With Apollo taking center stage in Rick Riordan’s The Hidden Oracle, it came as no surprise that the book was littered with musical references. Apollo is, after all, the God of music — among other things.
So, you’ve managed to breeze through The Hidden Oracle since it was released earlier this month. You’re missing Apollo’s exploits, and are looking for some supplementary material to help you make it through to the release of the second book in the series. Well, Hypable has got you covered with this playlist of songs, straight from the pages of The Hidden Oracle.
You can listen to the playlist below on Spotify, and read on to find out more about the songs I chose — accompanied by their respective quotes from the book. Beware, there will be spoilers in the included quotes from The Hidden Oracle.
Listen on Spotify
Breaking down Hypable’s ‘Hidden Oracle’ playlist
Warning: If you’re listening to this playlist at work, a couple of the tracks included feature explicit language.
‘Gimme More,’ — Britney Spears
“I visited my wrath upon Britney Spears at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards.”
Britney Spears’ performance at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards was a moment that had been hyped and anticipated at an unprecedented level, by countless media outlets and fans alike, as it was her first televised performance since 2004. Unfortunately, the performance didn’t go quite as expected — with Britney seemingly forgetting lines and dance moves — and now we know we have Apollo to blame. The media backlash following the performance also served as the catalyst for a now iconic YouTube video.
Not that Britney’s performance woes mattered much in the end. “Gimme More” went on to become one of her biggest hits.
‘School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell)’ — Chuck Berry
“I had not been stomped so badly since my guitar contest against Chuck Berry in 1957.”
Chuck Berry is likely known by most for his hit, “Johnny B. Goode,” which you may remember from a little movie called Back to the Future. As that song wasn’t released until the year after Apollo’s guitar contest with Chuck Berry, I decided to include his highest charting single from ’57, which is just as infectiously catchy and fun to sing-out-loud.
‘You Send Me,’ — Sam Cooke
“I was trying to decide between ‘You Send Me’ and an original composition, ‘I’m Your Poetry God, Baby,’ when a voice yelled, ‘HEY!'”
Say what you like about Apollo, but he’s got some great taste in music. “You Send Me” was Sam Cooke’s debut single, and has since solidified itself a place on countless lists as one of the greatest songs of all time — an accolade that is richly deserved, in my opinion. “You Send Me” was also named as one 500 most important rock and roll recordings by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And now it’s joining the ranks of this rather eclectic playlist.
‘Trampled Under Foot,’ — Led Zeppelin
“I examined the black T-shirt Percy had given me. Emblazoned on the front was Led Zeppelin’s logo for their record label: winged Icarus falling from the sky.”
Ah, good ol’ Percy Jackson humor. Swan Song, Led Zeppelin’s record label referenced in the above quote, was founded in 1974. Their first album following that, distributed via Swan Song, was Physical Graffiti, so I honored that by adding their only single released from the album, “Trampled Under Foot,” to my playlist. (Good luck not dancing around your kitchen to this one.)
‘Piano Concerto no. 20 in D Minor’ — Mozart
“I would hear a song on Spotify and think, ‘Oh, that’s new!’ Then I’d realize it was Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 20 in D Minor from two hundred years ago.”
There are countless versions of Mozart’s piano concertos when you go looking for them, each with their own merits. I, however, have always had an inclination to gravitate to Maria João Pires’ renditions when it comes to Mozart. I’ve included all three movements of “Piano Concerto no. 20 in D Minor” for your listening pleasure. And if you enjoy piano concertos, check out some of Pires’ other concertos.
‘Let it Be’ — The Beatles
“I remembered that day at Abbey Road Studios, when my envy led me to set rancor in the hearts of John and Paul and break up the Beatles.”
I’m not sure that Apollo is going to be as easily forgiven for this transgression — in fact, I’m surprised one of Apollo’s previous stints as a mortal wasn’t because he broke up The Beatles. Zeus would be mad about that too, right? Anyway, “Let it Be” was the last single The Beatles released before they announced their split, which earns it a place on my Hidden Oracle playlist.
‘Rise to the Sun’ — Alabama Shakes
“I was cruising along, honking at jet planes to get out of my way, enjoying the smell of cold stratosphere, and bopping to my favorite jam: Alabama Shakes’ ‘Rise to the Sun.'”
I’ve had the unbelievable pleasure of seeing Alabama Shakes in concert myself, and (like Apollo) “Rise to the Sun” is definitely one of my go-to driving songs. I dare you to go out on a sunny day and not feel tempted to turn this song up, roll your windows down and sing along. Impossible!
‘My Baby is my Guitar’ — Thunderbitch
“I wanted to get out my lute and play a scorching solo that would make Brittany Howard proud.”
A second song featuring Brittany Howard (she’s also the frontwoman and guitarist for Alabama Shakes)? Well, I couldn’t help myself! Thunderbitch is a group Howard put together consisting of members from Fly Golden Eagle and Clear Plastic Masks. And if we’re talking scorching solos, it stood to reason that the song that should be included on this playlist is Howard’s ode to her guitar.
‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ — Ramones
“On the porch of the Big House, a dark-haired young man was waiting for us. He wore faded black trousers, a Ramones T-shirt (bonus points for musical taste), and a black leather bomber jacket.”
Imagining Nico Di Angelo in a Ramones shirt and faded black trousers is my life. “Blitzkrieg Bop” was the Ramones debut single in 1976, and another fixture on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Turn the volume up on this one, and shake your tush — there’s nothing better than letting loose to this song. I wonder if Nico feels the same?
‘Sword of Damocles’ — ‘Rocky Horror’
“Chiron glanced down at his shapely female mannequin legs, dressed in fishnet stockings and red sequined high heels. He sighed heavily. ‘I see the Hermes cabin have been watching Rocky Horror Picture Show again. I will have to have a chat with them.'”
Good luck getting that mental picture of Chiron out of your head any time soon — though if anyone could rock a set of fishnets and heels, I’d believe it’d be him. “Sword of Damocles” is the song from the soundtrack most closely related to Greek mythology, so it seemed appropriate to include it, considering the source material.
‘Boléro’ — Ravel & ‘Song of Seikilos’
“Whenever I get nervous (which doesn’t happen often), I like to hum a song to calm myself — usually Ravel’s Boléro or the ancient Greek ‘Song of Seikilos.'”
Ravel’s Boléro is, as Apollo mentioned, pretty damn calming — possibly due to Ravel’s continued insistence that the composition be played at a tempo of around 66 per quarter. I included the version played by the London Symphony Orchestra, which comes in at around 15 minutes, the average length of the piece (though it has been known to go as long as 18.) As for the other song mentioned, Song of Seikilos, it is the oldest surviving complete musical composition from anywhere in the world!
“But with Meg’s pulse throwing me off, the only tune I could conjure was the ‘Chicken Dance.’ That was not soothing.”
With a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and…
‘Energia’ — Russkaja
“Why would I suffer through a concert given by an ugly purple-suited man who called himself the Beast? I was not even a fan of death metal polka!”
I can’t say that I’d ever listened to any death metal polka before curating this playlist, but I’ve since gone through more songs than I knew existed in the genre. Most of the groups I found weren’t on Spotify, but I did manage to find Russkaja, who describe their genre as “Russian Turbo Polka Metal”. Not sure about them? Just give “Energia” a try. I actually found myself bopping my head along to it pretty quickly!
‘The Boys’ — Girls’ Generation (SNSD)
“Billie was a wisp of a girl. She compensated for her diminutive stature with the fashion sense of a K-Pop idol.”
I have a not-so-secret love of K-Pop, so it wasn’t difficult for me to find a relevant song for the playlist. Well, of sorts. Though “Gee” remains one of my favorite Girls’ Generation songs, it wasn’t available on Spotify, so I chose another (equally catchy) song. “The Boys” was released in English in 2012, but I’ve included the Korean version to properly represent the genre.
Oscar Meyer Weiner
“Now, the Oscar Meyer Weiner song — that is poetry.”
There’s no denying that the Oscar Meyer Weiner song is a triumph of marketing, and happens to be a real ear worm. But as for poetry? Well, I guess that’d be in the… ear of the beholder?
‘Sweet Caroline’ — Neil Diamond
“I grabbed the instrument, rolled onto my back, and belted out ‘Sweet Caroline.'”
This song is enduringly popular and one that you just can’t stop yourself from singing along to, whenever it plays. It has been used particularly in conjunction with sports — most notably the Boston Red Sox — and was played as a tribute for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Since then, all royalties accrued from “Sweet Caroline” have been donated by Diamond to the One Fund Boston charity, who aim to support the people most affected by the bombings.
‘All Along the Watchtower’ — Jimi Hendrix
“So… Jimi Hendrix wasn’t there?”
Trying to narrow down Jimi Hendrix’s catalog to one song to include on this playlist was almost impossible — but I’ve always been partial to “All Along the Watchtower.” So, after spending a few hours listening to everything I could find of his on Spotify, I eventually cycled back to “Watchtower.” Though it’s not a Hendrix original — that would be Bob Dylan’s version, who credited Hendrix with taking it to another place — it is the only song of Hendrix’s to have made it into the Top 40.
‘Dance’ — Nas
“I launched into ‘Dance’ by Nas, which I have to say was one of the most moving odes to mothers that I ever inspired an artist to write.”
Written as a dedication to his mother, who passed away before God’s Son (the album that “Dance” is featured on) was released, Apollo isn’t exaggerating when he says that the song is a moving ode to mothers. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Nas even said, “My brother can’t listen to that song to this day. But it was an easy one to write for me. [Pauses] It’s an easy one. [Pauses] I had to get it out.”
‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ — Irving Berlin
“Well… at least not since Irving Berlin. ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’? I remember telling him. You’ll never make it big with a corny song like that!”
Talk about an error of judgement on Apollo’s part! “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” made the big-time in 1911, thanks in no small part to vaudeville singer Emma Carus. It has been recorded by countless singers, from Louis Armstrong to the Bee Gees. However, I’ve always associated the song with a female singer — thus the Boswell Sisters’ rendition made it onto the playlist.
‘Y.M.C.A.’ — Village People
“I hummed ‘Y.M.C.A.,’ which I used to perform with the Village People in my construction worker costume until the Indian chief and I got in a fight over — Never mind. That’s not important.”
Do I really need to say anything about this one? If you haven’t jumped from your chair to dance like mad to this with friends, well…
‘Dear Mama’ — 2Pac
“I launched into ‘Mama,’ my throat reinforced with water and cough drops from Kayla’s belt pack.”
“Mama” caused a little bit of debate between myself and Percy Jackson super-fan, Karen Rought. Which “Mama” had Riordan meant? Was it the Spice Girls? Genesis? Connie Francis? We reached out to the man himself for some clarification, to which he told us it was actually “Dear Mama,” by Tupac Shakur. And so the debate was solved, and the right song added to the playlist.
"Dear Mama" by Tupac Shakur. Not sure why I forgot the "Dear." https://t.co/bLqgemkFML
— Rick Riordan (@camphalfblood) May 8, 2016
“‘Aw, man.’ Leo winced. ‘I’m terrible at sing-alongs. I always clap and do the ‘Old MacDonald’ sounds at the wrong time. Can we skip this?'”
Whether you’re like Leo Valdez and can’t quite hit your cue on this one, or you’ve never been able to shake the words to “Old MacDonald” from your head since you were a kid, you can’t really deny that it’s ridiculous fun to make all of the animal noises. What, just me?