“There’s no way, dude. I don’t even have time to breathe with my current schedule. How am I supposed to make up a fucking story about a Deerhunter song that I’ve listened to 10 times since it came out 30 days ago?” That’s Ian Somerhalder, the 32-year-old star of the CW’s hit soap, The Vampire Diaries, which he insists he “eats, works, breathes, sleeps, and shits.” Still, Somerhalder found time to jot down a list of eight songs, which he created to help Damon, the character he plays, seduce—from flirtation to climax—his eternal-but-unrequited love, Katherine (Nina Dobrev). “If I were taming that lioness, then this is exactly what each song would be.” Below, Somerhalder breaks down his choices in the frenzied manner of someone who is about to be called back to set—which he was.
The Black Keys’ “Next Girl.” This track is about breaking up with a fucking bitch, and it’s something you always tell yourself: My next girl will be nothing like my ex-girl. But that never works, even if she’s the complete opposite of your ex-girlfriend. They’re all going to slay you the same way, because they can.
Deerhunter’s “Desire Lines.” Remember when Pearl Jam came out with Ten, which had that song “Black” on it? That was the song that guys played when we screwed girls in high school. “I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life, I know you’ll be a star/ In somebody else’s sky, but why, why, why.” Like that one, this is a jam you can listen to in the morning without slitting your wrists, but it definitely says some heavy shit.
Bright Eyes’ “Lover I Don’t Have to Love.” Conor Oberst is a very good friend of mine and has been for years. It takes a lot of balls to say, “I want a lover I don’t have to love/ I want a girl who’s too sad to give a fuck.” He’s telling us that we thrive, for some reason, on hurt and pain. When we’re bee-buzzing happy, we don’t create the most amazing art. I’m sure Monet was in pain when he painted his water lilies. I don’t know if he was heartbroken or constipated, but I guarantee you he wasn’t happy.
Neon Indian’s “6669 (I Don’t Know If You Know).” This song is like jam on warm bread. You can imagine yourself in bed, surrounded by candles, with “6669” blaring out of two giant Paradigms, which is something I’ve done many times.
Gayngs’ “The Gaudy Side of Town.” I don’t know how the fuck I found this one. “Put some fear in the company now/ Don’t lose your cold dear/ Fear in the company now/ Keep it right.” That perfectly encapsulates what it feels like when you look at a woman you love after having sex with her, or a woman who scares you—it’s pretty much all the same.
The Verve’s “History.” At the end of the song, Richard Ashcroft sings, “The bed ain’t made but it’s filled full of hope/ I’ve got a skin full of dope.” It’s about two old lovers coming back together. Apparently, when the band heard this song fully mixed for the first time, they threw a chair out of the window and it hit a car in the street. It’s that intense, and when you hear it, you’ll understand.
Belle & Sebastian’s “I Want the World to Stop.” Remember Modern English’s “I Melt with You”? I used to listen to that one with my brother on the way to our preppy Catholic school. This song is kind of like that. It sounds happy, but then Stuart Murdoch starts singing about “winter disorder,” which sounds dismal. To escape that, there’s nothing better than warm sheets and a beautiful woman on your naked body.
Cursive’s “The Recluse.” Tim Kasher sings, “I wake alone/ In a woman’s room I hardly know/ I wake alone/ And pretend that I am finally home.” It’s a lonely song, because for the rest of it, he’s in some girl’s room, waiting for her to come home, wondering what her notebooks say. He’s had sex all night, and then suddenly he’s a recluse, alone and in his head. Or he could be talking about a woman he’s been with for years, but whom he hardly knows, because how do you really know anybody?