When I was a wee Master’s degree student, slaving over the hardest thing I’d written so far, my MA thesis, I struggled to avoid procrastination. I think most people would agree that doing something difficult, even if you love your topic, isn’t always fun! One of the ways I came up with to motivate myself was to design a playlist of songs all around my theme, which was (of course) sleeping maiden fairy tales and the Gothic in contemporary retellings. This playlist, I kid you not, got me through! Every time I put it on, I knew it was time to work. It helped me remember how excited and passionate I was about my ideas, and how much I wanted to continue my studies (even when Netflix was singing its own siren song!) 

So today, as part of yet another new series of posts we’re calling “Folklore Playlists,” I wanted to share this list of songs with you and tell you a little bit about why they made the list. Now, of course, these are MY favorites, so you’ll see a lot of Gothic Metal and powerful female-fronted bands, even some repeat artists, but hey, my list, my rules :P. If you’d like to listen, you can check out the songs on our Spotify playlist!

“Les Sombres Plis de L’Ame” by Collection d’Arnell Andrea – I love a good mood setting piece, and this one fits the bill perfectly. The title translates to something like “the dark folds/bends of the soul,” and I love starting the playlist off with a bit of French (considering “Sleeping Beauty”’s history!)

“Breath of Life” by Florence + the Machine – This was the song for the film Snow White and the Huntsman, and it’s a beautiful, powerful piece. It makes me think about Snow White in a different way. You gotta love it when that choir comes in!

“You’ll Be Mine” by The Pierces – “Prick your finger on a spinning wheel…”… “with a kiss you will awaken…” I mean, enough said!

“Snow-White” by Xandria – All about “Snow White” and by a Gothic Metal band, how can you lose? I love how creepy they make it *shivers*

“Love Like Winter” by AFI – A song all about snow and dark desire… plus I love that “I met my love before I was born” lyric, which makes me think about interesting ways to reimagine the seemingly intrusive kiss commonly featured in both of these stories through the lens of reincarnation/fate?

“Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence – I always like interpreting “Sleeping Beauty” stories in particular as stories about waking up to your true potential, waking up to things you’re missing, waking up to new life. I feel like this song fits that interpretation perfectly. Also “I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems”!

“Damaris” by Patrick Wolf – This is a bit of a less obvious choice, but I *love* Patrick Wolf, and this is one of my favorites. I think it fits as a prince perspective poem in a really interesting way though! Death and love and obsession. I also love how it pulls in the seasons, and some people even think the name “Damaris” is related to the Celtic spring/fertility goddess “Damara,” which is a cool connection as well.

“Sleeping Beauty” by A Perfect Circle – This is a drug-related take on what is meant by “sleeping beauty”… it’s a little disturbing, I admit, but it was important to have that perspective as some of the texts I was looking at interpreted the story through a similar lens.

“Strange & Beautiful (I’ll Put a Spell on You)” by Aqualung – “I’ll put a spell on you, you’ll fall asleep…” The song is actually a bit creepy, but hey, these stories can be too and it just fits too well!

“Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey – I like the grit of this song, which fits with some of the more modern retellings of the tales, plus what are these princesses if not “born to die”?

“Silver and Cold” by AFI – This one’s a little hard to explain, but I feel like it fits? It’s something to do with the “your sins into me,” which reminds me of a great article by Carolyn Fay about the juxtaposition of Sleeping Beauty and her ogress mother-in-law.

“Waiting for Magic” by Ace of Base – LOL, well, this is a bit of a different mood, but it totally works! The whole song is a play on “Snow White” through and through!

“Tristan” by Patrick Wolf – I just love the rough, feral quality of this song. I love imagining Sleeping Beauty singing it honestly: “I am the tragedy, and the heroine, I am lost, and I am rescuing, the stories come, and I am following. My name is Tristan, and I am alive.”

“Haunted” by Poe – To me, both Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are haunted figures… haunted by their curses, their sleeps, their stories. This song is about embracing that.

“Taking Over Me” by Evanescence – This is maybe another weird one, but it makes me think of the prince in the tales… I love imagining him dreaming of SB/SW, having an obsession with her that takes over his mind.

“Until It Sleeps (S&M Version)” by Metallica – Several retellings of “Sleeping Beauty” and “Snow White” make the title princess into a monster of some kind, and I feel like this song fits that perfectly… like their sleeps are necessary tamings of their wild, monstrous sides. Be sure you listen to the S&M album version – yes yes, I know the title makes your eyebrows raise, but it’s the album that Metallica recorded with the San Francisco Symphony, and it’s epic!

“Blinding” by Florence + the Machine – Totally draws all kinds of inspiration from sleeping maiden fairy tales: “seems that I have been held, in some dreaming state / a tourist in the waking world, never quite awake / no kiss, no gentle word could wake me from this slumber.”

“Once Upon a Dream” by Lana Del Rey – And lastly, of course, Lana Del Rey’s exquisite cover of the iconic “Once Upon a Dream” song from Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty film.

Yay! So have a listen, I hope you enjoy :). Did I miss anything that absolutely should have made this list?

[Image by Millicent Sowerby… and one of my all-time favorite “Sleeping Beauty” illustrations!]

P.S. We have a feeling we’re not the only ones who make themed playlists… so please feel free to share your own in the comments here or in our Facebook group

P.P.S. Our “Introduction to British Folklore” course is still open for enrollment, and you should TOTALLY check it out because it’s going to be awesome!!

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