Every great reading session requires a little prep time. First, you need to find the comfiest chair (head for the sunny spots). Tea and the kind of snacks that won’t leave stains on the pages need to be acquired. And an appropriate playlist must be curated. For a date with some Shakespeare plays, you might want to go with something seriously old school (lute jam, anyone?) or you can queue up this playlist, with songs to capture the mood of ten classic Shakespeare plays.
1. Romeo and Juliet — “Love Story” by Taylor Swift
Yes, Ms Swift takes a little creative license with the end of her Romeo and Juliet tale. Still, strains of teenage infatuation are strong in the play and the song it inspired.
2. Hamlet — “Welcome to my Life” by Simple Plan
Hamlet’s famous soliloquy about life and death, musing on whether his life, which seemed newly unmoored, was worth living, often feels universal–especially with high school students encountering the text for the first time. Simple Plan captures a similar “woe is me, why me, what’s next for me” vibe with their early 2000s hit.
3. A Midsummer Night’s Dream — “Love Today” by MIKA
This song’s frantic pace matches the speed with which the play zips from couple to couple. And in the end, everyone DOES get love today.
4. Antony and Cleopatra — “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce (50 Shades of Grey Remix)
“Crazy in Love” would be a suitable subtitle for Shakespeare’s story of two powerful lovers who let their passion completely cloud their judgement. The original Beyonce track, however, is a little too upbeat to truly capture the play—you need to go with the darker, more mysterious remix.
5. Julius Caesar — “We Used To Be Friends” by Dandy Warhols
There are plenty of classic songs about betrayal, but this creepy tune about an expired friendship just seems to fit the soured bromance between Caesar and Brutus. Plus, the tune is best known as the theme song for noir-drama Veronica Mars, a show that saw even more bloodshed and betrayal than the Roman Senate.
6. Macbeth — “Love is Blindness” by Jack White
Love of another or love of power can both seriously mess with your head, as shown in the Scottish play. This eerie ballad also works thematically; you can totally picture some “toil and trouble” going down while it plays in the background.
7. Othello — “Happy Together” by Filter
What was once a straightforward, lighthearted love song becomes something far more sinister with this cover of The Turtles song, much like how the love story between Othello and Desdemona becomes something dangerous and ugly when he believes she loves someone else.
8. As You Like It — “Fools in Love” by Inara George
Mistaken and new identities cause a word-problem’s worth of new attractions as these charming fools give up their comfort, safety, and names to follow their hearts. A sweet song with slightly harsh lyrics works for this play.
9. All’s Well That Ends Well — “The Fool On The Hill” by The Beatles
A play that seems to end on a shrug, this story of a crafty woman and the fool she loves (and dupes) has high stakes and complicated cons, but it ends on a kind of airy note that this song captures.
10. Titus Andronicus — “In The Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg
No words seem fitting for this incredibly violent play. All that’s needed is a feeling of dread and impending danger continuously ramped up by a manic orchestra.
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