Adam's playlist didn't get made until long after the character was first introduced. This is unusual - I like to give the actors their playlists before they start recording. But for Adam, Mark, and Frank, we had already learned so much about their characters before we even heard their voices. And with Adam, we had the added benefit of hearing the playlist that he made for Caleb, which is much more telling in some ways. However, one song has been on the playlist since the very beginning - before the in-universe mix, before Alex was cast, maybe before the first episode was even released. That song was "Drowning" by Jay Brannan.
On that note, this playlist does come with a warning. I don't usually put warnings in front of anything in The Bright Sessions world because we deal with such a range of mental health issues, that any warnings would be as long as our episodes. But this mix has some pretty powerful lyrics written by artists with severe depression: both "Roman Candle" and "Drowning" deal directly with depression and self-harm. "Death Came and Got Me", as its name suggests, is not an "up" kind of song. So be aware if that's something you are sensitive to.
A second note - this playlist should be listened to with headphones. It is better that way. Trust me.
1. "Sugar in a Pie" - Erin McKweon
I first heard this song at the Welcome to Night Vale live show and it just reminded me of Adam for some reason. It is one of the cheerier songs on this mix and feeds into the cyclical nature of the playlist: it starts on an up note and sinks steadily down until "Blood Bank", when it starts its crawl back up.
2. "Pink Moon" - Nick Drake
It wasn't my intention to have two songs back-to-back that were written by artists who committed suicide (Drake and Smith) but here we are (this is not a suggestion that Adam is suicidal - simply that he relates to music written by depressed artists).
3. "Roman Candle" - Elliott Smith
It's the guitar in this that really gets me. The album Roman Candle was recorded on an four-track in his basement and you can feel it; you can hear every time his fingers slide against those metal guitar strings and it is so visceral and powerful and painful and wonderful. (don't forget: wear headphones)
I'm a roman candle/my head is full of flames
4. "Death Came and Got Me" - Rosie Thomas
5. "Drowning" - Jay Brannan*
I wish the ocean was warm/I feel like drowning
6. "Blood Bank" - Bon Iver
Like so much of Bon Iver's music, this song feels cold and sleepy to me in the best of ways. Well I met you at the blood bank/we were looking at the bags/wondering if any of the colors/matched any of the names we knew on the tags is a lyric that evokes such strong imagery in my head. I see someone, bleary-eyed and tired, seeing someone else that makes them wake up a bit.
7. "Signs" - Bloc Party
Another sleepy/cold song in my mind. I guess that's Adam's aesthetic. (temperature cold, not emotionally cold). This song is also deeply heart-wrenching.
8. "Grow Till Tall" - Jonsi
This song is the light streaming in through the window in the morning, thawing everything out. It is careful, fragile hope. It starts so slowly and builds to such an incredible crescendo - the opening of the curtains, letting the sunlight pour in. I get goosebumps at minute 3:40. Every time.
Incidentally, like Jay Brannan and Erin McKweon, Jonsi is another openly queer artist. Though that was coincidence, I do think Adam would consciously seek out LGBTQ artists.
Science fact: Jonsi has one of the most beautiful voices you will ever hear. He has the voice of an angel alien. As with Tilda Swinton and David Bowie, Jonsi is not of this world.
This is why you wear the headphones.