Please Don’t Stop the Music: Medea’s Mixtape
Ever wanted to hear the story of Medea through a carefully curated playlist of edgy teen girl songs? Yes, obviously. From doe-eyed love songs for Jason to Medea’s ultimate revenge, join us on this musical journey for one of classics’ most famous women. Follow this link for our corresponding Spotify playlist!
- Coming into Powers — Sad13, Sammus
Medea’s a witch. Get it? Do you get it?
Let’s all take a minute to imagine Medea as a powerful, uncompromising, upbeat sorceress before the Argonauts come and muck everything up.
2. No Drug Like Me — Carly Rae Jepsen
Medea’s particular brand of farmaka-brewing witchcraft and erotic fervor blends sweetly in CRJ’s bop, “No Drug Like Me.” Medea is both the drug and the drugmaker, much to the delight and terror of her lover, Jason. “Starry eyes, blurry eyes/feeling so intoxicated,” fits every aspect of Medea and Jason’s unique courtship.
3. Washing Machine Heart — Mitski
What’s more appropriate for Medea’s angsty, sick-to-the-bone, teenage love for Jason than Mitski’s bouncy, romantic turmoil? “Toss your dirty shoes in my washing machine heart/ Baby, bang it up inside/ I’m not wearing my usual lipstick/ I thought maybe we would kiss tonight,” sounds like Medea’s many scenes of lovelorn anguish in her room in Apollonius’ Argonautica, sighing over Jason.
4. Archie, Marry Me — Alvvays
Lead singer Molly Rankin’s dreamy voice layers over surf-rock-adjacent guitar riffs in Alvvays’ ballad to elopement and unenthusiastic marriage partners. Birds chirp, the catchy hook, “Hey, hey/Marry me Archie,” frolics in your brain, inevitably stuck there for the foreseeable future, and Rankin argues winningly against a partner’s “contempt for matrimony.” It’s romantic, and it’s logistically unsound — a little like a certain Colchian princess’ affair with Jason. Plus, the shotgun description of the relationship in the song fits Medea and Jason’s fraught wedding vows pretty well: “Too late to go out [of the cave on Scheria], too young to stay in [the cave on Scheria], they’re talking about us living in sin [in the cave on Scheria].”
5. Love — DJDS, Empress Of
Another dreamy sounding track, DJDS and Empress Of’s cover of Lana Del Rey’ s “Love” feels wistful and celebratory of young love in a way that matches Medea’s doomed romance. The singer could be Medea from the future, reflecting on her youthful escapades and whirlwind romance. “Doesn’t matter because it’s enough/ to be young and in love,” is such a perfect, bittersweet line to foreshadow a time when Medea will no longer be young or in love, and things take a rather dark turn…
6. Trying My Best to Love You — Jenny Lewis
So we turn to the tragic, bloody half of Medea’s story. I thought it wise to take a pause in the middle of our musical argonautica (see what I did there) and consider the sadness and exhaustion Medea must have felt watching her marriage with Jason crumble. The peak sentimentality of “Our love is sweeter than strings/our love is thicker than angel wings” and “It’s just that I’ve got diamonds in my eyes for you” switches to “Trying my best to love you, oh/
they make it so hard on us, baby” in Jenny Lewis’ warbling, 70’s inspired ballad.
7. Your Dog — Soccer Mommy
Back to the angst — the anger of “Your Dog” mixes with frustration and embarrassment at being treated like something less than a partner by a lover. Humiliation and anger at being tossed around regardless of one’s feelings, and even being shunted aside to be with other people, describes Medea’s increasingly troubled relationship at Corinth.
8. Plough — Speedy Ortiz
Sadie Dupuis sings, “I was never the witch that you made me to be/ still, you picked a virgin over me” in the chorus of “Plough,” and I can’t think of a better way to put Medea’s attitude right before the culmination of her revenge as described in Euripides’ Medea. “No, it isn’t the first time you showed up/ on the first of the month, asking me for your cut/and some virgin parchment you brought me to read/why’d you pick a virgin over me?” mirrors Medea’s confrontation with Jason, where she reminds him of how much he owes her and yet is still being abandoned for someone younger and more useful.
9. I’ll Come Crashing — A Giant Dog
For the climax of Medea’s tragedy I’ve turned to Austin native A Giant Dog, a dancey punk band with blunt, colorful lyrics. Rejoicing in destruction, the lyrics “I’ll come crashing down in the ash of a fire/that I built” and “ I’m gonna shoot the moon and watch it fall from the sky” has the same cataclysmic, laughing at the world on fire feeling that Medea has after murdering her children and Jason’s new bride in Euripides’ play. It’s unspeakably horrible, but also strangely victorious from Medea’s perspective. Such is the mood “I’ll Come Crashing” brings to the table.
10. Bye Bye Bye — *NSYNC
If Medea had had boy bands to express her feelings, would there have been nearly as much murder? Something to consider. This one feels pretty self-explanatory — Medea is saying farewell to Jason and the city she has left engulfed in flames. Closure is important.
11. Ex-Girlfriend — No Doubt
Again, we are compelled to return to the 90s in order to find a musical piece worthy of Medea’s breakup song. “Just another ex-girlfriend on your list” is brutal enough without Gwen Stefani’s lyric during the bridge, “I’m about to give you away for someone else to take.” Yeah, Medea, like the smoldering corpse of Jason’s new bride? Absolutely ruthless.
12. thank u, next — Ariana Grande
Medea says “thank u” to Jason, and “next” to King Aegeus of Athens. While Medea’s relative gratitude to her exes may be slightly questionable, the tone of hard-won triumph after a messy breakup suits Medea nicely. Ariana Grande may be referencing a larger quantity of former lovers, but the sentiment remains: “One [Jason] taught me love, one [Jason] taught me patience, and one taught me pain [definitely Jason].” Not only does Medea wave goodbye to her fraught history with Jason, she looks forward to her new life in Athens with King Aegeus, who she goes to meet on the chariot of the sun god. Standard rebound material.
Check out this and more classics- and study-themed playlists on our Spotify!
— Anna Papile, Ph.D. student, Classics