In 2022 Netflix released Heartstopper, a British television series that follows high schooler Charlie Spring, who falls in love with his classmate Nick Nelson. The coming-of-age show, based on the hit graphic novel, includes doses of drama, comedy, and romance as Charlie and his group of close-knit friends navigate the trials and tribulations of teenagedom.
For Season 1, the official playlist featured 36 songs, many of which are by both established and emerging LGBTQIA+ artists. A track from Norwegian indie-pop star girl in red appeared alongside a song from Irish singer-songwriter Ezra Williams, giving users the opportunity to listen to their favorite artists while also discovering new ones. Fans can find the playlist within our Netflix hub, as well as our GLOW hub, a dedicated space on Spotify that highlights music and podcasts of LGBTQIA+ voices for queer listeners and allies.
To celebrate the release of Season 2, Spotify is updating the official Heartstopper playlist with a new batch of tracks, including ones from Baby Queen and Tegan and Sara. Devoted fans listening to Spotify on their phones will also quickly spot an Easter egg: animated leaves floating across the screen in a nod to the illustrated visual elements depicted in the show. And as a little extra love, visuals from the series will also be depicted on select tracks in the playlist through Spotify Canvas.
Listeners looking for more can also dive into the character-driven playlists for Nick and Charlie, Tara and Darcy, and Elle and Tao. Music is a critical component of the series, and each character has music that uniquely defines them. When For the Record asked Yasmin Finney, who plays Elle Argent on the show, which song she thinks best represents her character, she said, “‘Dog Days Are Over’ by Florence + The Machine,” because it sort of represents new beginnings. “The dog days are over, the hiding is over,” she explained. “Elle gets to step into herself, and we all see that—and she’s a boss. That song, to me, resonates with her a lot.”
In advance of Season 2, For the Record caught up with Patrick Walters*, executive producer for the show, to learn more about the integral role music plays in Heartstopper, and what artists and music fans should look forward to hearing this season.
Of all the songs on Heartstopper’s official playlist, roughly half are by queer artists. How did you discover some of the emerging talent?
Alice and I had been developing Season 1 during the pandemic, and lockdowns meant Alice had a whole year to write all eight episodes before we could get into production. Across that time, we would send songs back and forth to each other to our favorite tracks for particular moments, like Nick and Charlie’s first kiss, Charlie running in the rain, Nick typing “am I gay?” into Google, etc. The songs and artists we found were just what we were listening to at the time. Alice had found “Why Am I Like This?” by Orla Gartland around that time, and as soon as we discussed it as a potential song for Nick’s internet search, we became pretty sure it was the one. That was long before we started filming. I remember listening to “Internet Religion” by Baby Queen from a playlist on Spotify and thinking it could be a good song for Tara in Season 1. That ultimately didn’t work, but we found Baby Queen’s other tracks, and she ended up having more music than any other artist in the series! It was a very organic process.
Many of the artists on the playlist are bedroom pop stars with effervescent sounds that match perfectly with the light hues and illustrations that accompany the show. Why was it important for you to keep the music in this style?
There’s something raw and emotional in the music made by young artists independently. They wear their hearts on their sleeves, just like the characters in Heartstopper. Our music syncs work best when the emotion of the scene is underlined by the lyrics and swagger of the song and artist. We wanted the songs in the mixtape to feel like the characters’ favorite songs. “Bedroom pop” is perfect for us because we spend a lot of time in the bedrooms of our characters, where they can most freely express themselves and feel safe.
What can we look forward to musically in the new season?
We wanted to remain consistent with Season 1 while also broadening the musical palette to be slightly more mature and in line with the characters’ journeys. There are more commercial tracks in Season 2. We spent a long time clearing some key tracks that felt important to us. “seven” by Taylor Swift initially reflects Tara and Darcy’s relationship breakthrough in Episode 8, but we then decided to keep it over the montage of all of the friends spending time together after prom. We also have “ur so pretty” by Wasia Project, Will Gao’s own band, as the final song of the season. Both of these tracks were vital for us because they show a maturity and an intimacy we hadn’t really conjured yet in Season 1. Season 2’s music tracks also nod more to different worlds and nostalgia—a reference to the characters stepping into adulthood. When we are in Paris, we have some French songs to reflect their new surroundings. And at the prom in Episode 8, Baby Queen makes a cameo to sing her own version of The Cure’s song “Just Like Heaven.” It’s an 80s throwback she expertly brings into the world and style of the show.
If you were creating a playlist for the graphic novel, how much would change?
A playlist for the graphic novel might have more variety. When we choose the music for the show it has to have a really clear identity that sits alongside the score by Adiescar Chase. We go back to a lot of the same artists again and again for this reason. For example, in the graphic novel, “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac is Nick and Charlie’s song, and would definitely be on the playlist. But for the show, this would sit so outside of our signature style; it would really take the audience out of the drama to suddenly have such a recognizable song from a different era. Maybe Baby Queen can cover it for Season 3 though . . .
If you had to pick a theme song for each of the four main characters, what would they be?
This is so tough! For Season 2 Charlie, I’d say “Shatter” by Maggie Rogers. For Nick, maybe “How Can I Make It OK?” by Wolf Alice. There’s a really great one for Tao we wanted to use but didn’t manage to get in this season: “The Most Beautiful Thing” by Thomas Headon. Elle’s would definitely be “mona lisa” by mxmtoon.
In addition to Patrick, Alice Oseman, the writer and creator of Heartstopper, revealed what songs she thinks best represent each character. Her picks did not disappoint:
- Charlie: “Boyfriend” by Best Coast
- Nick: “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac
- Tao: “Bros” by Wolf Alice
- Elle: “Apple Cider” by beabadoobee
- Tara: “Silk Chiffon” by MUNA, Phoebe Bridgers
- Darcy: “Tongue Tied” by GROUPLOVE
- Isaac: “Television Romance” by Pale Waves
Whether you’re planning to binge-watch Season 2 today or you’re saving it for a later date, get your heart pumping in anticipation with the Heartstopper: Official Playlist now.
*Interview content captured prior to July 13, 2023.