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Character Playlist: What Would Keely Listen To?

My absolute favorite character building exercise was creating a playlist for my main character. It's good way to get into her head and differentiate her voice from my voice (which can sneak in more than I like to admit). I have to remember that my MC is a contemporary 17 year old, which means she was born in 1993. Smells Like Teen Spirit is an oldie to her. So I've had to push myself and discover what kind of music she'd listen to.

Here's some background about Keely (my MC):
  • she considers herself to be emo-lite
  • she lives in a small town in Arizona with her mom and grandmother
  • she's a senior in high school and thinks a lot about the future

Based on that, I decided on these perimeters of her musical taste:
  • her favorite band is Green Day
  • she likes Johnny Cash because her grandmother does
  • she listens to a few '80s band because her mom listens to them (Police, Violet Femmes, The Cure, etc.)
  • she likes songs that are a little rebellious but not too dark

Last 10 Songs Played on Keely's Playlist:
  • Cry, Cry Cry by Johnny Cash
  • Nine in the Afternoon by Panic at the Disco
  • Mercy by Duffy
  • (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To by Weezer
  • Pictures of You by The Cure
  • Flathead by The Fratellis
  • Don't Phunk with My Heart by The Black-Eyed Peas
  • Just Like Heaven by The Cure
  • Fell in Love with a Girl by The White Stripes
  • 1, 2, 3, 4 by Plain White T's
I've had to push myself and listen to music that I don't usually listen to. It's hard to admit that I'm a musical fuddy-duddy and stuck in a musical time warp of '80s New Wave. And show tunes. And the Great American songbook. These are my eclectic tastes, not Keely's.

So I'm asking for some help here. I'd like to add more songs to Keely's playlist, which only has 63 songs on it. Not even close to the number of songs a modern teenager would have. Based on the info I've given you, what would you recommend for Keely?


  1. "Arc of Time" by Bright Eyes
    "Tire Swing" by Kimya Dawson
    "D is for Dangerous" by Arctic Monkeys
    "Loser" by Beck
    "Gloria: In Excelsis Deo" by Patti Smith
    "I Will Survive" by Cake (cover)
    "The Peacock Song" by Bif Naked
    "Sweet Jane" by The Velvet Underground
    "Vanilla Sky" by The Chemical Brothers
    "Like Dylan in the Movies" by Belle & Sebastian
    "Don't Make Me a Target" by Spoon
    "Mexican Dogs" by Cold War Kids

    Maybe, also, music by Thelonious Monk, Blondie, Leonard Cohen, The Kinks, Elvis Costello, Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music, Hole, early R.E.M., Rilo Kiley, Nina Simone, Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Smiths or Morrissey, Pete Yorn, Lily Allen, Death Cab for Cutie, Elbow, Jet, Kings of Leon, Pixies, Radiohead, Sleater-Kinney, The Thrills and Hank Williams, Sr.

    Good luck with Keely and the book!


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