As a self-proclaimed expert of teen shows past and present, take it from me — Riverdale's take on teen TV show tropes is flawless. Riverdale is pretty genius for how it recognizes existing tropes (the love triangle, the outsider character, the catty cheerleader) and adds a modern twist. And to that end, the soundtrack of Riverdale is no different. Like the vital soundtracks of classic teen TV shows like The O.C., Dawson's Creeki, and My So-Called Life, the music of Riverdale is crucial for evoking a particular atmosphere and painting a specific scene. Which is exactly why you need to hear this fan-made Riverdale playlist on Spotify. It perfectly, and colossally, nails the spirit of the show.
Featuring a mammoth 77 songs, the playlist has been put together by Spotify user g0u1d1e1 and it's described as "playlist of music from the CW TV show ... plus a few extras not (yet?!) in the show." It's basically the ultimate playlist for fans to listen to in the hours that they spend daydreaming about Riverdale and trying to solve its many mysteries. So yeah, you'll want to go and start listening to it immediately. Because music really is central to the show. Just like how The O.C. had Seth Cohen's indie rock obsessions driving the soundtrack, and My So-Called Life had the laconic teen angst Frozen Embryos defining it, Riverdale also features a musical driving force which is undeniable.
Be it Archie's acoustic songwriting prowess, Josie and The Pussycats' killer pop performances, or Miss Grundy's worryingly seductive cello playing, music is a thread which holds the show — and the town — together. And that's not for nothing.
By hearing Archie sing "The Song That Everyone Sings," we can hear that Archie is more complex than just his letterman jacket and a set of abs. He's also got some secrets and a whole lot of feelings, dammit. And within Josie and The Pussycat's modern rendition of "Candy Girl (Sugar Sugar)" (originally recorded and released in 1969 by the cartoon characters of The Archie Show), the show is delivering some meta-commentary concerning the new direction of the Archie canon.
But, as this Spotify playlist proves, Riverdale also succeeds in scoring the show with brooding ballads which expand on the traumas of adolescence and suburbia. Featured in the trailer for Riverdale, as well as in the first episode, Zella Day's "High" is dreamy and wistful, but also dark and foreboding. With lyrics which narrate feeling like, "small town American light," the lyrics tumble from the decadence of romance ("I'm in love, and I'm crashing in your arms,") to the sometimes aggressive tenacity of those feelings ("Keep burning like we're never gonna die. Fire baby, fire baby, love.")
Featured in the fourth episode of the show, the lyrics of Dean Lewis' "Waves," provide a literal and metaphorical commentary on the predicament that the teens of Riverdale are facing. It's easy to imagine any one of the characters empathizing with the line, "There is a swelling storm, and I’m caught up in the middle of it all," while the main hook of the song, "it comes and goes in waves," could be taken to literally illustrate Jason Blossom washing up dead on a beach.
On a similar note, it was no surprise to hear Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds' "Muddy Water" featured in episode five of the show. A mediation on loss, corruption, and feeling trapped within your own home, the song perfectly reflects many of Riverdale's core themes — a town tainted by its own muddy water of corruption and murder, and of residents who no longer feel safe, welcome, or at home in the town they grew up in.
Among these examples on the playlist (which, by the way, looks as though it gets updated after every episode) is also a slew of songs which could easily fit between the light and dark of Riverdale's Americana-gone-bad musical palette. Lana Del Rey's "Born To Die" and "Video Games," for instance, fit the show so perfectly that I feel compelled to start an online petition begging for the singer to be a resident performer on the show.
The same can be said for Halsey's "New Americana" and Marina And The Diamonds' "Teen Idle." All of them are songs which capture the dissonance of teen angst and the restlessness of suburban youth. And they do so with a sweeping, heartfelt drama which sound as classic as they do modern. This is something that Riverdale manages to do itself as a TV show.
So, seriously — go find your favorite pair of headphones, find yourself a private booth at Pop's Diner, and take a sip of that musical milkshake that this playlist is serving up. It's pretty damn great.