You can’t talk about Skins without talking about the music.
By the time Series 3 hits, the show had already established itself as a launchpad for new artists or the next big thing in music – mostly alternative music, but still, excellent music. None of the kind that would make Rick Beato lament about the sorry state of popular music today. We were hearing musicians that truly made music, played actual instruments and offered something really unique.
Series 3 packs it in, and it also goes to include some current hits in the pop charts like Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Kanye West. It also introduces a new batch – something original fans had a little bit of trouble getting used to, but by the end of the season, one could say that this might have been the best season yet in terms of memorable and interesting characters. In fact, almost half of the cast reprised their roles in a special season of Skins that would mark the end series (compared to Generation 1 and 2 that is, where only one came back from the first generation and zero from the last).
The only thing bridging Series 2 to 3 is Effy – Tony’s sister, their old school where Effy and the rest of the Skins gang are attending, and curiously, Sid’s locker and porn stash. As per usual, there’s sex, drugs and lots of hedonistic behaviour, as well as very terrible parents and an equally terrible school.
Let’s jump in to the music shall we?
Nefi + Girly by Asobi Seksu
Nefi + Girly heralded the new generation of Skins as it was used in the promotional trailers for the new batch and the third series of Skins. As we curiously await what Series 3 might hold, we were treated with New York band Asobi Seksu’s catchy single “Nefi + Girly”. This was far from the dancey, angsty introduction of the first generation via Gossip’s “Standing in the Way of Control”. In contrast, “Nefi + Girly” is a nice mix of sweet, but edgy – pairing frontwoman Yuki Chikudate’s gentle voice with noisy guitars, and adding just a bit of electronic music and a steady drumbeat to match that feeling of rapt anticipation. The song also plays out at the end of the first episode while previews of the upcoming season play.
Pillow Case Kisser by Skinned Teen
This song used in the third episode of the season as a background to Thomas and Pandora’s meet-cute. I just love that they’ve thrown this in early on in the series. It’s a call back to early 90’s riot grrrl music, and not just any other riot grrl music, it was riot grrl music of the UK variety. Unlike other songs that are used to add some emotional depth to a scene or enhance the mood or setting, this is the type of song that you add, just because. To someone hearing it, it’s like a surprise present – unexpected but a pleasure to have.
Breaker – Low
Speaking of 90’s bands, here’s another one on the list. This song was played in the closing scenes to Pandora’s episode as things get a little bit more complicated in terms of Panda’s love life. I’d like to believe that they actually wanted this for Cook’s episode especially with how Cook ate his whole birthday cake all by himself – crumbs and all. “Breaker” may be from a 90’s band, but this one was a later release from Low taken from the 2007 album “Drums and Guns” – their latest album at that time.
Jump In by High Places
If there ever was a Skins pairing that was a big fan favorite, it was Naomi and Emily or Naomily for short. We’ve actually got a couple of awesome some songs from Naomi’s episode and one of these is “Jump In” by High Places. This was the song that was played as the two went on an idyllic bike ride in the country. If you’re wondering why the song’s title says that it’s for Gilkey Elementary School, it’s because the band composed it for vocalist Mary Pearson’s mom, who works as a teacher at the said school. It’s a song for the school’s theme of the year “Jump In” which is a motivational “go for it” theme.
Susanna and the Magical Orchestra – Believer
If there ever was an official Naomily theme song, this would be it. After an exciting bike ride along the country, and a dip at the nearby lake, the girls set up camp in the woods where they consummate their love under the stars as Susanna and the Magical Orchestra’s “Believer” plays.
Lacrosse – You Can’t Say No Forever
I’ve always loved this song my Swedish band Lacrosse, so I’m including it in this list. “You Can’t Say No Forever” plays right after Cook finds out that he’s been ditched by the gang so they can all party at Gobbler’s End. Their happy little road trip is punctuated by this song and also serves as a background when Pandora openly lies to Thomas when Cook gives her a ring on her mobile. Apparently, she couldn’t say ‘no’ forever because Cook is Cook and he eventually crashes his way though the woods to come to the party uninvited.
Bon Iver – Woods
This autotuned gem of a song by Bon Iver features heavily in Effy’s episode where they are literally in the woods. I’m actually starting to think that they try to choose their location shoots based on what cool songs they can shoehorn into the story. Remember New York? The scene in question is after Effy almost kills Katie while tripping on shrooms. Coming down from her high, she chances upon Freddie and they do it – in the dark, in the middle of the woods, without any concern for insects, wild animals and modesty (they were not in a tent!). At this point I’m concerned that all that drugs and marijuana have permanently damaged their teenaged brains. The only level headed person there seems to be JJ – the only neurodiverse individual in the group and maybe Thomas, who handled Pandora’s betrayal quite well.
Smalltown Boy by Andre Herman Dune
Andre Herman Dune brings a new spin to Bronski Beat‘s 80’s classic tune “Smalltown Boy”. This plays right after another rejection from Naomi which brings Emily to tears. “Smalltown Boy” was ranked as number 12 in The 50 Best Gay Songs to Celebrate Pride All Year Long by Time Out Magazine. The song, which has underlying themes of pain and rejection, depicts a story of a boy who flees hometown bullying. Andre Herman Dune pares it down from Bronski Beat’s synth-pop version, to an acoustic one, which matches the scene as a dejected Emily storms out of Emily’s house sans shoes and jacket and into the freezing cold.
Heavy Water / I’d Rather Be Sleeping by Grouper
These last two songs come from the same episode – “Naomi”. The whole episode actually has great songs all throughout which is probably why it’s a fan favourite. We go dream-pop with Grouper’s “Heavy Water / I’d Rather Be Sleeping” which can be heard as Naomi confesses her feelings to Emily in the infamous hand-holding through the cat-flap scene. According to Genius, the song is about loving someone and leaving your comfort zone to be with them. Very apt song indeed.
White Film by Noriko Tujiko
From the same episode, we also hear Noriko Tujiko’s “White Film”. This plays as Naomi cries her heart out. Not to leave you guys in too much of a sad mood, this is actually a feel-good song the more you listen to it. It only has four lines repeated over and over: “You’re so beautiful / Looking back to me / And now smiling at me / You’re so beautiful”. Coupled with Noriko Tujiko’s airy vocals and playful synths, how could you not feel calm and light after hearing it?
When I stared writing, I had to speed watch the entire series to get a good refresher. For a show that I actually ever watched only once when it aired, and didn’t really get into it much for this particular season – this season was pretty entertaining. I was actually looking forward to see the next one. Then I remembered, it always goes downhill when the current batch reaches a second season. Good thing the music is still solid. Until then, I’ll see you next week!