what would the soundtrack to ‘10 things i hate about you’ sound like now?
Kendrick Lamar's 'Humble' is the only song worthy of Kat Stratford's iconic table dance scene.
This article originally appeared on i-D US.
In the zeitgeist of 90s cinema, few films have shaped pop culture quite like 10 Things I Hate About You. Julia Stiles’ award-winning performance as Kat Stratford, the ultimate angsty teen, is now viewed as one of the 90s’ best movie moments. The film also had a killer soundtrack and a razor-sharp script adapted from William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, though the fashion, well, let’s just say that Kat was definitely not as fashionable as other 90s movie icons like Cher, Dionne, and Tai from Clueless, or Gina, Corey, and Debra (“Sinead O-rebellion”) from Empire Records. In fact, in the eyes of Cher, Kat and her Shakespeare-worshipping friend Mandella were probably “fashion victims.” But at least the soundtrack to 10 Things I Hate About You stacked up. It’s impossible to forget Kat getting drunk at Bogey Lowenstein’s party and dancing on the table to Biggie’s “Hypnotize,” or Letters to Cleo playing “I Want You To Want Me” on the roof of the school during the final credits.
Katarina “Kat” Stratford is a high school senior who hates pretty much everybody, but especially Joey Donner (played by Andrew Keegan), an aspiring model and self-appointed heartthrob who is trying to date her younger sister, Bianca (Larisa Oleynik). The problem is, according to their overprotective dad who claims to spend his days up to his elbows in placenta, Bianca can only date when Kat does. Enter Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger), the new kid in school who everyone’s afraid of ‘cause he rides a motorbike, smokes cigarettes, and has apparently eaten a live duck (“everything but the beak and feet”). Joey decides to pay Patrick to take Kat to the prom. Who better than the badass biker boy to woo the angsty teenage feminist, right?
Throughout the film, Kat’s hatred for all things mainstream and her disdain for men is slowly stripped away, as she succumbs to Patrick’s bad-boy charm. Though towards the end of the film we do get an explanation for Kat’s ‘I hate everything’ attitude. We find out that she’s dealing with grief from the passing of her mother, and that she once dated Joey, but broke up with him because he wanted to have sex and she wasn’t ready. She’s the ultimate complex teenage character. A real-life Daria.
In March, 10 Things I Hate About You will turn twenty. To celebrate, we’ve decided to re-do the iconic soundtrack with music we think Kat would be listening to if she was a teenager in 2019. We’re gonna take a guess and say that she’d still be wanting to play guitar, but she probably won’t be listening to cassette tapes in her car (she’s definitely got an aux cable and a Spotify account by now).
In the opening scene, Kat pulls up next to a group of preppy high school girls at an intersection blasting Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” on her car stereo. There are few songs in the history of rock music quite like it, and the opening line “I don't give a damn ‘bout my reputation” perfectly sums up Kat’s entire persona. We’re gonna switch it with Surf Bort’s “High Anxiety,” because lead singer Dani Miller, “the puking punk princess,” is the only person with a snarl that can rival Joan Jett’s.
Joey’s driving through the school parking lot playing K-Ci & JoJo’s “All My Life (Ignorants Remix)” in his red convertible. He makes fun of Kat’s outfit (“didn’t you read last month’s Cosmo?”) before offering a ride to Bianca and Chastity, who squeal with delight then jump in the back seat. We could go with Frank Ocean’s “White Ferrari,” but we think the i-D cover star is a little too sophisticated for pretty-boy Joey Donner. We’re gonna go with Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles.” It was a #1 hit, so there’s a good chance Joey would have heard of it, and it’s got the type of laidback, grandiose swagger we’re looking for.
The scene starts with an aerial shot of the Stratford home and then zooms in to show Kat in the living room reading a copy of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Angel Olsen’s fuzzy rock ‘n’ roll song “Shut Up Kiss Me” seems like the perfect song to replace Spiderbait’s “Calypso.”
Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Michael (David Krumholtz) decide to sabotage Bogey Lowenstein’s party. Air’s “Sexy Boy” begins right as they throw a handful of flyers down the school stairwell, and it continues as Joey is showing Bianca shots of him modeling and asking if she’s going to attend the party. The scene requires something psychedelic, like the shimmering guitars at the beginning of Den-Mate’s understated indie-rock anthem, “Sick.”
Patrick is really trying to woo Kat at this point in the film. After some coaxing by Cameron and Michael, he shows up at Club Skunk, where Kat’s favorite band, Letters to Cleo is performing. He runs into Kat at the bar and tries to impress her by name dropping Bikini Kill and The Raincoats. The scene requires a recognizable band (they’re Kat’s favorite, and they’re gonna appear again later in the film), but it also needs to show off Patrick’s lack of knowledge of “angry girl music of the indie-rock persuasion.” We thought about casting Soccer Mommy, but decided to go with Cherry Glazerr playing their new single, “Juicy Socks.”
To cope with having to socialize with all the cretins from her high school, Kat gets drunk on tequila. She climbs on the table to dance right as the opening beat drops in Biggie’s “Hypnotize.” To replace one of the most recognizable songs in hip-hop it takes something mammoth. Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” is the only song worthy of soundtracking this iconic scene.
Fast-forward to prom. Kay Hanley from Letters to Cleo makes an appearance, but her band is not the official prom band. That role was played by Save Ferris, a ska band from Southern California. Since the film is set in Seattle, it’s seems only fair to give Save Ferris’ role to local pop-punk band Tacocat.
After the high of seeing her favorite musician at her own high school prom, Kat finds out that Patrick was paid to date her. Jessica Riddle’s song, “Even Angels Fall,” covers this scene, and the next, which takes place the following day when Kat is sitting on her porch nursing a hangover. It’s the perfect time for a slice of Lana Del Rey’s “Venice Bitch.”
The final scene features another live performance by Letters to Cleo, this time playing “I Want You To Want Me” on the roof of the high school (the exact school is Stadium High in Tacoma, WA). The lyrics to the song are vital, because they match perfectly with the closing moments of the film when Kat forgives Patrick for being a jerk and they finally make out. We couldn’t think of a better song than Sky Ferreira’s “Boys,” with its line “you put my faith back in boys.”