In light of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, Atwood Magazine would like to raise awareness and urge everyone to practice empathy and kindness.
13 Reasons Why captivated audiences through the harrowing teenaged tragedy of Hannah Baker’s explicit suicide. The popular Netflix series, based off of Jay Asher’s novel, broke a record as the most-tweeted Netflix show in the first week of its release amassing 3,585,110 tweets. It shoved the taboo suicide topic into mainstream conversation–often drawing stern criticism for and against the series. Nonetheless, the success was enough to green light the Selena-Gomez-produced series for a second season.
Amidst all of the hype, 13 Reasons Why was created with altruistic intentions to bring awareness to suicide. Yet the under-utilized hidden partner to every show is the music! Music can be used as a tool to uplift: These are the tracks 13 Reasons Why missed out on that could’ve enhanced the series.
Caution: spoilers ahead!
Jasmine Thompson – “Old Friends”
(via Atlantic Records)
Hannah’s first real friend on the show was Kat. Although Kat was rarely seen after the pilot, her presence was still impactful to Hannah. Perhaps if they kept in touch while Hannah was enduring all of her hardships, Hannah’s outcome would be different. Jasmine Thompson, in her ghostly voice, sings about missing her old friends and that her new friends don’t compare. The mellow chorus reads “I miss my old friends cause they know when I need them the most.” This is identical to Hannah’s feelings as she was dearly missing Kat.
Skylar Grey – “Invisible”
(via Interscope Records)
Hannah literally felt like her existence was fading away as time progressed. With each subsequent episode Hannah makes strides to mend relationships with her peers, but her efforts prove more detrimental than beneficial–the core theme of “Invisible.” In a past interview with Billboard, Grey explains her mentality behind this song, “I was depressed and broke and had nobody around and was feeling invisible to the world.” The dark place she was coming from mimics Hannah Baker’s.
Demi Lovato – “Skyscraper”
(via Hollywood Records)
Jessica Davis became Hannah’s best friend after Kat. The two bond over being the new kids to Liberty High, yet over time they grew apart. Jessica’s main story arc was that she was blindsided about being raped–an extremely traumatizing memory for anyone both physically and mentally. Demi Lovato released “Skyscraper” after coming back from rehab. It’s about the pain Lovato felt and the pain she overcame. In the season finale of 13 Reasons Why, viewers see Jessica acknowledging what happened to her and slowly urging herself to fight and getting back on her feet from rock bottom.
Sum 41 – “In Too Deep”
(via Mercury Records)
If protagonist Clay Jensen had his own personal mantra or anthem it would be “In Too Deep.” In this teenaged old-school rock song, the feelings of just trying to make it another day are evoked. Throughout most of the series the other characters belittle and single out Clay for being “different” in his approach for dealing with Hannah’s raw cassette tapes. Clay himself is plagued with fear each tape he listens to and it gets to the point where he feels too connected and guilty about the suicide –he hallucinates and forgets to shower. Essentially as the chorus lyrics read, Clay is trying to prevent himself from “going under.”
The Fray – “How To Save A Life”
(via Epic Records)
Each episode depicts Hannah’s relationship whether it be friendship or romance with a different character. They all start off hopeful, yet end in misery for her. In all of the scenarios depicted there’s the lesson of empathy, because if each of those characters thought about how Hannah would react to their youthful and impulsive actions, then maybe things would have been different. “How To Save A Life” is a song that was inspired by a teenager’s harsh perspective on life. It was meant to teach people that actions have consequences that could ruin their relationships with others. It was written by The Fray’s vocal frontman, Isaac Slade, after he spent time mentoring troubled teenagers.
P!nk – “Who Knew”
(via RCA Records)
Clay and Hannah were star-crossed lovers that started off as friends. They complemented each other and were the couple fans wanted to see. When Clay figures out that Hannah held mutual feelings of love towards him, it sends him into a manic frenzy where he nearly contemplates ending his own life. “Who Knew” is the perfect soft rock ballad mix of grief fused with rage –the exact visceral feeling Clay demonstrates in that moment. This song reminisces about the personal quirks of a loved one, then becoming distressingly feral that those quirks are only memories.
Passion Pit – “Take A Walk”
(via Columbia Records)
Tony Padilla is described by Clay as “unhelpful Yoda.” Tony serves as the optimistic, calm and collective voice of reason to Clay. Although it may seem like Tony only hinders Clay instead of help, he serves as an ear for Clay to confine in as Clay delves deeper into the dark cassette tapes. Tony feels sorrow and remorse as many of the characters do but is able to mask those feelings. He often times encourages Clay to go on prolonged drives when Clay is agitated. “Take A Walk” narrates the tale of someone walking to clear his or her mind when problems arise to come up with clear solutions. The positive, upbeat melody and cheerful chorus mask the stress on one’s mind—this sounds like the mysteriously-mobile Tony masking his feelings of guilt.
Logic – “1-800- 273-2555”
(via Def Jam Recordings)
Logic decided to help shine a light on suicide awareness by creating this anthem titled using the national suicide hotline (1-800- 273-2555). In an interview with Genius, Logic realized the power he held as an artist and decided to release music that could potentially save someone’s life after hearing his music has had that effect on fans. Clearly this song would’ve been a great fit for 13 Reasons Why for sharing the same goal and wanting to highlight that suicide isn’t the answer.
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Whether you loved or loathed 13 Reasons Why, it has embedded itself into pop-culture. It’s a show that cynically touched upon a diverse range of subjects: depression, rape, suicide, growing up, homosexuality, death, peer pressure and more. It focused on damaging relationships and feeling at your all-time -low. Therefore, the accompanying music should aid in eliciting those themes while providing solace to viewers. Perhaps some of these tunes will be used in Season 2, which is slated to get even darker than Season 1!
cover © Netflix