hitting the spot any longer. The prevalence of mental illness and depression has skyrocketed, and psychiatric medicines are often difficult to balance and adapt to. For those who want a more literal interpretation, the song reaffirms the deeply held, if misguided, belief about hydroxychloroquine — the “drugs don’t work just like they say.” Maybe bleach will work better!
"American Idiot," Green Day
If you thought this song was relevant in 2004 after the Iraq War, it is essentially gospel truth in the age of the mask debates. While the entire world has been forced to a standstill because of coronavirus, most of it didn’t put up such a poor showing in response. For one of the richest and, they say, most advanced countries in the world, it’s baffling that America’s COVID containment performance ranks lower than many developing countries with scarce health care infrastructure. The politicization of masks and lockdowns — things many nations in Europe and around the world accepted — has only led to more masks and longer lockdowns. After the 2004 election, the memorable front page of the UK’s Daily Mirror read “How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?” Thanks to Green Day, we know it’s something unique to us, everlasting: the American Idiot.
"You Kill Me," Polarity
Indeed, ‘rona, you do.