“Disarm” covered by The Civil Wars
I used to be a little boy
So old in my shoes
And what I choose is my voice
What’s a boy supposed to do?
The killer in me is the killer in you
My love, I send this smile over to you
Yes, this is a cover, but the original is more of an angry, head-smashing song, while this version is more poignant and emotional. I really think this song sums up Valentine pretty perfectly.
“Viva la Vida” by Coldplay
One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand
The quintessential song about having power and losing it. Nothing is as stable as it seems, when you fall it’s even harder to get back up… Very Valentine.
“Dark Paradise” by Lana Del Rey
And there’s no remedy for memory
Your face is like a melody
It won’t leave my head
No one compares to you
But there’s no you
Except in my dreams tonight
How has Valentine been dealing with the fact that his best-friend-slash-lover betrayed him? Not well. Even though it’s a completely different situation from Tamara’s, he’s still equally as wrecked over losing her like that. Almost makes you feel sorry for the guy.
“Rolling in the Deep” by Adele
Go ahead and sell me out and I’ll lay your shit bare
See how I leave with every piece of you
Don’t underestimate the things that I will do
The scars of your love remind me of us
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
Surprise, surprise: Tamara’s not the only one who spends twenty years obsessing over her failed relationship. But where Valentine differs is that he also derives some satisfaction from knowing she’s hurting too. His pain spurs him toward revenge rather than guilt.
“Birds of a Feather” by The Civil Wars
Oh, aren’t we a pretty, pretty pair?
Yes we are
All, all the king’s horses and all his men
Couldn’t tear us apart
Like butterflies around a flame
Till ashes, ashes, we fade away
Another Civil Wars song, because you know how much I love them. They really do write fantastic songs that click so well with this series. This one is about two people knowing they’re bad for each other, yet inextricably connected to the bitter end.
“Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men
You’re gone, gone, gone away
I watched you disappear
All that’s left is a ghost of you
Now we’re torn, torn, torn apart
There’s nothing you can do
This song really applies to Valentine and Tamara in equal measures. They spend more years apart than together, yet neither can ever stop thinking about the other. And that ghostly imagery is represented in both of their thoughts—feeling like the other one is haunting them.
“Kiss with a Fist” by Florence + the Machine
You hit me once, I hit you back
You smashed a plate over my head
Then I set fire to our bed
Your slaps don’t stick
Your kicks don’t hit
So we remain the same
Valentine and Tamara’s relationship couldn’t be classified as abusive in any way—not physically or emotionally—yet I still feel this applies. Especially that idea of “we remain the same,” because they’re both inflicting damage on the other from so far apart, and yet there’s no sense that either one is really winning; they’re both just broken.
“Ghosts That we Knew” by Mumford & Sons
You saw my pain washed out in the rain
Broken glass saw the blood run from my veins
But you saw no fault, no cracks in my heart
And you knelt beside my hope torn apart
But the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
And we’ll live a long life
So many feels with this song, which to me is about falling from grace and learning to deal with the shadows of what once was. And that last line, “we’ll live a long life,” is chilling in context, because if he hadn’t escaped Alpha Valentine would live forever, haunted by the memories of the person he loved who betrayed him.
“Let the Flames Begin” by Paramore
What a shame we all became such fragile broken things
A memory remains just a tiny spark
This is how we’ll stand when
When they burn our houses down
This is what will be oh glory
I think this song sort of captures the hopelessness of being in Alpha—and along with that, Valentine and Audra’s determination to stay strong and not let it break them.
“An End Has a Start” by Editors
I won’t disappoint you as you fall apart
Some things should be simple
Even an end has a start
You came on your own, that’s how you’ll leave
You lose everything in the end
There’s something very pessimistic about this song, which fits with the tone of the story. It’s also about accepting loss, something that rings true for Valentine and especially Audra, both of whom suffered great losses before being tossed in Alpha.
“Lost Cause” by Imagine Dragons
No one can fill your shadow
‘Cuz you are all I am
Oh, dig my shallow grave
It’s not me you’ll save
‘Cuz I’m a lost cause
This idea is one of the biggest things that sets Valentine apart from other “bad boy” leads you see in fiction—he’s completely irredeemable and he knows it.
“Eyes on Fire” by Blue Foundation
I’ll seek you out, flay you alive
One more word and you won’t survive
I’m taking it slow, feeding my flame
And just in time
In the right place
Suddenly I will play my ace
This is a great revenge song. It’s sort of mellow if you just listen to the melody, but then the lyrics have a starkness to them that’s almost menacing. And the way the singer takes her time with the words makes me think of Valentine and how he does everything with a purpose.
“Come Away to the Water” by Maroon 5 ft. Rozzi Crane
Come away little lamb, come away to the water
To the arms that are wating only for you
Come away little lamb, come away to the slaughter
To the one appointed to see it through
We are coming for you
Adam Levine’s voice on this song gives me shivers—it’s almost exactly what I picture Valentine sounding like. Gorgeous and haunting. This whole idea of sacrifice plays a lot into Valentine’s view of revenge, like Tamara’s death is just something that must happen.