Half Bad playlist

Immerse yourself in a soundtrack inspired by Sally Green's fantasy YA novel. Spoiler alert – if you haven’t read the book yet, you might want to before our playlist reveals all its secrets….

Half bad

Forward Motion by Hot Natured

Young Nathan, officially categorised as a Half Code, endures an annual inquisition to determine how much of him is acceptable White Witch, and how much is rogue, undesirable Black Witch. 

Half Bad's soundtrack opens with this lean, pulsing house track from British-American club collective Hot Natured (featuring vocalist Ali Love). There's a sense of compulsion, as Nathan is pushed through his regular inquisitions, and also a frisson as he's propelled towards his fate.

Missing (instrumental) by Skepta

Lying in a cell-cum-hospital room, Nathan plots his escape from the bowels of the White Witch Council building. He is only sixteen, but he must find a way to evade his burly captors through a series of labyrinthine corridors to reach the streets and freedom. 

This grime instrumental originally dates from 2007, and it conjures plenty of taut and absorbingly murky atmosphere, as Nathan uses his wits to escape.

Gunpowder by Faze Miyake

Nathan is forced to become a thief to amass the money needed to find the powerful Witch who will secure his future. So begin a few weeks of ducking and diving on the streets of London, trying to raise cash to get out of the country.

A slinky, bass-y, downtempo rhythm from London producer Faze Miyake, to accompany Nathan's covert plans. The familiar sample (also heard on Wu-Tang Clan's Gravel Pit), incidentally, comes from Antoine Duhamel's 1965 theme to French TV thriller Belphegor...

Be Safe by Lulu James

The calm domesticity of Nathan’s hideout, an apartment in Geneva, belies the fact he is on the run from a highly skilled and motivated band of Hunters. He passes five days with his mysterious contact, Gabriel, who appears to have his best interests at heart. A shift in mood, as Nathan finds temporary sanctuary. 

The reassuringly rich and soulful tone of Brit vocalist Lulu James is given a sharp, electronic edge by production talents Hostage and Kidnap Kid.

Pearl’s Dream by Bat For Lashes

Mercury holds the key to the gift of Nathan’s adulthood. Her power is that of weather and her arrival is often heralded by extremes of wind and temperature. She can give him his gift, or condemn him to death. Nathan has very much desired – but also dreaded – this meeting, because he knows to receive his gift she will demand a high price…  

A stormy, elemental indie melody from singer-songwriter Bat For Lashes (aka Natasha Khan) to soundtrack Nathan's first crucial showdown. Just as his identity involves conflict, this track veers between lush beauty and darker, ominous moods.

Golden Light by Twin Shadow

On Mercury’s orders, Nathan has stolen a magical knife called the Fairborn, but the plan has gone badly wrong: Nathan has been shot. Gabriel, who loves Nathan, helps him evade the Hunters as they are pursued through the night, but Nathan can do nothing to prevent Gabriel from risking his own life to save him.

US vocalist-musician Twin Shadow's synth-soul track strikes a chord as Nathan continues his mission, evoking an exhilarating sense of danger, as well as pulse-quickening romantic undertones.

All The Way by Ladytron

Desperately struggling to get to Mercury before time runs out, Nathan heads into the night-time blizzard. But then the flakes slow and finally stop falling. And he feels a presence. Could his father, the most dreaded Black Witch of them all, be coming to his son after all these years? 

A dreamy soundscape from British outfit Ladytron, with lyrics that evoke falling snow, supernatural signs and a swelling sense of wonder and drama that resonates with the novel's closing scenes.

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