Teen Spirit follows the shy 17-year-old Violet who dreams of escaping her small town on the Isle of Wright for pop stardom and enters an international singing competition—think American Idol but for teenagers.
In actor Max Minghella’s (The Handmaid’s Tale) directorial debut, Violet’s days are spent doing chores, waiting tables, and attending high school, where she keeps to herself. But in her free time—spent alone in her room or in the lavender fields with her beloved horse—Violet surrenders to song, with the volume on her old-school, iPod nano turned all the way up.
Music is Violet’s escape. It’s how she gathers the courage to come out of her shell with a bang. Here’s some songs she’s most likely bumping when she puts in her headphones.
This is a regular tune on Violent’s iPod that carries her through her days. It’s the perfect upbeat track for listening to while doing chores, on her commute to school, milking cows, riding her horse, or laying in lavender fields. It’s a familiar track that gives her comfort in times of solace. At the same time, the song’s multi-dimensional quality and Grimes’ lo-fi vocal inspire Violet to take a chance.
Violet doesn’t go out and party, not because she doesn’t want to, but because she doesn’t have the time. She’s a reserved girl whose days are filled with work, leaving no room for her to connect with her high school peers. Thus she must dance on her own in her bedroom—away from her religious mother’s eyes—and there’s no better song that fits that mood than Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own.”
Ever get so mad you just want to listen to a pop-punk song and just dance it out? Well that’s how Violet feels after a couple riffs with her mom so she slams her bedroom door and puts on No Doubt, dancing out her frustrations to the rebellious lyrics. It’s a song for those angsty teen days when you feel like your mom just doesn’t get you.
As the lyrics say, the lights aren’t going to stop Violet from chasing her dreams. She wants to be a star and is determined to make it a reality. That’s why Ellie Goulding’s powerful song “Lights” is the ideal tune to backdrop her Teen Spirit audition for the show’s finals. With dazzling instruments and a showcase of vocal ranges, Violent takes over the stay, proving she has what it takes to be a star.
This song gets Violet through her training days. It’s a song that sees her grow more comfortable in her skin and with her voice as ex-opera singer Vlad shows her the ropes. She comes to confide in Vlad like an uncle as he takes her under his wing and prepares Violet for her upcoming, yet unknown, stardom. Once she’s ready to fly on her own, she’s no longer that same ‘little bird’ and is instead ready to soar.
This is Violet’s go-to for open mic night so of course it’s on her iPod. In order to feel comfortable singing the song on a stage in front of strangers, she obviously has it on repeat, crooning along to the chorus with a microphone hairbrush in hand. While the lyrics might seem a bit mature for a woman her age, Violet still connects with the track, thinking of her father who left when she was little, implying that she and her mother were ‘fools’ for ever thinking he’d come back.
As a song on heavy pop radio rotation, it’s refreshing to rehear it three years after its release as the anthem to Violet’s burgeoning friendships. With the companionship of her mentor Vlad, a better understanding between her and her mother, plus a few romantic interests, “Leon On” finds Violet finally reaching out to some of her classmates and making friends. She’s put down the iPod, at least for a moment, and becomes more social with those around her.
This would be a song on Violet’s iPod, but it wouldn’t be one of the one’s on heavy repeat. As a shy girl, insecure of her talents, Sigrid’s “Don’t Kill My Vibe” would be reserved for Violet’s most proud moments, the moments when she commands the stage and fully breaks out of her shell. The moments where she owns her talents and even wins the Teen Spirit singing competition.
Check out Teen Spirit at TIFF September 15, 2018.