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Arts Playlist: Songs for a Classy Quarantine

Duke Ellington during concert break in 1965.
Duke Ellington during concert break in 1965. By Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
By Sofia Andrade, Crimson Staff Writer

We’ve all felt it. These past weeks have been a seemingly endless blur of Zoom meetings spent staring inexplicably into the void, wondering why we can’t stop watching TikToks, and somehow missing the taste of dining hall staples. Some days are bursts of productivity: We get started on that paper we’ve been putting off, grind out our problem sets, and attempt to pick up the same hobby for what feels like the sixth time. More often, however, we wander like zombies around the house in the same clothes we’ve worn nonstop for the past week (read: Definitely not our best). This jazz-adjacent playlist is for those days when we’re in need of something to break that rut and make us feel a little bit better about ourselves — and a little bit classier in our sweats.

“Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” by Arctic Monkeys

We start the playlist with alt-rock icons Arctic Monkeys and the titular track off their newest album, “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.” The smooth track features frontman Alex Turner playing the part of an upscale hotel’s receptionist, inviting you to pamper yourself just like “Jesus in the day spa” or the “mama [who] got her hair done.” Turner is practically begging you to get up from your bed, take a shower, and change out of the outfit you’ve worn all quarantine. Matt Helders’s drumming is just funky enough to motivate you to do exactly that.

“In A Sentimental Mood” by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane

Once Turner’s avante-garde melody has inspired you to get out of bed, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane’s “In A Sentimental Mood” is the perfect song for a long, relaxing bath (or shower, if that’s more your speed). The lilting saxophone and soft piano melody blend beautifully together and create a sense of warmth and comfort as they engulf you in their swirling musicality.

“Cantaloupe Island” by Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock’s classic “Cantaloupe Island” is upbeat and perfectly jazzy, a great pick-me-up after you’ve been lulled into serenity by “Sentimental Mood.” The piano melody is fun and vibrant against an incessant drum beat that makes you want to get ready to seize the day, whether that means actually doing your school work or finally trying out that Zoom yoga class you’ve been eyeing.

“Moondance” by Van Morrison

This playlist would not be complete without Van Morrison’s “Moondance.” The song’s walking bassline alone is enough for it to merit a mention. Morrison’s jazz influence here is incredibly palpable, and “Moondance” gives you something fun to dance around to while you pretend you’re in a ’60s coffee house and not stuck indoors as you have been for the past month.

“Mine” by The 1975

The 1975 tried their hand at a jazzy track on their last album, “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships,” and it was surprisingly good. The light, jazz-inspired drumming paired with the melancholic piano and Matty Healy’s brooding vocals blend seamlessly with the song’s more modern elements, making the sultry track a beautiful addition to your classy quarantine.

“And I Like It” by Jefferson Airplane

Congratulations! You broke the rut! To celebrate: lie in bed, close your eyes, and listen to Jefferson Airplane take jazz, blues, and rock influence and mix them all up only to break them down into the monstrous and awe-inspiring “And I Like It.” That's it.

—Staff writer Sofia Andrade can be reached at sofia.andrade@thecrimson.com.

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