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Planet Earth Is Blue: My Quarantine Playlist

My quarantine playlist

By the time we are all stuck in our houses because of a virus coming out of nowhere, we must stay safe at home to protect each other, many of us work from home, we are lucky: the Swedish streaming platform Spotify does exist (I personally raise it to the same rank as Netflix)! Thanks to this tool, we can listen to our best playlists again and again, and rediscover our favorite tunes. That’s why I had the idea to draw up my own quarantine playlist. Here is my top ten :

10- Me and The Devil, Gil Scott-Heron (from I’m New Here, 2010)

Gil Scott-Heron was an American soul and jazz poet, musician, and author. His cover of the song Me and The Devil, originally performed by bluesman Robert Johnson, became obsessional for me because of the rhythmic and the singer’s broken voice. The song tells the story of a man waking up one morning with the devil knocking on his door, telling him that it’s time to go, as a metaphor for death. The coronavirus is quite like a sneaky devil at our door and we must fight it alone and together at the same time.

9- True Love, Balthazar (from Thin Walls, 2015)

True Love plays during the opening credits of the Belgian TV drama The Break I discovered while strolling on Shazam. Balthazar is a Belgian indie pop-rock band formed in 2004. The band mixes eclectic sound influences, from pop to rock. The use of synthesizers and violins distinguishes their compositions from the classical alternative rock based on the bass/drums/guitar trio. On Thin Walls, the band worked with Ben Hillier, a British producer known for his work with Blur, The Horrors, and Depeche Mode, which probably explains why I appreciate it!

8- This Mess We’re In, PJ Harvey featuring Thom Yorke (from Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, 2000)

What a great combination to gather PJ Harvey and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke for a song that talks about love and chaos in New York. The melody is catchy and the lyrical intonations in Yorke’s interpretation make an intimate and nostalgic song. We all are in mess worldwide but locked down at home.

7- No Milk Today, Joshua James and the Forest Rangers (from Songs Of Anarchy vol. 2, 2012)

When I was younger, I used to sing phonetically this classic from Herman’s Hermits. Joshua James made a personal cover for the soundtrack from the TV show Sons Of Anarchy. This version is more melancholic and a little shaky but I appreciate the weaknesses of this cover. I also have chosen this song because I can’t buy milk at the grocer’s anymore, shops are empty everywhere…

6- Harmony Hall, Vampire Weekend (from Father Of The Bride, 2019)

Vampire Weekend released last year their fourth studio album and many critics agree to say that this is their best opus. Harmony Hall is often broadcast on the radio for months. The song’s release saw the band once again receive comparisons to the music of Paul Simon. The lyrics present a feeling of dread, contrasting with its upbeat tone. I like this song for the lyrics and especially this verse: “I don’t wanna live like this, but I don’t wanna die”. It’s particularly true nowadays…

5- Space Oddity, David Bowie (from Space Oddity, 1969)

Space Oddity is a song written and recorded by English singer-songwriter David Bowie. It became one of Bowie’s signature songs and was inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The song talks about the launch of a fictional astronaut and his wandering days in space after his spacewalk, while he contemplates the Earth :

Planet Earth is blue

And there’s nothing I can do

It’s true, Major Tom can’t do anything for us from outer space and we have to fend for ourselves to stop the pandemic*.

4- Aries, Gorillaz featuring Peter Hook & Georgia (from Song Machine, 2020)

The brand new tune from Gorillaz sounds a little bit old-fashioned and obviously reminds me of Joy Division or New Order because Peter Hook is actually playing bass guitar for the virtual band led by Damon Albarn. It’s the latest release from their Song Machine and it’s quite addictive! At the end of the music video of this episode three available on YouTube, we can see 2D, one of Gorillaz’s virtual characters, wearing a scarf and providing advice to stay safe at home (“Keep washing your hands”).

3- Shake The Disease, Depeche Mode (from The Singles 81-85, 1985)

I have recently rediscovered this early hit by watching on TV 101, a live performance and documentary film by English electronic music band Depeche Mode. Dave Gahan’s deep baritone voice has always been iconic and mesmerizing. This song clearly illustrates Depeche Mode’s debut period where themes such as love, religion, sex, boredom, and death are mixed with industrial music and some Berlin influences. I wish I could see one day Depeche Mode on stage… but in the eighties like the good old days!

2- Lost in Yesterday, Tame Impala (from The Slow Rush, 2020)

Tame Impala has a sound of his own and the latest album called The Slow Rush doesn’t lie about his origins. Lost in Yesterday gives a good mood to listeners in this particular period of time. As the music video shows, the past is not a panacea and it won’t be fine as time goes by. Just watch it and you will understand what I mean…

1- Out Of Time, Blur (from Think Tank, 2003)

Think Tank is the seventh studio album by the English rock band Blur and for me their best album ever. I always enjoy listening to this brilliant and subtle album that explores electronic sounds, world music, and jam sessions. Out Of Time is my favorite track because it is a sad love song and the lyrics are perfect for the current situation :

And you’ve been so busy lately
That you haven’t found the time
To open up your mind
And watch the world spinning gently out of time

My quarantine playlist is full of novelties, recent releases, rarities and classical old tunes. That’s what I am listening to at the moment to feel good, to bear the containment and to stimulate my mind. Half of humanity is confined and the end is not for today. So I will keep scrolling my streaming app to spend my time until the virus is eradicated, and it could last a long time…

* I added a bonus track to this top ten: it’s Bowie’s In Space from the sixth episode of the HBO comedy series Flight of the Conchords (2007). It is a parody of the many musical styles and visual aesthetics that David Bowie used in his career and the episode features a long fantasy sequence that takes place in outer space. The song mimics the style of Space Oddity, John I’m Only Dancing, Let’s Dance, Sound and Vision and it also briefly refers to Changes and Life on Mars ? in the lyrics. As I like Bowie, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, the duet of Flight of the Conchords, I could not resist adding this funny track to my playlist!

Enjoy and wash your hands…

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