The first time I heard the Imagine Dragons song Radioactive, I dreamed of a collaboration. Their hit single came out in 2012, at the same time WOOL was taking off. Every time I heard the song play I imagined the credits to the film rolling while Radioactive blared from theater speakers. It’s a song you sing at the top of your lungs; a song you scream.
The tone is as perfect as the lyrics: a mix of sonorous and sad with hard-hitting and angry. It feels like a revolution song, a desperation song, a song of being hemmed in and breaking out. It’s dystopia and apocalypse, but also a song that makes you feel powerful and full of hope. I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones / Enough to make my system blow…
While I could easily see this on a WOOL motion picture soundtrack one day, what I never imagined in a million years was that our mediums would fuse more directly. When Booktrack reached out and said the band wanted to do an original mix to one of my novels, I fell out of my writing chair. What they’ve come up with is simply astounding.
If you’re not familiar with Booktrack (where have you been?), they’ve taken augmented ebooks in a very cool direction. The idea is to allow authors, musicians, and fans to create audio soundtracks that play while books are being read. Subtle sound effects and mood-inducing tunes dial up the tension, and it all paces itself to how quickly you are reading. I like to adjust the volume right to the point that the music almost disappears into my subconscious. It’s an amazing experience when done right, and Imagine Dragons has knocked it out of the park.
Beacon 23 was the perfect novel for this mash-up. It’s the story of a man alone on the edge of space wrestling with his demons. The tone swings from humorous to sad to tense to romantic to horrific. Imagine Dragons laid down their tracks with new work and sound effects to create an original Booktrack for the text. It has me excited for the new ways we can tell stories and collaborate with other artists. Music used to play an important role in the oral tradition of storytelling. What’s old is new again.
Check out the landing page for the Booktrack edition of Beacon 23, where you can sample a preview for yourself. And I’d love to hear what bands you’d enjoy working with, or what songs have inspired your reading and writing. Do some books and musicians just go together in your head?