Element Pictures / Enda Bowe
Let’s say you love a good indie vibe. Maybe you’re a sucker for hi-fi nostalgia. Acoustics. Synth. Sad-sounding Irish people with excellent taste. You like your playlists thoughtful, sometimes ironic, like the musical equivalent of a deep, shuddering breath. If you identify with these traits, you’re probably the kind of person who would love Hulu’s Normal People—and, more specifically, its soundtrack. Especially that Imogen Heap song.
Thankfully, the rich treasure trove that is Normal People’s playlist is available for you to listen to on Spotify, curated by the show’s music supervisors themselves. The soundtrack is unabashedly Irish, featuring such genius tracks as Lisa Hannigan’s “Undertow” and Fionn Regan’s “Dogwood Blossoms.” But some big names show their faces, too, including Carly Rae Jepsen, Selena Gomez, and Frank Ocean. It’s a weird playlist, mixing complementary genres and sentiments like they were sea salt and dark chocolate.
You can listen to five hours’ worth of Normal People’s music, but if you’re craving more—and, if you’re here, you definitely are—there’s a lot left to explore. With help from music supervisors Maggie Phillips and Juliet Martin, Paul Mescal (Connell) and Daisy Edgar-Jones (Marianne) developed Spotify playlists for their own characters.
Connell’s starts with “Everything I Am Is Yours” by The Villagers, perhaps the song that insecure, anxious, passionate Connell was made to embody: “I am just a man/Tipping on the wire/Tightrope-walking fool/Balanced on desire/I cannot control…But everything I am, is yours.” The rest is a tense, energizing mix of thick beats paired with soft strumming or melancholic piano. It’s a contrasting attitude, much like Connell himself—torn in two by his love and his anxiety.
There are also some entertaining appearances from Anderson .Paak, Billie Eilish, and Kendrick Lamar, with an impossible transition into Phoebe Bridgers, Damien Rice, and Leonard Cohen (“So Long, Marianne,” of course). It’s fun and strange and extraordinary from start to finish.
Marianne’s playlist has a heavier pop influence, with a little R&B tossed in to break up the indie moments. This is where Jepsen and Gomez make their appearance, as well as Lana Del Rey, Grimes, and Irish artist Orla Gartland. But there’s still plenty of sad crooning and piano/guitar; you can practically envision Marianne smoking a cigarette as she reads The Communist Manifesto to the soft rhythm of her record player. Very postmodern, indeed.
But which curation is better? Miss “I’m Smarter Than Everyone” would probably argue for her own, and it’s true that Marianne’s is more cohesive, more assured in its convictions, much like the character herself. But Connell’s is more interesting in its nervous energy, its schizophrenic pulse. You can almost feel him overthinking each track—like “Is Kendrick Lamar too mainstream?” or “Does anyone still listen to Damien Rice?” But the choices are top-notch, matching his personality and his narrative journey to a tee. Phillips, Martin, Mescal and Edgar-Jones have spent a lot of time with these characters. They built the masterpiece that is Normal People. No wonder their soundtracks are killer, too.
A bounty of cool-kid music awaits. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to spend the rest of my day trying to get “Mmm, whatcha say” out of its endless loop in my head.