We’ve all seen it, we’ve all loved it and we’ve all done our best to stop re-watching it whenever we get sad that we can’t hug our family members, and yet we just can’t leave it be. Normal People, the hit new television show released by the BBC during the first throes of lockdown has taken the country, and the world, by storm (even now bagging itself some Emmy nominations too!). It follows two young, beautiful, intelligent young individuals through their sixth form and university days and their flawed, passionate relationship that can never quite get off the ground, or be entirely left alone. We’ve all had it, that one person who you love but can never quite get things to work with, and watching the will-they-won’t-they relationship between the wealthy, ostracised Marianne and the poor, insecure Connell over their formative years has become almost an act of lowkey-masochism for the nation.
There’s many reasons why the series has struck all of our hearts in the way that it has – the charming, beautiful young cast (with their gorgeous Irish accents), the nuanced script and the revolutionary and normalised portrayal of consent and sex to name only a few. And yet at the heart of the show, it is the music that shines through with each passing episode. With a carefully handpicked soundtrack that feels as beloved as a playlist made late at night upon a tear-soaked pillow cover, there wasn’t a moment of the show where the lack of an original soundtrack was obvious. Each lyric instead fit perfectly to the context of its chosen scene, never overshadowing the performances of the young cast, but instead accompanying them with further emotional devastation, as if the show wasn’t out to hurt us enough as it is.
Unsure of where to start with the soundtrack? Well, you’ll find below that I’ve picked out a few of the songs which I think perfectly exemplify the tone and emotional toll of the show with some of my passing thoughts.