Literary Mixtape: Willy Wonka


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: Roald Dahl’s most flamboyant factory owner, Willy Wonka.

In Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the eponymous candy plant is ruled by the eccentric, colorful, and very probably insane Willy Wonka. We’re pretty sure you’re familiar with the character, so we won’t go on here — we think the candy master would listen to a mix of trippy stoner music, weird circus rock and, of course, songs to satisfy his sweet tooth. Here’s what we think Willy Wonka would chill in the chocolate room, ride the glass elevator and hang out with the Oompa Loompas to.

Stream the mixtape here.

“People Are Strange” — The Doors

Whether this is a song Wonka listens to to make himself feel better about other people or make himself feel better about, well, himself, we don’t know. But we do know he’d have it on repeat.

“Bicycle Race” — Queen

In another life, Willy Wonka was Freddie Mercury.

“Candy” — Mandy Moore

We see Willy Wonka as a completely unironic Mandy Moore fan. Obviously.

“Marijuana” — Kid Cudi

Oh come on. The man lives in an enormous candy factory with lots of tiny green-haired bros. What else does he have to do all day?

“She Don’t Use Jelly” — The Flaming Lips

Obviously, Willy Wonka would be a huge fan of Wayne Coyne and all his crazy trippy antics — we can imagine him rushing the stage to try to charm his way into one of the band’s famous giant bubbles — but we also think he’d particularly appreciate the weird, slightly goofy songs. He’s a weird, slightly goofy guy, after all.

“10lb Moustache” — Man Man

We think Wonka would be totally into the spastic, circus-rock craziness that is Man Man.

“Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” — Eddie Izzard

We know, we know. This is from the movie Across the Universe. But that’d probably be one of Wonka’s favorite movies — totally derivative, but almost as trippy and luscious as he is.

“Lollipop” — The Chordettes

Willy Wonka’s nightly lullaby. He goes to sleep smiling.

“Life in a Glasshouse” — Radiohead

Even Willy Wonka gets a little bit thoughtful sometimes — especially about being a public figure, hiding in his candy palace.

“The Candy Man” — Sammy Davis Jr.

We try not to be so obviously referential, but we just couldn’t help ourselves — this version is too good to ignore. If you can listen to the whole thing without smiling, you have no soul. Or maybe you just need a chocolate bar.