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When the coronavirus rolled in, our culture’s many, many songs about hitting the town and hooking up started to seem infected, rather than just infectiously catchy. Others, though, became weirdly relevant. Pop has a long tradition of celebrating solitude—though mostly in the context of breakups, not pandemics. Whatever the circumstance for the listener’s aloneness, a song with empowering lyrics, thumping rhythms, and an occasional willingness to embrace what snobs might call “cheesy” can help spark a one-person (or one-household) dance party.
Below are some choice cuts sung by independent women—women just do these songs better—to help you thrive and not just survive this long weekend. Follow along on Spotify here.
A Playlist for Partying Alone
DUA LIPA, “DON’T START NOW”
While other pop stars postponed their album releases because of the pandemic, this Grammys Best New Artist winner dropped hers early. Smart call: Her lyrics designating when and when not to make romantic contact now sound like sexy social-distancing guidelines.
ROBYN, “DANCING ON MY OWN”
This is the modern masterpiece about dancing stag, with heavy seasonings of sadness sharpening the sweet.
GLORIA GAYNOR, “I WILL SURVIVE”
Pop’s other declarations of independence are largely indebted to this disco novella, but the original never gets old …
DESTINY’S CHILD, “SURVIVOR”
… and neither does Gaynor’s 2000s pop-R&B godchild, which makes the listener feel as though they’ve sold 9 million albums.
STEVIE NICKS, “STAND BACK”
Groove to Nicks’s slurry vocals and Prince’s glinting keyboards while outside the grocery store, standing in a li-i-ine.
ARI LENNOX, “NEW APARTMENT”
This is a hilariously specific slow jam about the joys of having one’s own space. Maybe skip the spoken outro in which some brutal truth breaks the reverie.
GARBAGE, “ONLY HAPPY WHEN IT RAINS”
The ’90s made it okay to admit to cherishing our bad moods, and in 2020, we’ve rarely needed that freedom more.
CARLY RAE JEPSEN, “SOLO”
Hot off this coy bubblegum wizard’s new album comes some sing-along therapy for nights spent alone.
JILL SCOTT, “ONE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER”
Slow down to take in Scott’s solitude-vindicating math, which might be more arithmetically sound than the calculations being performed at the CDC.
COURTNEY BARNETT, “NOBODY REALLY CARES IF YOU DON’T GO TO THE PARTY”
Hey, indie-rock homebodies, your manifestos aren’t bummers anymore! As Barnett jauntily lists the pros and cons of socializing, you might start to appreciate the lack of FOMO-related dilemmas these days.
CHER, “SONG FOR THE LONELY”
Yes, this capital-A Anthem sounds best when blasted from a Pride float, but Cher wrote it to give listeners experiencing isolation of any kind a personal parade on demand.
DIANA ROSS AND THE SUPREMES, “SOMEDAY WE’LL BE TOGETHER”
Okay, now it’s time to pine for human contact. Note that Ross’s pining treats the thought of reunion as a when, not an if: an important distinction in dark times.