7 Icy Songs & 7 Cool Books


7 Icy Songs & 7 Cool Books

by Julia Bergen & a cat

Yo VIP, let’s kick it.

Ice. It’s cool. It’s…there. But there’s not much humor to it. Not like sand

But with winter upon us, we wanted to make an article about ice. But how to give ice a little chaos, a little twinkle, a little magic?

We thought. And we thought.




And thus was born, the chaotic, twinkling, maybe even magical, icy songs and books pairing listicle.

The Cradle of Ice by James RollinsVanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby + James Rollins’ The Cradle of Ice

Taken in a certain light, Vanilla Ice’s classic Ice Ice Baby is a quest song. A group of heroes must collaborate and listen. They travel for a while, pursuing to the next stop. Action heats up when Gunshots ranged out like a bell and our heroes must get away before the jackers jack. But in the end they pull together as if with a rallying cry of, if there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.

What does that make you think of?

Obviously, the fantasy epic The Cradle of Ice by James Rollins! Where a soldier, a thief, a lost prince, and a young girl must form a fellowship to stop an apocalypse by traveling into a vast region of ice and to a sprawling capital of the world they’ve only known in stories. It’s an incredible, gripping fantasy, because Rollins truly understands that “anything less than the best is a felony.”

The Atlas Six by Olivie BlakePat Benetar’s Fire And Ice + Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six

This anthem to the inevitability of attraction and heartbreak is the perfect tune to compliment the messy, messy personal dynamics at play in The Atlas Six. In the book, six powerful magicians do graduate research and contemplate asking out their crushes and murdering their friends. In the song, Pat Benetar is familiar with the capricious and cruel nature of the one she’s craving (You come on like a flame, then you turn a cold shoulder), but knowledge is not enough to prevent carnage. She knows if she surrenders to the heat she feels, it’ll fall away and she’ll be left in the cold (I want to give you my love, but you’ll just take a little piece of my heart). 

In the end, Pat seems determined not to fall for her crush’s games, while the characters of The Atlas Six are pretty much incapable of not allowing their peers to burn them, but talk is cheap. 

Ask Atlas Society resident Tristan Caine if he’s going back for more Fire And Ice, knowing he’ll be hurt, and he’ll tell you to shut up and get lost, but that’s only because he has somewhere to be. 

Also something something re: Robert Frost’s poem about fire, ice, and the end of the world. 

starter villain by john scalziForeigner’s Cold as Ice + John Scalzi’s Starter Villain

Okay, on the outside, Cold as Ice by Foreigner may seem like it’s about a broken-hearted ex describing a former lover’s rejection. But ice can be deceiving, just like this song! I think it’s actually about a group of billionaire super villains trying to run the world, much like the cabal in John Scalzi’s sf romp, Starter Villain

They are cold as ice. They are willing to sacrifice. The line you’re digging for gold, particularly relevant, as these turds are just as into money as they into power. You want paradise well, their version of paradise, anyway. You leave the world behind, they don’t care about the world, they just want what they can get out of it.

But it ends on a hopeful note, as both Starter Villain and Foreigner promise us, someday you’ll pay the price, I know. Oh, we know.

the archive undying by emma mieko candonPinkPantheress & Ice Spice’s Boy’s a liar Pt. 2 + Emma Mieko Candon’s The Archive Undying

So before getting into more advanced parsing, The Archive Undying is a match for Boy’s a liar Pt. 2 because every boy in this book is lying through his teeth. Now, you could say that about all the women characters, nonbinary characters, and nonhuman characters too, and you’d be right. But Sunai, who is the main character of The Archive Undying—well, you just want to grab him by shoulders and plead with him to love himself a little and tear himself away from the long line of men that have only emotionally devastated him, knowing that Sunai himself is absolutely one of those men. The lyrics I don’t sleep enough without you / And I can’t eat enough without you are very Sunai-coded; he’s definitely not taking care of himself. He’s a man who would sooner feed himself to a giant starving robot than love himself enough to tell someone he loves them. 

the bezzle by cory doctorowBilly Joel’s Running on Ice + Cory Doctorow’s The Bezzle

When we were picking out pairings, this one felt like an obvious choice. Although Billy Joel could not possibly have read The Bezzle (on sale 2.20.2024) when he wrote Running on Ice (part of Joel’s album The Bridge, released 7.9.1986), it does feel like this song is about forensic accountant Martin Hench, AKA the culmination of technology and civilized experience.

The song describes someone pushed to the brink by modern civilization, and though the narrator doesn’t specifically say that he’s battling amoral billionaires trying to make their next buck no matter the cost, it’s basically implied. In a world of high rise ambition most people’s motives are ulterior? Definitely what Hench runs into in both Red Team Blues and the follow up, The Bezzle, where now he’s pitted against a group of the ultra rich taking advantage of the private prison system to make even more money. Poor Martin Hench, always wandering into another nefarious scheme. But as the song says, as soon as I get one fire put out

There’s another building burning down.

At least that means we’ve got lots of Martin Hench adventures to read?

last exit by max gladstoneSimon & Garfunkel’s A Hazy Shade of Winter + Max Gladstone’s Last Exit

Look around / Leaves are brown / And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

Last Exit is kind of like that. Look around—things are not as they were. Leaves are brown—no youth, no hope. There’s a patch of snow on the ground

In the distant past before the events of Last Exit, Zelda and her friends discovered a magic sort of spiritual momentum that could propel one into a different dimension. The roads to alternate realities were a navigable spiderweb, and they knew they could use their findings to improve not just their world, but all of them. 

There’s a patch of snow on the ground

They were wrong, and they suffered for it, and the future is colder than the past. The rot between worlds—an interdimensional sickness—claimed Zelda’s girlfriend, but she’s still out there. Calling. Approaching. Does the old gang have enough idealism left to band together for one last adventure? 

There’s a patch of snow on the ground.

It is very cold. 

projections by s.e. porterChristina Perri’s Jar of Hearts + S. E. Porter’s Projections

When we made this list, things were pretty silly. We called our brainstorming sess ice ice meeting. We were so, so goofy.  But honestly, a lot of these songs that invoke ice are about pain, which perhaps we could have anticipated, had we not been so initially focused on Vanilla Ice. 

Anyway, the ice in Jar of Hearts comes from this chorus: You’re gonna catch a cold / From the ice inside your soul / So don’t come back for me / Who do you think you are? The novel Projections is about as harrowing as those lines. A rejected sorcerer murders Catherine, the woman who denied him, and then sends projections of himself out into the world to seduce more women to add them to his jar of hearts. 

Catherine’s not about this, and haunts him. Seeks vengeance. As Christina Perri sang, Don’t you know I’m not your ghost anymore? 

The song and book aren’t 1-1 parallels, but the notes are all present. The hurt. The betrayal. The haunting. 

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