Author Playlists

Melissa Lozada-Oliva’s Playlist for Her Novel “Candelaria”

“Now that I’ve lived here for 6 years I have so much context, and sometimes I still think Brooklyn is an unrequited love song.”

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Roxane Gay, and many others.

Melissa Lozada-Oliva’s novel Candelaria is the most propulsive book I have read all year, a stunning multi-generational, apocalyptic debut.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

“Bonkers . . . the author’s funhouse visions are hard to turn away from.”

In her own words, here is Melissa Lozada-Oliva’s Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Candelaria:

La Virgen de Candelaria – Idk, pretty obvious.

EARFQUAKE by Tyler the Creator – The book begins with an earthquake!

Candy – I listened to this 90s hit a lot when I was writing Candy’s scenes. It makes me feel like I’m stuck in my childhood bedroom during summer vacation. Something cool about songs from childhood is that they take on new life as you get older. Before, it was something that just came on the radio during a certain time of day, and now I can be nostalgic about it, but also realize that it’s not really about someone named Candy, it’s about drugs. Whenever I was writing Candy’s scenes I had the saxophone playing in my head.

Belinda Says  – This song is for Paola, who naively thought she could start over. I love that this song has *ekphrasis* or art at the center of itself, and the disillusion that comes after pretending you’re in a movie of a song. In it, they quote Heaven is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle. “Belinda says heaven is a place on earth/well so is hell.” She learns that.

Should’ve Been Me – This was initially on a playlist I made for Bianca. It has so much pettiness and scorn, a feeling that she thinks she is bigger than whatever she’s feeling, but she really isn’t.

Love is a Drug – It is.

Cruel, Cruel World – Jacki Shane’s voice is apocalyptic and somber. This song evokes a Halloween dance and earned disdain from living in this nasty world.

Pure Cinema – Sometimes you find songs that have so much to do with your characters. This is Candy’s song: reflective, thinking about film & family.

Lunar Rapsody – The only reason this is here is because I listened on repeat while writing.

We Found Love –  This just feels like an end of the world song to me, always. One of my favorite Rihanna songs. Let’s find love in a hopeless place.

I’m Hurt Bad – I needed to have a Twin Peaks song in here because I was very inspired by the eeriness and dramatics of the show when writing.

Bushwick Blues – Before I moved to New York, this is kind of what I pictured Brooklyn to be, simply from the line “Remember that night we took the L/Out into Bushwick/ It was colder than hell.” It’s an unrequited love song about someone you’re childhood friends with, which is why I think it’s for Julian & Candy. You can kind of just feel yourself on the train when you’re listening to it. Now that I’ve lived here for 6 years I have so much context, and sometimes I still think Brooklyn is an unrequited love song.

Like a Stone – I heard this at Karaoke in  2021, sung by a middle-aged man and his buddy. Another song that I heard again in new context that wormed its way into my psyche. It’s extremely haunting, slightly religious, and full of longing.  The keys to the book are in this song.

Your Cat – there’s a lot of cats in this book.

Turn Into – People turn into something we don’t recognize.  This is a zombie song, whether you want it to be or not.

Bling (Confession of a King): Something about the guitars in the beginning make me think of two people running down a road as the world is ending. Also, the line “How do you know that you’re right/if you’re not nervous anymore?” is a slay. Okay, Mr. Flowers!

Door: A city song, a longing song, a mystical hopping through emotional dream spaces song.

The House That Harga Built – Also listened to this on repeat while writing.

New – A No Doubt B-Side about wanting something/someone new to last. But it’s also kind of creepy and a lot about tasting things in your mouth. This person isn’t familiar, but who the hell are they? Will they hurt you?

Hair Receding – When I first heard this song I thought it was about seeing an ex after a long time and they’re balding and it’s like ha-ha. But my friend said that it’s actually about losing a grandparent far away. There’s still anger in here that I love, but it’s not what I thought it was channeled towards. What if instead of being mad at exes we were mad at colonialism, globalization, and displacement? XOXO

My Evil – My dear friend El is Palehound and I’m so astounded by this song that’s full of guilt from actions we’re all capable of. Each character absolutely fucks up in this book, but you still love them. The evil is always there, and maybe we just have to learn to live with it.

Corre– As fast as you can!

You Be Killin Em – She does.

Annihilation Song – Does the world end or did someone just go away?

Real Pain– This is a redemption song, but in the way where you realize it wasn’t really your fault, that you were at the hands of something bigger than you. Still hurts tho.

Fate– Every character is barreling towards their destiny. I love this crunchy angry hard core song from one of my favorite Boston bands.

Si Nos Dejan – There’s a love story in this book, if you look closely.

Goin Against Your Mind – A song about being a man, a song about feeling crazy, about religion, about growing up, about aliens.

Hungry Eyes – Baby, why are you looking at me so weird?

For book & music links, themed playlists, a wrap-up of Largehearted Boy feature posts, and more, check out Largehearted Boy’s weekly newsletter.

Melissa Lozada-Oliva is the child of Guatemalan and Colombian immigrants and the author of Dreaming of You and peluda. Her work has been featured in NPR, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, PAPER, Armani Beauty, and more. She is a member of the band Meli and the Specs. She holds an MFA in poetry from NYU and lives in New York City.

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