Mid-April 2020: restless and stressed, I skipped through every song on my go-to playlist before stopping on Spotify’s recommendation, a song I’d never heard called “Paradise” by Wild Nothing. From its first notes, it wrapped me in golden sunlight and revived a stirring feeling throughout my body that I was absolutely alive. I listened to “Paradise” on constant repeat for months afterward, cherishing the peace it brought me as all worries about rising cases and positivity rates got lost between the notes.
Like me, we all have certain music that helped us through the most difficult stretches of the pandemic, and continues to do so as the world feels more chaotic than ever. From its intimately personal feel to its powerful emotion, music is an extraordinary medium that continually touches us deeply. For many, myself included, reading books or even watching movies has become difficult, but music is one of the most accessible art forms, providing the perfect, small escape without a time commitment. We’ve had our short TikTok sounds (who can separate the spring and summer from “Savage” or “Wap”?) that connect us across the world and inspire us to move and dance when we feel hopeless. Meanwhile, countless radio stations spool through 2010s hits, carrying us instantly back to sweeter days.
I’ve begun singing along to these songs in the car, something I’ve never done before. I’ll hear the beginning notes of Shawn Mendes’s “Stitches”, a song that I’ve never particularly liked but reminds me vividly of riding the bus to see A Christmas Carol in seventh grade, a blissful five years ago. Immediately, I’m flooded with joy and start to sing, hearing my voice blend with the song as though I’m not alone in my car during an incredibly isolating time. My voice is frankly terrible, but the joy is real and necessary, with calm and hope erupting just from the act of singing along to music that I normally wouldn’t listen to. This year, music became no longer about liking the song, but finding peace and euphoria within it, dreaming of a better future, and building a genuine connection with others through an art form that transcends ordinary words or quarantine Zoom meetings.
No one knows how much longer the pandemic and its surrounding chaos will last, but the comfort of music will keep strengthening us to push through. Afterward, maybe we’ll be listening to 2020s music with nostalgia, too, remembering the peace found in every song.