Exeter, Devon UK • Jun 16, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Music Nostalgic and Beguiling: A Guide to the One Day Soundtrack

Nostalgic and Beguiling: A Guide to the One Day Soundtrack

Maya Fernandes, Online Music Editor, reviews the soundtrack of Netflix's new series One Day, and shares her personal favourites from the setlist.
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Image: Youtube

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the last few weeks obsessing over the new Netflix adaptation of David Nicholls’ bestselling novel, One Day. The 14-episode TV series, first adapted into a 2011 film with Anne Hathaway, now stars Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod as the story’s protagonists, Dexter and Emma. The pair meet on the night of their graduation celebrations at the University of Edinburgh and continue to weave in and out of each other’s lives over a period of twenty years. For me, the highlight of the series was its impeccable soundtrack, a blend of late-1980s/early-1990s era pop, rock and electronica featuring the likes of New Order, The Velvet Underground and Nick Drake.

Whether you’re an aficionado of ‘80s pop, a fan of the ‘90s club scene or simply a lover of the classics, the show’s soundtrack will most definitely have an impact. As Dex and Em fall in and out of love, I’ve charted ten of the best tracks that feature throughout the show.

P.S. Spoilers Ahead...

1. Frankie Knuckles – Your Love

Let’s set the scene. Dex and Em first bump shoulders at Edinburgh’s graduation leaver’s dance. He is the charming posh boy swigging from a bottle of champagne, she is the bookish nerd equipped with a half-empty pint. Their eyes meet across the lawn, accompanied by this incandescent dance floor anthem.

2. Nico – These Days

Following their drunken night, the pair venture up Arthur’s Seat, reflecting on their university experiences and the events of the evening before. Despite their differences, Dex and Em develop a mutual understanding of one another, whilst Nico’s dreamy vocals float through the Scottish sunshine.

3. Cocteau Twins – Iceblink Luck

Emma arrives in London and finds an underwhelming job at a Mexican restaurant. Dexter spontaneously visits mid-shift, clad with his latest model girlfriend, and bursting with stories of his new life as an up-and-coming television presenter. The pair have never felt so far apart, and yet the bittersweet lament of Cocteau Twins softens their tender conversations on Primrose Hill.

4. Lion – You’ve Got a Woman (Shoes Subtle edit)

It’s the summer of 1991, and time for Dex and Em to head abroad for a well-deserved holiday. This dizzying ‘70s tune captures the blistering heat of the pair’s ever-complicated relationship. With the Grecian sun beaming down on them and only a single bed to share, what could possibly go wrong?

5. Irma Thomas – Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)

After a skinny dip which most definitely breaks the laws of Emma’s strict summer rulebook, Dexter puts his foot in it once again. Whilst Emma’s feelings bubble to the surface, she is left alone to contemplate her thoughts to a rather apt song choice. Just as Irma Thomas’ soulful ballad chants, Dexter’s flirtations reveal their true intentions – he does in fact “fancy pretty much anyone.”

6. N-Joi – Anthem

Dex arrives back in London, swallowed by the intoxicating atmosphere of the ‘90s rave scene. The sweaty, drug-fuelled dance floor anthem provides a sense of escape for Dexter as he seeks to ignore his mother’s recent cancer diagnosis.

7. Joan Armatrading – Save Me

The comedown hits hard, as Dexter ventures home to see his ill mother. After an unbearable afternoon, he stands, broken and alone on the platform of the railway station begging Emma to pick up. We feel the full depth of his despair as Armatrading’s vocals build, lamenting “throw me a lifeline, save me.”

8. Stereo MCs – Step It Up

It’s 1993 and Dex, all cleaned up and doused in aftershave, is preparing for his debut presenting slot as the host of a live variety show. Unfortunately, his big night doesn’t go quite as well as expected, but this Stereo MCs track most definitely epitomises the charismatic, pretty-boy image of early ‘90s telly.

9. The Verve – Sonnet

Following a very public argument on the streets of London, Dexter and Emma reunite at Tilly’s wedding. They avoid eye contact and awkwardly make small talk, until the pair eventually come together in the maze – a moment which parallels their first meeting at the graduation ball. Whilst the hopeless romantics among us yearn for the couple to realise their true feelings, Dexter ruins the moment with his engagement announcement. As The Verve’s Sonnet plays, Dex and Em wander back into the ceremony; another instance of failed connection hangs in the air.

10. Jeff Buckley – Lilac Wine

We’ve reached the final episode. Whilst many choose to slap their laptops closed and ignore these concluding scenes (and believe me, I understand), the haunting vocals of Jeff Buckley accompany the final heart-wrenching moments of Dex and Em’s story. Dexter, plagued by grief, drunkenly stumbles around his new flat searching for something to drown his sorrows with.

“When I think more than I wanna think/ I do things I never should do/ I drink much more that I oughta drink/ Because it brings me back you”

Whilst viewers enjoy a glimpse of the relationship that we so desperately hoped for in the early months of 2004, it is ultimately not meant to be. As Dexter collapses into a heap against the wall, we consider joining him.

The highlight of the series was its impeccable soundtrack, a blend of late-1980s/early-1990s era pop, rock and electronica.

If you can make it past the harrowing moments, One Day is my idea of the perfect series, and a short watch that I would recommend to everyone this spring. It is wonderfully realistic, perfectly cast and accompanied by a soundtrack worthy of acclaim. Now, as I listen back to Frankie Knuckles, The Verve and of course, Jeff Buckley, I will forever be reminded of the star-crossed love story of Dex and Em.

One Day is available to watch on Netflix.

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