We live in a world where calamity and disarray are only being exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s moments like this when we look to seasoned experts for guidance, and to cultural figures to lend a voice to a confused generation.
Tom MacDonald falls into none of these contingents, but why should that stop him? On Wednesday, the Vancouver rapper dropped a music video for a new single titled “Coronavirus,” and as of writing, it has already amassed over 650,000 views on YouTube.
The metaphorical nature of this video becoming viral shouldn’t be lost on anyone, but it’s far from the first time MacDonald has achieved such success on YouTube. For the last few years, he has garnered a zealous online following with white victim complex anthems such as “Whiteboy,” “Straight White Male” and “Everybody Hates Me,” and such cuts have given him status among zoomer Trump supporters as an oracle of sorts.
In “Coronavirus,” MacDonald has thankfully taken a break from “why isn’t there a White Entertainment Television?” orthodoxy to address the COVID-19 tumult, and it makes for the musical equivalent of a preachy Facebook post shared by your old classmate who actually thinks Cleopatra looked like Britney Spears.
Not that MacDonald needed to prove his lack of authority on the subject of the coronavirus, but at least he starts the song on a courteous note in spitting the disclaimer, “I don’t know what to think about this virus.” It’d be an honorably self-aware bar if he didn’t follow up with lyrical passages such as, “The government’s lyin’ / They’re trying to keep us calm through the sirens” and “This a pandemic, but we don’t listen to the news / Cause they lied to us for years so how we know that this the truth?”
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First off, the media didn’t classify COVID-19 as a pandemic, the World Health Organization did. Secondly, there’s definitely a conversation to be had about the media’s shortcomings, but a global health crisis that is affecting over 200,000 people and counting isn’t inherent grounds to channel Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent. Plus, isn’t the whole “They’re trying to keep us calm through the sirens” method of crisis management more favorable than, say, the government stoking mass panic and pandemonium? MacDonald sure is hellbent on not addressing what he thinks they should do.
From a lyrical standpoint, the worst part about “Coronavirus” is that there’s no substantive analysis, and the thesis of the song can very well be summed up with the lyrics, “I don’t know what to think about this virus.” And while that’s ultimately not a bad message to convey, using pseudo-woke talking points about the media and the government makes the song thematically hollow at best.
What’s even worse is how MacDonald takes himself so seriously in this song and is so determined that this is a critical moment of truth that he spits the unintentionally hilarious bar, “Y’all making memes think it’s funny?!” This gravitas certainly doesn’t complement the auto-tuned hook, which is mawkish in its declaration, “It’s a ghost town / We’re in this together.”
As corny as it is to sing “We’re in this together” in such a manner and context, maybe MacDonald does have a point. After all, with crises like COVID-19, we the people can overcome our long-held differences. People of different races, backgrounds, creeds and ideologies can come together at long last and declare under one unified voice, “This song is terrible.”