I gave my students the task to create a playlist with songs that get them though this strange time. Party one of the task was the playlist and they also had to wrote a few sentences about each song and why they chose it. I decided to do it as well and here’s the result. You can click on the title to get to Spotify.
I tried (pretended) to be a eclectic in my music taste and decided not to use some all-time favourites. I decided to mostly go for quiet and somber songs with some nice crescendos. Most of the songs are light on electric instruments and focus on piano, strings and so on, but that wasn’t a rule, I mostly just went for songs that work in the background as well as active listening.
Here we go:
A good playlist starts strong, you need to communicate that you mean “business”, you need to introduce the theme of your playlist….
Track 1: “In the House – In a Heartbeat (28 Days Later OST)” by John Murphy
Yes, I’m opening with the soundtrack of the Zombi apocalypse. This track has a driving quality, almost a crescendo that ends very quietly with just a guitar.…
Because, as we all know, you start strong and then you calm down…
Track 2: “Diamond” by Bandit Heart
…crickets…and then we get this melancholic song. “Time is a bandit..”. Yeah, it feels like corona is stealing a lot of time from us.
…ok…lets’s keep the mood but with a bit more “oomph”.
Track 3: “Fake Empire “by The National
I love this songs especially for Berniger’s baritone voice. You don’t hear that often in music like this. The songs has a somber tone yet, its weirdly engaging and almost uplifting, which nags us to…
Track 4: “Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car” by Iron & Wine
Let’s get a bit folky. These are strange times but let’s try to be upbeat and live in the moment and let the rhythm move and the strings sooth you.
Which brings us to track 5 & 6… the midpoints of this 10 song playlist….time to bring the heat…time to turn it up…
Track 5: “Defying Gravity (from Wicked)” by Stephen Schwartz
There are many musical power ballads but there’s only one “Defying Gravity”. Performed by Christin Chenoweth & Irina Menzel (Elsa from Frozen) this song actually makes you defy gravity….and I think that’s what we all could use right now. (I could do a whole playlist with just musicals…depending on how long this goes on, I actually might.)
And we stay strong…
Track 6: “Your Song (Live)” by Elton John
Yes, even the social distancing there needs to be time for one of the greatest love songs ever. Live in Australia with an orchestra in the background…for added effect. It was either this or “Tiny Dancer”.
Time to calm down again before the big finale…
Track 7: “Pt. II C (The Köln Concert)” by Keith Jarrett
Yes, we stay with the piano, but let’s go solo piano jazz played by Keith Jarrett…If you don’t know, this is one of the most beloved Jazz albums of all time. “Pt. II C” is technically the encore. The music is just beautiful and I highly recommend the whole album. Fun fact: He wanted to cancel the performance because he caught a cold.
Track 8: “George by Moroder“ by Daft Punk
Let’s get the groove going with Daft Punk and Giorgio Moroder (the “Father of Disco”) and a track with a great “needle drop”. This is one of my favorite Daft Punk tracks. I also recommend the “Tron Legacy” soundtrack.
We’re getting closer to the end….so it’s time to get back to the theme again…
Track 9: “The Nature of Daylight” by Max Richter
A piece of music that explores the meaning of time, something we all do right now. What does time even mean in the age of corona? Max Richter is a german-british composer who walks the line between classical and contemporary. Worth a listen is also “Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi – The Four Seasons”.
Track 10: “My Body is a Cage” by Peter Gabriel
From his album “Scratch my Back” Perle Gabriel covers this Arcade Fire song in an orchestral arrangement. A beautiful haunting version…. don’t we all feel a bit caged at the moment?
…and…well, there’s nothing left to say. Stay healthy.