song lists

As I write, I often listen to music that puts me in the right mood for the scene. I thought it might be fun to list the songs in a collection for other people to enjoy as well. I have quirky tastes and some people won’t be familiar with a number of these songs. Others they won’t have heard for a while. If you are feeling game, give them a try and see what you think! You might discover something new that you like.


I have not appended links to the songs because I am not sure of the legalities in relation to permission. However, for those interested, a click on the song title will take you straight to the YouTube video.

Song list for 

Strategic Entanglements


Theme song: Saara Aalto - Monsters

(Finland, Eurovision 2018)

I came across this song by accident when surfing YouTube on the bus one day, and I can’t believe how perfect it is for the book! It’s like it was especially written for it!


There is something quintessentially female about the courage and strength in this song. It is vulnerable yet badass. I absolutely LOVE the part where she sings, “At my worst I found my army strong, all the demons are gone”. The way the cadence lifts at this point. It makes you feel invincible.

After Christina’s power ballad, tracks 2 and 3 really fill me with a sense of well-being. And yes, two Madison Avenue songs in a row, because who tells condescending and presumptuous men to piss off better than her?

Nickelback have their detractors, but I don’t care. Burn It to the Ground  is a masterpiece of raw, anti-social aggression expressed in the music, with white-hot instrumental pieces and a gritty voice. Magic! It captures the essence of toxic, destructive masculinity without offensive lyrics.


Izinja Zam is from an album of South African music I bought many years ago on a trip to Namibia (as are a number of other tracks in the list, which have been marked with a *). The artist is TKZee, but the best YouTube Video I could find of it has it listed under ‘Tkzee Family’. I love the feeling of menace in it. It makes me think of human hunting dogs, stalking their pray in the dark.

Self-explanatory I’m not going to roll over and play nice to make everyone else happy  girl-power.

Chapter Four: Night Terrors

Mdlwembe is from the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed South African movie Tsotsi  (meaning gangster, or thug), which I highly recommend. The track may not be everybody’s cup of tea, because it won’t be familiar to Western musical palates. It is quintessentially African, strongly expressive of the African brand of gangsterism. Again, I find it deliciously aggressive and menacing. 


Then Nickelback again – frenzied bonking expressed in musical form! Awesome, or what? :-)

  1. Boney M - Rivers of Babylon
  2. Ras Sheehama – Travelling *
  3. Adiemus - Adiemus (Feat. London Philharmonic Orchestra) (Songs of Sanctuary)
  4. Thandiswa Mazwai - Lahlu'mlenze (Dance) *
  5. Johnny Clegg & Savuka - The Crossing (Osiyeza)
  6. Kelly Clarkson - Heartbeat Song
  7. Abba - Chiquitita
  8. Thomas Bergersen - Two Steps from Hell - Strength of a Thousand Men (Extended Version) –  the extended version because, do yourself a favour!

Chapter Six: A tricky piece of ground, deceptively flat

Travelling is a beautiful track about humbly submitting to the care of a higher power when you are alone and hurting. It got me through some sad times many ears ago. Whenever I listened to it, I felt better. Rivers of Babylon is along the same lines.


Adiemus is nothing short of exquisite. I don’t know of anyone who heard it and didn’t like it. (It is by the band by the same name, not to be confused with Enya or anyone else.) It makes you feel like emerging into warm sunlight after a long, cold night.


Lahlu'mlenze just fills me with a sense of purring satisfaction and wellbeing.


Johnny Clegg’s The Crossing (Osiyeza) has been a favourite of mine for many, many years. I love the refrain about the tide turning. You just feel like you have had some trying times, but everything will now finally be alright.


Finally - Thomas Bergersen! I discovered this composer relatively recently and I am so glad! The Strength of a Thousand Men is the kick-ass motivational anthem of the century, as far as I am concerned. I’m not the only one who thinks so – read the YouTube comments for a bit of a laugh. Here are some examples:


“My truck heard this song and turned into Optimus Prime.” 

“I went for a jog while listening to this and accidentally ran so fast I went back in time. Now I listen to this while I hunt dinosaurs with my bare hands.”

“My girlfriend listened to this song. Now I’m the girlfriend.”

“We played this at my grandma’s funeral. She is now a navy seal.”

“My parrot listened to this song and now it's an eagle.”

“My butterknife heard this, and it became Excalibur.”

Kung Fu does not sound like standard Latin music. I love the kind of undercurrent of push and pull in it, like opponents circling each other before a fight, sounding each other out, trading tentative blows. And the brazen you-only-live-once attitude in 4ever. So Kendra.

How’s that for a blast from the past? It’s very pop, sure, but can you blame me? I mean, the smug, unwavering confidence of It’s Gonna Be Me? Very Aran! The helpless, obsessive longing in Right Kind of Wrong and Day and Night? Can’t beat them. 


If you can think of other songs that should go on the list, drop me a line. 😊