Banding together

Music industry fights back against COVID-19 pandemic

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Picture via Flickr (SomewhatDamaged2) under Creative Commons license

Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor performs during a concert in May 2009. Concerts are a way of bringing fans together. With the outbreak of COVID-19, however, all concerts and other large social gatherings have come to a halt. On March 27, Nine Inch Nails released two albums back to back titled “Ghosts V: Together” and “Ghosts VI: Locusts.” The ambient albums show the different ways society can react to the current global pandemic.

Music is an aspect of emotional healing. People listen to it whether they are happy or sad, overwhelmed or calm. Regardless of the emotion, music has a way of balancing out the soul.

Life is, without a doubt, crazy for everyone right now. COVID-19 is plastered all over the news, social gatherings have been canceled, and several countries are on lockdown. In a time like this, it is difficult to find a positive headline.

Regardless of the emotion, music has a way of balancing out the soul.”

— Staff Writer Rachel Laposka

To cooperate with social-distancing directives, concerts and other live events have been canceled. Thankfully, the music industry found a way around that to make everyone happy.

Whether it be through free concerts live-streamed on social media or new music to encourage people to stay positive, the music scene is definitely playing their part during this pandemic. Some bands have even turned all of the profits made from their merchandise stores into COVID-19 relief funds.

Shinedown, an American rock band, has an unreleased song from their 2012 album “Amaryllis” that you can download for free with the purchase of a shirt from their online merchandise store. The frontman of the band, Brent Smith, released a statement talking about how now more than ever,  people need to band together to remain calm. The proceeds made from the merchandise go to Direct Relief, a global charity organization doing their best to combat COVID-19. 

Other bands like All Time Low, a Maryland-based pop-punk band, have not let the global pandemic bring their music release to a stand-still. Instead of delaying the release of their album set to come out April 3, All Time Low has come out with a statement saying they are still going to release the album on the previously scheduled date. In fact, since then, the band has released five singles from their album just to remind people to stay positive.

Nine Inch Nails, an American industrial rock band, has also played their part in keeping the music industry thriving during the global pandemic. The band released two surprise albums last Friday titled “Ghosts V: Together” and “Ghosts VI: Locusts.” 

Music–whether listening to it, thinking about it, or creating it–has always been the thing that helped us get through anything–good or bad.”

— Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

These two albums are a follow-up release to the band’s 2008 album “Ghosts I-IV,” a record composed of four EPs, with each EP containing nine songs. “Ghosts V: Together,” and “Ghosts VI: Locusts” clearly fit in with the dark ambient vibe present in “Ghosts I-IV” with the cryptic instrumentals.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, two members of the band, are known for their various collaborations on soundtracks. The band has been featured on the soundtracks for “Birdbox,” “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “Watchmen,” and “The Social Network,” which won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. The elements the duo would commonly use in their soundtracks are present on “Ghosts V: Together,” and “Ghosts VI: Locusts.”

In a press release on March 27, Reznor and Ross explained the thought process behind “Ghosts V: Together,” and “Ghosts VI: Locusts.” Reznor and Ross explain, “Music–whether listening to it, thinking about it, or creating it–has always been the thing that helped us get through anything–good or bad.” 

Music has brought people together for years, fan bases for various artists turning into small families full of people who are passionate about the same things. Nine Inch Nails recognizes that, which led to the band dropping two new albums to keep their “family” sane.

Reznor and Ross describe the records in the press release: “‘Ghosts V: Together’ is for when things seem like it might all be okay, and ‘Ghosts VI: Locusts’ is…well you’ll figure it out.” 

I could not agree more with the statement, as absurd as it may be. There is definitely a hopeful sound to “Ghosts V: Together.” Despite the haunting instrumentals, the record has positive undertones.

Courtesy of nin.com
Atticus Ross (left) and Trent Reznor (right), members of the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, are known for their collaborations on motion-picture soundtracks including “Watchmen,” “Bird Box,” and their Academy Award-winning score for “The Social Network.” The duo implemented the sound from their ambient soundtracks into their two most recent albums, “Ghosts V: Together” and “Ghosts VI: Locusts.”

I see where the band is coming from with “Ghosts V: Together.” The whole idea of this record is to let listeners know that we can get through this together. The title of each track on the record holds true to the overall hopeful vibe the band was going for. With song titles like “With Faith” and “Hope We Can Again,” Nine Inch Nails is able to make their listeners feel at peace with everything going on around them.

“Ghosts VI: Locusts,” however, it is another story. Just based off the title, it is easy to tell that this record takes a darker turn than the previous one. Using the theme of locusts was definitely an interesting choice on their part, but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes.

Locusts are commonly associated with the ten plagues from the Bible — they swarm an area leaving it barren and in almost complete darkness. Pair that album title with edgy song titles like “The Cursed Clock” and “TURN THIS OFF PLEASE,” you get a record that is completely contradictory to the prior released one.

While “Ghosts V: Together” is about overcoming the darkness together without losing hope, “Ghosts VI: Locusts” seems like an alternate ending. “Ghosts VI: Locusts” seems to tell the story of what would happen if we abandoned one another and did not work together to fight through these dark times. 

As far as the initial purpose of the albums, I think Nine Inch Nails administered it beautifully. They were able to show two sides of the same coin — showing the uplifting world if we all were to work together while also showing the disturbing world if we all lost hope and gave up on each other. It is a painfully beautiful duality that Nine Inch Nails executes incredibly well.

In a time as hectic as this, people need any and every ounce of composure they can get to remain calm. Bands like Nine Inch Nails acknowledging that and continuing to release music puts society a little at ease.