'You're Not Alone for China': The First Song in Times of COVID-19 to Keep the Faith in a World Crying in Silence

Behav Sci (Basel). 2022 Mar 24;12(4):88. doi: 10.3390/bs12040088.


Collective mourning is an expression of societal maturity, cohesion, and respect. The world is in grief, but in early January 2020, before nobody could even imagine that SARS-CoV-2 would turn into the COVID-19 pandemic, a music video version of a pop ballad about love and isolation was spread across a Chinese social network. The song 'You Are Not Alone' was adapted as a cover by young foreigners living in China to express their support to bereaved families and frontline workers and encourage the people of China, their second home. At that time, the rest of the world looked to distant China but could hardly expect to face the same adversity months later. The authors reported that the music video was a spontaneous artistic expression copying such traumatic events and the mourning process. The present work analyses how the music was blended with lyrics and images describing the outbreak in Wuhan to reach their goal. The original song and this shortened version for China were compared regarding musical and lyric structures and main characteristics. Additionally, an analysis of the two videos was done regarding cinemetric variables and non-verbal communication that emphasized the power of songs to express deep sorrow and sympathy but also to give hope. Psychological first aid, the five stages of the mourning process by Kübler-Ross, the dual-process model by Stroebe and Schut, and Taylor's tend-to-befriend provided a better understanding of the translation from interpersonal to societal mourning. Finally, other memorable songs that society spontaneously chose to be performed alone or together to cope with sudden and dramatic situations, mitigate physical distancing, and alleviate human suffering are discussed. Music, lyrics, and artistic performance are playing a key role in building social and emotional ties during this pandemic, hampering individual and social pain and sorrow despite cultural barriers.

Keywords: COVID-19; bereavement; collective mourning; grief; group music therapy; resilient interventions; socio-ecologic model; songwriting analysis.