2010s

Soundtracks of Cinema: ‘The Edge of Seventeen’

Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack

The Edge of Seventeen soundtrack includes music by Santigold, Beck and Pixies. This info article contains spoilers for Kelly Fremon Craig’s 2016 film (now streaming on Netflix). Visit the Soundtracks of Cinema section for more streaming guides.

Starring Hailee Steinfeld as Nadine Franklin, The Edge of Seventeen features a soundtrack that matches the protagonist’s personality. The film establishes its indie spirt with the opening needle drop and complementary visuals, while the collective song usage mostly underscores Nadine’s perspective as she attempts to rediscover herself while repairing damaged relationships. Overall, the film includes nearly 30 music moments, including one that involves a body horror drawing of an animated male with penis hands. Here’s a Soundtracks of Cinema guide for every song in The Edge of Seventeen.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Who I Thought You Were” by Santigold (00:00:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Who I Thought You Were" by Santigold

The Edge of Seventeen begins with “Who I Thought You Were” playing as Nadine arrives at school. A close-up visual on the character’s shoes establishes a sense of identity, which ironically contrasts with her storyline throughout the film.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Everything” by KAPTAN (00:08:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Everything" by KAPTAN

In a flashback moment, 13-year-old Nadine eats a cheeseburger during a fast-food trip with her father Tom (Eric Keenleyside). “Everything” can be briefly heard as Steinfeld’s character changes the song on the radio. Seconds later, Tom asks his daughter to switch the music back to Billy Joel.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “You May Be Right” by Billy Joel (00:08:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "You May Be Right" by Billy Joel

Tom performs to “You May Be Right” as Nadine giggles. He then suffers a heart attack and crashes the vehicle. The song fades as Nadine leaves the car, and thus becomes associated with a traumatic life experience for the young character.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Ballroom Blitz” by The Struts (00:14:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Ballroom Blitz" by The Struts

After Nadine’s mother leaves for the weekend, she and Krista party at home. “Ballroom Blitz” complements the spirit of the scene, as the girls consume alcohol and dress up. The song was famously used in the 1992 comedy Wayne’s World.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Don’t Go There” by Giggs featuring B.O.B. (00:15:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Don't Go There" by Giggs featuring B.O.B.

Nadine’s party is interrupted by her brother Darian, whose friends enjoy some pool time as “Don’t Go There” plays loudly. The song continues as Steinfeld’s drunken character chastises her brother and threatens to call the cops.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Trouble” by Cage the Elephant (00:18:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Trouble" by Cage the Elephant

“Trouble” scores a post-party moment between Krista and Darian in The Edge of Seventeen. As Nadine attempts to recover in the bathroom, her best friend helps her brother clean up the mess. The song foreshadows a hook-up between Krista and Darian, which naturally doesn’t please Nadine.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Eye in the Sky” by The Alan Parsons Project (00:24:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Eye in the Sky" by The Alan Parsons Project

When Krista apologizes to Nadine for hooking up with Darian, “Eye in the Sky” plays lightly during a diner sequence. The song begins with “Don’t think sorry’s easily said,” which aligns with the point of view for Richardson’s character. The following lyrics also reflect Nadine’s view point: “I am the eye in the sky, looking at you / I can read your mind / I am the maker of rules, dealing with fools / I can cheat you blind.”

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Go It Alone” by Beck (00:26:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Go It Alone" by Beck

After Nadine accepts Krista’s apology, she reluctantly agrees to tag along with her and Dorian at a party. “Go It Alone” kicks in during a car sequence, with the camera zooming in on the emotionless face of Steinfeld’s character. The lyric “I better go it alone” punctuates the moment.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Am I Wrong” by Anderson Paak feat. Schoolboy Q (00:27:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Am I Wrong" by Anderson Paak feat. Schoolboy Q

At the party, “Am I Wrong” plays as Nadine wanders around. She’s an outcast figure, so the song’s lyrics about thinking out of the box parallel her frame of mind. It’s a brief musical moment, but one that further informs the audience about Nadine as a character.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Bad Decisions” by Two Door Cinema Club (00:28:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Bad Decisions" by Two Door Cinema Club

Nadine gives herself a pep talk in the bathroom about trying to be social. “Bad Decisions” plays shortly after when Steinfeld’s character realizes that she wants to leave. Specifically, Nadine doesn’t want to watch Krista and Darian enjoy themselves together.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Can’t Do Without You” by Caribou (00:28:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Can't Do Without You" by Caribou

“Can’t Do Without You” can be heard during a house porch scene. Nadine discusses the movie Twins with a party guest, who subsequently compares the main characters to Nadine and her brother. The Edge of Seventeen’s protagonist is once again reminded about her sibling’s influence.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Psycho” by A$AP Ferg (00:29:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Psycho" by A$AP Ferg

“Psycho” scores a party sequence in which Nadine calls her mother for a ride home. The song plays for a few seconds and seems to pinpoint the protagonist’s perceived self-image.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “People Help the People” by Birdy (00:30:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "People Help the People" by Birdy

“People Help the People” functions as a wink-of-the-eye track in a moment between Nadine and her mother. On a deeper level, it reinforces the familial bond between the two characters. Nadine struggles with her own problems but makes sure to ask questions about her mother’s personal issues, specifically her recent date with a dentist.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Save Me” by Aimee Mann (00:32:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Save Me" by Aimee Mann

At home, Nadine looks at the social media profile of her crush, Nick Mossman (Alexander Calvert). “Save Me” plays as Steinfeld’s character contemplates a potential romance. The song tells the story of a woman who views herself as a freak, and wonders if she can possibly fall in love.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Genghis Khan” by Miike Snow (00:32:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Genghis Khan" by Miike Snow

After Nadine decides not to message Nick, she calls her history classmate Erwin. He happens to be listening to “Genghis Khan,” which is a song about someone who knows exactly what he wants. Erwin celebrates upon learning that Nadine wants to hang out.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Angel’s Serenade” by Valentino (00:33:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Angel's Serenade" by Valentino

At the carnival, the classic instrumental “Angel’s Serenade” scores a conversation scene between Nadine and Erwin. Steinfeld’s character tells a joke, while her love interest attempts to calm himself down. Thematically, the title foreshadows a romance between the two students.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Circus Theme 2” by Craig Austin (00:34:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Circus Theme 2" by Craig Austin

As Erwin becomes even more nervous, “Circus Theme 2” parallels his demeanor. Nadine takes a proactive approach by asking personal questions about her fellow history student. Specifically, she requests “a tour” of Erwin’s psyche, which thematically links to the song title.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “True” by Spandau Ballet (00:44:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "True" by Spandau Ballet

“True” is used as background music during a scene between Nadine and Nick. At an aquarium, Steinfeld’s character asks to be directed towards cat litter, and fumbles her words as her crush broods and smiles. The song cuts right after the lyric “Oh, I want the truth to be known,” suggesting that Nadine isn’t really sure about Nick’s motivations for being kind.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Don’t You Wait” by Cloves (00:53:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Don't You Wait" by Cloves

The usage of “Don’t You Wait” correlates with the aquarium scene. As Nadine pops a pill and lies on her couch, the lyric “Don’t you remember when you said what I wanted to hear?” connects to her most recent conversation with Nick. She looks at pictures of her crush and sighs.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Lights & Music” by Cut Copy (00:56:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Lights & Music" by Cut Copy

A song about anticipation and secrets, “Lights & Music” scores a pool sequence in The Edge of Seventeen. Nadine is surprised to learn that Erwin is “rich,” and then asks him questions about a film festival project. In this particular moment, the characters learn more about each other and recognize their chemistry.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “The Dickhead Song” by Miles Betterman (00:57:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "The Dickhead Song" by Miles Betterman

After Nadine jokes about having sex in the pool, Erwin delivers a message to Nadine by playing ‘The Dickhead Song.” He’s upset about being sexually teased but wisely decides to make his love interest laugh. The characters resolve their conflict and return to the pool.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Somebody Else” by The 1975 (00:58:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Somebody Else" by The 1975

“Somebody Else” scores a hot tub sequence in The Edge of Seventeen. It plays for only a few seconds as Erwin discusses his animation project with Nadine. There’s a physical distance between the two characters, but they soon grow close after investing more time in each other.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “When They Fight, They Fight” by Generationals (00:58:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "When They Fight, They Fight" Generationals

“When They Fight, They Fight” complements the inherent comedy of Erwin’s art project. He jokes about his parents loving a drawing of a character with penis-shaped fingers, with the song lyrics implying that he’s destined to have a life-long romance with filmmaking. As for Nadine, she’s impressed by Erwin’s passion and commitment, which makes her appreciate him even more.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Snakes” by Pixies (01:03:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Snakes" by Pixies

After an argument, Nadine takes her mother’s car keys and drives away. Inside the vehicle, Steinfeld’s character tears up out of pure frustration. The musical usage of “Snakes” implies that Nadine is largely responsible for all the conflict in her life.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Hard Luck” by Black Pistol Fire (1:10:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Hard Luck" by Black Pistol Fire

After Nadine agrees to meet Nick, the upbeat rock track “Hard Luck” scores a date preparation sequence. Steinfeld’s character scrambles through her room and tries on different outfits, all the while knowing that she sent a sexually-explicit message to her crush. The song title aligns with Nadine’s bold move, one that demonstrates her willingness to take risks.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “When I’m Small” by Phantogram (01:12:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "When I'm Small" by Phantogram

In a car scene, “When I’m Small” emphasizes the romantic chemistry between Nadine and Nick. It plays just briefly, with the dreamlike aesthetic complementing the moods of both character (“So, show me love / You’ve got your hands on the button now”).

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Big Jet Plane” by Angus & Julia Stone (01:14:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Big Jet Plane" by Angus & Julia Stone

“Big Jet Plane” plays during a first kiss scene between Nadine and Nick. Both characters acknowledge the song, which includes a sexual innuendo that complements the moment. The music drowns out when Nadine asks Nick to back off.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “To Build a Home” by Cinematic Orchestra (01:20:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "To Build a Home" by Cinematic Orchestra

After an argument with Nick, Nadine cries alone during an outdoor scene. Thematically, “To Build a Home” aligns with the character’s hopes and fears, as she wanted to build a romance with her crush but now realizes that it wasn’t meant to be. The song continues as Nadine runs into her history teacher, Max.

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack: “Sky on Fire” by Handsome Poets (01:38:00)

The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack - "Sky on Fire" by Handsome Poets

The Edge of Seventeen ends with Nadine attending Erwin’s film screening and being introduced to his inner circle of friends. In the moment, she experiences a personal reawakening, with the song’s lyrics about dreams and new beginnings suggesting that Steinfeld’s character now has a positive outlook on life. Plus, the big smile on her face shows that she’s ready to explore a relationship with Erwin.

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The Edge of Seventeen soundtrack also includes “Bitter Seed” by Nantucket Reds.

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.

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