Literary Mixtape: Harry Potter


If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels, well, us too. But wonder no more! Here, we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters. What would be on the personal playlists of Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, Huck Finn or Harry Potter, Tintin or Humbert Humbert? Something revealing, we bet. Or at least something danceable. Read on for a cozy reading soundtrack, character study, or yet another way to emulate your favorite literary hero. This week: everyone’s favorite chosen-child-boy-wizard, Harry James Potter.

Harry, though able to cast spells and fly a broomstick, and though he is the bearer of at least two Fancy Capital Letter Titles (TBWL and TCO), is still an angsty, conflicted teenager. After all, he bears the burden of being at once the superstar slated to save the world and yet still the boy who lived half of his life under the stairs. And then in the smallest bedroom. Getting emotional abuse for his hair and the scar on his face. He is forever battling the forces of evil, all alone against the world. And yet, he’s still kind of the popular kid in school, at least when people haven’t decided he’s a lunatic. We’ve always found him to be a little whiny and self-pitying, but okay, who wouldn’t be? Kid has to fight the devil once a year. And lots of other kids are taller and better looking than he is. That’s gotta be frustrating. Needless to say, Harry would definitely be playing some sad teenager music while sitting in his room staring mournfully at the Snitch, but maybe he’d also be giving himself a little bit of a hero soundtrack too. Here’s what we think Harry would be moping about, Wronski Feinting, and saving the world to.

“Your Magic is Working” – Of Montreal

Do we think that the students at Hogwarts — especially those who grew up in Muggle households — would listen to songs about magic for the irony and snigger uncontrollably? Yes, yes we do.

“I Put a Spell On You” – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Ditto. And also because we like to think Harry had at least the joy in his life that is Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. And maybe because he tried to get with some girls in his time, let’s not lie.

“One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces” – Ben Folds Five

Harry is a Ben Folds fan if we’ve ever seen one, and this song in particular would appeal to the dark, secret pride he must have had about being important. We all know Ron thought he was secretly full of himself. But Harry really did get beat up after class before he found out he was famous, so we would expect a little I-told-you-so vitriol. “Now I’m big and important / one angry dwarf and / 200 solemn faces are you / If you really want to see me / check your papers and your T.V. / Look who’s tellin’ who what to do.” That’s right, you tell ’em. Voldemort is back.

“Banking on a Myth” – Andrew Bird

We think Harry would be into Andrew Bird’s delicate, looping melodies and half sorrowful, half hopeful lyrics. Plus, there’s the whole banking on a myth (or prophecy, as it were) anxiety.

“Hear You Me” – Jimmy Eat World

Again, Harry is a classic JEW fan. Slightly upset white male teenagers love this stuff. But this song is for the very sad Harry — after all, kid lost his parents and more than one friend before he turned 18. “So what would you think of me now / so lucky, so strong, so proud? I never said thank you for that / now I’ll never have a chance.” We’re tearing up right now.

“Cool Kids Keep” – The American Analog Set

For those many moments where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are pretty pleased with themselves.

“Don’t Let it Get You Down” – Spoon

Spoon is one of those bands it’s always cool to like. And Harry always needs some encouragement.

“Two-Headed Boy” – Neutral Milk Hotel

We may be going out on a limb here, but we really really hope that Harry would be cool enough to listen to Neutral Milk Hotel. We think he would be. Right? He’s cool. Harry’s a winner. Winners like Neutral Milk Hotel. We do know for sure that Harry felt like a two-headed boy sometimes, all floating in glass.

“Pictures of Me” – Elliott Smith

Not only because the pictures of him that are all over the papers are totally, like, moving, but also because the kid is always being misrepresented and attacked from all sides. Listen up, Colin Creevey, Harry’s pretty sick of having his picture taken, especially when it only ends in tears. Or petrification.

“Know Your Enemy” – Green Day

Battle music! Harry has had to gear up for a lot of tough fights in his day, and he’s been known to have a little bit of anger bottled up in that narrow chest of his. We bet he has a Green Day poster on his bedroom wall.

“Stuck Between Stations” – The Hold Steady

Harry would definitely appreciate The Hold Steady’s brawling, spitting bar rock — but he definitely wouldn’t have gotten into them until Boys and Girls in America. Also, there are some Platform 9 3/4 and other train incidents that seem relevant (we know Craig Finn is talking about the radio, but still).

“Devil Town” – Bright Eyes

Imagine one day waking up to realize that the world you knew was suddenly a dangerous wasteland, filled with monsters around every corner. Welcome to war with Voldemort, and/or Conor Oberst’s psyche.

Anything we’ve missed that you think Harry would have on repeat? Let us know in the comments!