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The OneRepublic Songs for the 6 Stages of Social Distancing

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

OneRepublic, fronted by writer/producer extraordinaire Ryan Tedder, has always been one of my favorite bands, but the group has cemented its positive reputation during this public health crisis. Currently in quarantine in his Los Angeles studio, Tedder has gone live on Instagram every night for a series he calls “Quarantine Cuisine”. He answers fans’ questions and previews new music while cooking delicious dinners for himself and his bandmates, from shrimp Caesar salad to jalapeño grilled cheese. 

The band itself has also been prolific during its quarantine; they have officially finished their fifth album, Human, set to be released on May 8. Additionally, they have found inspiration in the current moment, writing and releasing “Better Days” as a lamentation of the isolation caused by social distancing. (The song is currently available wherever you stream music, and all proceeds will go to MusiCares to help out musicians affected by COVID-19.) OneRepublic does not wish to belittle the devastating impact of COVID-19; instead, they are working to spread positivity and combat loneliness. In this spirit of connectivity, I have compiled a list of six songs which perfectly encapsulate the experience of social distancing.

When You’re Sent Back to Your Hometown: “Stop and Stare”

Almost all college students understand the disappointment of being sent back home halfway through the spring semester — I am even struggling with this adjustment as a commuter student. Existing in one place when you would rather be anywhere else sucks: “Stop and Stare” gets it. Tedder perfectly describes the fear and stagnation that accompany being stuck in a place that doesn’t feel like home. If you’ve “got [your] heart set on anywhere but here”, check out “Stop and Stare”.

When You Need to Talk to Another Human: “Connection”

Ryan Tedder must be a prophet, because “Connection” clearly predicted social distancing. The song is about struggling to connect with others, despite how many people exist on earth. Tedder describes his attempts to reach others “get[ting] lost in the ocean”. He longs for deep connections with real friends, something many of us are seeking in the age of Zoom lectures and FaceTime movie nights. If you’ve been wondering “If there’s so many people [in the world], then why am I so lonely?”, “Connection” is your tune.

When Everything Becomes Overwhelming: “Lullaby”

When you’re overwhelmed by stories of unemployment, isolation, and death, your brain needs a break. “Lullaby” might just be one of the most calming songs on earth. My anxiety frequently manifests in a rapid heartbeat, and this song helps slow it down. I highly recommend putting on some headphones, lying in your bed, and playing this song full volume. Music is a form of self-care and that is the hill I will die on.

When Every Second Inside is Driving You Insane: “Better”

“Better” is manic, and that’s why I love it. Tedder wrote this song during a period of intense anxiety and burnout; he described himself as “on the verge of a nervous breakdown”. The sense of stress and instability Tedder was facing is clear in the song’s lyrics: “Yes I’m neurotic, I’m obsessed and I know it / I can’t take vacations in the brain or believe me, I’d be on one / Hawai’i under warm sun”. In the worst moments of social distancing, this song is a savior. It validates the physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety while providing hope for tomorrow (“In the morning I’ll be better”). When the walls of your room feel like they’re caving in, give it a listen.

When You’re Feeling Weirdly Philosophical: “Human”

Shakespeare is rumored to have written King Lear during the bubonic plague epidemic; mathematicians, writers, and philosophers have all utilized times of crisis to ponder the world and the human condition. If you’ve been thinking about what it means to be human, OneRepublic has a song for you. “Human” details a conversation between a person and God, in which the latter wonders what it means to be human, asking “Do some of the best plans you make get ruined?” In a time where everyone’s plans, from Commencement to weddings to vacations, have fallen apart, “Human” is food for the soul.

When Social Distancing is Finally Over: “Good Life”

Sometimes it feels like this day will never come, but it will, and it will be glorious. Of course, the end of social distancing will not erase the long-term public health and economic effects of the crisis, but it will provide us with newfound hope. In only a few weeks of isolation, I have learned to value what is really important in life: human relationships. “Good Life” celebrates human connection, and encourages us to relish in life’s best moments: “When you’re happy like a fool / let it take you over”. I picture everyone dancing in the street to this song, no longer six feet apart, and it puts a smile on my face. (It probably won’t happen, but let me have this.)

In a time of forced isolation, it is imperative that we maintain human connections. Bands like OneRepublic have been forging those bonds through live videos, virtual concerts, and new music releases. The wide range of songs within their discography guarantees that there is a tune for every mood, from hopeless to nostalgic to joyful. In my own experience of social distancing, music has been an invaluable form of self-care, allowing me to indulge my feelings or to escape the constant stream of news. Find the playlist that delights you, comforts you, and inspires you. Forge connections through music and remember that even in isolation, you are not alone.

Collier Curran

Columbia Barnard '20

Collier is a senior at Barnard College who enjoys brunch, playing with cats, and yelling at the TV during episodes of the Great British Baking Show. You can pry em dashes out of her cold, dead hands.