Quarantine Playlist: Songs for the Coronavirus

The first cases of coronavirus in New York have appeared, as predicted, meaning that we might have a full-on pandemic on our hands.

Fortunately, as always, music will be there to get us through whatever happens—from quarantine to revolution to everything in between.

Professionals have advised us all to avoid touching our faces and to wash our hands as much as possible, but aside from this, there's not all that much we can do. But hey, maybe if you're quarantined you'll finally have the chance to write that novel and catch up on all that music you've been meaning to. Or maybe you'll just finally have a chance to rest and ignore the rest of the world. Either way, coronavirus isn't really a cause to panic—but it is an opportunity to revisit some of our favorite apocalyptic songs.

  1. Before the fever

Grimes' new album is the perfect song for the coronavirus era. This song is full of paranoid musings about full-on apocalypse, so it's perfect to listen to over and over as you prepare for the end times.



Travis Scott's warped, trippy Astroworld hit is as dreamy and distracted and Xanax-drowned as any new victim of coronavirus (or anyone taking an airplane in 2020, for that matter) is bound to be. Plus, if you want to celebrate your newly diagnosed status while the novelty is still alive, this is probably the perfect song.


3. It's the End of the World as We Know It

Maybe it's a good thing if the world as we know it ends. R.E.M. certainly thinks so—and this song is the ideal pick for celebrating the latest pandemic. Is this a karmic consequence of human cruelty? A random event in a random universe? A thought-virus that will clear the way for the final AI to take over? Either way, I feel fine.


4. Zombie

What actually happens when you get coronavirus? The Cranberries' hit paints a graphic picture. Maybe coronavirus is more like the flu than anything, but maybe it'll turn us all into violent zombies—if capitalism and violence haven't already done that.


5. House of the Rising Sun

There's something cyclical and claustrophobic about this legendary Animals song. It's ostensibly about gambling, but it could be about anything that's been the ruin of any a poor boy—and god, I know I'm one.


6. Stay Away

During the coronavirus, you might find this Nirvana song resonating a little more than usual. Of course, the virus gives you a great excuse to self-isolate and pepper spray anyone who comes within a foot of you.


7. In My Room (Frank Ocean)

During a quarantine, before your diagnosis, you'll have to spend a lot of time in your room. Try some spring cleaning while listening to this hazy Frank Ocean track.


8. In My Room (The Beach Boys)

The Beach Boys' "In My Room" is on par with Ocean's in terms of tracks about being stuck in one's room.


9. I Love My Room

By now you're probably sick of your room, but Elliot Smith's song might help you rediscover why you loved it in the first place.


10. Nobody

Now that you've been stuck in your room for what feels like a million years, the isolation might be getting to you. Mitski's brilliant, danceable and deeply depressing "Nobody" is perfect for dancing around your bedroom, screaming about how Venus, planet of love was destroyed by global warming because its people wanted too much.


12. Garden Song

Phoebe Bridgers' new song is just so beautiful, and it's accompanied by a video of Phoebe ripping a bong and then seeing a bunch of monsters. At this point in your quarantine, you'll probably be through most of your stash, and this video is the perfect way to celebrate that while lamenting the fact that you've spent your life working so hard to reach some elusive idea of success, only to be stymied by a few germs. Life is strange.


13. Sick Boy

A departure from The Chainsmokers' sickeningly sweet pop EDM, this under-played anthem is a darker look at our tendency to insulate ourselves from the world's problems to the point of becoming numb: "And I'm from the east side of America / Where we desensitize by hysteria / And we can pick sides, but this is us."


14. I Wanna Get Better

This profoundly motivating and incredibly desperate Bleachers track will lift any spirit, even in the darkest times. "Now I'm standing on the interstate screaming, I wanna get better" is honestly the ultimate breaking-your-quarantine-in-a-fit-of-hysteria coronavirus mood.


15. Uprising

Now that you've left your house, you might realize that the apocalypse has actually begun. The stores are empty, people are dropping like flies and a group of subversive renegades have risen up. "Uprising" is the ideal soundtrack for your dramatic entrance into the rebels' camp.


16. Human

Perhaps the singular thing we all have in common is that we all occupy frail human bodies that will one day perish in the fires of capitalism and our own greed (or at least that, plus everybody poops).


17. Save Me From Myself

If isolated long enough, our worst enemy becomes ourselves. Find a way to reach out: carrier pigeon, SOS in ashes, morse code in flashes of light or the sound of your frustrated yells.


18. I Will

Now you and the rebels have set up shop in an underground bunker, and Radiohead's moody masterpiece "I Will" is the only choice for your late-night meetings spent poring over games of Pandemic.


19. This Is Not The End

You might feel like giving up. Your skin misses the sunlight and your heart aches for the world you lost, which you always took for granted. You're so close to giving up and letting the virus take over—but then you think of this MILCK song, and you resolve to push on.


20. Cough Syrup

Who hasn't doubled the dosage every now and then?


21. Mad World

This is the perfect song to listen to as you contemplate the state of humanity. You always knew death was inevitable, but it never felt quite so real, and chaos never felt so powerful.


22. Pompeii

Humans have been undergoing crises like the coronavirus for all of time, so you can take comfort in knowing you're not the first or last living thing to face a disaster or a pandemic. Before the coronavirus, there was Pompeii.


23. We're Not Gonna Take It

During the part of the afternoon that's post-lunch but before nap #2, let the anger wash over you. Government failure did this; illegal wildlife trade did this; our own human frailty did this; and to make matters worse, the men of Twisted Sisters probably had better hair than you. Life's not fair.


24. Enjoy the Silence

Sure, 80% of people who contract the virus have few or mild symptoms and heal themselves, but who doesn't spend a portion of their sick days staring into the abyss and petting their cat(s) while whispering to themselves, "All I ever wanted / All I ever needed / Is here in my arms."


25. Running Up That Hill

Placebo covers Kate Bush's 1985 original with the verve of a dying man who refuses to walk into the light.


26. Three Little Birds

Now that we're done entertaining our panic, let's remember that coronavirus is not the risk that the media is painting it to be. It is certainly not an instant death sentence—actually many people heal from it with barely any health consequences at all. You are definitely not guaranteed to contract it, and humanity has addressed conflicts and viruses like this before.

So let's all get over ourselves and be on our way, shall we?


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