Literary Mixtape: Nancy Drew


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: the teen detective queen, Nancy Drew.

The teenage detective, who first appeared in 1930, has gone through something of a transformation — by most accounts, she’s no longer the outspoken, independent girl she once was, and has been much toned down and made more demure in recent years. So obviously this is a mixtape for the original, take-no-prisoners Nancy Drew. Super intelligent, wealthy and possessed of a seemingly endless arsenal of random skills, Nancy is, according to Bobbie Ann Mason, “as immaculate and self-possessed as a Miss America on tour. She is as cool as a Mata Hari and as sweet as Betty Crocker.” She is also often used as feminist symbol, being quite a powerful girl character who traditionally operates alone, using her head. Since she’s a teenage ball-buster with a mind of her own, we think Nancy would dig mostly lady vocalists, with a few strange dudes thrown in for good measure — she’d have good taste, of course, but that’s not to say her iPod wouldn’t have a few trashy teenage classics. Here’s what we think she’d crack the secret of the wooden lady, the mystery of the tolling bell, and the case of the vanishing veil to.

Stream the mixtape here.

“Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1” — The Flaming Lips

We bet Nancy has daydreams where she’s Yoshimi. Then she could shut down some serious bad guys, and not just with her wits. Pow pow!

“Secret Heart” — Feist

Sure, these aren’t the kinds of secrets Nancy is used to digging up, but hey, her boyfriend’s in college, and that can be kind of confusing. Plus, all the cool girls like Feist.

“Edward is Dedward” — Emmy the Great

We think saucy, self-possessed Nancy Drew would definitely be in love with the music of saucy, self-possessed Emmy the Great, and as far as this track goes, we can only imagine that Nancy would take a similarly matter-of-fact approach to grieving the death of one of her friends (or suspects).

“Bad Reputation” — Avril Lavigne

The original Joan Jett track might be a little advanced for a teenage Nancy, even in all her original outspoken, independent glory, but this Avril Lavigne cover is just right.

“Extraordinary Machine” — Fiona Apple

If Nancy Drew isn’t an extraordinary machine, she certainly considers herself to be one. Plus, how could a girl power icon not be totally devoted to Fiona Apple? Impossible, we say.

“Oh No!” — Marina and the Diamonds

For the girl who knows exactly what she wants and who she wants to be.

“Ghost of Corporate Future” — Regina Spektor

Though obviously Nancy Drew would be a huge Regina Spektor fan, we think she’d secretly gravitate to her lighthearted tracks versus the more serious fare. We can just picture her matter-of-factly telling someone that maybe they should cut their own hair, “’cause that can be so funny/ it doesn’t cost any money/ and it always grows back/ hair grows even after you’re dead.”

“Miss Independent” — Kelly Clarkson

Hey, everyone needs a guilty pleasure song to sing into a hairbrush in front of the mirror, even Nancy Drew.

“The Execution of All Things” — Rilo Kiley

If there’s anyone who can execute a plan to to the best of its potential, not to mention bring the world to its knees, it’s our Nancy. Plus, at least in our experience, Rilo Kiley is pretty much the perfect band for any eighteen year old girl trying to figure it all out.

“Solve Your Mystery” — Maria Howell

“Curiosity killed the cat/ and I know that I’m guilty of that.” Oh come on, we just couldn’t help ourselves.