After looking through the online database over at Small Demons, we came across some interesting facts about songs that have been referenced in popular literature. Take a look through our list of ten of the most suprising songs that you probably didn’t know were obscurely mentioned in literature, as well as ten more popular hits that are mentioned in books you may not have read, but certainly wouldn’t be surprised to find them referenced. Grab your bookmarks and earphones, here we go.
No Doubt - Underneath It All
Taken from their fourth studio album, Rock Steady , this song is used as the wedding song for a character in a book entitled The Madonnas Of Echo Park , written by Brando Skyhorse. “Naww how sweet”, you might say, but it’s a little ironic given that the book starts off with characters acting out a Madonna video in Echo Park. On a side note, the book is being recreated as a HBO TV show, so look out for that in 2013.
Both 'Basket Case' and ‘Chump’ are Green Day songs that get a mention in James Patterson's book, Jack And Jill from the Alex Cross series. Referencing those songs from the album Dookie is particularly surprising, given that the book was released only two years after the album. Patterson is obviously a music enthusiast, which shouldn't surprise his readers, Jack And Jill alone mentions artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Oasis, Soundgarden and none other than Whitney Houston.
This unfortunate love song has given us all nightmares in the past, it's a recurring dream that just won't die. It’s fitting then, that the track is used in Stephen King's 2009 novel Under the Dome . The book follows the story in the not to distant future when a town is separated from the outside world by a – you guessed it – a dome. A pretty horrific situation, we're sure you'll no doubt agree. But its not all bad, the novel also references LCD Soundsystem's 'All My Friends', so at least there's some music credibility coming from inside that dome.
Another book in James Patterson's Alex Cross series, simply entitled Cross gives a line or two to Kanye West's track from his debut album, The College Dropout. Kanye will undoubtedly be pleased that the characters in Patterson's book are driving with his tunes in their ears.
The Boy Kings by Katherine Losse is a book about the internet and social networking online. It may sound a bit strange for the book to reference a Linkin Park song, but the song is used to demonstrate an example of cyber bullying and trolls. Read into that what you will.
You probably know Dido more for hearing her songs in advertisements than books, but get your hands on a copy of Barbara Samuel's Madame Mirabou's School of Love to see how Dido's music is depicted in literature. The song might only be mentioned in a car ride, but if the title caught your interest, the novel is about a recently divorced women who “finds herself falling in with eccentric new neighbour’s–and being seduced out of her funk by a charming, elusive ex-Londoner.”
The biggest pop song 2007 is used in Anne McPartlin's novel, Alexandra, Gone , which is about the search for a missing women. The song is referenced specifically for when the character is dancing around, so it’s little surprise that a pop song is used
In 11/22/63 Stephen King creates a world where his character travels back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK. If only, he'd stopped the creation of this song as well! But in all seriousness, its reference is used to make you feel like you're actually in that time period. Surely though, King could have chosen a better song that would still have had the same effect?
Jodie Picoult and these Californian natives just don't seem like they would ever be uttered in the same sentence. In her novel, Second Glance she puts her readers through a terrifyingly cringe-worthy scene where a character rocks out and sings aloud to 'All Star' in an elevator. You needn't worry though, before the character can reach the chorus a mysterious hand grabs his arm.
An ambitious young accountant jumps into the high stakes racket of industry promotions and celebrity parties, Ivan Davis walks into a party and hears this song playing. This definitely wouldn't be a song you would hear all to often at a party these days nor even in 2008 when the book in question; Pecking Order was released. Yet still the author Omar Tyrell felt it was necessary to use an Eve and Gwen Stefani collaboration to create a 'party atmosphere'.
The Beatles – Hey Jude
The Fab Four are the most famous band in the world, and 'Hey Jude' is one of their most well known songs. So it should come with little surprise that this song is one of the most commonly referenced tracks in literature. From biographies to fiction novels, there are far too many books, famous or obscure to mention.
How many characters in the history of literature do you think have checked into Heartbreak Hotel? Elvis Presley's classic song is an obvious song choice to demonstrate such a thing, if not for a healthy dose of nostalgia. Other than inspiring a novel of the same name, the song has popped up in books such as The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, The Blind Assassin and Goodnight, Nebraska just to name a few.
This song is so often related to death and so notorious in its own right that its mention in literature is more expected than anything. What makes it even more attractive to writers is that over time so many different interpretations of the song have popped up, that it can be used in many different contexts to simulate a variety of emotions. Authors like James Patterson, Jodie Picoult, Annie Proulx and many more have all referenced this song in their writings.
Not only popular for the TV and film mediums, this classic by the Rolling Stones is often paid homage to in literature. Title such as The Botox Diaries, Bloodsucking Friends, Over His Dead Body, I'm Looking Through You and The Book Of Lost Fragrances give you a good idea of what sought of novels reference this song. But it might also interest you to know that biographies of Hilary Clinton, Cat Power and Shania Twain have discussed this track.
Neil Gaiman, Nina Benneton, James Franco, Joy Fielding and a host more of authors have looked towards ABBA and their staple track 'Dancing Queen' as point of reference for their works. The Swedish group are one of the most successful pop groups in history so it’s only fitting that they're a point of reference in all forms of popular culture.
Think of 90s nostalgia and your mind immediately thinks of bad fashion and this song. Given this is the youngest song on this list, it’s remarkable just how much it’s been referenced in literature since its release. The track is most notably cited in Stephen Chobsky's Perks of Being A Wallflower . With MTV publishing the book, other artists such The Smiths, The Beatles, The Smashing Pumpkins and Fleetwood Mac amongst many are written about by Charlie, the main character, in his letters. The book has been made into a film set for release later this year in Australia.
From Stephen King's Nightmares & Dreamscapes to volume 1 of The Secret Of The Unicorn Queen the titles that pay homage to this Michael Jackson hit are as diverse as they come. Given the influence of Michael Jackson and his hugely successful career, you should expect this song to get mentioned in hundreds of books.
This piano song has such poignancy and history that readers and characters from all sorts of backgrounds can easily connect to this world famous ballad. Acclaimed books such as Love And Other Impossible Pursuits, Bird Of Another Heaven and A Sunday At The Pool In Kigali mention 'Imagine' and given the solemn nature of each story, that should come as no surprise.
While autobiographies from Al Pacino and Steve Jobs speak in admiration of this Bob Dylan song there are plenty of fiction novels where characters discuss their love of 'Like A Rolling Stone'. Whether it be a character likening himself to the song in David Ignatius' Agents of Innocence or used as a tool for serious contemplation in Ann Beattie's Chilly Scenes Of Winter the track works as many different devices in literature.
Surely 'Bohemian Rhapsody' should be more common than this song, right? Apparently not, 'Another One Bites the Dust' is commonly used as a song playing the background of popular novels such as One Day, The Vampire's Revenge, Liars And Saints, In A Good Place, Mommy Tracked and Don't Kill The Birthday Girl just to name a few.