ARCHIVAL:CARDI B: Coronavirus. Coronavirus. Im telling ya. Shit is real.

NARRATION: An Instagram rant about coronavirus by rapper Cardi B has been viewed by millions. And it was remixed into a song that soared to the top of the charts.

ARCHIVAL:CARDI B: Coronavirus. Shit is real. Shit is getting real. Shit is real.

NARRATION: It struck a chord with many Americans who are turning to music

ARCHIVAL:TWENTY ONE PILOTS: Wondering, would you be my little quarantine?

NARRATION: to deal with life under stay-at-home orders.

ARCHIVAL:JOJO: Stay in right now and do it for humanity. Im deadass about that. But we will survive.

NARRATION: Singers like JoJo and Gmac Cash were among those creating songs for a genre being called pandemic pop.

ARCHIVAL:GMAC CASH: I aint shakin no hands, I dont want a hug. Make sure you wash your hands with a lot of love. So if you got that CV, they gon find you. If you coughin, I aint tryna be around you.

NARRATION: It turns out theres a rich history in music of writing about the hardships of life during disease outbreaks.


NARRATION: The influenza pandemic that struck a century ago killed millions, and blues singers found ample material for social commentary.

ARCHIVAL:ESSIE JENKINS: Peoples dying everywhere. Death was creeping through the air and the groans of the rich sure was sad.

NARRATION: Gospel blues singer Blind Willie Johnson saw the flu as an apocalyptic warning from God.


NARRATION: And he sang about the social distancing of the time.

ARCHIVAL:BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON: You better close your public schools. Until the events of death has ending, you better close your churches too.

NARRATION: In the decades that followed, there were songs about coal miners disease, hookworm and even the common cold.

ARCHIVAL:CYNDI LAUPER: Tell me, where is little boy blue?

NARRATION: But the next big wave was in the 1980s and 90s as artists tried to raise awareness of a new epidemic sweeping the country – HIV/AIDS.

ARCHIVAL:TLC: His health is fading and he doesnt know why. Three letters took him to his final resting place. Yall dont hear me.

NARRATION: The R&B girl group TLC addressed unprotected sex in their song Waterfalls. And the rap group Wu-Tang Clan released a cut called America with an explicit warning.

ARCHIVAL:WU-TANG CLAN: Hes layin on a respirator. Depending on a generator to keep his heart moving. AIDS kills, word up respect this, yo. Coming from the Wu, its real.

NARRATION: Today, coronavirus songwriting has gone as global as the pandemic itself.


NARRATION: And in a twist, musicians are doing parodies of their own hits to urge fans to stay safe. Neil Diamond updated his 1969 song Sweet Caroline

ARCHIVAL:NEIL DIAMOND: Hands, touching hands.

NARRATION: with new lyrics to fit the times.

ARCHIVAL:NEIL DIAMOND: Dont touch me, I wont touch you. Sweet Caroline. Good times never seemed so good.