By Yasmin Attwood, First Year English
Heartstopper is a cute romance series adapted from the popular comic book series of the same name by Alice Oseman. It follows Charlie Spring (Joe Locke), Nick Nelson (Kit Connor), and their circle of friends as they navigate school life and explore their queer identities.
It is refreshing to see LGBTQ+ characters take centre stage in a show that is appropriate for audiences of all ages. Heartstopper marks a pioneering step in queer representation, especially facilitating the normalisation of queerness for younger generations. It also provides important role models that show it’s okay to question your identity or be uncertain of things.
The show is also part of a wave of happier representations of LGBTQ+ people, made to reflect some of the realities of this generation. Elle (Yasmin Finney) is ground-breaking in her representation of a trans girl who is content in her friendship group, and her character is more focused on the challenges of moving school than of being trans. Kit Connor (who plays Nick) points out in an interview with the Metro that ‘there are a lot of [queer] stories with darker themes’, like It’s a Sin, which is set in the background of the AIDS crisis. While it’s important to acknowledge the past, it’s also important to show ‘that there are other stories to be told’ that are more indicative of hope for a more equal future.
The series contains glimpses of its comic book origins, such as animated leaves and sparks that flutter across the screen to emphasise certain emotions; but what really brings the illustrations to life is the vibrant soundtrack.
The intersectionality of the characters and cast of Heartstopper are reflected in the thoughtfully chosen artists that feature on the soundtrack. There is a range of mostly LGBTQ+ artists from a variety of cultural backgrounds. A lot of the singers are less well known, so I managed to discover lots of new songs while listening!
If you are looking for all the songs from the series in one place, Spotify has created ‘Heartstopper: Official Mixtape’ that has collected them all into a playlist. The overall vibes of the songs are a mixture of indie music and pop music, with poetic lyrics that enhance the atmosphere of the scenes.
Here are some of the standout songs from the series:
‘Dover Beach’ - Baby Queen
This song is my favourite of three songs by Baby Queen that feature on the soundtrack (the others are ‘Buzzkill’ and ‘Want me’). The song’s title evokes the iconic Victorian poem ‘Dover Beach’ by Matthew Arnold which meditates on the sublime. Baby Queen cleverly undercuts beautiful descriptions of ‘the coastline/ in the water’ by being preoccupied with ‘your mirage [who] is like a stalker’. The use of second person makes the lyrics feel more personal, and the emotion really comes through in this song.
‘Don't Delete the Kisses’ - Wolf Alice
Wolf Alice are an incredible indie rock band. This song in particular fits perfectly when Nick and Charlie are unsure about how the other feels, a sadness in the lines of the chorus: ‘What if it’s not meant for me? Love’. These choruses punctuate spoken verses that build up a progressive narrative. Lead singer Ellie Rowsell has said that she couldn’t help but give the song a ‘Hollywood ending’, the final chorus shifting to ‘You and me were meant to be in love’. This progression follows a similar trajectory to the heartstopper series.
‘Sappho’ - Frankie Cosmos
The title of this song is a reference to Sappho of Lesbos, an ancient Greek poetess who wrote some of the most influential love lyrics of all time and inspired the terms ‘lesbian’ and ‘sapphic’. Only fragments of her work remain today, which is echoed in the short length of Cosmos’ song. The teenage angst and emotions in the song link perfectly to the scene of Charlie and Nick texting each other at the start of episode two.
‘Fever Dream’ - mxmtoon
Mxmtoon started her musical career as a bedroom pop artist with an online following but has now become more mainstream – this track is the first song from her second studio album ‘dawn’. The song is relatively upbeat and is also a thoughtful rumination on the passing of time and the ephemerality of the days, which are compared to ‘footprints in the snow’. Mxmtoon’s voice sounds really beautiful on this song, making it feel lighter and more positive.
‘nothing else i could do’ - ella jane
This song has a strong beat running throughout and is very catchy - especially the chorus. ella jane has subtly included lots of references to The Great Gatsby in this song, making it more fun to listen to as you listen out for lines that reference the book, such as: ‘then you’re crashing the car/ and I’m taking the blame’. These references enhance the themes of disillusionment that the singer experiences in her own life, and she mirrors some of the poetic language of Fitzgerald. One line for example refers to ‘the shape of your voice’, which is a thoughtful way of suggesting that our words are what substantiates us.
Some other good songs that feature on the soundtrack include the soft indie tune ‘Paper Mache World’ by Matilda Mann, pop anthem ‘Clearest Blue’ by CHVRCHES, slow romantic anthem ‘I Belong In Your Arms’ by Chairlift, and three songs by Beabadoobee (‘Tired’, ‘Dance with Me’ and ‘If You Want To’) which have a distinct lullaby quality to them.
Featured image: IMDB
Are you a fan of the Heartstopper soundtrack?