I started this playlist back in March or April, when Kaitlin was still very much developing as a character. Even though I didn’t know exactly who she was going to become, I knew I wanted the mood of the mix to be dreamy and mysterious. What I like about a lot of these songs is that they are - for the most part - calm and unobtrusive, but there’s a real anxiety in a lot of the lyrics. A feeling of menace that’s just always right around the corner.
1. “Kingdom Underground” - Matt Duke
We knew from the start that Kaitlin came from a religious background so this song felt like a natural fit. It’s inspired by “Paradise Lost” by John Milton and has a lot of grappling with faith and knowledge. The theme of seeking forbidden knowledge is one that fits Kaitlin so well.
I can give you what you need/all the answers that you seek/just pick the fruit right off the tree - Kaitlin pursues the truth, but at what cost?
There’s also a mention of the seventh day in here, which fits nicely with the song “Seven Days” that comes up
2. “Shattered & Hollow” - First Aid Kit
From the first words, it’s obvious that this is a song about romantic love and that’s a bit of an inconvenient theme on this playlist. A lot of the really great songs about love and loss and grief are romantically focused - platonic or familial love is not a major focus in songwriting it seems. That aside, I love the comparisons in this song - always choosing the hard thing over the easy thing.
Now I am tired but resolute/that I’d rather be striving than settled
Time, time’s running out/my hands, oh give me your hands/I cannot leave you behind
3. “Seven Days” - Azure Ray
This is a song that John brought to me (and may end up being our main title song) and it was extremely fortunate that it was a track that fit really well into the playlist I had already been building.
If I were to stay here between us/I might forget where I’m bound - Kaitlin is so defined by her relationship with - and the mere existence of - her twin that when he’s gone, she’s completely untethered.
4. “Crazy” - Daniela Andrade (originally by Gnarls Barkley)
With what she’s doing, Kaitlin is often viewed by people as being a little off her rocker and I think it’s something she grapples with a lot herself - is she actually totally crazy?
You really think you’re in control? - I love the way Andrade slightly alters the end of
that melodic line. In both this version and the original, that question sounds so mocking. Kaitlin is trying to gain control so badly and she is just absolutely not in control.
5. “Signs” - Bloc Party
This is another song that has a lot of romantic overtones, but, gosh, it’s just one of the best songs about grief. The lyrics, the melody, the way that bell-like motif is relentless from the moment the song starts, the way the whole song builds - it feels like loss.
In your life you were larger than this/Statuesque/I see signs now all the time that you’re not dead, you’re sleeping/I believe in anything that brings you back home to me - Knife. Heart.
6. “Too Late” - M83
This song is mostly here for aesthetic reasons, rather than lyric ones. It just has a somewhat hopeless and yet meditative feeling that I really like.
And if you are a ghost/I’ll call your name again
7. “Bring You Alive” - Far Places
I love the picture that this song paints of someone helping someone else out of a dark spot - doing all the things they know that person likes in an attempt to cheer them and wake them up out of their funk. Kaitlin doesn’t really have someone like that once Conor is gone, but I like to think that’s what they were for each other growing up - always doing those little things to make each other laugh. Also, the phrase “bring you alive” can be taken very literally in the context of Kaitlin and Conor.
8. “2-1” - Imogen Heap
I’ve been a huge Imogen Heap fan since about 2006 and, honestly, I don’t know what she’s talking about sixty percent of the time. The poly fill away looks strong in the weakness? What are you talking about, Imogen? Despite this, she does calm menace better than any artist I know. There’s a real creeping sinister nature to this that I just adore. It’s wading into a dark lake at night and not knowing what’s the water that might come out and bite you. It’s Kaitlin going down the rabbit hole to find the truth, only to find something else entirely.
Things are not always/how they seem/they don’t turn out always/don’t quite turn out always/how we think/will we be ready?
9. “The Lightning Strike” - Snow Patrol
As I write this, I am making a very important discovery about this song - I’m putting the playlist on Spotify to find that there is, in fact, a separate version from the “Hundred Million Suns” album version that isn’t sixteen minutes long. I only have the sixteen minute version because I’m living in 2003 and still buy complete albums on iTunes. Anyway, this isn’t really important, I just wanted to share that I’m very excited I don’t have to put a sixteen minute track on a playlist when I really just want the first four minutes.
This song continues the build that was established in “2-1” and drives it home. I imagine this as Kaitlin battening down the hatches, gathering her bravery to go into a battle where every factor is unknown. This is the answer to Imogen’s question of “will you be ready?” Kaitlin’s answer is, “it doesn’t matter, I’m doing it anyway”.
All the lyrics here really work for me on a story and character level, but I want to draw attention to the second half stanzas especially—
What if this storm ends/and leaves us nothing/except a memory/a distant echo/I want pinned down/I want unsettled/rattle cage after cage/until my blood boils/I want to see you/as you are now/every single day/that I am living/painted in flames/all peeling thunder/be the lightning in me/that strikes relentless - Kaitlin is so young and inexperienced and way in over her head but she is a force to be reckoned with. She stares in the face of government agencies, criminals, her own grief, and she doesn’t back down. She does have lightning inside of her that she’s only just discovering - she’s been under Conor’s shadow for so long, happy to lift him up and remain “unremarkable” in comparison - but now she’s realizing just how strong and smart and resourceful she is. This song feels like a release of that power.