In the before times, I spent at least 90 minutes every day listening to things. I usually spent my ~45 minute (one way) commute and frequent runs listening to podcasts, while I listened to a lot of music to tune out everything else while working.
However, now that I’m working from home, my commute time has gone to 0 minutes a day, and I’m spending my work days watching TV, movies, and various YouTube videos. I’ve even regained some appreciation for quiet moments, and will sometimes consciously stop myself from putting on a podcast or video when I can enjoy silence instead.
Now, I mainly listen to podcasts while going on long walks after work, and sometimes music while preparing meals. Because I have significantly less time to listen to things now, I’ve become more picky about what I choose to listen to. Read about some of my picky audio choices below!
BTS – Dynamite
Hello, I am ARMY now!
As someone who has a soft spot for J-pop, I resisted the rise of K-pop for a long time. I was so embarrassed by my love for J-pop, sometimes even shamed by other people!, that I couldn’t return to Asian pop music openly. I even sort of resented K-pop for being more mainstream than J-pop ever was. Though I secretly bopped to “Boy With Luv“, I stubbornly refused to delve any deeper.
Then, Dynamite came along.
I’ve come to respect BTS both as talented performers and as shrewd businessmen. After watching the music video about a dozen times, I realized that the song’s disco and funk influences are perfectly tailored to cater to current Western tastes (see: Dua Lipa’s most recent album, “Future Nostalgia”, and Doja Cat’s single “Say So”, for example). The English lyrics are close-to-but-not-quite silly gibberish, but are fun and bouncy enough to dance along to anyway. At the end of the day, it’s just a well done pop song! If this weren’t such a weird year overall, maybe it would’ve been the song of the summer!
(I may or may not have fallen into multiple Run BTS clip video holes since getting into this song, but that is a discussion for another day…)
Motion City Soundtrack – Crooked Ways
I didn’t think that a global pandemic would get Stephanie Meyer to release a new Twilight book, then persuade Motion City Soundtrack to drop a previously unreleased song written for the Twilight movies to accompany it but… here we are!
Stephanie Meyer has graced me with the rare gift of a song that was written and performed, but not released, by my favorite band from middle school. I felt almost similarly about The Strokes’ new album The New Abnormal, but this situation is slightly different – while The Strokes happened to make a new album in the style of their older, more popular work, Crooked Ways was actually created back in their “prime” (as defined by… me), and feels like a little “alternative music in the 2000s” time capsule.
I don’t know how well the song ties into Twilight because I honestly never really followed the series! But it’s a sweet little song and, again, it brought me some unexpected quarantine joy.
ITZY – 달라달라(DALLA DALLA)
Weirdly, in the past, I have tried getting in K-pop. I knew some friends in college in a K-pop cover dance group and grew fond of the songs that they performed, I never branched off into any other songs or artists.
I gave K-pop another chance the other day by listening to a playlist of recent hits, and for some reason, this is the only one that stood out. Like Dynamite, I’ve been listening to it on repeat, and seriously considering learning the choreography – maybe!
No Suits – SEX (William Foe, specifically)
I was immediately attracted to the laid back vibe and lush production of this song. I listened to it on repeat on many of my early quarantine walks, enjoying the extended sunlight and warmer weather while also quietly, and sometimes confusedly, adjusting to walks around the neighborhood becoming another part of my quarantine routine.
I’m including this song on my list because I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to separate it from my memories of early quarantine. Maybe it’ll come on again in a couple of years, and it’ll bring me back to quarantine – I mean, hopefully we’ll be out in a couple of years, right? Right?
The rest of the album was also great – I cherish anything new right now, really – but William Foe is still my favorite of the bunch!
Surf Mesa – ily (i love you baby) ft. Emilee
Another “quarantine nostalgia” song!
I first heard it in the background of a pilates class that I was taking over Zoom, which is not a phrase that I thought I’d be saying when 2020 first started. What a great pilates choice, actually – very “low-fi hip hop beats to study to”, while still playful and bouncy enough to work out to without making you want to fall asleep.
Anyway, like William Foe, I doubt that I’ll be able to separate my memories of quarantine – and the many, many fitness classes that I’ve taken in my bedroom – from this song.
Punch Up the Jam, All Fantasy Everything, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, Scam Goddess, Rosecast…
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’ve become a lot pickier about the content that I consume in quarantine. While I love listening to new music, I am way pickier about the podcasts I listen to, and actually haven’t picked up any new ones yet! Oops!
I hold my podcast queue very near and dear to my heart. The familiar voices and jokes and subject matters are a source of comfort, especially now, when things are constantly changing and keeping up with the news is stressful. I always know the structure, the characters, the humor, and the general length – there are no surprises, unlike everything else in life right now!
I even met the hosts of All Fantasy Everything at a live show last summer and gushed to them about how binging their podcast actually got me through marathon training – not a joke! A humblebrag, but not a joke! Temptation bundling works!
I’ve tried listening to new podcasts, and even revisiting old ones that I dropped a while ago, but nothing “new” has stuck. Instead, I’ve resorted to working through the backlog of my current queue – there’s a lot in there, and it grows every week, so I think I’ll be fine.