If you’re looking for any new ways to distract yourself during the pandemic, look no further.

Here are my and other Badger Herald staff’s top recommendations for music, games, podcasts and shows to keep your mind off the current state of the world.


  • “Future Nostalgia” – Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa released this album early because she knew what we needed. It’s full of toe-tapping, hip-shaking bops with retro sounds and relevant lyrics — we’ve got this album on loop.

  • “CALM” – 5 Seconds of Summer

“A musical escape is just what I’ve needed during this crazy time, and the album that’s been on repeat for me is ‘CALM,’” Herald News Associate Savannah Kind said. “It’s the perfect album to dance, sing or just relax to. My personal favorites are ‘No Shame,’ ‘Wildflower,’ ‘Best Years’ and ‘Red Desert,’ but there is truly not a bad song on the album.”

  • Anything by The Lumineers

Their sometimes somber lyrics paired with free-sounding folk music really transport you to another place and time. Some of my favorite tracks by them are “Stubborn Love,” “Cleopatra” and “Submarines.”

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  • “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” (Nintendo Switch)

In the words of UW student Max Mindorff, “’Animal Crossing’ really came out at a perfect time, it’s fun to build your own little world on an island and not have to worry about what’s going on for a while.”

The game can also be played with friends remotely, so you can stay connected no matter how far apart you are.

  • “The Sims” (PC and various platforms)

Why not escape whatever place you’re quarantined in by playing God? Encounter love, birth, death, heartbreak and any other human experience you want to bestow upon the citizens of your virtual city. You can log endless hours into the personal lives of these people — it’ll almost be like you have real friends.

  • “Legend of Zelda” series (various Nintendo consoles)

Play any of them any way you can, on the Switch, DS, GameCube… whatever. I don’t know why but the simple premise with the challenging puzzles and dungeons calms me down and keeps me hooked for hours.

I’ve logged over 150 hours into “Breath of the Wild” and “Ocarina of Time” and I’m not stopping any time soon.

  • “Sayonara Wild Hearts” (Nintendo Switch)

An indie album-based game with beautiful graphics and a heartwarming message — not to mention it’s narrated by Queen Latifah.

It takes about three hours to complete the story if you have a little gaming experience, but I’ve spent countless nights trying to get the gold rank in every level, and I have the album itself saved on my Spotify because the music never gets old.

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  • “And That’s Why We Drink”

After some friendly banter, one of the hosts, Em, gives an in-depth account of a paranormal place or topic, like haunted hotels, alien abductions, conspiracy theories and the like, and Christine follows with a true crime story, from serial killers to cults and cold cases.

You can really start with any episode, but if you want to listen to a friendship blossom and get in on some really weird inside jokes, start from the beginning. Any way you do it, it’s a great distraction and a wild ride.

  • “Hello From The Magic Tavern”

Three friends sit around a table in the Vermilion Minotaur and talk about the magical land around them — Arnie, the guy from Chicago who fell through a portal behind a Burger King, Usidore the Blue, a wizard with a ridiculously long name and Chunt, the shapeshifter/taking badger.

The show is a completely improvised half hour of “yes, and-ing” where anything goes, creating a crazier world with every episode.

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  • “Explained” (Netflix)

Badger Herald Chair of the Board of Directors Peyton David recommends “Explained.” “They’re really short but succinct videos on a wide range of topics, including pandemics — which I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch yet,” David said. “I love to listen to them while I cook because it feels like I’m learning while I’m also doing something productive for myself!”

  • “Buzzfeed Unsolved” (YouTube)

This web series spans 12 seasons, in which believer Ryan Bergara and skeptic Shane Madej discuss and visit various haunted locations in six seasons of “Supernatural” and go through cold cases and theories in six seasons of “True Crime.”

Even if you haven’t seen the show yet, you’ve probably heard a quote — like “hey there demons, it’s me, ya boi” — or seen one of the countless memes the series has inspired.

  • “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Hulu)

Though there are a lot of good shows out there, “B99” has to be one of the best ones I’ve ever watched. It’s similar to “Parks and Recreation” but mixed with a police procedural.

The show covers a wide range of humor, from well-constructed, witty jokes to the worst puns, and you’re bound to fall in love with every character — especially Rosa, but maybe that’s just me.

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Also, if you’re looking for audiobooks, Overdrive is an app that connects you with your local library’s online books and free audiobooks, so check that out.

Happy escapism, everyone!