Quarantine Inspires Musicians New and Old

Kellen Hight, Multimedia Designer

If there’s one thing quarantine has been good for, it’s music. I know I’m not just speaking for myself when I say music has been the little bit of glue holding things together these days; it’s provided the energizing soundtrack to the drudgery of schoolwork. I’m sure many others have used their free time at the beginning of the pandemic to enjoy their favorite music more seriously or even find new things to listen to. 

In the time we’ve used to enjoy some tunes, musicians have been in their studios or at home writing new work. With many artists taking advantage of the extra time inside, the public have been gifted with more music to listen to. Some songs have capitalized on the general angst of the pandemic and thus have shifted their subject matter to focus on isolation and the emotional effects of the quarantine. Even older artists like Smashing Pumpkins and Bob Dylan have released new music, who we haven’t seen new releases from in upwards of eight years. 

There’s especially been a huge explosion of new music among the fresher and younger artists. Since most self-produce or have their own studios at their hands, recent acts like Hayley Williams, The Weeknd, Joji and my personal favorite, Coin, have been able to release singles or albums throughout the pandemic. The Weeknd’s “After Hours” and Joji’s “Nectar” have both gotten very positive reviews, and Coin’s recent single You Are the Traffic has been one of my favorite songs, with a great buildup and a combination of indie rock and almost grungy influences. 

On top of that, the new Smashing Pumpkins singles have been a novel tribute to 80s new wave and synth-rock bands like New Order and Joy Division, with pulsing synth rhythms, organic drums, and well-layered guest vocals from Katie Cole and Sierra Swan creating the dreamy sonic of the single. The lyrics feel especially relevant, focusing on leadership, hope and hopelessness; with all there is to like, this is a serious improvement compared to Smashing Pumpkins’ last few albums. 

All this new content new artists are making is just the beginning: an overlooked part of this is all the people picking up instruments, be it their first time or another stab at it. For a moment at the beginning of the pandemic, music gear like guitars and keyboards had a notable uptick in purchases. 

With so many people messing with music, there’s bound to be a few who stick with it through the pandemic and eventually start publishing music, hopefully leading to a music boom during and after this pandemic. 

Even though just about everything about this year has been unexpected and unsettling, I know I can at least look forward to more music now than ever, and maybe even some talented new artists in the near future.