The 2021 Pop Convergence: A Virtual Pop Conference, April 22-25th
Artwork by Alex Nero; Design by The Art Dictator
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Solvej Schou

BODY-ODY-ODY: The joy of video and viral dance challenges in the age of COVID-19 

In mid-March 2020, as my doctor told me by phone to consider the symptoms I had as COVID-19 and to socially distance at home for weeks from my husband, I sought solace in the animated music video just completed by Meejin Hong for “No One Can Take Our Love” from my fuzz-filled 2019 album Quiet For Too Long. The song is about love in the face of hate, and in the video clasped hands morph into faces melded together in a kiss. “We’re so isolated, and yet, at the core of being human, we’re not alone,” I told journalist Liz Ohanesian for her Audiofemme article debuting the video in June. At that same time, protestors across the country were rising up and demonstrating against anti-Black racism following the murder of George Floyd by police.

Throughout this era of 2020—COVID-19, lockdowns, police brutality, protests, the election, President Donald Trump’s prejudice and negligence—musicians have used online video, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok to spread joy and community through songs of expression and dance challenges during a time of death, isolation and flux. Punk rocker Alice Bag spurred empowerment with her “Fit for the Apocalypse” YouTube at-home dance workouts, and with music videos for feminist and pro-LGBTQ songs from her 2020 album Sister Dynamite. Powerhouse rapper Megan Thee Stallion—whose Saturday Night Live performance in October combined music and dance with a message to “Protect Black Women”—jumpstarted several viral TikTok dance challenges. Moves by choreographer JaQuel Knight for her body positive quarantine hit “Body” (#BodyOdyChallenge) and for the female sexuality anthem “WAP,” her collaboration with Cardi B, unleashed videos from fans. “Body crazy, curvy, wavy, big titties, lil' waist,” raps Megan on “Body”—with her confident twerking an act of pandemic rebellion. This video will include video, and me performing live.

Solvej Schou is a writer-musician and Jewish grandchild of Holocaust survivors. LA Weekly named her 2019 album Quiet For Too Long album of the week. ArtCenter College of Design’s staff senior writer, and a former AP and EW staff writer, she’s contributed to outlets such as the NYT and to the 2018 book Women Who Rock. She’s interviewed legends including Aretha Franklin. She has a B.A. from Barnard College and journalism M.A. from USC.