Listen, I know I am several months late on this. You don’t have to remind me. But, after a diligent speed-reading session this weekend, I am currently obsessed with Casey McQuinston’s Red, White & Royal Blue. It’s a delightful little rom com, full of queer romance, royal duties, and politics. Oh yeah, in this alternate reality where a woman won the 2016 election, politics is now (kind of) fun.
Initially, though, the novel drew audiences through social media. McQuinston has a strong presence on Instagram and Twitter, and after its initial release in May, a steady level of hype on Twitter. Very quickly, this presence will lead you to the brilliance of Red, White & Royal Blue that brings it to God tier: the Spotify playlists.
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WHAT A DAY. I ate Whataburger & enchiladas, visited the state capitol, lay in the grass under a tree listening to “Texas Reznikoff”, traced the route Alex takes down Lavaca on election night in RWRB… oh yeah, and this queer romcom by a queer author debuted on the USA Today & New York Times bestsellers lists ❤️
Yes, that’s right, ahead of the book’s release McQuinston released nine Spotify playlists for nine of the novel’s central characters.
They playlists themselves range from rap and R&B-inspired, for Zahra—the dedicated and slightly workaholic Deputy Chief of Staff—to country, with #Girlboss “Get It Done” anthems for the book’s first female president, Ellen Claremont. And yes, not to worry, there is a healthy level of Dolly Parton included in that one.
Some, like love interest Henry‘s, are more about developing a coherent sound. His follows a musical theme of soft, indie ballads. Others, like protagonist Alex‘s, are more about developing the character—these are either songs the character listen to or songs whose lyrics offer insight into the character’s personality and motivations. The ones formatted like these have a couple curveballs, sonically, but on the whole are more interesting to listen to because they build the character more in the listener’s mind.
Best of all, each playlist has a delightful title that refers to their character traits in the book, but are still descriptive and cute to read if you’re listening on the first read through.
And, a fun bonus to make that first read through even more enjoyable? McQuinston included a tenth playlist of every song mentioned in the book, from Elton John’s “Your Song” to Lil Jon’s “Get Low” to Starship’s absolutely iconic “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” But you’ll just have to read the book to see their context. I, for one, cannot wait to listen along to all 16 hours of music McQuinston has curated when I re-read the book. (Which, let’s be real, will be next week.)