Imagine driving to a beach town to spend the summer with your childhood best friends, just like you do every year. Your head is out the window as “Cruel Summer” is playing by Taylor Swift, the sun is kissing your face, and you're thinking about how your perfect summer will go about. If this doesn’t sound like your summer’s fate, then it’s time to watch The Summer I Turned Pretty which is fueled with an A-List playlist.
The Summer I Turned Pretty (TSITP), follows a teenager, Belly, who spends the summers at a small beach town with her mother and brother, along with her mother’s best friend and her two sons. Belly gets caught in a love triangle with the two sons as she’s trying to have the perfect summer. The show got a lot of hype when the trailer included, Taylor Swift’s song, “This Love (Taylor’s Version).”
Once the show came out, many viewers raved about the soundtrack, which featured artists in addition to Swift, like Tyler, The Creator, Billie Eilish, and other popular artists. The show also exposed many people to new artists and songs which received praise for highlighting these lesser known artists.
Tess Patton, a USC student and a viewer of TSITP, became more invested in the storyline and characters because of the recognizable music. She claimed that the nostalgia attached to some of the songs made elements of the show more emotional for her.
“As a Swifite myself, hearing Taylor’s iconic love songs at some of the most pivotal moments in the season made a huge impact on me,” Patton said. “'This Love (Taylor’s Version)' by Taylor Swift is so nostalgic for me, so when it played I got so excited!”
Patton believes that the soundtrack created a strong emotional thread throughout the storyline to the storyline.
“Music has such a powerful, emotional quality for me personally, so I thought it was such an amazing addition to the show!” Patton is not the only viewer excited about the jam-packed playlist, though.
Kayla Sidik, a Texas A&M student, was inspired by the features of Olivia Rodrigo’s “brutal” and “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” not only because she is a fan, but also because of Rodrigo’s rise in popularity.
“This is the first series I’ve heard the use of Olivia Rodrigo songs, and I felt so proud for Olivia because she’s so talented and also 19,” said Sidik. “How many 19 year olds have their song featured in a series? That’s amazing.”
Sidik believes that TSITP was able to benefit from the soundtrack by associating with Gen-Z’s desire for a main character playlist goal, which is the idea of taking control of your life and focusing more on yourself/your goals. Along with Sidik is Anoushka Chandra, a USC student who said her emotions while watching the show were greatly impacted by the music choices.
“It made the sad scenes feel sadder and the happy scenes happier! When the kids learned about Susannah’s cancer, they played “Funeral” by Phoebe Bridgers and that made me cry,” Anoushka said.
Chandra was so influenced by the show that she made a Spotify playlist with the songs from the soundtrack. She found new songs like “FEELING THIS BAD NEVER FELT SO GREAT” by Tai Verdes and “Be Sweet” by Japanese Breakfast, but also was able to listen to some of her favorite songs while watching the show.
“‘This is what falling in love feels like” by JVKE was my favorite song because even though I had heard it before, seeing characters relate to it made me hear the song in a different way and really feel the lyrics,” Chandra said.