As the name suggests, “Normal People” follows the lives and relationship of two young people (played by Hollywood newcomers Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal) as they navigate college, careers, and dating. However, the heart of the show is the inescapable love between Marianne and Connell that feels other-worldly and, frankly, anything but normal. The plot is driven only by the passing of time and completely surrenders the wheel to the characters. It is stunningly sincere, intimate, and real, with some of the best acting performances I’ve seen in a very long time (to the point I forgot I was even watching a show from time to time). The soundtrack on its own is diverse enough to be interesting while also feeling like it could be pulled directly from a playlist on one of the characters’ phones. Like the show itself, it never tries too hard to be something it’s not, and it pays off beautifully.
Warped Window – Anna Mieke
Connell shows up to Marianne’s house unexpectedly, and kisses her. “Warped Window” is soft and simple just like this encounter, but has melancholy undertones that hint at the tumultuous relationship that lies ahead of them.
Did It To Myself – Orla Gartland
Episode 2 opens with this one, playing while Marianne puts on, takes off, and redoes her make-up several times, all in preparation for going to Connell’s empty house.
Hide and Seek – Imogen Heap
After having sex for the first time, Marianne and Connell continue acting like strangers at school. This montage starts with Marianne walking down the school hallway in slow motion, avoiding eye contact with Connell, and then flashes to them kissing and being close to one another, then goes back and forth. The contrast between their two types of interaction is distinct, uncompromising, and heartbreaking when paired with Imogen’s bare-boned “Hide and Seek”
Angeles – Elliott Smith
Marianne admits her frustration with Connell’s complete coldness towards her and expresses fear about him not really having feelings for her. He reassures her that he would miss her if she left, and they head back to Marianne’s house hand-in-hand.
Only You – Yazoo
Connell ditches the school dance and stumbles home crying, drunk, and missing Marianne. He calls her and leaves a message saying he can’t talk to anyone the way he talks to her and he misses her more than ever.
Dogwood Blossom – Fionn Regan
Marianne wakes up the morning after Gareth’s party and cleans up the remnants of it. She starts thinking about Connell again, as seeing him at the party made high school memories resurface.
La Lune – Billie Marten
Connell and Marianne have reconnected as friends, but are still living very separate lives. Here we see them going about their day-to-day, Connell working at a restaurant and Marianne living with Gareth. Neither of them are suffering, but neither of them seem to be particularly happy without the other.
Nikes – Frank Ocean
No matter where you are, what you’re doing, or who you’re with, listening to Frank Ocean makes you feel cool. “Nikes” playing while Marianne scans the party crowd looking for Connell is no different.
Make You Feel My Love – Ane Brun
Marianne and Connell reunite and sleep together. Connell says “I think we’ll be fine” and the credits start to roll, with this intimate cover of a classic Bob Dylan song playing over them.
Too Much – Carly Rae Jepsen
This song is one of the few in the series that’s clearly diegetic. It plays during an upbeat scene of Marianne and Connell conversing over coffee on a sunny morning in Marianne’s apartment.
Metroma – The Sei
Connell shows up at Marianne’s apartment after being mugged. He pokes fun at her boyfriend, tells Marianne he has a girlfriend, then brings up the way things ended with them over the summer. They realize they both misunderstood what the other was saying during their “breakup” and Connell leaves, even more confused than before. This song plays in his taxi ride home and while his new girlfriend, Helen, cleans up his face.
Dandelion – Jealous of the Birds
Connell, now in Italy with his friend Niall, bikes to a shop with Marianne.
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Nerina Pilot
Connell takes a day trip to Venice after a tense day with Marianne and her boyfriend Jamie at her villa. The piano version of the well-known Joy Division song plays while he’s gazing at Marianne on the train, as well as while he’s in a museum. In this version, though just as powerful as the original, the refrain feels less like a musical hook and more like an echo of what’s going through both Marianne and Connell’s minds.
Rare – Selena Gomez
Marianne meets Lukas for the first time at a party in Sweden, where she’s studying abroad.
99 Luftballons – Nena
Connell attends a Christmas party where he runs into Peggy, who begins giving him unwanted updates on Marianne’s life in Sweden. Disturbed by these, Connell walks out of the party. Helen tries to comfort him and ask why he still gets so upset about Marianne, and he ignores her.
Berlin – RY X
Marianne and Connell are staying in touch over email, where Marianne tells him she won’t be coming home for Christmas.
Strange Weather – Anna Calvi, David Byrne
After Marianne’s brother breaks her nose, she calls Connell for help. He tells her he loves her and takes her home while this song plays in the car.
Title design courtesy of Canva