30 Original ASCAP Songs About the Coronavirus Pandemic
By Etan Rosenbloom and Sarah Finegold
• May 13, 2020
One of the few bright spots of quarantine life is hearing how music makers have responded creatively to the pandemic. We’ve gathered 30 of our favorite, original coronavirus-themed ASCAP songs and compositions that were released since lockdown began. Some were written and recorded in the last few weeks, through solo studio time and remote writing sessions; some were written before the pandemic, but have particular relevance now. As you might expect, there’s a whole range of emotions represented in these songs - sorrow, joy, loneliness, gratitude, boredom, love, fear, anxiety, anger, nostalgia, yearning. There are heartbreaking songs and there are absurd, hilarious ones.
To all of you songwriters and composers continuing to grind it out during quarantine - we salute you. Keep on doing what you’re doing. Your music is helping us get through this.
Bad Bunny - "En Casita"
Bad Bunny’s sexy, silly “En Casita” is a freestyle trap treatise on el conejito’s time in the house with his girlfriend/quarantine buddy Gabriela Berlingeri. He sings about the things he misses, how he’s passing his time, and duets the catchy, funny hook with his honey: “When the quarantine passes / You owe me sex.” A tribute to all the couples weathering quarantine together, it is both tongue-in-cheek and sweetly sincere, with an infectious Bad Bunny beat.
Blink-182 - "Happy Days"
This anthem from pop-punk heroes Blink-182 was released in July of 2019, as the third single from their latest album Nine. The video, however, was shot and released remotely during the epidemic, and it comes at the perfect time. Lyrics like “I wanna feel happy days / Walls of isolation inside of my pain / And I don’t know if I’m ready to change / I wanna feel happy days” capture both the loneliness of quarantine, and our will to overcome any bad situation.
Bon Iver- "PDLIF"
Justin Vernon’s newest single is a smooth, sumptuous melange of the various Bon Iver style movements with a message rooted in the titular acronym: Please Don’t Live in Fear. The Justin Vernon we know will always find a way to collaborate: in appropriate quarantine style, the track features socially-distanced musicians on vocals, drumming and more. The song reassures, "There will be a better day," and hopes to help along in the process: 100% of streaming proceeds will be directed to Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization working to protect workers and patients alike.
Bono, will.i.am, Jennifer Hudson and Yoshiki - “Sing for Life”
Expanding the ballad “Let Your Love Be Known” he wrote to honor Italy during their harrowing COVID-19 outbreak, Bono enlisted the likes of Jennifer Hudson, will.i.am and Yoshiki (of X Japan) to join him from their respective homes on a version with new lyrics and added vocals. The new version of the song is called “Sing for Life,” and the stunning ballad does feel life-affirming in its passion.
COVID-19 and the Symptoms - "Goin Viral"
This double-entendre-rooted honky-tonk tune (co-written by ASCAP member Eric T. Brandt) is as hilarious as it is bizarre. An anthropomorphic coronavirus particle serenades the world about his current ubiquity in a drawling country tenor. The hilarious tune even leads the listeners in a “line dance” that is suspiciously similar to coronavirus prevention protocols. Aside from its subject matter, this song would be right at home in any country joint on a hoppin’ weekend. As the song says, share it with your friends (the song, not the virus)!
DaBaby - “JUMP” (feat. NBA YoungBoy)
Rap superstar DaBaby’s latest album, Blame It on Baby, dropped in mid-April, adorned with a picture of him wearing an N95 mask. So maybe it’s not so surprising that the video for “JUMP” features a hazmat crew sanitizing DaBaby’s house. What IS surprising is the reference to our favorite PRO in the chorus, delivered by fellow ASCAP rapper NBA YoungBoy: "I make it jump like, like crack in the '80s / Baby, these bitch ass n****s ain't crazy / Broke ass, ASCAP go straight to my baby.”
Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins Presents The Good News - “Come Together”
Super-producer Darkchild put together this uplifting anthem, featuring several of ASCAP’s top gospel artists, including Kelontae Gavin, Karen Clark-Sheard, Mary Mary, Lecrae and Shelby 5.
Drum & Lace - “WildFlower”
ASCAP composer Sofia Hultquist, aka Drum & Lace, was in the middle of double isolation when she recorded “WildFlower:” coronavirus quarantine and first-month-of-motherhood quarantine. In honor of Earth Day, she took her setup outdoors for a soothing, live ambient improv that weaves together recordings of rain, crickets and water with wordless vocal lines and absorbing synth tones. Listen on headphones for a healing, immersive experience, perfect for contemplating the nature of solitude or just blissing out for a few minutes.
Gmac Cash - “Coronavirus”
Detroit rapper Gmac Cash may be the most prolific creator in the entire COVID-themed music canon. In addition to his viral single “Coronavirus," he’s also released "At Home," "15 Days of Quarantine," "Stimulus Check" and “Big Gretch,” an ode to Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer’s leadership during the crisis. Pro tip: the chorus to "Coronavirus" is exactly 20 seconds long, perfect for your next handwashing sesh.
Selena Gomez - “Dance Again”
With her video for “Dance Again,” Selena Gomez uses a stark symbol, omnipresent in our new world: an empty stage. Dancing passionately under the spotlight in the empty room, Gomez displays the human conviction to persevere - to keep dancing and experiencing joy, even though the room is empty. With a portion of “Dance Again” merch proceeds going to MusiCares’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, the video is a reminder that while we're dancing alone for now, the time will come when we will all dance again together, more joyful and stronger than ever before.
Ariana Grande & Justin Bieber - “Stuck with U”
With “Stuck with U,” these two pop royals teamed up to bring their fans some light in a difficult time. The breezy, catchy song explores the silver lining of staying at home: more time with loved ones. The video cuts together clips of a wide cross section of people – some notable, some normies like us – in their homes. People dance with their dogs, hold up signs thanking essential workers, do choreographed routines with their families, cuddle, or just vibe. It is a heartwarming ode to finding joy and comfort through the darkness, and all net proceeds from the streams and sales of “Stuck with U” will be donated to First Responders Children’s Foundation to fund grants and scholarships for children of healthcare workers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics, police officers and firefighters serving at the front lines during the global pandemic.
HAIM - “I Know Alone”
The HAIM sisters may very well popularize social-distancing choreography with the video clip for their newest single, “I Know Alone.” While the song was written pre-COVID, lyrics like “'Cause nights turn into days / That turn to grey / Keep turning over / Some things never grow / I know alone like no one else does” speak to that interminable loneliness that so many of us are feeling. “I Know Alone” is another terrific single from HAIM’s forthcoming album Women in Music Pt. III, which was rescheduled for later this year.
Adam Hambrick - “Between Me and the End of the World”
Adam Hambrick’s plaintive ode to the state of the world and the brave people keeping us safe is deeply moving. The veteran songwriter, who has penned hits with Dan + Shay, Justin Moore, Eli Young Band and more, keeps his message simple and honest: our essential workers are truly keeping the sky from falling. Hambrick’s earnest message of respect and gratitude is a breath of fresh air in a sometimes cynical and negative world. Sometimes we just need to say thank you.
iMarkkeyz - “Coronavirus” (feat. Cardi B)
Prediction: historians will one day point to this track as one of the most fascinating cultural artifacts to emerge from the coronavirus epidemic. Imagine, if you will, a #1 streaming single based around a video rant that Cardi B posted on Instagram? Technologically and thematically, this track could only have happened now. We can thank Brooklyn producer iMarkkeyz, who has done plenty of meme-based remixes in the past but really captured the zeitgeist with this one. He’s announced plans to donate royalties earned from the single to help the fight against coronavirus.
Jewel - “Grateful”
One of our favorite Alaska natives turns in a profound song about our capacity to maintain hope, even in the direst of circumstances (choice lyric: “It's all the little things, the bells that ring / The green, green grass and the birds that sing / I'm gonna choose the bright side to see / And no one can take that from me”). As a bonus, “Grateful" is one of the most soulful performances of Jewel’s career.
Kehlani - “Toxic”
Like the bold R&B icon she is, Kehlani released her superb second album It Was Good Until It Wasn't smack dab in the middle of an epidemic. She’s released videos for the first three singles, and they’re all shot at home - not that you could tell, given the high production values on display on “Toxic,” “F&MU” and “Everybody Business.” They’re all great, but we’re highlighting the moody, mesmerizing “Toxic” here ‘cause it’s the most socially-distanced of the three (Kehlani’s the only person we see in the clip) and because of this super apropos line: “Damn right, we take turns being wrong / I get real accountable when I'm alone / I get real about it all when I'm alone / It's so crazy missin' you when I get on.”
Norman Kim - “We Are Just Like You”
At a time when we’re separated in so many ways, songwriter/composer Norman Kim (a graduate of the 2013 ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop in LA) reminds us of the things that connect us in this powerful, angry original song. Explains Kim: “It saddens and angers me to see the hate and fear and racism in the world right now, especially as a Korean-American singer. Asians all over are being targeted and attacked because of the prejudice that comes with news about the coronavirus pandemic...I filmed this video before the whole coronavirus thing, but I decided to release it now in hopes that people can be reminded that we're more alike than we are different.”
Lady Leshurr - “Quarantine Speech”
This charismatic British rapper turns in a relatable jam about the fears and boredom of quarantine life. Bonus points to her for donating iTunes sales of the single to the NHS (UK National Health Service). And extra bonus points for shooting the entire video solo on her iPhone!
Mike Love - “This Too Shall Pass” (feat. John Stamos)
For this original song, Beach Boy Mike Love enlisted longtime fan, beloved actor (and fellow ASCAP member) John Stamos to drum remotely via video along with his other musicians. Love looks back on history and assures the worried public that like all the crises he has seen before, this one will pass too. A consummate touring machine, Love manages to stay creative and active even off the road with this reassuring, meditative tune.
New Kids on the Block - “House Party”
NKOTB and their joyful cohort of notable pals throw an absolute joy bomb with “House Party.” With vocal additions from the likes of Boyz II Men, Big Freedia, Jordin Sparks and Naughty by Nature, the romp also features lighthearted cameos from folks like Carrie Underwood, Nicole Scherzinger, Ken Jeong, Derek Hough, Kid 'N Play and Mark Wahlberg. The video is an absolute delight, and the song? It slaps - a rollicking R&B throwback with a danceable beat and lyrics that will make you crack a smile no matter how rotten you feel. And you’ll smile even bigger when you see that merch sales and all net proceeds will go to No Kid Hungry. As the New Kids say, roll back the rug - the whole crib’s a club!
Brad Paisley - “No I In Beer”
Country star Brad Paisley and his fellow ASCAP songwriter Kelley Lovelace originally wrote this song in 2018, but it’s everything we need right now: a drinking song that’s just as much about togetherness as it is about drinking. Kudos to Brad and Kelley for adding on that final line: “To the farmers and the first responders / To the truck drivers shifting gears / Every nurse that needs a break / Let me buy you a drink / There ain’t no ‘I’ in beer.”
Samora Pinderhughes - “Hold That Weight”
This fascinating poet-activist-musician composed “Hold That Weight” to document the struggle of people trying to readjust to society after incarceration. The song (especially a line like “He puts on a mask, now / To cover his rage / 'Cause red and blue lights / Might look twice”) takes on added layers of meaning during quarantine lockdown...and challenges us to stay involved in supporting all those who are struggling.
Grace Potter - “Each Other”
The exquisitely talented Grace Potter shared this stunning original just because “she hoped it might help.” From her home (before eating some mac n’ cheese with her family), she sings about the fear and uncertainty we’re experiencing, but returns to the reassuring message that we still all have each other to lean on. The message that we need to take care of each other and continue to support our communities through the fear is a powerful one, sung resolutely with her dulcet voice.
Senri OE - “Togetherness”
This wistful instrumental waltz from Japanese pianist Senri OE brings us back to a time when the mood wasn’t as heavy, when we could stroll through the park without our masks on, and when we could linger for hours in the corner seat of the cafe instead of ordering curbside takeout. The piece's title couldn't be more apropos - it's a sonic reminder of how a melody can connect us even though we’re physically separated.
Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman - “Twenty Seconds” & “Half a Minute Waltz”
At the suggestion of the New York Times, musical partners-in-crime Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (the songwriting team behind Hairspray, Smash and Mary Poppins Returns) wrote “Twenty Seconds,” a song to accompany the endless handwashing sessions we’re all undergoing these days. Then they wrote another one for those of us with particularly filthy (or large?) hands: “Half a Minute Waltz.” Thank you for your service, Messrs. Shaiman and Wittman (Click here to watch a bunch of Broadway stars performing both songs. Want to record your own version? Post a video on Instagram or Twitter with hashtag #20secondhandwash).
Soccer Mommy - “Crawling in My Skin”
Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy, was supposed to embark on her first international tour this spring, in support of her acclaimed second album color theory. You can guess what happened instead. Instead of resigning her tour to “could have been” status, Allison created 8-bit videos for five of her would-be tour stops as 8-bit live performances, each one set to her track “crawling in my skin.” We’ve chosen the Seattle version, but residents of Minneapolis, Chicago, Toronto and Austin can also watch a pixelated Soccer Mommy performing in front of 8-bit landmarks in their hometowns.
Tye Tribbett - “We Gon’ Be Alright”
Contemporary gospel icon Tye Tribbett doesn’t directly address the pandemic in “We Gon’ Be Alright.” But the song’s lyrics are a powerful salve for all the troubles we’re going through, and a reminder of the importance of faith and hope that it’s all gonna get better.
Weezer - “Hero”
“This one is for the stay at home dreamers, the zoom graduators, the sourdough bakers, and the essential workers” say Weezer about their newest power-pop anthem, “Hero.” What might have been a simple paean to everyone saving the world right now, gets refracted through the Weezer worldview into a celebration of outsiderdom: “Everybody needs a hero / But I'm not everybody else / I walk alone.” For all of you struggling just to get by right now, Weezer hears you. ASCAP songwriters Dave Bassett and Daniel Omelio co-wrote this one alongside Rivers Cuomo.
Noam Weinstein - “Here to There”
We adore this simple, sincere ode to keeping up human connections and maintaining hope, from Boston-based singer-songwriter Noam Weinstein. And thanks to Noam for giving us this pithy description of the power of a song during difficult times: “Less than a cure / But more than a prayer.”
Yofrangel - “Corona Virus”
Premiered on YouTube on February 9, Dominican rapper Yofrangel’s “Corona Virus” predated the wave of COVID-19-themed music that would soon come. A word of advice to the 10 million of you who have watched the video: dancing in an ambulance is never recommended.