When I first read Twilight in 2015 I knew I had discovered something really special. Midway through the book I rushed to my computer and turned on the Twilight film for the first time, which left me in awe of the vampire universe, which its director Catherine Hardwicke brought to life. But most of all, what resonated with the 13-year-old emo in me, was the music that accompanied the film.
If you ask anyone who’s watched the brooding 2008 masterpiece what they think of when they hear Muse’s ‘Supermassive Black Hole’, their mind darts to the iconic baseball scene. To this day when Lykke Li’s 'Possibility' comes on, I’m sent right into Bella’s melancholy in New Moon. The musical legacy of the Twilight Saga’s ambitious soundtracking transcends the 2010s-time capsule as after 15 years l its impact is still felt. In many ways, music made Twilight.
To explain the significance of music in Twilight, we should first look at the very inception of the saga. Its author, Stephanie Meyer, admits that the inspiration behind the romance was a prominent 2000s band, My Chemical Romance. It is infamously rumoured that Twilight started as a My Chemical Romance fanfiction, borrowing from their dark aesthetic and even tracks directly referencing the vampiric world. Certainly, Meyer cites music as a notable influence on her writing, as she has posted playlists of songs which specifically inspired her books on her website, and her Twilight playlist includes the band’s ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’. It may surprise film viewers that leading bands Paramore and Linkin Park have featured on the soundtrack, yet My Chemical Romance never did. What becomes clear in its inception is that the saga was tied to Meyer’s musical interests and the 2000s rock scene from the beginning, and this connection never fades.
This connection is observed in the soundtracks of each film. The very first movie famously featured ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ making it an alternative-rock anthem, and Paramore’s original song ‘Decode’ made for the film. Admittedly, much of my music taste is indebted to these films; it was my first introduction to Radiohead via Thom Yorke’s ‘Hearing Damage’ featured in New Moon. I think the same can be said for many young adults who came to love the saga, as even in 2023, obtaining your very own New Moon soundtrack vinyl will set you back a mere £871 on eBay — an offer that screams “deal of the century.” There was something for every niche of the alternative rock fan in these soundtracks: Bon Iver, Radiohead, Band of Horses, The Killers, Florence + the Machine, and more. It sure felt sweet to have a teen girl film soundtrack feature some of the best artists in the scene, the very same artists who haters of Twilight idolise.
The impact of the saga’s music is palpable as after the release of Twilight, the soundtrack debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, selling 165,000 copies in its first week and earning a double platinum certification. The undeniable radio success of Christina Perri’s ‘A Thousand Years’ written for Breaking Dawn: Part One, became one of the most beloved songs at every wedding in the 2010s and perhaps even still. Whereas the aforementioned My Chemical Romance wrote ‘Vampire Money’ as a direct follow-up to their rejection for New Moon. Although they make fun of the vampire schtick in this song, it became one of their most beloved and repeatedly-performed tracks during their 2022 reunion tour. While many scoff at Twilight as ‘yet another melodramatic teen girl movie’ even to this day, not one hater can deny the genius of its soundtracking.
Now in 2023, having made yet another resurgence, Twilight’s music being applauded on social media proves its soundtrack was never just a feature; it practically stole the show and made the saga what it is today. In the words of Robert Pattinson, the saga’s song selections were “ahead of their time.” And as we revisit these soundtracks many of us, myself included, may find that it has shaped the very music we know and love today.
Illustration by Clodagh Earl