Most of the music in Switch, unlike the music in M in the Abstract, doesn’t really reflect my tastes. Instead, it reflects the tastes of the characters in the novel, as you’ll see below because I’ve marked them in pink. Plus it’s all from 1988, which means some of it is going to be good and some of it will be HORRIBLE. If I’ve missed anything let me know.
Cattle and Cane by The Go-Betweens from Before Hollywood
Despite being raised in a pop culture bubble, Olympe had listened to enough campus radio to know this bittersweet little number. It’s one of the only songs in the book that I actually liked at the time, and is just one of many Australian bands that get a mention.
Never Tear Us Apart by INXS from Kick
Another Australian band, but, unlike The Go-Betweens, they were HUGE at the time. Just as it was for Shel and Jenny, this romantic number was no doubt the soundtrack to many a make-out session. I liked this one too.
Mad About You by Belinda Carlisle from Belinda
Marta needed no time to say which celebrity she had a crush on: Belinda Carlisle. I loved Belinda’s goofy new wave band The Go-Gos, but was never a fan of her slick and bland solo work. Sorry, Marta!
Baises moy by Josquin des Prez
One of my personal favourite moments in Switch is when Jenny recalls how the high-minded Olympe called her to talk about Renaissance music. Here’s a nice little piece that translates (politely) to “Kiss Me.”
That’s the Way I Wanna Rock & Roll by AC-DC from Blow Up Your Video
Another straight-up rocker from the Australian masters of straight-up rock and roll. It’s not actually mentioned in the book but the band certainly is.
Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat from Age of Consent
I think the adult Sheldon mentions that this was the first overtly gay song he knew. I think that was true for a lot of people. (I’m pretty sure mine was from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.) The official video certainly didn’t shy away from it. And how about Jimmy Somerville’s falsetto?
Never Can Say Goodbye by The Communards from Red
Another Jimmy Somerville tune. This one’s a cover of a cover; Gloria Gaynor had a big hit with her disco version. This upbeat song is, surprisingly, what Andrew was singing to himself.
Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before by The Smiths from Strangeways, Here We Come
I came to love The Smiths but at the time I thought that they weren’t “punk rock” enough. I still have a “Smiths” haircut, more or less. Adult Shel mentions that the Smiths (along with Depeche Mode) were one of the bands that outsider LGBTQ kids were drawn to.
(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) by The Beastie Boys from Licence to Ill
Shel (and millions of others) found the antics of the early Beastie Boys to be hilarious. I certainly didn’t, but when they grew up and developed their sound I came to like them.
Sad Lovers Waltz by Camper Van Beethoven from II & III
This wasn’t in the book but I really, really, really wanted it to be. They were one of my favourite bands (still are) and this sweet little faux-country tune had the lines that just about said it all for Switch:
One step for boys,
And one step for girls,
One step for you,
And one step for me,
But don’t take the third step,
‘Cause that’s just the sad lovers waltz