Wadsworth's playlist, aka. boss bitch playlist, aka. Wadsworth will fuck you up and smile about it. This playlist came together in an afternoon because I knew exactly what I was looking for. I wanted mostly female artists, harsh guitar, heavily electronic. The one song that fits that description perfectly but didn't make it onto this playlist is "Heavy Metal Lover" by Lady Gaga. A really great tune that I just couldn't find the right place for. This mix has two keystone songs - one around which I built the playlist and one that was the final piece of the puzzle.
1. "Scavenger" - School of Seven Bells
This song is incredibly catchy but feels strangely cold and emotionless to me - a perfect introduction to the character.
I know what you are/you're a fake/you're a scavenger/too scared to take part/you only take/'cause you're a coward
2. "In for the Kill" - La Roux
La Roux is one of the best female power pop acts out there in my opinion. One of the things I love about her is that she sings in this high, feminine way, but her persona is much more androgynous - I like the way that she plays with gender. Also, her orchestrations feel sharp-edged, which contrasts so well with her often delicate voice.
3. "Heavy Cross" - Gossip
Wadsworth wants so badly for Joan to follow her more coldly scientific instincts. Wadsworth knows that, with Dr. Bright at her side, she could accomplish great things in her field. She often gives Dr. Bright the illusion of choice while manipulating her into making the choice that works in Wadsworth's favor.
We can play it safe or play it cool/Follow the leader or make up all the rules/Whatever you want, the choice is yours/So choose
4. "Don't Hurt Yourself" - Beyonce ft. Jack White
There's a lot of somewhat vengeful, bitter tracks on this playlist. Beyonce's Lemonade has some of the best "fuck you" songs I've ever heard - the best thing about so many of them is how Beyonce expresses hurt feelings while still maintaining all of the power and control. Wadsworth may have been hurt by Joan leaving, but goddamn, she is still in control.
5. "Hard" - Rihanna ft. Young Jeezy
Wadsworth is tough shit. The kind of coolness and power that Damien gracelessly tries to achieve comes naturally to Wadsworth. She is comfortable in her own skin and confident to the point of arrogance. I remember seeing the music video for this song back when it came out and loving the way Rihanna strutted around commanding a line of soldiers. That imagery came back into my head when I was building Wadsworth.
They can say whatever, I'ma do whatever/No pain is forever, yup, you know this/Tougher than a lion, ain't no need in tryin'/I live where the sky ends, yup, you know this
Not to get too in the weeds about lyric structure in a Rihanna song, but I love that Rihanna sings I'm so hard and the men echo with So hard and Too hard. I don't know if Rihanna was trying to send a message with that, but my mind leaps to men interpreting female toughness as "too much". I imagine Wadsworth has heard similar whispers from her male subordinates who think she's "bossy" or "a bitch".
(sidenote: Go hard or go home/back to your residence might be one of the dumbest rap verse opening lines ever and I love it very much)
6. "Le Disko" - Shiny Toy Guns
This is just a really good strut song. Wadsworth struts.
7. "Backstabber" - Ke$ha
Okay, hear me out: I think Ke$ha is greatly underappreciated. Her music is playful and fun and, like many other people, I am so infruriated with what she's been put through both personally and professionally. If you haven't explored her music, I highly suggest it.
This is pure pettiness and I love it.
8. "Don't Ask Me" - OK Go
Another great petty song. This playlist moves somewhat linearly through Wadsworth and Bright's relationship and this is definitely the period when Wadsworth is pissed off and snarky. The thing I love about this song is the veneer of a polite smile over it - of spitting vitriol through your grin.
9. "What She Came For" - Franz Ferdinand
Thematically, "Maneater" by Hall & Oates would have also worked here. Or "Shark in the Water" by V V Brown. But musically, Franz Ferdinand is all Wadsworth and this song has that same message of "watch out for this woman, she's going to destroy you and look good while doing it".
10. "Crushcrushcrush" - Paramore
These next two songs are probably the only songs that represents Wadsworth having some very genuine hurt feelings. Most of the playlist is biting and angry and in control. This is Wadsworth taking a moment after the initial rage to actually realize how broken things are - how irreparable the damage is.
11. "Cold War" - Janelle Monae*
This was the first keystone song and is Wadsworth's signature song. Janelle Monae is powerful and alluring in equal measures, and I knew I wanted her music to be associated with Wadsworth. "Cold War" was the obvious choice - the moment of doubt and sadness in Wadsworth's otherwise self-assured life.
12. "Rain on Your Parade" - Duffy*
That doubt doesn't last for long - Wadsworth shakes it off and gets her control back.
I wish you well, I hope you survive/I hope you live, oh baby, so I can watch you cry/'Cause I know in time you'll see what you did to me/And you'll come running back
"Cold War", while an extremely well-written and powerful song, did not have the finishing flourish that I was looking for. As a song, it slowly shows itself out. While this is often a good quality in a final song, I knew Wadsworth had to go out with a bang. And I knew, I just knew, that there was a song perfect to follow Monae. I couldn't figure out what it was - I knew it had to straddle the same electronic/rock/soul lines that Monae walks with such perfection. Thankfully, I went through a period where I painstakingly curated the genres on my iTunes. A quick search of "soul" brought up "soul pop" and "soul rock" and in those genres: Duffy. And thus, I found my second keystone song.