Sally Rooney's Spotify explored: Author made mixes for Normal People

Leigh McManus April 26, 2021
Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Rumours that author Sally Rooney made playlists for her two main characters of hit TV show Normal People were confirmed by Paul Mescal himself, sparking a search for the very mixes. They were found, but what’s in there? Let’s explore Sally Rooney’s Spotify playlists.

What is Normal People by Sally Rooney?

Normal People started off as a novel by Irish author Sally Rooney.

  • EXPLORED: Who is Alex Koo? Meet Alber Elbaz’s partner

It was then adapted for TV and released by the BBC/Hulu to critical acclaim and general delirium as people became engulfed by the romance between Connell, played by Paul Mescal, and Marianne, played by Daisy Edgar-Jones.

The New York Times describe the screen adaption as “a sad, sexy, class- and power-conscious coming-of-age story.”

Rumours that Sally Rooney curated Spotify playlists for Connell and Marianne were confirmed by Mescal in an interview with Vulture last year.

The author made the playlists to help with character development. Mescal said: “We were creepy and found it on Spotify.”

  • EXPLAINED: What’s the red flag with yellow star and yellow triangle?

He added: “I literally did, full-on. Kind of like stalking someone’s Instagram. I hunted down Sally Rooney’s Spotify, and then when I met Daisy, I told her that she had two separate playlists for Connell and Marianne.”

Sally Rooney’s Spotify playlist explored

So, what’s actually on the playlists?

Buzzfeed writer Tatiana Tenreyro claimed to have found them in May last year prompting a wave of interest in how the songs shaped the dynamics of the characters.


There was another serge of interest yesterday when YouTuber Uncarly released a video exploring her take on the songs.

For Marianne, the songs tended towards shy and misunderstood teen girl anthems like Belle and Sebastian’s Expectations.

Some of the lyrics go: “In the queue for lunch, they take the p*** / You’ve got no appetite / And the rumour is you never go / With boys and you are tight / So they jab you with a fork / You drop the tray and go berserk.”

  • EXPLAINED: Why did Joe Biden say “let my wife come home”?

Buzzfeed said it makes “perfect sense that it helped Sally visualize Marianne while writing the novel”.

Other songs include Vampire Weekend’s Campus, Linger by the Cranberries and Frankie Cosmos’s The End, from her break-up album Vessel.

Rooney starts off Connell’s playlist with a nod to the class dynamic in the storyline, using Van Morrison’s Cyprus Avenue to denote his feelings towards the difference in social mobility.

Part of the lyrics say: “I may go crazy / Before that mansion on the hill.”

After another handful of relationship-themed songs, Rooney finishes with So Long, Marianne by Leonard Cohen, a direct nod to the end of the show’s first season and climax of the novel.

Leigh is a 26-year-old journalist from the north of Ireland. He studied International Journalism at Liverpool John Moores University, where he earned a 2:1 grade. He has worked for Mail Online and has experience with the Liverpool Echo, Irish Mirror and SWNS. Leigh is also a huge music fan and has his own show on a community radio station.