Making extremely specific playlists helped with my cabin fever
Although nothing quite beats actually going outside, music may just be the next best thing
Aug 28, 2020
When it comes to quarantine coping mechanisms, there’s nothing I won’t try at least once.
I’ve baked my own bread, grown my own food, cut my own hair (with crisis bangs to boot), and binged KDrama after KDrama to feel something. Although they were all fun and worked fairly well, save for the uneven mess on my head, they eventually lost their luster. I still missed the outside world and all the fun and friends that came with it.
As quarantine droned on, I discovered that listening to songs I used to dance to in crowded spaces actually made me feel consistently better. The aha moment came by way of The Emotion’s “Best of My Love,” a very tita song from the ’70s. The track popped up on my shuffle one night and I was immediately taken back to my birthday last year where I sang and danced to disco hits until the wee hours of the morning.
In Simon Frith OBE’s book “Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music”, the sociomusicologist and former rock critic explains how this phenomenon is possible. “We all hear the music we like as something special, as something that defies the mundane, takes us ‘out of ourselves,’ puts us somewhere else.”
I used to avoid those songs thinking that they’d make me sad, but it was the complete opposite. They brought me back to those very moments that I’ve been missing and reminded me of how alive I had felt. And after being stuck in quarantine for so long, this is exactly the type of attainable escape that I needed.
According to Spotify, I’m not the only one feeling nostalgic these days. At the start of lockdown, Spotify saw a 54 percent increase in users making nostalgic or throwback themed playlists. In the article, behavioral scientist and writer David DiSalvo mentioned that “Nostalgia is an extremely powerful force linked to memory.”
He adds, “Music, like smell, is one of those things with immediate access to that direct, nostalgic memory. It takes you back to that place. For example, everyone can remember the specific song they were listening to during their first kiss.”
It only makes sense that a lot of people are listening to songs associated with a less troubled time, which is exactly what I did.
Song after song would unearth old memories from life pre-quarantine. All the songs that evoke similar memories would get grouped together under playlists called “Karaoke pa more!!!!”, “Studio 54” and “The 1968 Winter Debutante Cotillion.”
After I exhausted all the possible song and memory combinations that I can remember from life before, I started making new playlists of what I wanted my life to be post-quarantine.
I have a playlist for my first night out called “She’s Baaack!” which is a mix of top 100 girl pop and ’80s dance music, another one for my next beach visit named “Sandy Cheeks” that’s mostly the soundtrack of “Mamma Mia!” and “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” and when I finally get to see my family under “Umuwi Ka Na Beybeh,” which is just a collection of our favorite songs.
Initially, I just made these playlists to distract me from what’s going on now and remind me of what life was like, but now, they’re also giving me something to look forward to. They help me remember and appreciate what our before was like while opening up a realm of possibilities through songs that get me excited for what comes after.
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