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Why 'Aries' by Gorillaz is my Quarantine Jam

If asked what my favorite decade of music is, I’d say, with no hesitation, that the 1980s have my heart. After being exposed to new wave by my dad 3 years ago, I’ve never looked back, indulging in the synths and electronics of the glittery era. One of my favorite bands of the decade, in particular, is New Order. Spawn of the late, great Joy Division, New Order has my heart for its seamless use of synthesizers and silky smooth bass lines. There isn’t a New Order song that hasn’t gotten stuck in my head for at least 2 weeks after initially listening to it. “Age of Consent” is still one of my all-time favorite songs and I’ve been listening to it on-and-off repeat since 2016. Alternatively, one of my other favorite bands is literally virtual. Gorillaz, the brainchild of Blur’s Damon Albarn and comic artist Jamie Hewlett, is a completely digital band, operating with four animated band members, 2-D, Noodle, Murdoc, and Russel. I fell in love with the concept of a band existing in its own world with complicated storylines and consistently killer sounds. You can only imagine my surprise when I heard that one of my other favorite bands, Gorillaz, was collaborating with New Order’s bassist, Peter Hook. The April 8th, 2020 announcement was a colliding of two of my favorite worlds, and I knew that I was going to love the end result. Almost a month later, I can firmly say that I’ve listened to the collaboratively-produced song, “Aries,” around 100 times. Seriously. “Aries” is everything I wanted from a New Order x Gorillaz collab. It’s synthy and undulating, virtual frontman 2-D perfectly accompanies the bass lines produced by Hook, making the track feel like a cohesive, modern new wave hit. I’m positive I would love the song no matter when it came out, but in quarantine, “Aries” has taken on a greater significance in my life than I expected it would. The song’s subject matter is longing, perhaps for a relationship, from afar, and feeling like your efforts aren’t enough to reach that thing you’re longing for. “Aries” conveys such a uniquely quarantined vibe, something much appreciated in a time of such great longing for freedom. Every time the track comes on, I resonate a little more with the lyrics. “Aries” is the kind of song that makes you feel less alone like the track is personally reaching out to comfort you. “I'm standing on a beach in the distance And even though you're far away, can you see my red light? It's waiting to turn green 'Cause I feel so isolated without you I can't play a happy tune on my own, so stay by my side High or low tide” 2-D sings with vulnerability, immersing me into his need for validation, his waiting for his light to turn green. At this point in my life, so much of my adolescence has been put on hold: I don’t have a school to go back to until August at the very least, I can’t work or volunteer, I’m strictly confined to my home. My whole life is a red light, waiting to turn green. And more than anything, all 2-D (and I) wants right now is someone by his side. There’s nothing worse than wanting something unreachable and waiting for it alone, and I think that’s so true in quarantine right now. I’ve been relying on my relationships as crutches—my friends and I keep each other company because we all know it’s worse to struggle alone. Stay by my side, high or low tide. The most striking part of the song for me, however, is the chorus. “High tide, high tide, high tide, high tide/High tide, high tide, high tide, high tide, high/And it feels like I'm falling in, again.” Every day of quarantine thus far has felt like a high tide that I’m forced to fall into. I’m operating at the will of the world, right now, and all I can do is obey the rules of those who are in charge or know better than I do. I feel like I’m falling in under the waves, a victim of the riptide. There’s nothing I can do about any of it, but “Aries” makes me feel less alone. Knowing me, “Aries” would be an earworm track even without the help of a global health crisis. With it, however, the sentiment of the song is only amplified, and I’ve found a home in the vocals of 2-D and the virtual band and Hook’s totally-80s bass. I know that I’m living in a time of high tides, but the way I see it, so long as there’s good music to listen to, it’s really all alright. “Aries” makes it all alright.


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