Fifty Shades of Grey: The Music!

Fifty Shades of Grey: The Music!

What? The Fifty Shades books have a music component? They sure do! It’s kind of like reading Playboy for the articles, though- no one will believe you if you try to talk about the musical aspect of the books. 
Let’s assume that if you didn’t read any of the Fifty Shades books, you’re certainly not going to be interested in the references to music, so you can just stop reading right now. No need for any snarky “I can’t believe you read that trash” comments. I read all three books. The end.
I noticed many references to songs while I was reading the books, and I spent several seconds considering whether I should keep track of the songs as I read before I decided it was too much work. Imagine my surprise, then, to find that E.L. James' (the author) website provided a playlist for each book. I promptly made my own Fifty Shades playlist on Spotify, carefully avoiding the classical music since that means nothing to me. 
Based on the music in the books, I concluded that E.L. James is either a “music person” or had a consultant help her. While some of the songs are pretty literal (“I’m on Fire” and “King of Pain”), there are many more that are from decades ago, are from lesser known artists or are modern takes on older songs. I even found a few songs and artists that I liked but hadn’t heard before. I was curious. Where did the E.L. James get her inspiration for the music? I had many questions.
I made the bold move of emailing E.L. James’ publicist, one Mr. Russell Perreault, and asking him to either point me in the direction of an interview containing answers to my questions or (I say this with a straight face) asking whether she might be interested in answering some of my questions directly. Who knows? I was so excited to receive a response to my query:

She's not available at the moment -- she's taking a break after her tour. She's discussed the music during other interviews, so you should be able to find something on line.

Huh. I daresay, Mr. Perreault, that I searched quite extensively online for such interviews, enduring Q&A sessions on The View and other equally hard hitting media, and I was able to find nothing even remotely similar to what I was looking for. Therefore, I am afraid I have no insights about how E.L. James chose the music in the Fifty Shades books. 
I did, however, make the effort to identify where in the books the songs were referenced—and let me tell you that is not as easy to do on an iPhone as you might think. Lots of “page turning” as I scanned for the songs. Here is my best effort about when the songs were referenced, although some were not mentioned by name; please let me know if any are inaccurate. I tried to be concurrently vague and specific in case you’re still reading (again, classical music not included). 

Fifty Shades of Grey:

  1. “Sex on Fire” – Kings of Leon. In car, Christian driving Ana home
  2. “Misfit” – Amy Studt. Ana listening to her iPod; this is a song she used to relate to
  3. “I’m on Fire” – Bruce Springsteen. Riding in Christian’s car, going to lunch
  4. “The Lightning Strike” – Snow Patrol. Ana packing up her room; also listens to it during her run and while contemplating his contract
  5. “Witchcraft” – Frank Sinatra. Ana and Christian dance to this song before they go to dinner at his parents’ house
  6. “Toxic” – Britney Spears. Driving down in Georgia, song put on Christian’s iPod by an ex
  7. “The Blower’s Daughter” – Damien Rice. Same as above

Fifty Shades Darker:

  1. “What Is This Thing Called Love?” – Ella Fitzgerald. In restaurant after José’s show
  2. “Like a Star” – Corinne Bailey Rae. Same as above (not referenced by name)
  3. “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” – Jeff Buckley. This song was on the iPad Christian gave Ana
  4. “Principles of Lust” – Enigma. Same as above
  5. “Possession” – Sarah McLachlan. Same as above
  6. “Try” – Nelly Furtado. Same as above, although she actually plays this one (previous three were just noted)
  7. “The Scientist” – Coldplay. Same as above, plays this one, too
  8. “Every Breath You Take” – The Police. Same as above, Ana references this one in an email to Christian
  9. “Heartbeats” – José Gonzalez. On iPad, Ana falls asleep to this one
  10. “Homelands” – Nitin Sawhney. Ana listens on her iPad the next day, noting Christian’s eclectic taste
  11. “Chan Chan” – Buena Vista Social Club. Played in Ana’s apartment after she and Christian made dinner together
  12. “Crazy In Love” – Beyoncé. Ana puts this song on repeat while she’s making omelets at Christian’s place; put on his iPod by one of his exes
  13. “I Put a Spell on You” – Nina Simone. Ana still cooking from above, Christian changes to this song 
  14.  “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” – Michael Bublé. First dance auction song at the masquerade ball (the book doesn’t specify the Michael Bublé version, but the author’s playlist does)
  15. “Come Fly With Me” – Michael Bublé. During fireworks after masquerade ball
  16. “Songbird” – Eva Cassidy. In the car while Ana and Christian are driving to the Saab dealer
  17. “Weather to Fly” – Elbow. Ana sitting in Starbucks listening to song on repeat (this song not mentioned by name)
  18. “King of Pain” – The Police. Ana driving her new Saab for the first time
  19. “Someone Like You” – Van Morrison. Ana and Christian in Ana’s new Saab after seeing Dr. Flynn
  20. “Moondance” – Van Morrison. Same as above, now Christian driving
  21. “This City Never Sleeps” – Eurythmics. In the playroom (not sure about this one since the song is not specified by name)
  22. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” – Roberta Flack. In the playroom 

Fifty Shades Freed: 

  1. “Wherever You Will Go” – Charlene Soraia. Christian playing the piano and singing at his parents’ house after lunch
  2. “The Great Gig in the Sky” – Pink Floyd. In the playroom (not specified by name)
  3. “Wicked Game” – Chris Isaak. While having dinner at Escada
  4. “I Say a Little Prayer” – Aretha Franklin. At a store in Aspen
  5. “Walk on By” – Aretha Franklin. Same as above
  6. “Sexy Bitch” – David Guetta, featuring Akon. At Aspen nightclub (not specifically named)
  7. “Touch me” – Rui Da Silva & Cassandra. Same as above
  8. “Sweet About Me” – Gabriella CilmiAlone at the hotel in Portland
  9. “The Ugly Duckling” – Danny Kaye. Christian’s childhood memory

If you enjoyed this post, join me on Facebook for future thoughts on music.

Filed under: Playlists


Leave a comment
  • I was surprised to see the playlist on E. L. James website too. I was just wondering the other day what her books have done for the sales of these pieces on iTunes.

    Do you follow E.L. James on Twitter? She might @ you if you ask her on Twitter.

    Even if you're not into classical, you kind of HAVE to include the Thomas Tallis piece because it's such a pivotal scene!

  • In reply to Christine Whitley:

    Christine- someone on my fb page also questioned my decision to omit the classical songs, and you're both right. I've made a second playlist with those songs and will follow up with another post. Thanks for reading!

  • fb_avatar

    You should also add Ana's ringtone for Christian. "Your Love is King" by Sade.

Leave a comment