By A. Charlotte Rose
Music plays an important part in Fifty Shades of Grey, so much so that there is a huge playlist of Fifty Shades of Grey songs selected by E.L. James on YouTube.com and fan-created lists on Spotify.com. It’s has diverse songs such as Sex on Fire, Come Fly with Me, You Put a Spell on Me.
E.L. James also released a CD of classical songs such as Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring and Cannon in D, which are mentioned in the book.
These musical tributes were all released before the movie was even cast. Now fans are wondering if the beloved music from the book will make it into the movie.
So why is music so important? It helps stimulate dopamine, and sets the stage for pleasure. And it plays a huge part of the love story that develops between Christian and Ana.
Christian loves music – whether he is tantalizing Ana with the sounds of Thomas Talis’ Fantasia or Spem in Alium while he has her blindfolded and bound, or when he is at the piano playing Adagio at four in the morning when he cannot sleep. They also talk a lot about music they love, finding they both have classical and eclectic tastes, yet she is being exposed to new music through him all the time. He gives Ana a new laptop with a romantic playlist of favorites as a gift. In addition, Christian’s use of music in erotic play helps stimulate all of Ana’s senses – the readers too.
There is a certain joy that comes from music that moves the soul, opens the heart, or stirs sexual response and it can release the feel-good hormone dopamine into the system.
Jeffery P. Kahn explores music and dopamine in Angst: Origins of Anxiety and Depression. “When people listen to music the resulting dopamine release makes people want to move in more than one way—they dance, but they also seek out pleasure, novelty, and inspiration… music also helps babies to fall asleep and helps people feel better about their woes. Music is also a stimulus for love and seduction.
‘If music be the food of love, play on’ as William Shakespeare says in Twelfth Night. And he didn’t even know about dopamine,” writes Kahn.
“Dopamine is part of the reward system in the brain, and helps us form and recall emotional memories of things we like. When we find something we want (e.g. food, sex, etc.), some pleasurable dopamine is released in our brain. From then on, when we catch a hint of good things around us, dopamine tells us to go out looking for them.”
Music is a part of the book that readers can bring into their homes and even onto their computers as work, keeping the fantasy of Christian and Ana alive long after they have finished the books. Perhaps the memory of this rewarding rush of Dopamine keeps readers connected to Fifty Shades of Grey –and even to the continued “search” for Christian Grey or Christian Grey types in other books, in real life, and in actors who have the looks we image to be Christian Grey’s.