This is the fourth article in a six-part retrospective of the Skins soundtrack. You can find part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here. You can also listen each of these playlists at our Spotify page.
As we look back on Series 4’s most memorable tunes, I’d also like to mention how Skins also had some unforgettable musical moments created for the series back in the day. It might not be at epic the level of a Zendaya + Labrinth collaboration like what “Euphoria” had, but it was sure-as-hell entertaining. For young readers out there that might’ve stumbled on to this blog accidentally, you’ll probably remember when Rue breaks out into a musical number on “Euphoria” and everything started to look like a Zendaya music video. Skins sort of did that on Season 1, when Mike Bailey (Sid) suddenly launches into song and croons out his version of Cat Stevens’ “Wild World”, breaking the tension brought about by Tony’s accident and giving us a sweet little ending, with Sid and Cassie holding hands on the bench at Brandon Hill. As much as Skins was a teen drama, it also didn’t take itself too seriously, and oftentimes had a lot of comedic moments that was peppered throughout the series. Take Osama the Musical in Series 2 for example, where Skins’ fictional Roundview College ambitiously produces an original musical based on the 9/11 tragedy. Who could forget, that catchy tune “Then Came the Day Osama Blew Us Away”? Series 4 also brought a couple funny of musical moments like JJ and his mom singing songs with inappropriate lyrics – remember “I’m not racist, I like white ladies” or “I wanna be respectful but you suck on my p*ick”? Those songs by the way, were specifically created by Fat Segal (who also did the Skins intro) and Academy Award Winning actor Daniel Kaluuya. We also had that heartfelt number with Panda and her song “Don’t Be Down” – a song to make Effy feel better at the hospital just because songs are better than grapes.. and grapes are for chipmunks. And best yet was JJ’s serenade to Lara, singing his own version of Spandau Ballet’s True accompanied by the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain.
There were also, still, the songs we got introduced to, just because we were watching the series. And boy, there were tons.
Here are a couple of our favourites from Skins Series 4:
I Knew by Lightning Dust
This was not in any of the episodes for the Skins, but, it was used in the Skins Series 4 promo. I couldn’t find any footage or trailer that had the song, but I specifically remember watching the trailer and the song playing as they showed Naomi and Emily driving around in their scooter, and the beats matching up as Emily spun around the zoetrope that she found in Sophia’s room. Lightning Dust’s “I Knew” only runs at around two minutes long, but it’s so jam packed with the kind of sounds that make your heart thump and make you feel all those wonderful feelings – this is definitely one song that you’ll want to hear on repeat.
Every Third Sunday by 6 Day Riot
The early to mid 2000s was the peak of indie-pop so we certainly had a lot of that in Skins episodes. This one is from Thomas’ episode – the first one for this series. Things are slowly going south for Thomas and his realization that his friends and his relationship with Panda, might not be the best influence gradually dawn on him with “Every Third Sunday” playing in the background. What better way to have life changing realizations than with fanfare, right?
Skeletons by Tiny Masters of Today
On the show’s second episode is an episode centered around Sophia, a teen who dramatically plummets to her death as a drug-induced haze prompts her to leap from a balcony in a club.
Also front and centre is Naomi and Emily’s relationship. We hear Tiny Masters of Today’s “Skeletons” play as Emily and Naomi happily ride about in the city in their scooter, in true romantic bliss. Of course, this won’t be Skins if we didn’t have a dramatic conflict, right? Turns out SPOILER ALERT that Naomi cheated on Emily with Sophia before she committed suicide. Not only that, she was the one that sold the drugs to her (through Cook’s supply), the night Sophia died. I guess, the choice of “Skeletons” wasn’t just because it was upbeat and fun, but it also gives a sense of foreboding on just how some skeletons in Naomi’s closet are raring to come out.
Heavy Drug (Surrender Sounds Mix) by UNKLE
This electronic classic from the mid 2000s is heard at one of the most pivotal point in what might be the best episode in the series. UNKLE’s “Heavy Drug” plays while Cook reaches a turning point in his life. He’s been the antagonist for most of the series, but we finally get why in this episode. We found out in the last season that he’s got an alcoholic dad who abandoned him, and this episode reveals a narcissitic mom – a well-off artist mom – that is as much of an absentee parent as his dad. Cook’s facing some legal issues too – having severely beaten up someone at a party. His mom is too fed up with his antics to help. While out on a rebellious spree of property destruction with his younger brother, it suddenly dawns on to him how much of a Cook mini-me his brother is turning out to be. This realization prompts him to change and take responsibility for his actions. Cue “Heavy Drug”. As it plays in the background, we see Cook, pleading guilty to his charges and taking the fall for selling the drugs to Sophia. Given the circumstances, despite how despicable Cook’s been in the past, we’re sort of rooting for him. It takes real guts to try to stop that cycle – of people blaming things on everything else but themselves (which I’m sure as hell his parents did) and totally own it.
Wrong by Micachu & The Shapes
Once it a while we get some experimental and quirky tunes in the Skins soundtrack. Micachu & The Shapes’ “Wrong” is that song in Skins Series 4. We hear this in the background as Katie and her mom come to Naomi and Emily’s place to ask if they could stay due to their house being repossessed. In this situation, the chaotic clanging of instruments work perfectly as it seems like everything is turning out wrong – not only for Katie’s family, but also for Naomi and Emily;s relationship.
Betamax by Fonda 500
I’ve always loved JJ’s episodes. Most of the time, they’re pretty much self-contained. Last season, they opted to use classical music for JJ’s soundtrack – particularly Debussy. This time, it’s a more varied lot with a couple of instrumental electronic music. I love this track by Fonda 500 – “Betamax” plays out as JJ babysits for the first time where he spectacularly fails. It’s also one of the nicer episodes in the series that despite of JJ’s travails of being a neurodiverse person fitting into the “normal” world, we still get this nice hopeful ending for him…. as opposed to the actual ending of this particular season.
They Stay Down Deep by Giselle Rosselli
This quirky, yet haunting song by Giselle serves as the soundtrack to the loved up Effy and Freddie in the show’s second to the last episode. Here we find out that Effy, despite getting professional help, is still not well. Her counsellor, the evil John Foster, has done some voodoo that forced traumatic memories to stay down deep (as Giselle’s song goes). Effy forgets everyone that traumatized her, Cook and Freddie included. Freddie eventually comes to the rescue, and we all know how that went.
So Many No’s by Francois & The Atlas Mountains
“We are all living lies. Reality, as the Sophists has all elegantly informed us, is all relative.” – Professor Blood
Taken out of context, that quote sounds pretty profound, but it’s actually what the principal said to Effy to justify changing her grades to make their school standing better. In the background? “So Many No’s” by Francois & The Atlas Mountains.
Take it with you by The Ettes
“Take It With You” by The Ettes kick off the gang’s last party before the series ends. Freddie’s still missing, but they have a farewell party of sorts. We also get the much awaited Naomi + Emily reunion, where they eventually patch things up with Naomi’s heartfelt declaration of love.
Set And Setting by Nice Nice
“Set and Setting” by Nice Nice is the last song we hear as Cook launches his attack on John Foster shouting “I am COOK!” like a battlecry. We don’t see anything afterwards and that leaves us with so many questions. Like, why are we left with a cliffhanger that will never be properly resolved? Why does somebody have to die every other season? Why do I keep on watching this show even when the storylines frustrate me?
As much as a lot of people really loved the first batch of Skins characters, I think they delivered pretty well on this second batch too. We got fan favourites like Effy and Cook, Naomily became a thing, and JJ – an autistic character that didn’t pander to the stereotypical view of autism, was also introduced. The music choices, as always, were pretty much solid – nothing as iconic as ending the series with MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” or as career launching as setting a Skins party to Foal’s “Hummer” but excellent nonetheless.
Next week, we’ll continue to look back on the next generation of Skins, which also was the last new batch, and the music that it popularized.