Music to read by: Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Posted on 8th April 2015 by Becky Albertalli
Becky Albertalli, author of Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, introduces the diverse music behind her equally diverse novel.

Simon Spier can be a little evangelical about his music. He uses it to soothe himself, to connect with friends, and to impress cute boys – even his email address is a nod to his favorite song by Elliott Smith. For me, the playlist came before the book deal. It was so important to me to create a playlist that was true to the story and true to Simon’s exacting tastes. And since Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda features a true ensemble cast, I wanted to make sure some of his best friends had their voices heard. 

The result is a playlist that spans decades, styles, and musical genres. I wanted to make it as diverse as the book. I had a blast putting this together, and I hope you love it as much as I do! (Best enjoyed while making out and/or eating Oreos.)

Waltz #2 by Elliott Smith

There’s no question this song is the crown jewel of the playlist. It’s Simon’s favorite song by his favorite artist (and the line “I’m doing just fine hour to hour, note to note” was the inspiration for his email address). Like most of Elliott Smith’s work, this is a hauntingly sad song. Simon’s pen pal, Blue, even mentions that he was initially surprised that someone as upbeat as Simon would love this song, but there’s something about the song that reminds him of Simon anyway. I think its moodiness speaks to some of the muddled, sad, yearning feelings Simon experiences, even if he doesn’t understand them.

Closer by Tegan and Sara

Simon is a big fan of Tegan and Sara, and he listens to them a few times in the book. I love this song, and its lyrics fit perfectly with the story. Simon wants so badly to connect with Blue, and his efforts to get closer to him are the story’s heartbeat. So much of the book exists in that beautiful, frustrating space before Simon and Blue truly connect. Nothing could capture that more perfectly than Tegan and Sara’s lyrics: “Here comes the breath before we get a little bit closer.” And I also have to mention this song’s amazing music video, featuring all kinds of couples making out. What could be more perfect for SIMON?

Funny Little Frog by Belle and Sebastian  (God Help the Girl version)

I’ve always adored this song – and its lyrics about crushing on someone from afar make it extra sweet for SIMON. Even before Simon realizes he’s falling for Blue, he thinks about him constantly. For me, this song captures that feeling of being completely preoccupied by a crush, even if it’s someone you’ve never met in person. I picked the more recent God Help the Girl version of this song for Simon’s playlist, but the original Belle and Sebastian version is wonderful, too.

Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

Simon thinks classic rock is for dads, but his best friend Nick is a huge fan. Nick sings this song at a Halloween party in one of the early chapters of the book, and even Simon has to admit it’s a little bit wonderful. I love the chorus: “How I wish, how I wish you were here. We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year.” It’s such a wistful line, and I think that’s exactly how Simon feels throughout much of the book: longing to connect with someone who really gets him.   

With Arms Outstretched by Rilo Kiley

Simon’s friend Leah is a huge fan of Rilo Kiley, and even Simon has to admit he’d happily make out with Jenny Lewis. This is one of my absolute favorite songs ever. For me, it captures that high school feeling of best friends, romantic possibility, and perfect days. I love the line, “If you want me, you better speak up – I won’t wait.” Admittedly, I think Simon and Blue would (and do) give each other many chances, but I love the way this song gives Simon a nice kick in the butt to put his heart on the line.

Thinking About You by Frank Ocean

One of my very favorite teenagers introduced me to Frank Ocean a few years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. He’s also one of the first mainstream male hip hop artists to come out as gay or bisexual, cementing his status as one of my personal heroes. This song is a perfect addition to the playlist, because it makes me think of that uncertainty of being in love with someone and wondering where you stand with him.

To Be Alone With You by Sufjan Stevens

One of the many life lessons Simon learns along the way: Sufjan Stevens isn’t the kind of artist you crank in your car. This doesn’t make his music any less amazing, and this is one of my favorites. Based on the lyrics, I actually think this song is about Jesus. Simon isn’t at all religious, but I think he would be drawn to how intimate this song feels.

Shake it off by Taylor Swift

I’m calling it: this is the greatest pop song since Since U Been Gone. There’s no question that this would be Simon’s friend Abby’s top choice. And, of course, the message is perfect for a kid who shakes off all kinds of haters and completely rules at being himself.

Watch on YouTube:

You Don’t Know Me by Ray Charles

No song more perfectly captures the ache and longing of falling in love with someone who may not reciprocate. I actually think this song is something Blue would choose – he feels so trapped inside himself sometimes, and isn’t naturally great at expressing his feelings. I love this song for the playlist – especially because, like Simon and Blue (and me), Ray Charles is a native Georgian.

Just Like Heaven by the Cure

A classic. This song is so addictive – it makes me want to dance in the aisles of a high school auditorium. I don’t want to give too much away, but an awesome band covers this one during one of the later scenes in the book.

Makin’ Out by Mark Owen (Pomplamoose Cover)

Obviously, Simon approves of any song named after his favorite activity, and this cover is beyond incredible. I love these lyrics from the chorus the most: “As the night comes crashing down, we catch ourselves a line. We’re only making out. We’re making out all right.” I dare you to listen to this in a dark room and see if you don’t get chills. Totally reminds me of Simon and Blue.

Watch on YouTube:

Try a Little Tenderness by Otis Redding

A no-brainer for the playlist. This is one of my favorite songs in the entire world. It was on the must-play list at my wedding, and it is one of the all-time greatest songs for singing when I’m alone in the car. Naturally, it plays during a very special rainy Monday toward the end of the book. If Simon and Blue had to pick “their song,” this would be it.


Sign In To Respond

There are currently no comments.