Literary Playlist Tag: Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Greek mythology is fascinating!
With heroic feats, monsters and gods, ancient mythology may seem crazy, but it once helped people explain and cope with harsh realities. My favorite window into that ancient world is Rick Riordan’s YA series, you may have heard of it: Percy Jackson and the Olympians. (Also, The Heroes of Olympus.) You might think, hey, it’d be so easy to fashion a Greek myth retelling into a modern epic series! I doubt it, myself. It must take incredible talent and skill to write relatable, motivated characters, who then attend super-awkward family get-togethers … with the Olympian gods!
Every Demigod Needs a Theme Song
Music was an important part of the culture in Ancient Greece. They didn’t have iPods either, so if a hero wanted a theme song bystanders or superfans would have to play them an epic tune! (On a lyre or whatever, not a Bluetooth speaker!) It’s not always easy, even in modern times, to find that perfect track to set the mood. There is nothing quite like a perfectly balanced playlist for adventure, suspense, or wallowing in delicious gloom! I often arrange awesome tunes into a playlist based on the book I’m currently reading.
I enjoy prescribing myself music, the ideal treatment after a stressful shift or a grumpy Monday! Sometimes the best cure is nostalgia (90s rock, anyone?).
It necessarily follows that music is part of my process to emotionally digest a great book. Is there a better tribute to an epic character than dedicating a song to them? And so this post was born, and simultaneously the “Literary Playlist Tag”, as tribute to the heroes of the PJO and HoO book series’ by Rick Riordan.
Spoiler alert. (If you have not yet read the PJO series, I suggest you stop and read it first. Meet these heroes the right way!)
Questing Soundtrack Vol. 1
Percy (Perseus) Jackson aka Seaweed Brain
Son of Poseidon, Greek God of the Sea
When Percy finds out about Camp Half-Blood it sounds unbelievable, but, also kind of explains everything about his entire life. His absentee father, his ADHD and dyslexia (Demigod traits, of course!), and why his teacher tried to kill him. Not only does he belong – finally- he is one of the most powerful demigods in recent history. This doesn’t help with his abusive stepfather, his expulsion from school, or an ominous prophecy from the oracle Delphi. What has years of being bullied and alienated taught Percy? Well, he knows the value of brave friends, how to keep on fighting for what’s right and definitely to stand up to a bully.
Hopefully he doesn’t explode, like this song warns:
Superheroes by The Script
Annabeth Chase aka Wise Girl
Daughter of Athena, Greek Goddess of Wisdom and War
Annabeth has been training longer than any of her friends, so she’s got skills! She can fight, and not just with a sword and bow, but with a knife which is gutsy! She left home at age seven after her father got married. Sad, yes, but Annabeth doesn’t ever get dragged down by the past. Ambitiously working her way up at Camp, she’s a commanding leader and a clever strategist, implicitly trusted with responsibilities by Camp director, Chiron. In her free time she studies, a lot. All she wants is to use that knowledge, all the while unknowingly becoming a woman that warriors will follow into battle. There is also strength in her ability to love and trust those she cares about. Those two strengths are oft at war as her best friend Luke takes a path that her own conscience resists. This song might describe how others feel about Annabeth. She’s a force that needs a great team behind her, and Annabeth finds hers:
Invincible by Skillet
Grover Underwood aka Goat Boy
Grover is still a little green when he becomes a “Protector”. Having a few nature-related skills and a taste for tin cans doesn’t help much with going undercover at high school’s, looking out for vulnerable Demigod kids! But this Satyr dreams big. He’s got to succeed at protecting his new pal Percy, or he’ll never get his promotion to “Searcher”, never find the nature god Pan, and never help Pan save the planet. Ambitious, right? He’s also reeling from a failed mission, so his lost confidence and hopeful attitude shine through these lyrics.
This song embodies Grover’s anxiety and determination despite his inexperience:
Over My Head, by Judah and the Lion
Questing Soundtrack Vol. 2 – Angry Demigods
Son of Hermes, Greek God of Roadways, Travellers, Merchants and Thieves
To understand Luke you need to know that a prophecy can drive a person crazy, even if they try to ignore it. Luke was unfortunately destined for suffering. His surrogate family broke apart when he lost Thalia. He still had Annabeth, but throughout his years at camp both his godly and mortal parent were painfully silent. When he was finally sent on a quest, and wounded, he gave up on fighting fate and became bitter towards the gods.
These lyrics describe a hollow life, a “one way street” because fate seems to leave him no choice. Although all he wants is to make his own way and to find his own voice as the song says: Hollow Tune, by Brick + Mortar
Daughter of Zeus, God of the Sky
An intense teenager, Thalia survived alone for years before she met other demigods, Luke and Annabeth. Tragically, she sacrificed her life for this surrogate family, demonstrating love, loyalty and courage. Even back then, her style was punk/grunge with angsty black makeup to match her black spiky hair. (In mythology, however, Thalia was the name for the muse of comedy and pastoral poetry- there’s some comedy for ya right there!) This Thalia may not be poetic, but she’s a (nearly) fearless leader!
This song reflects her nature and heroism, placing the good of others before her own desires. (Also, it’s a great soundtrack for gutting monsters!): Warriors, by Imagine Dragons
Clarisse La Rue
Daughter of Ares, Greek God of War
Clarisse wakes up in the morning ready (and willing) to take your head off! She saves that sentiment for her enemies, like Percy Jackson who gets on the bad side of her electrified spear early on. The thing to know about children of Ares is that they inherit a sort of thirst for war, not to mention huge muscles. (At least, I assume those traits are from their godly parent!)
Clarisse in particular tends to make enemies of other demigods who probably think muscles that big should be considered cheating. While she strives for greatness, she admittedly earns a healthy dose of respect!
This song was very likely written for a child of Ares, if not the God of War himself: Born for Greatness by Papa Roach
Son of Hades, Greek God of the Underworld
If someone had asked Nico, ‘do you want to be a hero when you grow up?’ his unequivocal answer would have been: ‘YES’! But his destiny as a hero would be darker than he ever could have imagined. Alone, and in the wake of a tragedy, Nico would learn he was a son of Hades, extremely powerful, and also pretty creepy! The kid’s ambitious, though, as he strikes out on his own to seek answers about his family and his future.
Outcast or hero, that is the question (insert Shakespeare skull joke here) this song asks in such relatable words: Hero by Weezer
Questing Soundtrack (Single) – Half-Brothers with a passion for peanut butter!
Son of Poseidon, Greek God of the Sea
Tyson met Percy in Manhattan and they became friends before even realizing they were related. It’s a warm-your-heart, underdogs-gotta-stick-together kind of story. Tyson’s pure soul is clear by his devotion to the happiness of others. (Especially to Percy, and “water ponies”!) He has the mental understanding of a young child which makes his talent for metalworking especially impressive!
This song shows his innocent concern for his friends who he loves with all his heart: Critical Mistakes by 888
Spoiler alert. The following heroes pertain to HoO, be warned!
Questing Soundtrack Vol. 3 – Heroes Unite!
Son of Jupiter, Roman God of the Sky.
On the surface Jason is the ideal hero and a good guy. Son of the king of the gods, he is intimidatingly powerful. All his life people have treated him with reverence, expecting him to be important. Sure, he rose to those expectations, becoming a respected leader. He is also deeply motivated to help others, but that doesn’t mean he’s not lonely. Responsibility weighs heavier than armour, so when newfound friends offer to shoulder the burden alongside him, he can finally be himself – just Jason.
He’s taking risks for the first time, flying “higher”: Higher by The Score
Daughter of Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of Love.
Piper has everything money can buy, which excludes quality time with her famous father. Fighting for anonymity takes it’s toll and it’s hard to make real friends. Being rich, beautiful and strangely persuasive should be advantages, yet she battles constant insecurity. However, Piper will fight tirelessly for those she cares about and that fight just might be what she needs to come into her own.
Does “love is the answer” sound ridiculous? A daughter of Aphrodite knows that love has “a million faces”, some kinder, some more cruel: Resistance by Skillet
Son of Hephaestus, Greek God of Blacksmiths and Fire.
Leo is the funny one, clowning around and pranking his teachers. He’s clever about it, too, moving a-mile-a-minute, thinking up genius schemes! Handy doesn’t begin to cover his mad skills. This might explain how the kid escaped all his foster homes. Yeah, the jokers are almost always hiding a secret sadness. Leo’s secret is darker and more dangerous than the average teen. Fire, certainly, is no joke.
For loveable Leo I have chosen, not a snappy-fun tune, but a sort of eerie, hip-hop lullaby about the helplessness of immaturity, and the fear of facing reality as flames slowly consume us: Cradles by Sub Urban
Daughter of Pluto, Roman God of the Underworld.
Hazel is reminded that she doesn’t belong every time she blacks out and sees flashes of her first life, decades earlier. She knows from experience that the life isn’t fair. Nevertheless, she’s surrounded by young heroes intent on saving the world, and she’ll give everything she has to help them succeed.
In the past, Hazel was once too late to act to prevent disaster, so this song’s reference to Pompeii’s tragic destruction is poignant: Pompeii by Bastille
Son of Mars, Roman God of War.
Frank is a fair-minded, kind-hearted young man. He is frequently underestimated because of his round face and teddy-bear build. Unlike most demigods, he’s always known a bit too much about his fate. Peculiar abilities run in his family. His grandmother always reminds him to stay true to himself, but who is the real Frank? To find out, he will have to overcome his fear of losing control. He’ll have to confront his own power and the inevitability of death.
These lyrics describe Frank rising to take his stand:
Waking Lions by Pop Evil
If you have stuck with me thus far, Thank you! What do you think? Are these songs hardcore enough for our heroes?
I am partly looking forward to the promised Percy Jackson TV series on Disney+ because it will mean a new theme song! Meanwhile, I can try to conjure Camp Halfblood now, using music-magic!
~ Are there any songs that remind you of Rick Riordan’s books?
~ Are you psyched for the future Percy Jackson TV series?
Happy reading, and happy blogging! I’d like to take the liberty of tagging a few blogger friends. Consider this an invitation to create your own version of the Literary Playlist Tag! @brownowlgirl @nilyme @bookdragonism @sajalbansal @hermionessecretlibrary @littledragonmama
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