A Playlist for Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is literature and pop culture’s most iconic sleuth. He’s clever, intuitive, quirky, and yes, arrogant. Sherlock isn’t afraid to break rules or social conventions, but his fierce logic always wins out and solves the mystery. And since he plays the violin, we know he enjoys music. We put together a perfect playlist a modern day sherlock would enjoy while solving crimes in the shadows of London. 

"Sherlock Holmes” – Sparks

A man with a healthy ego like our beloved Sherlock would be thrilled to have a song named after him. Particularly one in which the narrator praises the detective and yearn to be like him:

“Fog matters to you and me,
But it can't touch Sherlock Holmes
Dogs bark and he knows their breed
And knows where they went last night
Knows their masters too.”

“Solve My Mystery” – Oasis

That’s what we’re here for Mr. Holmes to do, isn’t it? This song is about losing faith and finding great inner strength to face adversity. In particular, the line “I believe that I rule my world” is one that must resonate with the great investigator.







“The Logical Song” – Supertramp

This song illustrates the way a sensitive idealist is hardened into an intellectual. Chances are, Sherlock would have a different interpretation of these lyrics and see the transformation as a massive improvement: 

“But then they send me away
To teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world
Where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical.”


"Problems” – Sex Pistols

Sherlock follows his own rules, isn’t afraid to go against the grain, and isn’t afraid to stand up to authority—and even break the law—when it suits his needs. While he’s often described as a Bohemian, there’s also something punk rock about his attitude. His rebellious (and sometimes snarky) spirit is reflected here:

“Don't you give me any orders
For people like me
There is no order”


“Mis-Shapes” – Pulp

Being one himself, you know our favorite investigator is going to side with society’s misfits. This Brit-Pop ode to the underdogs’ rise to domination using brains over brawn is surely one Mr. Holmes has in heavy rotation. He’s likely particularly fond of the second half of the rousing chorus:

“We want the things you won't allow us
We won't use guns, we won't use bombs
We'll use the one thing, we've got more of
That's our minds”


“Red Right Hand” – Nick Cave

Nick Cave’s songs often explore the more sinister side of humanity, so they are perfect for Sherlock to listen to when getting into the mindset of a criminal. “Red Right Hand” is a particularly catchy ode to evil:

“He's a ghost, he's a god,
he's a man, he's a guru
You're one microscopic cog
in his catastrophic plan
Designed and directed by
his red right hand.”

“Smarter Than You” – The Undertones

If Sherlock had to pick a single anthem, it could very well be this song. Because, let’s be honest, it’s probably true; he’s smarter than most of us. And he wouldn’t shy away from flaunting his superior brain, singing:

“I’m a little intellectual
Someone who knows it all…
I'm a little smarter than you
Smarter than you, smarter than you
Can't you see I'm smarter?”

“We Are Detective” – Thompson Twins

First, let’s set aside the title’s grammatical issues of pairing a plural pronoun with a singular noun. That said, this song of paranoia and investigation is perfect for when Mr. Holmes wants to enjoy a light, new wave groove.

“We dress up in disguise
To get away from all those prying eyes
Our friends all think we're mad
But we know better.”



“Psychological” – Pet Shop Boys

As someone who spends a lot of time in his “mind palace” and who can intuit a great deal about a person’s character with minimal cues, Sherlock is bound to be fond of songs with a cerebral theme. A sample lyric:

“Is it a cry for help
or call to arms?
False alarms
It's psychological

“Private Investigations” – Dire Straits

While this song was inspired by the work of Raymond Chandler, the moody, melodic number can just as easily apply to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional sleuth:

“Confidential information
It’s in a diary
This is my investigation
Its not a public inquiry

I go checking out the reports
Digging up the dirt
You get to meet all sorts
In this line of work”


What other songs do you think Sherlock Holmes would in his playlist? Let us know on Twitter at @QuirkBooks!

And below for handy listening, is a Spotify playlist for all the songs featured in this post: 

Margarita Montimore

Margarita Montimore

Margarita writes upmarket fiction and is represented by Victoria Skurnick at Levine Greenberg Rostan. She also transcribes and pokes fun at her old journal entries at The Diary Project. When not wrangling her ever-growing book and movie collections or feeding squirrels and chipmunks, she dreams of the day time machines are built so that she can return to the 1980s. Follow her on Twitter at @damiella.