SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va., – As of late, we’re seeing a surplus of art being released from major artists and independent creators. Though large-scale television and film projects haven’t been able to restart production until recently, small groups and individuals have been creating amazing works.
Now that they’ve been approved by their labels and companies, we’re seeing the release of multiple high-profile albums created since the beginning of COVID-19. As a musician myself currently working on music, it has been interesting to evaluate the multiple strategies used by artists currently releasing their works.
Taylor Swift – folklore
Taylor Swift surprised everyone with her surprise release of her eighth studio album folklore. She hid the fact that she was doing this album at all from everyone except for the people she worked with on it- her label, Republic Records, had no idea this album existed until right before its release.
Swift released the 16-track album with no prior promotion and the general public ate it up. She released a music video for the song “cardigan” along with the album and tons of merchandise for the fans. “cardigan” became her first number one on the Billboard charts since “Look What You Made Me Do” in 2017 and the album has been number 1 for eight weeks. Swift later added the deluxe version of the record with the 17th track “the lakes” on streaming services as well. My favorites from the album are “betty,” “hoax,” “the 1,” and “august.”
Ariana Grande – Positions
Ariana Grande’s sixth studio effort Positions was finally created and released during quarantine. Earlier in 2020, Ariana released her live album k bye for now (swt live) and said that she wouldn’t be releasing new music for quite a bit. However, as we all know now, the plans originally made for 2020 were highly altered after COVID hit so with newly found free time, she created the new album.
She announced the release of the album in mid-October by tweeting “I can’t wait to give u my album this month” on Oct. 14. She released “positions” (the single) on Oct. 23 alongside a political video and the full album a week later on Oct. 30.
The album went to number 1 across all Billboard charts and is considered quite a success for Grande. The album as a whole combines R&B, pop, and trap elements yet strays much further from her typical pop formula. For this album, my favorite songs are “motive (feat. Doja Cat),” “pov,” and “positions.”
Charli XCX – how i’m feeling now
Charli XCX recorded the entirety of this album in one month towards the beginning of quarantine. XCX used popularized video communication program Zoom to preview writings and recordings to fans for their input and help.
Through social media, XCX also gathered lyrics options from fans, created polls to plan releases and music videos, and had cover art and graphics created by fans and friends. This album is truly a piece of the time toward the beginning of quarantine- especially seen visually through the cover art of XCX in her bed covers. Songs I’d recommend from this album are “forever” and “party 4 u.”
Troye Sivan – In A Dream
Australian pop dream boy Troye Sivan finally created and released the follow-up to his 2018 sophomore album Bloom. Sivan went on record to say that the new body of work was planned to be released late 2020, but due to COVID restrictions and free time, he completed his effort much sooner.
Sivan initially released “Take Yourself Home” early into quarantine with a self-created music video. He followed this up with “Easy,” an emotional track about his experience cheating on his ex-boyfriend. When the EP finally released, it contained the two released singles along with four other tracks- “could cry just thinkin’ about you,” “STUD,” “Rager teenager!” and “IN A DREAM.” Sivan on Oct. 30 released the bonus track “10/10” to streaming platforms as well.
Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
Though this album wasn’t fully created in quarantine (songs like “Halloween” and “I Know the End” premiered in Bridgers’ 2019 Halloween show,) it did help people greatly during quarantine and Bridgers did have to alter her release plans due to COVID-19 and the BLM Protests.
The original date planned for release was June 19, also known as Juneteenth. Once Bridgers became educated about the importance of the holiday, she made the decision alongside her record label Dead Oceans to release a day early on June 18. She did little promotion the week of the release to allow for the voices of black Americans that needed to be amplified at that time to get the full attention. Songs I personally would recommend from this album are “Savior Complex,” “Graceland Too,” and “I Know the End.”
Some other honorable mentions of albums created or released during quarantine would be Only Child by Sasha Sloan, Club Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa, elated! by Bea Miller, Superbloom by Ashton Irwin of 5 Seconds of Summer, and Shelly by Shelly, a new supergroup consisting of Clairo and Claud.
If you are interested in hearing the songs mentioned in this article along with others released or created during quarantine, be sure to follow the link to a Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5RUxFmULy6oDhcYUXyorcc?si=-Qw6i5nIS9-_C81oVgroVg