by Zach Siddiqui
If the pandemic has hammered any lesson into me, it’s how horrible it is to feel powerless. Sure, as a collective, we have ways to resist the onslaught of a deadly virus. Individually, though, it’s hard not to feel that bubbling, impotent frustration — the anger that you can’t just slip hands around the universe and force it back into a familiar, reassuring shape.
Power fantasies might not be healthy, but they’ve always been a part of art. Even — or especially — in the guiltiest of television pleasures. From omnipotent queen bees to bulletproof golden boys, characters who exude effortless youthful omnipotence still hold a sway over the imagination, even when their power starts and ends in their narrative bubbles. Whether you want to criticize it or experience it yourself, this playlist is dedicated to that fleeting feeling of being young and all-powerful.
Enjoy this playlist? For $5 a month you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive an exclusive editor-curated playlist in your inbox every Monday that only paid subscribers have access to. This money goes towards supporting the website and our team of dedicated writers.
Forever Stuck in our Youth – Set it Off
On the nose, maybe, but this intense rock song dives into the very debauchery that younger generations are stereotyped as, and then derided for, embracing. Catchy guitar strums lead into a rollercoaster of energy, as the song fluidly alternates between softer strains and grating, passionate vocals. There’s definitely something compelling about the contrast of the song’s often clever lyrics and the simple chorus: “We’re young, we’re dumb, we’re having fun…”
Santigold — Shove It
Fans of the vintage Gossip Girl will remember when Serena van der Woodsen briefly stepped into the “queen” role of her high school’s informal hierarchy — singlehandedly turning every single student against a boyfriend who’d wronged her. “Shove It” perfectly marked the moment, opening with softly crooning vocals and background chatter before smoothly transitioning to tense electronics and blunt, mocking lyrics. The chorus of “We think you’re a joke — shove your hope where it don’t shine…” is all about leaving petty conflicts where they belong: beneath you.
Soul Killing – The Ting Tings
The rolling beat of this piece by The Ting Tings makes excellent background music: can’t you picture yourself having a totally cryptic, witty, plot-relevant conversation to this one? You might have heard this one during Pretty Little Liars. It embodies the sense of casual self-assurance any spotlight-stealing character needs.
Season of the Witch — Donovan
Strangely chosen though it might seem, this folk-rock song cemented a place in history for American Horror Story: Coven’s longest-lived meme: “Surprise, bitch. I bet you thought you’d seen the last of me.” With its chilling yet relaxing guitar strums and keyboarding, this song certainly channels the dark, witty, and leisurely charisma of Madison Montgomery. Donovan’s tune offers a moment of cooldown in this playlist while keeping you in that headspace of powerful confidence.
brutal – Oliva Rodrigo
In a big reversal, this excerpt from Rodrigo’s SOUR stops to interrogate the very concept of youthful invincibility. The refrain of “I’m so sick of 17/Where’s my fucking teenage dream?” is a stark reminder that despite the way youth is packaged in the media, we should be smarter than to mindlessly idealize it. Ending this playlist on this alt-rocker is practically a matter of responsibility. Fun as it is to reimagine yourself as living out some fantastical “prime of your life,” we have to know when it’s time to put the baggage back in the box.
You can view the rest of this playlist at Attuned’s Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6eEVOiRRUWdUOV1FtzXG9F