Putting health advice to a beat: Listen to these COVID-19 PSA songs
TORONTO -- From pop songs to musical PSAs to dance challenges, there’s a new way to get important health information about COVID-19 out to the masses: by putting it to music.
Officials across the globe are getting creative with their attempts to inform the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
These tunes are ones that health officials are hoping will definitely get stuck in your head.
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One of the first organizations attempting a musical avenue for virus protection was the Vietnamese Health Department, which put out a pop song about the novel coronavirus back in February which even comes with an animated music video.
In the video, COVID-19 is symbolized by evil-looking green blobs that attempt to attack the animated heroes of the video, who protect themselves with facial masks, hand washing and shields emblazoned with red crosses for health care.
What makes it stand out from any old PSA is the production level on the music -- it’s easily up there with any pop song you might hear on the radio. Officials partnered with Vietnamese pop artists Min and Erik to create the song.
It’s so catchy that after Vietnamese dancer Quang Dang posted a video dancing to the song, with choreography that demonstrated how to properly wash your hands, the dance became a viral hit and a new dance challenge on TikTok.
The song and dance trend earned a shout-out on John Oliver’s late-night HBO show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, in early March, where he declared it the best song about personal hygiene to have ever been made.
“Yes, Vietnam made a song about washing your hands to prevent coronavirus infection, and it absolutely slaps!” exclaimed the talk show host. “That’s a genuine club banger right there.”
There’s a video tutorial up on Dang’s TikTok and YouTube channel for anyone who wants to learn the moves.
Vietnam isn’t the only country mixing music and health advice together.
This week, Ugandan singer Bobi Wine -- who is also a political activist and opposition leader in the country -- put out a song called “Corona Virus Alert” to spread awareness.
“The bad news is that everyone is a potential victim,” he sings. “But the good news is that everyone is a potential solution.”
The music video shows Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, and fellow musicians jamming inside a recording studio.
Although the music itself is upbeat, the lyrics remind the public that COVID-19 is a serious threat, instructing the listeners to never take their health for granted.
Wine also uses the song to give practical advice such as washing your hands and keeping away from other people, and even provides a list of symptoms to watch out for.
“Fever is a symptom, dry cough is a symptom,” he sings.
Another song that focuses on the proper way to wash your hands has come out of South Africa.
The Ndlovu Youth Choir partnered with the Department of Health South Africa in order to raise awareness. In a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday, the choir members, dressed in matching outfits and dancing in unison, give musical instructions regarding how to follow the advice of health officials even with limited water.
“We’re from a community with limited access to running water,” the tweet with the video reads. “As washing hands is our first line of defence against #Coronavirus we’ve made a video on how to safely wash your hands using a bucket.”
“Let’s continue washing our hands,” the choir sings in the video. “Germs don’t die easily.”
In the video, the choir counts down from 20 as one member films a close up shot of another soaping up their hands and washing carefully for the full 20 seconds. At the end, they rinse their hands by a scooping a small amount of water from a larger bucket, and pouring it over their hands.
It’s not the first video the choir has put together focusing on COVID-19 advice. An earlier video, which was shared by the South African Government’s Twitter account, showed the choir greeting each other with elbow bumps and foot taps in lieu of handshakes and advising -- through song -- against spreading rumours and panicking.
These are far from the only musical contributions that have come out since the virus began dominating the news cycle.
In France, popular singer and rapper Soprano performed a rap about washing your hands on a radio show in early March. A video of the rap has more than 8.5 million views on Facebook.
In Thailand, workers on the Bangkok Mass Transit System (known as the BTS or the Skytrain) released a coronavirus safety video in which they danced their way around the trains and transit buildings, all while dispensing musical advice for how to stay safe during the outbreak.
And the Department of Health for the Philippines has started their own TikTok account to dispense COVID-19 advice. A TikTok video currently pinned to the top of their Twitter account shows staffers dancing in front of the official seal of their department, as text advice about hand-washing and cough etiquette pop up over their moves.