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Musical Artists I’ve Been Loving Over Lockdown

I get obsessed with things quite easily, especially music. The way I go about listening to artists that I really enjoy is quite unusual. When I find an artist that I think I like, I’ll listen to their entire catalogue of music (thank you, Apple Music for making this process a whole lot easier) by putting all of their songs into a playlist, and then pick my favorite songs from that playlist, and put them into yet another playlist. I’ll then listen to that playlist for months at a time, until I find new albums or artists to enjoy, and then the cycle repeats itself with new artists every time. It definitely makes my Apple Music Replay look really weird (yes, I listened to Taylor Swift’s folklore a couple hundred times in the span of five months last year, I was having… a moment). Lockdown has been no different, with even more time to explore discographies, genres, and artists that I haven’t before. 

The first artist I want to talk about is actually one that I’ve already mentioned: Taylor Swift. She’s probably an artist that many people have listened to throughout lockdown, because she released two albums (yes, two!) over the past year, and they’re both incredible. To release two albums in one year is a feat in itself, but to a) release them during a global pandemic, and b) not tell anyone you’re releasing them until the day before is absolutely wild. If you’re someone who still sees Taylor as a teenybopper pop singer, and have never really listened to her music before, then folklore and evermore may be more up your alley. These sister albums feature much sparser, softer production with much of the same lyricism that Taylor has become known for. Here, she is able to flex her creative muscles, bringing listeners through a whirlwind of mainly fictional narratives, some of which she’s always wanted to explore, but couldn’t until now. On folklore, there are three songs connected by a narrative thread, “mad woman,” “fame,” and “love.” evermore is similarly sparse, but somehow she found even more narratives to explore, like revenge on friend’s cheating husbands, two cons in love, and college sweethearts whose futures don’t align. Both albums have songs that are part of her own life experiences, like “invisible string” from folklore or “marjorie” on evermore, about her boyfriend and her grandmother, respectively. In the beginning of lockdown I found myself in a slump, and these albums got me excited about music again, playing them over and over again until I knew every word by heart. 

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Another artist I want to take a deep dive into is Hozier—I know, I’m late to the party. Most known for the song “Take Me to Church,” this Irishman has consistently put out excellent music, much of which I had never listened to before. Over lockdown, I’ve fallen in love with his music, especially his lyrics. For me, lyrics come first in a song, and they’re always something that I enjoy looking up because I like to know the meanings behind songs (and let me tell you, Hozier has songs whose lyrics are worth looking up). He references Icarus on the song “Sunlight” and Orpheus and Eurydice on “Talk,” both from Wasteland, Baby!, and incorporates seventeen different song references to music that he’s been influenced by on “Almost (Sweet Music),” also on Wasteland, Baby!, just to name a few. Hozier’s lyrics are layered, often with religious undertones or critiques, romantic imagery, and morbid narratives, but often in a tongue-in-cheek way. He’s heavily influenced by jazz, blues, and gospel music, and that really comes out in his own work. I love Hozier for many reasons: he has a beautiful voice, well-written lyrics, and he really cares about his craft, spending months and sometimes years sitting on concepts, lyrics, or melodies to find the right fit. Throughout lockdown, I’ve listened to both his self-titled, debut album, as well as his most recent album on repeat for the past few months. I haven’t made a separate playlist for my favorite songs, because they’re all my favorite, and none of them are skippable. 

The last artist I want to talk about is boygenius, the band started by Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus. I stumbled upon this trio when their NPR Tiny Desk concert got recommended to me, and I haven’t stopped listening to them since. Each of these women have solo careers, but came together for the first time to make music in 2018. They had all been in orbit of each other, but hadn’t all met together until they decided to form a band. With six songs to their name, there’s not a lot to go off of (no playlist created for this band either, so perhaps my introduction is a lie) but I love each of the songs dearly. The way that boygenius collaborates is magical, and I love how much you can hear each of their sounds and musical styles in the songs. The songs themselves range from heavy electric-guitar to soft, acoustic songs, but all with beautiful harmonies. They sing about their relationship with their fans in “Bite the Hand,” selfish relationships in “Salt in the Wound,” and nowhere ever feeling like home in “Ketchum, ID.” As someone who has felt like they didn’t have a home due to moving so often, “Ketchum, ID” is probably the one that I relate to the most. Over lockdown, when I was (and sometimes still am) mentally and emotionally exhausted, as well as struggling with figuring out what home and identity means to me, this song was and still is extremely important to me. I’m excited to see what they have planned next, because if it’s anything like this EP, I already know that it’s going to be incredible. 

In summary, music has always been important to me, especially during the pandemic. I love discovering new artists or albums and connecting with others through that. Some of my friends listen to the same music as me, and I love being able to bond with them about that. All of these artists, and many more have opened my ears to different genres of music and put concepts and narratives into words that I would never be able to imagine. Many things are uncertain right now, but I know that as long as they keep creating music, I will be here to listen. 

Hannah is a Chinese-American sophomore Publishing student at Emerson College. She loves to read science-fiction and fantasy novels, listen to music, and hang out with her friends. She is a Christian and heavily involved on campus organizations outside of HerCampus, with orgs like ASIA, Anime@Emerson, and Concrete Literary Magazine.
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