It’s official: music helped us get through the pandemic. In a new survey of more than 2,000 people, almost a quarter (23%) said live streaming and music had been the biggest support to their mental health through lockdown.
The poll, conducted by global music discovery service DICE and Populous, asked people about their relationship to music during the pandemic.
Knowing thousands of other people were also tuning in to live streams made lockdown a less lonely experience, respondents said, though few of us were actually listening to new music to fill the long days. Almost three-quarters (73%) said their lockdown listening focused on artists in their prime decades ago.
Music has been scientifically proven to evoke feelings of comfort, relief, and enjoyment, particularly when a track harks back to happier times – though if you’re up for discovering newer tunes, here’s why that’s good for you, too .
For those in need of a wellbeing boost, HuffPost UK team members have shared the songs that got us through the past year-and-a-half. Add them to your playlists, or check out more HuffPost UK recommendations on Spotify.
My Shot, from Hamilton
“I’m a huge musical theatre fan so it wasn’t a surprise that the songs that helped me get through lockdown were from musical show Hamilton. I was obsessed with the whole soundtrack but the one song I kept on repeat during lockdown was My Shot. It’s a song about triumph and strength, which motivated me, but musically it sounds amazing.
“It’s a great song to cook or clean to and the raps are my favourite part. The show (which is available on Disney Plus) is quite long, so listening to the soundtrack is a way for me to enjoy the story without needing to watch it again.” – Habiba Katsha, Life reporter
Rain On Me by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande
“Rain On Me came out in the early stages of lockdown, and I’ve had it on rotation pretty much ever since. This song was released at a time when the news cycle was especially bleak, with a sombre cloud hanging over everything, and it provided some escapism at a time we all really needed it with its anthemic chorus and empowering lyrics about overcoming difficult times. Plus, who doesn’t love a bit of camp provided by not one but two pop divas?
“I’ve been looking forward to hearing Rain On Me in a club ever since it was released, and even though I’m not quite ready for that yet, I know for certain it’s going to go off when I finally get there.” – Daniel Welsh, Entertainment editor
Motion by Khalid
“For me, my go to feel-good, feel sad, feel pensive song is Motion by Khalid. It’s one of his lesser known songs but I am just so in love with his vocals, the lyrics, the beat, everything. I can’t decide if it’s a happy song or sad song. I listen to it during all sorts of emotions.
“One of the top lines of the song is ‘I’m in love with this moment’. I remember playing it on my earphones on a solo trip to Machu Pichu in Peru – I was just stood on top of the mountains and listened to it on repeat, I really was in love with the moment! My Spotify wrapped showed I was in his 0.5% of top listeners last year, and you can guess which song was on repeat! The song got me through the pandemic because it reminded me of happier moments.” – Faima Bakar, Life reporter
Holiday by Little Mix
“It’s so hard to pick one song that got me through 2020 when making playlist after playlist was the only way I found to mark the endless weeks of lockdown – and cope with not seeing my partner, who reciprocated with his own. As to my internal radio, Dua Lipa and TSwizz featured heavily, and like Habiba, the Hamilton soundtrack ear-wormed from the moment I watched it on Disney+.
“But my song of last summer was without doubt Little Mix’s Holiday – landing in August just when I needed one. Infectious and sexy, never taking itself too seriously, it lifted my spirits like a plane ticket for the soul. And that video, with Jesy, Leigh-Anne, Jade and Perrie as thoroughly modern mermaids: ‘We’re just dancing the night away / Boy, you feel like a holiday.’ In the staycation age, a lesson in finding wanderlust closer to home.” – Nancy Groves, head of Life
Skankin’ Sweet by Chronixx
“As a proud Jamaican who is overly obsessed with the culture, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t pay homage to the song that helped me get through my loneliest times: Skankin’ Sweet by Chronixx. There is something about a reggae beat that really brings joy and tranquillity into my life, so I often played it in the mornings to give me that extra motivation to conquer the day.
“The song represents love, unity and having a moment to put your worries aside and just focus on being one with the universe, all true values that really helped me overcome my struggles through the pandemic.” – Maya Franklyn, Intern
Together Again by Janet Jackson
“I was six years old when Janet Jackson released Together Again and I have an almost visceral reaction to that dreamy opening harp; I feel warm, gooey, a little-more care-free, and like an excited kid again, waiting for the upbeat disco drop. My love affair with this tune has already spanned decades, so it’s perhaps no wonder I listened to it on repeat during the first lockdown, when we were all craving old comforts.
“Ignorantly, I’ve always belted out the lyrics without considering their meaning – I guess that’s what happens when you learn a tune as a kid. In a moment of pandemic boredom, I googled the backstory and learned that Janet wrote the song in memory of a friend who died from AIDS. At a time when death and sadness was dominating headlines, it only made it feel more pertinent.” – Rachel Moss, Life editor