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No Canned Muzak: The Official Boardroom Omega Playlist

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Boardroom Omega has just arrived on Kindles everywhere, so you know what that means. It’s time for another playlist.

The Genesis of Boardroom Omega

Boardroom is one of the most unique projects I’ve ever worked on, in that it practically wrote itself. The idea came to me in late January 2021 and would not leave me alone. By the end of March 2021, I had a completed draft.

I read that draft over a couple of times, then decided to let it sit. Toward the end of April or the start of May, I read it yet again.

The cover for Boardroom Omega, Book One of the Omega on Top Series, features a blond man in a blue suit superimposed on a cityscape.

It was still very solid.

Not finding anything immediately wrong with it, I sent it on to beta readers. I awaited their feedback, hoping they’d tell me what was “wrong” with it.

The answer? Very little, it seemed. I made some adjustments based on suggestion. The overall consensus at this point was the book I’d randomly written was a feel-good, fun, easy-reading novel. And that was despite dealing with some fairly heavy topics.

Editor found very little wrong with it. At this point, I was starting to freak out: Had I written the perfect book? I stalled out in writing. There was no way to follow that up.

The first few ratings to roll in did not change that perception either. Finally, someone gave the book three stars. Ah, I thought, I can write again because I’ve screwed it up!

What Was I Listening To?

I wondered if I’d sacrificed a goat, made a pact with a demon, or otherwise invoked black magic. (This is also where I was nervous—what the heck had I done to write a perfect book? And how the heck did I do it again?)

Music, for me, is a key component in writing anything. From a book to an essay, having the right music is integral to scene competition, vibes, and more.

So, what was I listening to while writing Boardroom Omega?

The answer is perhaps more baffling: nothing that I wasn’t already listening to. It wasn’t like I suddenly found all this amazing new music that inspired me. (That does happen from time to time.) No, Boardroom’s playlist is a mishmash of every other playlist I’ve ever put together—because that’s what I listened to while writing.

One of the constants was the Final Fantasy VII: Remake soundtrack; I’m only going to pick one or two tracks from that because it seems silly to list more; the official soundtrack for my book would look like the official soundtrack for a very popular video game.

Sounds of an Urban Landscape

One of the reasons the FF7:R soundtrack appealed is that the soundtrack is engineered for a futuristic city. Boardroom isn’t a true fantasy or sci-fi landscape, but it does have a more urban (and corporate) backdrop.

Of course, FF7:R isn’t the only piece of media to ever make use of that kind of backdrop. There are quite a few pop songs that evoke similar feelings or thoughts. “So Close” by Felix Jaehns would be one of them. The lyrics about apartments certainly evoke an urban landscape.

I’m not entirely sure why, but Lady Gaga’s “Rain on Me” also evokes an urban landscape for me. This song is fitting for Boardroom Omega for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is what Gaga says the lyrics really mean.

Charli XCX’s music isn’t necessarily “urban” so much as it’s techno-tronic futuristic. (Indeed, the whole PC Music movement tends to be.) The dissonant sounds could certainly evoke a dystopian kind of feel—and that’s something mirrored in urban landscapes during late capitalism. Almost all of Charli’s 2020 album, How I’m Feeling Now, could fit the “vibes” of Boardroom. I’ll restrict myself to a couple of picks. “Enemy” has to be first on the list, because it speaks to Perce’s hesitancy to hook up with anyone. He’s very much a character who guards himself. Jake inadvertently takes those walls down, just by being around.

The other pick would be “Anthems,” less for its lyrical content and more for its sound profile. This definitely fits that vaguely futuristic vibe, the dissonance of a dystopia. That’s fitting for the landscape of this novel: it’s vaguely contemporary, yet vaguely futuristic. (If you’re paying attention, you’ll find out exactly what era we’re in.) The landscape seems familiar, yet it’s not. Not entirely.

Futuristic Retro

The next couple of songs are what I’d termed futuristic nostalgia—they’re songs that look forward while also looking back. They mix retro sounds with a sort of future vision.

“Music Sounds Better” by Stardust—a Daft Punk-esque venture from the mid-1990s—is one of those tracks. It takes its cues from the 1970s and the disco era, but it mixes it with techno-tronic sounds (similar to what Charli XCX and other PC music/hyperpop artists are doing with their works). It’s also a classic track; it’s still an earworm twenty, thirty years later. The vibe of the song also fits with Jake and Perce, the idea that they’re better together than they are apart.

“Don’t Call Me Baby” by Madison Avenue is a similar track: it samples heavily from 1970s disco, even though it was a techno track produced in the late 1990s. The song was popular then, and it still can get stuck in your head. This one, I picked more for Perce—much like the singer of this song is rebelling against late 20th century notions of femininity, Perce is rejecting the paradigm used to frame what omegas should and shouldn’t do. The idea that Jake or any other alpha might be playing with fire by hooking up with Perce is perfect.

The Sexy Stuff

One of the best parts of Boardroom Omega, I think, is how much Jake and Perce are into each other. These two are sexually compatible before everything else, as proven in their initial hookup. Both of them eschew traditional roles in the bedroom: Jake is the alpha, but he’s submissive, into being dominated. Perce, as much as he’s the omega, is domineering—just like he is in the boardroom. The two of them do discuss some (light) kink, which both of them seem willing to explore.

Another facet of their relationship is how well they communicate—not just about the emotional stuff either. Consent is negotiated every step of the way in the bedroom. They are absolutely into just about everything they suggest to each other.

Of course, sex scenes also get their own soundtrack. For these two, Rihanna’s “S&M” was a good fit. They don’t get into on-page, but I’m not sure either of them would object (I mean, I don’t know everything about my characters—they take on a life of their own).

A close-up of several black leather items, including a ball gag, a whip, and wrist cuffs, linked by a silver chain, with red strawberries interspersed on a black background.
(Екатерина Мясоед / Pexels.com)

“Make Your Move,” which was originally a hit for the Poynter Sisters in the 1980s and then remixed in the early aughts, is another song that seemed to hint at the sexual risks Jake and Perce are taking with each other.

The next pick is plenty kitschy, but I thought if there was a book this song might work for, it was probably Boardroom Omega: “Work from Home” by Fifth Harmony. The song is absolutely shameless in its lyricism; there’s no doubt the singer is enticing their partner to stay home and have sex, calling it work. Since Perce is so career-oriented, this works perfectly for him—especially when he drags Jake home the office for a romp.

There’s plenty of discourse around sex scenes in novels; some people believe they don’t do anything to advance the plot or character building. For them, sex is always gratuitous, only there to please porn addicts.

I think they’re missing the nuance; sex scenes can be absolutely integral to character development or even plot developments. (That’s not to say they’re always necessary; it’s more that the writer needs to be judicious about them when they’re writing a particular genre or heat level.) For Perce and Jake, sex is as much an emotional act as it is a physical one.

If there’s a pop artist whose oeuvre seems to loan itself to that, it has to be Harry Styles. Both “Adore You” and “Watermelon Sugar” are seductive jams that hint at something more than the physical—as much as they’re about that too.

That’s probably the best summary of Jake and PerceI have. As much as they’re about the physical, they’re also about something deeper, something more emotional.

Maybe that’s what made Boardroom Omega such a joy to write—and maybe, hopefully, what makes it a joy to read too.

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