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Sonic unions and personal soundtracks: An analysis of popular music in Skins

Sonic unions and personal soundtracks: An analysis of popular music in Skins

A paper I’ve submitted for publication in The Soundtrack

To delineate the functions of music as a cinematic-acoustic tool is clearly a complex task. In this particular investigation, we must examine how the states of consciousness of teenagers unfold in accordance to personal and individual soundtracks, enveloping a critical area as wide in scope as human emotion itself. Rather than viewing the use of the popular soundtrack as either a way to sell singles or a certain “MTV aesthetic,” the British drama television series Skins pulls together various kinds of popular music to create very significant points of personal and social revelation in several different ways. Through the use of punk, trip hop and lo-fi montages, the pop soundscape functions to illustrate moments of confidence, sexual promiscuity and social nihilism, in accordance to several characters’ mental states and social circumstances during critical times. As this paper explores, the popular soundtrack evolves alongside the characters’ points of view, through dismebodiment, mental disturbance and a David Lynch-inspired diegetic strangeness.

Skins is a popular television series that explores the lives of college students in Bristol. The central characters range from various socio-economic backgrounds, but the series delves into topics such as drug use, sexual relationships, family hardships, infidelity, mental illness and even death. Narratively, each episode is based around the life situation of an individual character, or a relationship between two. In this way, each episode acts as a mise-en-scene for the season as a whole, and as all the relationships are intertwined, the finale weaves a narrative symphony for their social circle as a collective.