Any teen-focused television that's worth its weight is going to have a killer soundtrack, combining modern underground hits with beloved deep cuts from the past. Soundtrack choices are more important to teen-focused shows than just about any other genre of television, and the end credits song of 13 Reasons Why is a perfect example of how much care and thought has gone into its soundtrack. Though it will likely be new to many millennial viewers, the song that the Netflix series ends with manages to perfectly mirror the newfound hope that Clay is taking into his post-tapes life.
The track that closes out the dark 13 Reasons Why is "See A Little Light" by Bob Mould. It's an uplifting, soaring song from the late '80s, more likely to have soundtracked the teenage years of Clay's parents than Clay himself. While the song's powerful optimism is well-suited to the end of his journey, there's an even deeper layer to the poignancy of this song choice. When "See a Little Light" was released by singer/songwriter Bob Mould it marked a dramatic shift in his music, going from the angry and angsty punk rock of his youth to something more hopeful — much as Clay abandons the anger he was feeling and instead begins to look ahead in life, rather than focusing on the past.
Clay Jensen holds onto a lot of anger throughout 13 Reasons Why. Anger towards himself, anger towards those that Hannah blames for her suicide, and anger at the world for being unfair. Clay lashes out in ways he never had before, transforming from the shy and quiet kid into a self-made force of reckoning dedicated to making others pay for Hannah's death. However, in the final moments of the series, as he's driving into the distance with Tony, Skye, and Brad listening to "See A Little Light," he begins to let his anger go and allow himself a moment of piece.
Similarly, Mould used to be very angry. His music experience began in the vibrant hardcore punk scene in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. Popular punk bands like The Replacements and Mould's own Hüsker Dü expressed the anger of youth culture in the early '80s. Hüsker Dü's albums, including Zen Arcade, New Day Rising, and Flip Your Wig proved to be monumental in influencing alternative rock, and dealt with the feeling of anger, loneliness, alienation that Clay feels throughout 13 Reasons Why.
While the aggressive punk rock of Mould's early years would have suited Clay for most of the series, he ends the show listening to Mould bright and poppy "See A Little Light." The song marked a new leaf turned for Mould, putting his punk rock past behind him to celebrate a newfound beauty in the world. As Mould says in the chorus of the song:
Despite everything he has learned about how cruel people can be, Clay still cares. He is far from perfect, but while it seemed that everyone around him was only interested in themselves, Clay came away from the experience with a newfound interest in making sure no one in his life feels as lonely as Hannah did.