Year of the Flood Soundtrack

…and that’s what God is. It’s what you don’t know – the dark, the hidden, the underside of the visible, and all because we have grammar, and grammar would be impossible without the FoxP2 gene; so God is a brain mutation, and that gene is the same one birds need for singing. So music is built in, Glenn said: It’s knitted into us. It would be very hard to amputate it because it’s an essential part of us, like water.”

Margaret Atwood, Year of the Flood

We created this playlist to reflect and emphasize what we feel are the main themes and key concepts of Year of the Flood. The songs we’ve selected reflect both the content of the book itself and the conversations within Calling on the Bees. These themes include character and identity, religion, navigation of space, survival, and building and maintaining relationships in the apocalypse.

We chose to start and end our playlist with songs from Imagine Dragons. ‘Radioactive’ speaks to the paranoia of the apocalypse, feeling like a pariah, and waking up one day and your world is suddenly different. ‘Natural’ speaks to the toughness at the heart of our main characters as they reach the end of this novel, and the song carries thematically into the final book, MaddAddam, as well, so it just made sense to end our playlist on this note. Below we have selected 7 of our 15 songs to examine in relation to their connection with the aforementioned themes. Enjoy!

Twin Size Mattress – The Front Bottoms

“This is for the lions living in the wiry broke down frames of my friends’ bodies
When the floodwater comes, it ain’t gonna be clear, it’s gonna look like mud
But I will help you swim, I will help you swim, I’m gonna help you swim”

This song can be related to many characters, but it’s interesting to look at the feelings it portrays. It’s hard enough to create and maintain healthy relationships in reality, but given the pressures the characters go through, it’s no surprise that not many healthy relationships exist in the books. This song speaks to the loyalty the characters begin to feel for each other in Year of the Flood, and maintain through MaddAddam. This song could offer a slightly more jaded look at the Waterless Flood prophecy – “it’s coming, but it isn’t going to be what you expect.”

Who Am I Living For – Katy Perry

“I can see the writing on the wall
I can’t ignore this war
At the end of it all
Who am I living for?”

This song relates to the novel because at its heart is a question Toby wrestles with incessantly: What is my purpose, and who am I? This song applies to Toby throughout multiple points in her life, but especially her time with Blanco and with the God’s Gardeners.

Blood Brothers – Amy Shark

“Doc says, “Girl, take one pill”
And you whisper double that, double that
What was I like before you?
Well I can’t answer that, answer that
Wrap me up in secrets
Another day, we’ll let it out, let it out”

This song encapsulates the bond that the God’s Gardeners feel for each other. They aren’t always good for each other, and the group alters the characters in unidentifiable ways. They don’t know what they were like before they joined the God’s Gardeners — because they feel like they’ve always been part of the group. 

In Our Bedroom After the War – Stars

“All the living are dead and the dead are all living
The war is over and we are beginning”

This song is a reference to the Waterless Flood and how the God’s Gardeners are prepared to be the ones “beginning” the new world, as they will be the ones alive after the flood. The war in this song can be related to the Waterless Flood. The dead, like Oryx and Crake, also play a very important role in the lives of the Crakers – informing how they shape their understanding of the universe.

Against Pollution – The Mountain Goats

“This morning I went down to the Catholic church
Cause something just came over me
Forty-five minutes in the pews
Praying the rosary

When the last days come

We shall see visions
More vivid than sunsets
Brighter than stars
We will recognize each other
And see ourselves for the first time
The way we really are”

This song relates to the themes of our podcast because we discuss in depth the connection between religion and the apocalypse. It relates to the God’s Gardeners because it channels a feeling of sadness and desperation which pervades the apocalypse, but also speaks of the coming days with positive language and hope, much as the Gardeners do with the Waterless Flood. This song touches on the longing of people to reach higher meaning when they are low.

Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked – Cage the Elephant

“Oh, there ain’t no rest for the wicked
Money don’t grow on trees
I got bills to pay
I got mouths to feed
There ain’t nothing in this world for free
I know I can’t slow down
I can’t hold back
Though you know, I wish I could
Oh no there ain’t no rest for the wicked

Until we close our eyes for good.”

This song relates to The Year of the Flood in the sense that it conveys a sort of moral code that the corporations, and certain other individuals, adopt during the apocalypse. It also encapsulates the questionable viewpoint of the God’s Gardeners: that in the apocalypse, when catastrophe strikes, you cannot help others, but can only save yourself. 

Glory and Gore – Lorde

“They lose their minds for us, and how it plays out (Ha!)
Now we’re in the ring and we’re coming for blood”

This song can reference the Painballers. The game they are forced to play is a bloody one, set up Colosseum style. This has warped their sensibilities and now they are violent criminals. The song also references the tense situations that arise as characters try navigate their sense of self and societal position in the apocalypse.

Animal Impulses – IAMX

“I’m tired of this human duet
No civilizing hides
Our animal impulses”

This is a reflection on Blanco’s personality. He’s extremely violent with no regard for a majority of the people around him. The animal impulses equate to the concept of survival of the fittest, and how Blanco is notorious for sexually assaulting and killing the women who work for him.