We Need To Talk About The Soundtrack In "13 Reasons Why"
Love the show or hate the show, we can at least agree it has an A+ soundtrack.
1. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Divison
When it's featured: Ep. 1 — Tony plays Clay a tape while giving him a ride home.
Why it's significant: The haunting, stark track links us to the year 1979, an era when cassette tapes were booming. Frontman Ian Curtis committed suicide roughly a year after writing this song.
4. "The Night We Met" by Lord Huron
When it's featured: Ep. 5 — Clay and Hannah dance together for the first time.
Why it's significant: The refrain "Haunted by the ghost of you" cuts like a knife when paired with the flashbacks of the school dance.
7. "Into the Black" by Chromatics
When it's featured: Ep. 3 — Alex falls (or jumps?) into the pool.
Why it's significant: Originally written and performed by Neil Young during a time when he feared his music career was declining, the lyric "It's better to burn out than to fade away" was famously quoted in Kurt Cobain's suicide note.
8. "The Only Boy Awake" by Meadows
Ep. 3 — Clay and Hannah watch the moon from the cinema's rooftop.
10. "Thirteen" by Elliott Smith
When it's featured: Ep. 5 — Clay breaks down in the shower.
Why it's significant: The sweet, childlike lyrics are reminiscent of grade school and simpler times. It seems worth noting that the song borrows the line "Rock and roll is here to stay" from Neil Young's "My My Hey Hey (Into The Black)," a cover of which is also featured on this soundtrack. The circumstances of Elliott Smith's untimely death are still debated, but it's widely accepted that he committed suicide.
13. "The Mess Is Mine" by Vance Joy
When it's featured: Ep. 1 — Clay thinks he sees Hannah in the crowded halls between classes. It's the first time the memory of her seems to physically follow him.
Why it's significant: The refrain "This mess was yours / now your mess is mine" tangles Clay and Hannah's stories together.
14. "It All Feels Right" by Washed Out
Ep. 6 — Students fill out the Dollar Valentine questionnaire on Valentine's Day.
15. "The Great Longing" by Lost Under Heaven
Ep. 6 — Clay, Jessica, and Alex get advice from their parents.
16. "Cool Blue" by The Japanese House
When it's featured: Ep. 1 — Hannah and Justin start texting.
Why it's significant: The dreamlike vocals fit the flirty flashback scene perfectly.
19. "You, Me, Cellphones" by Husbands
When it's featured: Ep.1 — Clay and Hannah are getting along at the house party.
Why it's significant: It's an upbeat song for a rare upbeat scene. It stings in contrast to the much heavier and darker themes that run throughout the series.
20. "The Strangers" by St. Vincent
Ep. 7 — Clay stands outside of school before the first bell, listening to a tape.
22. "Young & Afraid" by The Moth & The Flame
When it's featured: Ep. 1 — Justin shows his friends the photo of Hannah on the slide.
Why it's significant: The opening lyric "Think back on what you did / how you’d punk all the new kids" seems to speak to Justin's bullying directly.
25. "More Than Gravity" by Colin & Caroline
When it's featured: Ep. 1 — Clay sees Hannah's locker memorial.
Why it's significant: The romantic lyrics tips us off that Hannah was more than just a classmate to Clay.
27. "A 1000 Times" by Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
Ep. 11 — Hannah imagines a happy future with Clay.
28. "Atmosphere" by Codeine
When it's featured: Ep. 10 — Clay asks Tony for answers.
Why it's significant: It's a cover of a Joy Division song, the band Tony introduces Clay to in the first episode.
31. "Only You" by Selena Gomez
When it's featured: Ep. 13 — Clay talks to Mr. Porter.
Why it's significant: Selena Gomez is a producer of this show and an outspoken advocate for mental health issues.
Here's a Spotify playlist so you can listen along:
This is by no means an exhaustive list! If you have a favorite song from the show that wasn't featured on this list, add it in the comments!
"The Killing Moon" used in 13 Reasons Why is covered by Roman Remains. A previous version of this post misidentified the performers.