Welcome to Kirstin Cronn-Mills. Kirstin is the March Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob. Kirstin has written an entertaining Young Adult book about a serious subject called Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. Read on to learn how Kirstin decided what songs would be included in her book.
First, thanks to Booksnob for letting me guest post!
There’s a heap of music in BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN—duh. People always want to know how I chose what songs to put in the book. The answer to that question is complex, but it’s also not. Mostly, I chose stuff I love.
But you’ve probably guessed that I’m older than the target audience of my books, so I also needed to choose music that would appeal to teens. I wish I’d had a nice equation to determine it (Z% of popularity x Y days on the pop charts x Q% coolness factor = book song), but no luck. So I developed some judging criteria for both current music and my favorite songs:
11. is the song cool (in my opinion, anyway)?
22. will its appeal last (my best guess--or if it’s older, does it have longevity)?
33. is there name recognition for the artist?
44. is it quirky?
(#4 is there because my writing style is quirky, and I wanted to include some weird stuff, like “Hot Pants,” by Odax. It’s a real song, and I had a 45 of it when I was about 6 or 7, so I would have been mad at myself forever if I hadn’t put it in. It was too quirky to let go.)
I did stick in some artists that teens might like that I’m not fond of: T-Pain, for instance (though I really do love “I’m On A Boat,” the video he made with Lonely Island). But T-Pain doesn’t get an actual song, just a mention. See what I did there? It’s only the people I love who get actual songs.
What are my favorite songs in the book? In the order they appear: “The Horse,” Cliff Nobles; “Inside My Love,” Minnie Riperton; “I Need a Lover,” John Mellencamp; “Fight The Power,” Public Enemy; “Radio Free Europe,” R.E.M; “No Action,” Elvis Costello; “Sexy M.F,” Prince; “Love Is the Answer,” England Dan and John Ford Coley; and “Soul Finger,” the Bar-Kays. Notice anything? Not one of those songs was produced after 1990, and 5 of the 9 would be considered funk, soul, or rap, which is a lot for one genre. So why did I use these songs? I judged them with my criteria. All of them fit #1. “The Horse” and “Love Is the Answer”--#4. “Sexy M.F.,” #2 and #3, which also goes for “Fight The Power.”
What are my least favorite songs in the book? Ha! Fooled you. Why would I put a least favorite song in a book I love about music I love? No way. See also the above paragraph about T-Pain.
Some songs are love notes to someone else. “In the Summertime,” Mungo Jerry, and “Hot Pants,” Odax—those are for my brother, as well as being the two quirkiest songs in the book. “I Need a Lover”—that one is there for my best friend from college.
Were there songs I should have included but hadn’t heard/didn’t know about in time? Sure—“Kick, Push,” by Lupe Fiasco, “Disco Infiltrator” by LCD Soundsystem, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Goyte (so perfect!) and “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” by the Avett Brothers. With music, you never stop discovering new stuff you love.
There are two playlists on Spotify. One lists all the songs and artists I mentioned in BEAUTIFUL MUSIC (with the exception of Britney Spears and Justin Bieber), and the other lists extra songs I would’ve/could’ve/should’ve included. Check both lists out here:
Neither of the books I’m working on now has music in it, and I miss writing about it! BEAUTIFUL MUSIC will always be the book that carries my musical heart out into the world.
If you are interested in winning a copy of Kirstin's book, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children click here: