Revisit Daniel Radcliffe’s “Desert Island Discs”: A Tracklist for Cheerful Nihilists

Daniel Radcliffe’s taste in music has been praised by his fellow Harry Potter costars in the past. On his appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in March, he shared the eight songs that he would take with him on a desert island, as per the concept of the program. He spoke candidly about his career, discussed being sober, and also revealed which song he regards as the greatest love song.

Let’s revisit his interview with a relevant quote song by song.


Track No. 1: “Bring Me Sunshine,” the theme from the TV series The Morecambe & Wise Show

I think it’s one of the most joyous songs ever recorded. […] [Morecambe & Wise] were a part of what I loved about comedy. A huge amount of my sense of humour is drawn from them. They still make me laugh.


Track No. 2: “We Will All Go Together When We Go” by Tom Lehrer

My parents had fairly crappy experiences as actors. I actually think that one of the many ways in which I was blessed with my parents was that they knew enough about the industry to be really helpful and guide me through it and also knowing what was expected of you on set but also not jaded by it so that they’d be like, ‘Yeah, we’ve seen it all, done it all.’ […] This is Tom Lehrer […], [whom] my parents have introduced me to. […] There’s a sort of cheerful nihilism [in this song], which again I think very well represents me or my worldview.


Track No. 3: “Where Is My Mind?” by Pixies

I wasn’t very good at school. I was nice, I wasn’t totally disruptive, but I was just not good academically. Just the act of writing, not thinking of what to write, but the act just took me an unbelievably long time. That was all a struggle. So I think they thought, ‘Oh, maybe he’s a bit thick or something.’


Track No. 4: “He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot” by Grandaddy

Gary Oldman was always really helpful and encouraging. I remember having a conversation with him very early on when he said, ‘Don’t be scared to use your own stuff and the stuff that’s going on with you because it’ll be projected through a character, and that is all the audience would see.’


Track No. 5: “Killer Parties” by the Hold Steady

This is a song that I was listening to on the way back, in my friend’s car, from a truly terrible weekend or a weekend that had ended terribly. I was hungover and coming back to reality, and this song played, and it just hit me at a very specific moment—y’know bands, films, writers—everyone makes drinking look super cool most of the time. The Hold Steady were the first band that I ever heard, sort of talking about the aftermath of drinking.


Track No. 6: “Into My Arms” by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

I’m sure there are many people who have many different entries into the ‘What is the best love song of all time?’ argument—this would be mine. It has the effect on me that almost nothing can have, which is that it makes me want to be religious.


Track No. 7: Emily by Joanna Newsom

You can get to a point in the industry where everyone’s just telling you you’re great all the time. […] Erin [Darke, girlfriend], definitely I work on scenes with her, and she can give criticism in a way that it’s constructive but I know she’s not lying.


Track No. 8: “Attaboy” by Stuart Duncan, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile

About his last pick, Daniel simply said, “I think I could listen to it anywhere and make me both nostalgic for the past and excited for the future,” and that’s how we feel about his roles past, present, and future.


Visit Desert Island Discs‘ Spotify page to listen to Daniel’s full episode and find out which is the one song from his list that he would keep if all others had to burn. Can you spot the band by which a song appeared in one of Daniel’s Harry Potter film scenes? Which songs would you take if you had to choose?

Dora Bodrogi

I am a writer, a critic, a researcher, a traveler, and a Ravenclaw through and through. My main fields of interest are representation, gender, and LGBTQ fiction, history, and censorship. Incorrigible doodler and theatre kid.

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