The Quarantunes of WMUC

by WMUC Staff, DJs, and writers

After a year of pandemic madness, we at WMUC decided to reflect on the music of spring 2020 that got us through early quarantine and lockdowns. Whether it be new releases, or old favorites that came out of the gallows to comfort us through a difficult time, here are the songs that were on repeat while we were locked in.

“Figure It Out” by Blu DeTiger
Because I’m a hopeless romantic and Tinder dates were illegal, I directed all my love towards Blu DeTiger in April 2020. She melted my heart with her clean bass lines in “Figure It Out,” which I still keep on loop now. This song hits home with lyrics about a partner who doesn’t know what they want, so Blu stops giving the person her time and energy. She confidently builds chaos with echoing backing vocals and chaotic bouncy moments, contrasted mockingly against her smooth vocals and bass line.

When I listen to this song I think of this past summer, where I was freed of the compulsive need to grab drinks with a random DC financial consultant or stoner musician. Early quarantine was all about breaking habits and figuring out what else to do with your time. I invested more energy into the few people who are very close to me, which I feel Blu DeTiger encourages in this song. Understand what you want, then commit to it.

This song and early quarantine both taught me the same thing: my time is valuable, and I can choose how I spend it. I have done a lot of self-discovery in the past year and Blu DeTiger is one of the many women who have helped facilitate that. Chunky yummy bass played by the coolest women I follow on Instagram was addicting. Watching women express themselves in powerful ways helps me grow into my full adult self. I’m not sure how people discover themselves normally because I needed a year of quarantine downtime to do so, but I hope “Figure It Out” by Blu DeTiger helps spark a little bit of movement within you.
-Madeline Redding, General Manager

Hounds of Love by Kate Bush

For me, early quarantine was characterized by oblivious optimism combined with a sneaking sense of overwhelming dread. With this came loads of self-reflecting and desperate attempts to discover a new obsession while the world was seemingly on the brink of collapse.
From these endeavors I found solace in a deep-dive into the music of the past. With the 70s-80s-90s coming back in style, there was a certain air of Daliesque whimsicality that the music of that era seemed to bring to the table. Quite literally smack dab in the middle of that energy was the iconic 1985 album Hounds of Love by Kate Bush.
There was just something about Bush. Her voice, her instrumentals, her image, her Britishness—it was all kind of magical, and just what I needed as I fell further into my own theoretical little pit of despair. Of course, we can’t forget about classics like “Babooshka” or “Wuthering Heights” either, which are just as lovingly strange. I really admire the pettiness it takes to make a song in such a key that literally no one will ever try to cover it.
Basically, Kate Bush made me feel like I really was running up that hill, even though it was usually the hill in the neighborhood behind my house. But you sure as hell know that I was going to make that deal with God.
-Kyle Russo, Communications Team

“anthems” by Charli XCX
This song reminds me of the trip to New York City my friends and I took in January last year. I miss everyone. Also, “I'm so bored/ Wake up late, eat some cereal/ Try my best to be physical/ Lose myself in a TV show/ Staring out to oblivion/ All my friends are invisible,” was last year in a nutshell.
-Daryl Perry, Staff at Drop The Pop

“Bike Dream” by Rostam
I remember when my friend put this on his Instagram story in like, 2019, talking about how deeply he resonated with the song and lyrics, and I was kinda one-sided-beefing with him at the time, and I also had the song saved on Spotify, so I was all ‘lmaoooo.’ But then (and I’m horrible at making cohesive playlists) over quarantine, I was really in the mood to listen to full-on, non-Spotify-curated playlists, and I found this one with “Bike Dream” by Rostam as the title (cuz Spotify does that automatically) and first track, and played that shxt on REPEAT ! (Or just when I was taking a shower.)

P.S. [], if you’re reading this, I’m glad we’re not beefing anymore
-Sabrina Li, DJ of hyphen

“NO HALO” by Brockhampton
The chorus connected with me a lot because during the beginning of last year, and even right now, I feel a bit lost and alone. Social isolation has been hard, and I’ve turned down many hang outs with friends out of fear of hurting the people around me, like many others have also done. Deb Never’s airy voice singing the chorus, “I’m sure I’ll find it,” followed by Merlyn Wood singing “No one help me when my eyes go red,” is very relatable.
-Daryl Perry, Staff at Drop The Pop

“sad day” by FKA Twigs
Sob emoji, the title speaks for itself.
-Sabrina Li, DJ of hyphen

“In the Hall of the Mountain King” from The Social Network
It’s March 2020. I’ve been unceremoniously shunted out of my on-campus dorm back to my childhood bedroom, and I sit with my laptop at my old, peeling desk surrounded by middle school awards and unrecognizable pictures of myself, clicking my way through Canvas modules in place of coursework and feeling very far away from my classmates.

From the depths of this malaise, The Social Network soundtrack rose up to power me through that nightmarish semester.

The Social Network soundtrack is a masterpiece of music for a masterpiece of a movie, perfectly capturing the intense technological focus, the cautious optimism of rapidly spider webbing online connections, and the darkness of ultimate betrayal and isolation. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross’s version of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” is placed at the perfect point for a dance break in the middle of a work session.

The dissonant crescendo of chords pushed me forward as I two-times-sped my way through Panopto lectures during exams or coded a deplorable version of tic-tac-toe for intro to computer programming, caught between the company of the whole of the Internet and desperate, all-consuming loneliness—a fitting backdrop to a brutal spring.
-Quinn Dang, Community Outreach Director & DJ of Ode To My Middle School Self

“Seventeen” by Sharon van Etten
Ok, can I just say the first few weeks of quarantine made us regress at an ALARMING rate. I’m talking chain Instagram stories reminiscent of those ‘if you don’t forward this to five friends in five minutes, you will have the cheese touch’ emails, something about posting old photos and leaving them up #UntilTomorrow, and everyone posting the same image of that guy from The Office tearfully listening to music, which just served as the perfect segue for everyone to showcase their four favorite albums. Yeah, no, we were BORED bored…

Anyways, this guy I met once (1nce) put one of those up and I recognized the cover to Sharon van Etten’s Remind Me Tomorrow, and even though the only song I knew was “Seventeen” from vaguely playing it sometime a few months ago, I swiped up and told him I loved Sharon van Etten (re: I loved “Seventeen” by Sharon van Etten) ,and he replied and raved about how he loved these other tracks, and to be honest, I really was only tangentially aware that that album hosted any songs beyond “Seventeen,” but still there was no way for him to call my bluff, so I double-tapped his message and agreed with him and moved on.

UNTIL… I started feeling a lil bad I had duped him, so I listened to the album to feel less fake, but mainly what ended up happening is that I listened to the album like once (1nce), and then played “Seventeen” on repeat for like two days straight when I was going through it, which I guess just proves my original point right, like yeah… I love “Seventeen” by Sharon van Etten.
-Sabrina Li, DJ of hyphen

5 Seconds of Summer by 5 Seconds of Summer
There will never be any greater feeling than blasting this album and singing along to every song at the top of my lungs. This album was the soundtrack to my middle school years, and the sense of familiarity and comfort I got while listening was one of the only things keeping me sane during those first few months of quarantine craziness. From a song for when I was feeling happy, like “Kiss Me, Kiss Me,” to a song for when I wanted to cry, which was always “Amnesia,” this album had it all, with just a hint of nostalgia.
-Naomi Flores, DJ of The Daily Drip

“c2.0” by Charli XCX
I miss my friends and hanging out with them, taking photos, and just talking face-to-face. Charli’s glittery voice helps me through these tough feelings, though.
-Daryl Perry, Staff at Drop The Pop

“Home” by Miloe
Listening to Miloe’s debut EP gave me the same energy as listening to Hippo Campus’ landmark alone in the computer lab during lunch in high school and I haven’t felt that sorta peace in like three years, at least, probably. Most definitely skipped Zoom lecture and laid on my carpet, staring up at the ceiling with the window open on loop to this song.

(And then WMUC booked Miloe for a fundraiser concert later this year, so idk about y’all... but to me... that’s kinda iconic.)
-Sabrina Li, DJ of hyphen

Dreamland by Glass Animals

Quarantine music began for me with the release of “Your Love (Déjà Vu)” by Glass Animals on March 24th, back when I thought this was gonna be over in a quick month or two. This song was the song that really began the hype for the album. (I thought I’d be going to the ensuing tour by summer….….).
But as time moved on and March passed, and then April,,,,, and I realized this would not be a quick month or two, Glass Animals came in clutch with the next single, “Dreamland” on May 1st. Its woozy and dreamy sounds perfectly reflected my messed up sleep schedule. I have a very vivid memory of driving around my neighborhood at 3am, under a full moon, not knowing where I was going, just listening to this song. It really made me feel not alone for the first time in a long time.
As summer came and I became accustomed to the new “normal,” Glass Animals was back again with the next single, “Heat Waves.” It felt so personal, like the band made the song just for me. The music video for the song felt equally personal. It featured the band performing the song live to an empty venue. It reminded me that, as much as I am missing concerts, the bands I love are missing concerts just as much (if not more).
The final Dreamland single, “It’s All So Incredibly Loud,” was released on July 31st. Another amazing song, which encapsulates the build up of emotions before a break up.
A week later, on August 7th, the full album was finally released! It was filled with so many more amazing songs that helped me distract myself from the crazy world outside. All the songs have a special place in my heart, especially the singles.
-Shaun Walters, DJ of One Level Deeper

“Ballad of a Pandemic” by Matt Maltese

Although the title seems a bit on the nose, Matt Maltese perfectly captures the chaotic feelings around the pandemic, especially in the early parts of 2020. The lyrics can be dark at times—“When it couldn’t get worse it does just that/ Death is exponential but this life is flat”—but true. It still is a scary time now, and it was even more scary this time last year because we didn’t have all of the science and research we have now. Lyrics about a disinfected scarf, wearing gloves and fearing death are punches in the gut. This song acts as a time capsule for how the world was last year in March/April, but also is comforting in the way that someone across the world in the UK knows exactly how you’re feeling.
-Daryl Perry, Staff at Drop The Pop

“Alright” by Kendrick Lamar
This got me through all the collective trauma the Black community went through last year. From having to see my community struggle time and time again, still with no justice, Lamar’s words were comforting. We are truly gonna be all right.
-Daryl Perry, Staff at Drop The Pop

“New Light” by John Mayer
To know me is to think that I am perfect. (The correct impulse.)
But alas, the time has come for me to admit that my presumed perfection is far from the truth and, as we well know, the truth can be an ugly thing.
The truth is—May the Radio Kid Gods forgive me—but I am a John Mayer stan. WMUC, I stand before you humbled in my admittance that “New Light,” the 2018 single by John Mayer is my quarantine jam.
I understand why this is a controversial choice, John himself is famous for his “White Boy of the Month” persona and Vineyard-Vines-Wearing Frat Guy following. But, I have lived in the shadow of my love for John Mayer for far too long. If quarantine has taught me anything, it’s that life is too easily thrown on its head to deny enjoyment. Does it bother me that my enjoyment is an Am, D, G, C chord progression with the lyrics “pushing forty in the friend-zone?” No. Because life is too short to pretend otherwise.
Towards the beginning of quarantine, I found myself floundering emotionally (much like everybody else), and there was something about John’s music that just felt soothing to me. Musically, he is a genius, and there is a calculation in the ways that he adds certain dissonant flavors within songs that are just so elementally satisfying. He sings about love and good times, and there is something romantic about putting one's feet up in the car out of contentment with oneself. Let me emulate the self-assurance and unabashedness of a rich white man as I crack open another IPA and start the virtual finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race. “New Light” represents, to me, a very human expression of longing that slaps like no other.
-Emily Ray, DJ of Crushable

“Water Me Down” by Vagabon
Y’all… this a loaded one. Backing soundtrack for bedroom meltdowns, living room dance parties, incessantly texting or calling the same three people about []... if spring semester 2020 were the Titanic, this song would be my lifejacket, and TRUST I hung on for dear life ‘til we reached land (re: summer). Yes, the rumors are true, a girl was being waaaaaaaaaatered DOWN this semester, and this track came around just like a sod of Home Depot fertilizer to activate my photosynthesis.
-Sabrina Li, DJ of hyphen

“As the World Caves In” by Matt Maltese

Matt Maltese doesn’t stop putting out apocalyptic bangers (although this song was released in 2017). Set during a nuclear bombing meant to destroy the entire world, Matt Maltese satirically sings about spending his last waking hours with a girl who he “welcomes death with.” It’s oddly fitting for almost any moment last year when it seemed like the world was going to implode. There was something cathartic about relishing in a song about the world ending while it actually felt like the world was ending.
-Daryl Perry, Staff at Drop The Pop

“5pm” from Animal Crossing: New Horizons

I haven't touched Animal Crossing: New Horizons in about 7 or 8 months. I want to keep my memories of it as idealized as they were on the day I left it. The game actually came out the week after I got my Switch. So, for a week, I just hung out with my new console, no games. It was pleasant. It's a pleasing object to be around. Just looking at it probably reduces my cortisol levels.

Eventually, the game came out. My little dude started on my island in a checkered shirt and a Beatle-y mop top. One week of spring break became two weeks of spring break. My little dude spent a lot of time fishing and eating pears. I'd conduct arbitrage with Timmy and Tommy on random things that would wash up on the island. Two weeks of spring break became the rest of the semester. I researched Daisy Mae's stalk market. I decided to not bother with Daisy Mae's stalk market. I took out a mortgage with Tom Nook to build a little 2 room house. A semester became two semesters. Other animals started to move into my island: Al, Leopold, Lily, and more. We had 3 gorillas on my island. That's enough of one species, so my little dude instituted an immigration quota. Some of my dad's coworkers also started to play it, and he'd ask me how my little dude's island was doing. Two semesters became three semesters. I financed major infrastructure projects on my island, building bridges, houses, and roads. Isabelle greeted me every morning I logged in. Our three semesters became a Historically Significant Year.

The soundtrack to the game is all acoustic, chill loops. Every hour is a different song. When it rains, the songs become muted and, somehow, chiller. My favorite is 5pm. I remember 5pm because it is chill, but not acoustic. 5pm is a toe-tapper. 5pm is micro-funk. 5pm is freedom from school. 5pm is robotic. 5pm is head empty, staring out the window. 5pm is a video chat with the homies. 5pm played over and over in my room during the Spring of 2020.
-Siddha Mavuram, DJ of Saturday Night Inside Out Remake

“Take Yourself Home” by Troye Sivan

This was my anthem because Troye Sivan didn’t even mean to make it a pandemic anthem. Screaming the chorus in my room, this song made me feel less alone because in my head, I was screaming “take yourself home!” to everyone who went outside when we had a stay-at-home order in Maryland. To everyone who didn’t wear a mask and to everyone denouncing science. It was also just fun and different from most of Sivan’s discography. You can get lost in the breakdown at the end and it kind of feels like you’re transcending into a world where the pandemic doesn’t exist and you can just let all of your troubles go.
-Daryl Perry, Staff at Drop The Pop

Eternal Atake by Lil Uzi Vert
Consider this my formal eye roll disclaimer before you continue to read this.
When I think back to the beginning of lockdowns, as the gradual realization set in around us that this was legitimately beginning to affect us, there’s one song I think of in particular. Dare I even say, one album.
Eternal Atake by Lil Uzi Vert.
The beginning of quarantine is relatively hazy at this point. My mind has attempted to block out the painful cognizance that took place when I acknowledged I wouldn’t be seeing my friends for a while, or experiencing the seemingly mundane aspects of regular life. However, there is one memory of early March that remains the most vivid, what was likely my last outing before the world went fishing. It was one of my best friends and I, in the Giant parking lot at around 9pm, having just purchased some random grocery item that definitely wasn't essential enough to warrant the evening trip. She asked me if I had heard the new album, which I hadn’t as I had been swarmed with preparing for midterms. Turning up the sound of her parent’s massive SUV, the beginning of “Futsal Shuffle” began blaring, and we immediately got out of the car to attempt (awfully) the dance Uzi had created.
Looking back, that was the last time I would be seeing my friend for a while. I talked to her on the phone today, but it is nowhere close to the vibrant laughter that filled the car that night.
-Erica Javadpour, Promotions Director

“Lessons for Later” by Slow Hollows
This song is majestic and makes me feel like I’m simultaneously traveling through time and floating through space. “Welcome to the end of time/ Can I take your coat?” is one of the best opening lines I’ve ever heard in my life, and listening to this last year was a perfect method of escapism. “Lessons for Later” made me ask myself, Is there a lesson to the pandemic? even though the lyrics had nothing to do with current world events. I don’t know if there’s a lesson in any of this, and I also don’t know if I’m the person that can make that decision. But what I do know is that this song's woozy melody underneath a trumpet is a masterpiece that never fails to lighten my mood.
-Daryl Perry, Staff at Drop The Pop

“Shameika” by Fiona Apple
EVERYONE STFU CUZ SHAMEIKA SAID I HAVE POTENTIAL AND IF SHAMEIKA SAID IT AND FIONA SANG IT THEN BXTCH ! YEA IMMA GET OUTTA BED OK SURE I’LL WATCH THIS LECTURE ON 2x SPEED NO DID YOU HEAR HER I SAID DID YOU HEARRRRRRRR HER?????? I ! HAVE ! GODDAMNED ! POTENTIALLLLLLLLLL!
-Sabrina Li, DJ of hyphen

I’ve gone through a series of completely different identities throughout 2020 and into 2021. I've become a bit more literate, a lot more in touch with my spirituality, and I also know what a “darty” is! When I realized that for the first time there was nothing to work towards, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Every previous break was spent preparing for something like standardized tests, college applications, a new school year, or a professional resume. Being let go of literally all obligations until I committed on May 1st was indescribably surreal and exciting (despite the reality of our circumstances). I would go on long drives by myself blasting music that would make me feel like the epitome of a teenager (Warren Hue - “candy choppa”) and spend every other evening watching the sun go down six feet away from my friends (tobi lou - “Lingo Starr: STRIKES BACK”). I spent a lot of nights driving home feeling nostalgic of the sudden loss of my past (BTS - “Your eyes tell”) and nervous about my future (88rising & NIKI - “La La Lost You”), but my morning walks were a gentle reminder of what was to come ( mxmtoon - “fever dream”). Now I feel a lot quieter (Crush - “Lay Your Head on Me”) and more empowered by failure (BTS - “Boy with Luv (ft. Halsey)”). Time passes by so fast, yet life can feel incredibly slow. With quarantine coming to an end, I find that music is what connects the two, helping me stay grounded in the present.
-Joy Lee, Communications Team

Listen to all our picks here!