Does Jacob Black sing Shakira’s “She Wolf” into his hairbrush when no one else is around? Does Chase Insteadman listen to OneOhTrix Point Never? For how many weeks would Madeleine Hanna have had Sharon Van Etten’s “Leonard” stuck in her head? Here, we’ve made mixtapes for fictional characters who could use a good pick-me-up. We’ve hand-picked the songs to help them with breakups, existential crises, and whatever else they’re going through.
Theo ( The Goldfinch)
Bright Eyes, “Ladder Song”
Chromatics, “These Streets Will Never Look the Same”
LCD Soundsystem, “Someone Great”
Arcade Fire, “Supersymmetry”
The National, “Afraid of Everyone”
The Smiths, “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”
Theo suffers, in one way or another, for pretty much the entirety of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. He loses his mother, then his father. His best friend Boris doesn’t run away with him; his other friend Andy dies. Pippa doesn’t love him back. Wracked by survivor’s guilt, he struggles mightily with substance abuse problems. All the while, he wrestles with an enormous secret that he fears would change the way the people he cares about would see him. There’s no peace for Theo Decker in the book, but we think a good mixtape might at least help Theo to feel less alone.
Madeleine ( The Marriage Plot)
Robyn, “Dancing On My Own”
Charli XCX, “Stay Away”
MØ, “Never Wanna Know”
Desire, “Under Your Spell”
Sharon Van Etten, “Leonard”
Wet, “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl”
Over the course of Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot, Madeleine Hanna finds herself at the center of two longstanding romantic clichés: being in a love triangle, and then being unceremoniously dumped. We’re thinking the latter is what she’ll most need a mixtape for. After her relationship with Leonard (which was codependent and needed serious work if it were to last), Madeleine needs a good dose of music for wallowing, and music for moving on. This playlist includes some of each. If this situation doesn’t call for Robyn, then we don’t know what does.
Jacob ( The Twilight Saga)
TV on the Radio, “Wolf Like Me”
Duran Duran, “Hungry Like the Wolf”
Shakira, “She Wolf”
Bon Iver, “The Wolves Acts I and II”
Radiohead, “A Wolf at the Door”
The Black Keys, “Howlin’ For You”
Michael Jackson, “Thriller”
Jacob Black from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series isn’t just a heartthrob played by Taylor Lautner: He’s also a werewolf. We’re pretty certain he would enjoy a mixtape of wolf-themed music, including staples like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and some deeper cuts from TV on the Radio and Radiohead. From indie (Bon Iver) to top 40 (Shakira), this mixtape has Jacob covered no matter what else he’s going through.
Kamala ( Ms. Marvel)
Lady Gaga, “Applause”
Beyoncé, “Run the World (Girls)”
Pharrell Williams, “Happy”
Idina Menzel, “Let It Go”
Katy Perry, “Roar”
Sara Bareilles, “Brave”
Miley Cyrus, “Party in the USA”
Kamala’s parents probably wouldn’t approve of her listening to pop music—especially someone as inappropriate as Lady Gaga—but she can’t shake these girl-power anthems. Pulled between wanting to be a “normal” 16-year-old but also honoring her Muslim-American heritage, the nerdy Kamala needs the freedom to let loose and take on whatever female role models speak to her. And our shapeshifting superhero-in-training definitely feels a kindred spirit with Gaga, who’s constantly adopting different personas.
Chase ( Chronic City)
LCD Soundsystem, “Yr City’s a Sucker”
MGMT, “Time to Pretend”
OneOhTrix Point Never, “Sleep Dealer”
Pictureplane, “Goth Star”
Animal Collective, “Summertime Clothes”
Death Grips, “I’ve Seen Footage”
of Montreal, “Wraith Pinned to the Mist & Other Games”
The National, “Fake Empire”
Chase Insteadman lives in a New York City that feels less and less real every day. Some days he does all right: He meets up with his friend Perkus Tooth, or he writes to his fiancée, who is stranded in outer space. Other days, he loses hours and hours bidding on chaldrons on eBay and wondering about the tiger roaming the subway tunnels. Chase is certainly feeling more than a little out of touch with reality. We’ve rounded up some surreal, thoroughly postmodern songs that might make him feel less alone, if not less alienated.