Pandemic discoveries: music edition

Here are some of the bands and records I have discovered so far during the pandemic.


The pandemic has forced a destined sense of creativity and discovery for artists and fans alike. While some of my favorite artists, like Taylor Swift, have dropped surprise pandemic albums — I’ve also been discovering new artists and bands that I normally wouldn’t come across in the regular rush of a daily schedule.

While I wouldn’t consider myself a picky music enthusiast, I definitely have genres and artists that I tend to listen to and gravitate more towards — like pop, alternative, rap, and country music. A question that music enthusiasts everywhere are asked at least once is the classic “How do you discover new music?”

In a regular setting, my answer would be simple and perhaps similar to some of your answers as well: my weekly curated ‘new music’ playlist from Apple Music, which is generated based on what I’ve been listening to and what is currently in my library.

But as the pandemic hit right around the same time as I graduated college, in the past few months I’ve realized how much I love to learn and have control over what I consume. This epiphany has led me to actively make the choice to read books and watch music documentaries that are outside of my usual comfort zone. Even my daily serotonin scroll through Tik Tok has led me to discover new musicians, DJ’s, and songs I never would have come across otherwise.

As a fan of pop music, I never experimented much with the local music scene. Where I’m from, indie is the main genre. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered bands like The Aces — an indie-pop quartet from my home state. Their lead single was the background music in an episode from The Bold Type and it caught my attention so sufficiently I decided to investigate. Turns out they just released an album called Under My Influence.

In the same vein, a recent project I worked on led me to discover the Current Joys who recorded an entire album live at a local venue in my home state.

On the other side of discovery, I’ve also dipped into older bands and eras that I had no exposure to otherwise — simply out of curiosity for music history. An important aspect of developing your own music taste is tracing the roots of the music you grew up listening to. While most Americans and Europeans can overlap on bands from the 70’s, I personally grew up listening to 90’s Bollywood hits.

It wasn’t until I watched Rocketman early on during the pandemic that I discovered the beautiful gift also known as Elton John’s discography. While it’s a marvel that I survived this long without Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, I’m glad to have been exposed to his music later on in life. Artists like Yaz also follow the same root.

Tik Tok is addicting on its own with the intricate dance videos and cute trends, but the music is a whole other conversation. As a recent Pitchfork podcast episode discussed, music either made or showcased on the app goes viral overnight, in a mere instant. It’s because of Tik Tok that I’ve discovered artists like Nish, Brett Young, Bazzi, and Social House.

Part of being a music fan, and even more a music-oriented writer, is focusing on what you know. It’s easy to feel comfortable writing about the latest Harry Styles release or partake in my usual modus operandi — listening to my recently played playlist over and over again. But if the pandemic has forced me to take the time to do one thing, it’s to diversify my library.

Whether it’s finding not-so-new artists in music history books or autobiographies, finding a Tik Tok trend with a song bound to be stuck in my head for weeks, or simply asking Siri, “What song is this?” when something in a show catches me by surprise — I’m excited to continue discovering more music while still sticking to my pop roots.

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