The Complete Works of William Shakespeare PLAYLIST

April 11, 2023

In the immortal words of Florence Welch, “SOMETHING’S COMING.”

We have a huge announcement scheduled for tomorrow. But we’re too excited (and, frankly, we have too much to say) to keep it all in the bag until then.

So. A hint and a present. We’re turning it over to Sara, because she completely lost her mind and made you something…

Inspired by a Facebook post in our discussion group from Liz Husebye Hartmann), I have done a thing.

I’ve created a massive playlist with a song for every single Shakespeare play.

Yup. Each song selection has a connection to the plot, theme, or characters of one play. I’ve included a quick explanation for each pick below.

So, 36 plays. 36 songs. (Yes, he probably wrote parts of a few others, and there’s likely at least one lost play, but today, we’re going with 36.) You can listen to it for free on Spotify.

If you didn’t already know the depths of my Shakespeare nerdery, I suppose my cover is officially blown. 

My hope is that this playlist makes the plays feel a bit more accessible and within your reach right out of the gate. And that you enjoy jamming out to it in your car.

Here are the songs:

All’s Well That Ends Well – “Blue Jeans” by Lana del Rey – Helena’s (super unrequited) devotion to Bertram drives the plot of All’s Well, and del Rey’s moody determination (“I will love you till the end of time/ I would wait a million years”) sums it up perfectly.

As You Like It – “Any Way You Want It” by Journey – Mostly, I love this for the way the titles echo each other, but also Rosalind is one of Shakespeare’s most epic, competent heroines – beautiful, witty, a leader, a schemer, and a good friend. 

The Comedy of Errors – “Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am?” by Fall Out Boy – Comedy of Errors is a story about mistaken identity and general confusion, so this song’s title and chaotic lyrics kill me.

Love’s Labour’s Lost – “Down With Love” by Judy Garland – The dudes of LLL have all sworn off love at the beginning of the play. It doesn’t last, but Judy is definitely singing their theme song.

Measure for Measure – “Only the Good Die Young” by Billy Joel – This play is literally about a corrupt and hypocritical politician trying to force a nun-in-training to sleep with him. He fails (just like Billy Joel fails with Virginia.) I’m definitely going to hell for this one.

The Merchant of Venice – “Song for Bassanio” by Jocelyn Pook – Since Merchant’s major theme is anti-semitism, I’m not going to be cute with this one. Instead, I picked a song with lyrics drawn from the play’s text itself. 

The Merry Wives of Windsor – “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers – A song about someone who is obsessed with the idea of cheating…except no one is actually cheating! Oh look, it’s the whole plot of Merry Wives!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – “Love Potion #9” by the Searchers – A love potion causes havoc! 

Much Ado About Nothing – “Confused in Love” by Keyshia Cole – Benedict and Beatrice are such precious pandas. They’re so into each other, they have great chemistry, but they are confused and conflicted! Don’t worry, they figure it out in the end.

The Taming of the Shrew – “Cruel to Be Kind” by Letters to Cleo – A classic from the iconic 1999 Taming of the Shrew adaptation 10 Things I Hate About You.

The Tempest – “Rock You Like a Hurricane” by the Scorpions – A storm that shakes everything up and changes the status quo.

Twelfth Night – “I’ll Make a Man out of You,” Mulan – An anthem for Viola, my favorite of Shakespeare’s cross-dressing heroines. 

Two Gentlemen of Verona – “The Boy is Mine” by Brandy and Monica – Two Gentlemen has a lot of confused, jealous lovers with shifting affections, anticipating A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s done way better in Midsummer, but it’s still fun to imagine Julia and Silvia singing this together.

The Winter’s Tale – “Jealous” by Beyoncé – Leontes’ outrageous jealousy kicks off the events of Winter’s Tale, and I like to think of Hermione being given more of a voice and more complexity  through Beyoncé’s killer song.

Richard II – “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay – Richard II is dethroned. I’ll see myself out.

Henry IV, Part I – “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – Prince Hal’s rebellious nature irritates the &$*# out of his dad, Henry IV.

Henry IV, Part II – “Losing My Religion” by REM – The Henriad takes a sidebar to focus on the foolish, melancholy Falstaff. Surprisingly elegiac.  

Henry V – “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi – Prince Hal leaves his rebellious youth behind and takes up the mantle of rulership as Henry V.

Henry VI, Part I – “Confident” by Demi Lovato – Joan of Arc is in this one. She gets an anthem.

Henry VI, Part II – “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter – Things go badly for Henry VI in the War of the Roses.

Henry VI, Part III – “Love is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar – The War of the Roses continues to be a hot mess, and the crown gets passed back and forth.

Richard III – “Psycho Killer” by the Talking Heads – Qu’est-ce que c’est?

Henry VIII – “Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of…)” by Lou Bega – I was going to do “Ex-Wives” from Six (Henry VIII famously had six wives) but then I remembered “Mambo No. 5” and…

King John – “Poison” by Rita Ora – King John dies at the end by being poisoned. That’s pretty much it.

Pericles – “Maelstrom” by Sirena – Pericles is an absolutely bananas play that involves a goddess, pirates, an oracle, and storms at sea. The sea in general is important throughout (there’s a massive amount of sailing around between locations) so a sea-storm song it is.

Antony and Cleopatra – “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga – If you think Romeo and Juliet had a tumultuous relationship, Antony and Cleopatra steal their cake and set it on fire.

Coriolanus – “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister – Coriolanus starts with the common people (plebeians) in an armed revolt against the patricians, and the people win the right to be represented by tribunes.

Cymbeline – “Cymbeline” by Loreena McKennitt – Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare’s romances – the most fairy-tale-like of his plays – so of course I had to include Queen Loreena’s song, with lyrics taken directly from the play.

Hamlet – “Haunted” by Poe – Hamlet is haunted by the ghost of his father! Spooky! *ghost emoji*

Julius Caesar – “Backstabbers” by the O’Jays – Et tu, Brute? Says Julius Caesar to his BFF, Brutus, when said BFF assassinates him.

King Lear – “Disturbia” by Rihanna – King Lear is about, among other things, the theme of madness, and “Disturbia” fits both the theme and the mood with its hypnotic, almost gothic, vibe.

Macbeth – “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift – I’m sorry.

Othello – “What Have You Done?” by Within Temptation – I’m not sorry. I just wish I could scream this at Othello on Desdemona’s behalf. 

Romeo and Juliet – “To You I Bestow” by Mundy – Words cannot convey to you how much Brittany and I love this song. It’s completely overwrought and over the top, just like Romeo and Juliet are. 

Timon of Athens – “I Hate Everyone But You” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Timon becomes a misanthrope and goes to live in a cave. He has one friend, Flavius, who he should sing this song to.

Titus Andronicus – “Hungry Eyes” by Eric Carmen – I’m a very bad person.

Troilus and Cressida – “Cassandra” by Florence + the Machine – Cassandra the mythological prophetess gets a cameo in this weird proto-Romeo and Juliet play, so she gets her own song.

Enjoy! (And watch for THE BIG THING to be announced tomorrow!!)


  1. Linda M Willson

    What a delightful idea! I can hardly wait to hear it. You girls are so talented and soooo
    in tune with your followers. I have been so sick, sometimes with three different bad viruses at the same time. I got a sore throat which became so painful I wanted to scream–never had a sore throat like this. I had fever, a completely closed up throat, body aches and many, many more delights! I called my daughter and described my symptoms and she immediately said COVID. I knew immediately she was right and wanted to cry. But then- – – your wonderful e-mail showed up and saved the day. I can talk now, but still hoarse. Thank you, our indomitable women who make us happy.

    Much love, Linda

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