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Insta influencers & musicians jump on coronavirus fears for easy attention online

The novel coronavirus has claimed over 1,100 lives to date, but while some are concerned with its expanding global impact, others are seeing the outbreak as a raison d’etre for musical creativity – and social media promotion.

Dembow is a musical style that evolved in the Dominican Republic in the early 2000s and which incorporates Brazilian funk, Jamaican rhythms and synthesized hip-hop sounds. One of the genre’s trailblazers is Yofrangel 911, who – apparently determined to get his name on the global map – has created a new song and music video titled ‘Corona Virus’. Released on YouTube this week, the video includes visuals of the singer in an ambulance, coughing and sneezing, with images of syringes set to a bold electronic Afro-Latino beat. While some fans think the topical theme is nothing but fun, others think the release is perverse, with one YouTube user commenting: “people are fighting for their lives and you make a fat joke out of it all. How shameless are you??”

Billy Fahey, who works for the UK Music Video Awards based in London, said the music video was in poor taste considering the high number of deaths. “Singers love to be topical, political and to discuss everyday zeitgeist topics relevant to social discussion of the day. Controversy means ratings, but there is a line over what is acceptable or not,” Fahey told RT. He also suggested that the musician’s distance from the worst of the viral outbreak may have played a role: “Being based in the Caribbean, Yofrangel 911 obviously doesn’t have that much connection to it. It would be a different story had Coronavirus been closer to home.”

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The boys from Dominican Republic aren’t alone in drawing some level of inspiration from the coronavirus, though – Belarusian band Rostany has also shared a song and video named after the illness. With its suspensive techno beats and cinematic moody feel, their track was created while the band was on tour in China. “We were there when this happened, the world’s epicenter of coronavirus – China,” the band wrote on their official YouTube account. “You can get inspired by different things – this one is the most evil [thing] to be inspired by, but we just want to let it all out, sing it out loud.”

Instagram influencers have also been using the WHO-declared global health emergency to gain new followers. With hundreds of thousands of hashtags on Twitter and Instagram related to the deadly disease, German influencer Fitness Oskar jumped on board by sharing a photograph of his girlfriend straddling him on a beach, both in masks. “We are not afraid of the virus,” he wrote. “We still enjoy our vacation and hope that this misery will be stopped soon!”

American YouTuber Logan Paul also hit the headlines after sharing a photograph of himself surrounded by Instagram models wearing rubber gas masks, while Brazilian fashion analyst Evelyn Marques shared a mask-meets-chic photo from China to her followers, stating that “Coronavirus is not all bad” because she’s getting to spend more time at home.

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China’s PLA Rocket Force have also joined in, releasing a music video that seemingly advertises and promotes Wuhan’s architecture at night while addressing the issue of contamination. With its own take on American hip hop and rap, the video shows laboratories, the public in masks, military personnel and doctors and while the catchy tune says “Do Something Tonight” in Mandarin lyrics.

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