Songs for lockdown: Forty tunes for stage four

A playlist for coping with the Covid blues. Artwork by Millie Spencer.
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The Standard's reporters bring you music to get through lockdown – to lift your spirits, to put some dancing in your feet, to soothe your soul.

As Victoria plunges into a seven day circuit breaker lockdown the team at The Standard have compiled a list of tunes to get you through. From feel good classics to dance in your room songs, lockdown will fly by with this playlist.

1.  t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l (Transparent Soul) – Willow 

Despite being a new release, this song’s crashing wave of drums and guitar will take you on a nostalgia trip to a simpler time. Forget the lockdown by dancing around your room and pretending it’s 2004. Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker features on this track, which explains the pop-punk sound – best played on a Nokia Motorola flip-phone

2. Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra

This upbeat ’70s classic reminds you that even though you’re locked inside you can still look out the window and enjoy the beautiful blue expanse. Legendary songwriter and vocalist of Electric Light Orchestra Jeff Lynne wrote the song while locked away in a Swiss chalet while trying to write a new album. 

3. Discoteque – The Roop

Lithuanian dance-pop giants The Roop will spell it out for you if they have to – dance alone! The fitting quarantine track gets a big boost from some hypnotic beats and funky disco guitars. The song, which was recently performed at the EuroVision song contest, is about as timely as it gets, and features a quirky music video. 

Songs for lockdown: Forty tunes for stage four
Lithuanian pop dance band The Roop took EuroVision by a storm with the high-energy funky tune Discoteque.

4. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

This fast-paced anthem by Queen should help get you fired up to do something productive and help keep you perked up rather than wallowing in misery for a week. The 1978 classic has been proven by scientists to be the happiest song in existence. 

5. Missing Piece – Vance Joy

The latest single from Melbourne’s singer-songwriter sweetheart is packed with feel good vibes and an uplifting message that is a tragically ironic: “because when I’m in a room with you, that missing piece is found”. It may be a bittersweet listen in lockdown, but it is a must for keeping positive. 

6. Rainbow – Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves provides a comforting and hopeful piano ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Toy Story movie. Perfect for times of stress and uncertainty, Musgraves’ country twang is one of many highlights from her latest album Golden Hour

7. Alright – Kendrick Lamar

The anthemic track from one of the most acclaimed rappers of his generation combines catchy falsetto backing vocals with impeccable flow and deeply intense lyrics. Considered the new Black national anthem, its message of dogged hope amid dark times acts as a nice reminder that in the end, we are gonna be all right.

8. Immaculate Taste – Engelwood 

A perfect selection for when you need to treat yourself to a solo dance party, with a prevalent ’80s theme going on. This electro-dance track uses pulsating beats and a blazing saxophone is sure to turn your bad mood into a good one. Air saxophone performance is mandatory while listening. 

9. Elevated – RKCB

Self-proclaimed “sexistential” artists RKCB combine elements of R&B, EDM, soul and pop to remind us to take a moment and check in with your mental health – a timely message during our fourth lockdown. 

10. Wait A Minute! – Willow

Lush tones are the name of the game here. Hip-hop beats over jazzy guitars give this song a sparkling quality, where we venture to the sixth dimension to collect our consciousness. Might be something to tick off of the to-do list while we are stuck in the house. 

Songs for lockdown: Forty tunes for stage four
Australian singer-songwriter Stella Donelly sings about that relationship we’ve all had.

11. Castle on the Hill (Spotify Studios) – Ed Sheeran

The stripped back Spotify session recording of Ed Sheeran’s mammoth hit single gives the song new emotional facets. The lone acoustic guitar and quiet-to-loud structure goes from relaxing to motivating – might come in handy for studying. 

12. Tricks – Stella Donnelly 

The most upbeat track off her debut album Beware of the Dogs, Fremantle favourite Stella Donnelly showcases her tongue-in-cheek songwriting and playful delivery all in a four-minute package. Everyone has had at least one partner like the one Stella describes on the track, so maybe think about them while you are locked in your house. 

13. Be My Lover – La Bouche 

This Eurodance epic is an extremely fun ’90s clubbing track. Whether you want to get up, get down, dance and sing along, this song will be there for you. An infectious beat and rich vocals mean it’s a good tune to prep you for the weekend after lockdown. 

14. Fall Together – The Temper Trap

An uplifting tune that will lift your spirits and make you feel like you’re not alone in this.

15. Da da ding – Gener8ion fear Gizzle

Its up-beat motivational rhythm is a fusion between Bollywood and rap/RnB. 

16. Holding Pattern – Allah-Las 

The relaxed vibes of psychedelic virtuosos Allah-Las’ soft surf guitar sounds takes the listener on a journey to the Californian coast. The hazy fuzz of the psychedelic instrumentation is a nice escape from the confines of a wintry Melbourne bedroom, so best crank up the heater to feel the warmth of this awesome track.

17. Dan – Grovesnor

The intro to Dan would serve well as an intro to a 1980s Eyewitness News segment. The bright song derives a lot from synth-pop, with a strong Hall and Oates influence. A soaring guitar solo to close out the song will transport you back to a decade that’s seen a strong resurgence in pop culture in the last few years. This is best paired with bingeing Stranger Things while staying at home. 

18. One More Time – Daft Punk

Hopefully this is the last time we only have to go through lockdown. A dance classic, this one from the helmeted duo can always improve your mood with a super fun upbeat tune which is easy to sing along to!

Songs for lockdown: Forty tunes for stage four
Bobby McFerrin’s uplighting classic Don’t worry be happy will leave you bopping all day long. 

19. Dragonball Durag – Thundercat

 One of the funkiest and most technically proficient artists in the last few years, Thundercat does what he does best on this track, laying down some of the smoothest bass tones in contemporary music. 

20. Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin

Stuck between four walls speaks for itself and the adverse ripples it causes. This song is bound to lift up your soul while reminding you to not worry, just be happy. 

21. Johatsu (feat. Flore Benguigui) – KESMAR

Let this funky little number take you to a distant land during your time at home. French disco, tropical undertones, what more could you want?

22. Time’s Up – Sycco

A bedroom-pop track that combines bouncy instrumental with Sycco’s unique vocals. It’s a match made in heaven!

23. Slow Dancing in the Dark – Joji

A sad, soulful song that you can belt out when you’re home alone and just need to get it all out. Joji’s vocals really shine in this song off his 2018 Ballads 1 release.

Songs for lockdown: Forty tunes for stage four
From country music star Kacey Musgraves’ Rainbow video.

24. Follow Through – The Altogether

It’s upbeat, it’s sweet, it’s folky. The Altogether struck gold with this hidden gem, and if you chuck it on repeat like I have, the next week will fly by.

25. Fader – The Temper Trap

Australian indie rockers The Temper Trap never fail to lift the mood, with lighthearted vibes to whisk you away to simpler times. The buildup of Beach Boys-like backing vocals and consistently boppy rhythms into a scorching guitar solo will have you aeroplaning around the halls of the house. 

26. Windowpane – Opeth

Perfect for a quiet winter day indoors. A pensive and melancholic effort with an effortless driving groove, immersive guitar highlights and soulful, longing vocals. A bit of Mellotron never hurts a song either.

27. Supper’s Ready – Genesis

For those of you wanting an adventure and who have the time to go along with it, this is high-concept musical escapism at its finest. An ever-changing journey that shifts between the tuneful, the absurdist, the apocalyptic, and everything else that can be crammed in between.

28. Dancing Queen – ABBA

Channel your inner Muriel and dream of being a ’70s disco star with one of the Swedish group’s best efforts. There is plenty of time for a boogie during the lockdown and is certainly something you can belt out the lyrics to – try using a broom as a microphone stand for added emphasis.

29. Alive – Guy Sebastian

The king of looking on the bright side, Australian pop stalwart Guy Sebastian gives us an upbeat pop ditty to lift your spirits in these broody times. The catchy chorus will have you humming along well after the song is over.

30. Imagine – John Lennon

We all saw the shitshow that was A-list celebs singing the iconic song – hardly inspiring when people at the top of the tax bracket try to lecture us from their mansions. The original, on the other hand, is a beautiful piano ballad that implores us to choose peace, love and care. The gentle reverence of this song reminds us to think of better times and come out of this stronger. 

31.  Gimme Shelter – Rolling Stones

The parallels between the turbulence of the late ’60s and now gives this song a timeless, almost prophetic quality. Listening to this is like watching a stormcloud roll towards you, as the howling blues guitars and impassioned appeals of Mick Jagger and backup singer Merry Clayton rumble towards you like a thunderstorm. A perfect tune to sum up the rage and insanity of the last 18 months. 

32.  What Once Was – Her’s

This jangly anthem provides us with the perfect opportunity to reflect on our priorities in this mad, mad world. This is one of those songs you could either find yourself slow-dancing to or optimistically laying in bed knowing that neither the pandemic or exams are the end of the world. 

33. Street of Your Town – The Go-Betweens

This dreamy tune is a sentimental ode to suburbia and may help remind us that despite the circumstances, we are still living in the lucky country. The song’s wistful yearning is a perfect song to daydream to, thinking about picnics and bike rides with your mates on a sunny day.

Songs for lockdown: Forty tunes for stage four

34. Get on the Beers – Mashd N Kutcher feat Dan Andrews 

James Merlino is great, but we can’t help but miss seeing Dan on our screens every day. It lacks that 2020-oh-my-god-this-is-the-apocalypse vibe. So, bring back all the sentiment with this absolute banger offering us hope that we will all be able to “get on the beers” next week. 

35. I’m Still Standing – Elton John

This infectiously bouncy bop is a great way to start your morning by jumping out of bed and ready to take on a big day of sitting around the house. It’s also a reminder that after so manylockdowns, we are still standing and going strong, so stay hopeful and optimistic! 

36. Help! – The Beatles

This song speaks for itself. Written by John Lennon as a literal call for help – he was extremely fatigued from the excessive touring and constant attention – the catchy tune sees the Liverpool group craft the perfect pop song. The contrast of the uplifting jangly with the dark concept is a perfect encapsulation of the lockdown. 

37. Shake it Off – Taylor Swift 

A song that marks Tay Tay’s classic period of angst and fits well with our current stage of lockdown angst! If lockdowns got you down, frustrated and peed off, tune into the lyrics and just “shake it off”. 

38. Survivor – Destiny’s Child

An iconic song of the 2000 that still has a lot to say today. When days get tough this song reminds you that you are a survivor and you will get through. 

39.  Waiting room – Fugazi

There’s an immediate connection to lock down through the name of this song and it’s themes. It’s about waiting for the right people and the right time to do something great. It’s the first song off the first Fugazi EP, and blends funk with reggae.

40. The Princess and the Clock – Kero Kero Bonito

Bouncy J-Pop inspired melodies and harmonised synths tell the story of a princess trapped high in a chamber. If you can’t fly free yet, at least make it an anime.

Listen to the full playlist here: