Heartstopper has been a series full of fun and charismatic characters, the most exuberant of whom was definitely lead character Charlie Spring’s best friend, Tao (William Gao). A lover of dance, music, and cinema, the songs listed below are picks we know Tao would’ve loved.
1. ‘I’ll Be There For You’ by The Rembrandts
Best known as the theme song for the classic sitcom Friends (1994-2004), this is a perfectly high-spirited rock n’roll tune about supporting your friends no matter what. Free of cynicism, it could definitely lift Tao’s mood on a gloomy day.
2. ‘Cross You Out’ by Charli XCX (ft. Sky Ferreira)
Tao also likely would have been a big Charli XCX fan, and ‘Cross You Out’, her powerful duet with indie pop artist Sky Ferreira, is a powerfully impassioned ballad about breaking away from toxic friendships. Considering the temporary rift that occurred between Tao and Charlie in season 1, he probably would’ve listened to this during that time.
3. ‘I Want to Be With You’ by Chloe Moriondo
A song directly from the show’s soundtrack, this probably would’ve been perfect for Tao as he and his best friend Elle Argent (Yasmin Finney) realized their blossoming romantic feelings for each other. Heck, he could’ve actually used this to express how he felt!
4. ‘I’ve Been Thinking About You’ by Mariah Carey
From one of the most popular pop singers of our time, we know Tao would’ve loved this, because it could be used to relate to his feelings for Elle, as well as his constant concern for Charlie, as he joined the rugby team in order to get closer to Nick (Kit Conor).
5. ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry
Now this totally would be a perfect piece for Tao. A social outcast much like Charlie, this aspiring dancer could surely relate to the song’s message about not letting yourself feel like wasted space, and finding your voice, which could be applied to Tao’s aspirations as a dancer, and his struggle to be taken seriously amongst his peers.
6. ‘Count On Me’ by Bruno Mars
A song not just about supporting your friends, this one is all about conveying to your friends that you will always be there as a form of support. This definitely matches Tao’s internal conflict as he tried to support Charlie, despite not approving of his budding relationship with Nick, or being afraid of how Nick’s friends would treat Charlie.
7. ‘I’m On Top of the World’ by Imagine Dragons
Fitting in with Tao’s fiery personality, this famous Imagine Dragons hit could definitely be his anthem, as his upbeat mood and outlook was ultimately what allowed him to embrace his feelings for Elle, his ultimate support of Charlie and Nick’s relationship, and his love for the art of dance.
8. ‘Since U Been Gone’ by Kelly Clarkson
Tao would probably also listen to Kelly Clarkson’s modern classic hit as he temporarily stopped talking to Charlie. Despite not initially liking seeing him around Nick or his homophobic friends, Tao’s obvious regret over distancing from his bestie is captured perfectly here.
9. ‘Could It Be Another Change’ by The Samples
Best known for its usage in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), this soulful piece about how you can’t love anyone or anything till you love yourself, surely speaks to Tao, and his relationship with Charlie. As someone who’s uniquely aware of Charlie’s self-loathing, this feels like something he would have played for his best friend as a sign that he was worth more than what his bullies would want him to believe.
10. ‘I See the Light’ from Tangled
This lyrical beauty from Tangled (2010) would be a perfect date night song for Tao and Elle, as they finally confronted their mutual romantic interest in the season 1 finale, and had their first kiss. For two people who feel so unseen in their daily lives, they make each other feel seen, and are totally at home in each other’s company, which is a beautiful thing to find in life.
11. ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ by Randy Newman
Now, this one MIGHT be by an older artist, but the iconic original song from Toy Story (1995) matches with Tao’s ultimate support of Charlie, no matter what, the same way peanut butter matches with jelly. No matter what their disagreements, or whatever happens to Charlie, Tao will happily always be there for him.
12. ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ by One Direction
We have a feeling One Direction’s music would be right up Tao’s alley. And nothing would hit him harder more than their breakout smash, ‘What Makes You Beautiful’. While intended as an expression of romantic love, Tao could also use this as a sign of support and motivation for Charlie, someone who didn’t initially see himself as being worthy or special.
13. ‘Song for Zula’ by Phosphorecent
Though written as a breakup song, had Tao fully broken up with Charlie, his best friend, this could have easily come as therapeutic for him in that situation. Even though that never happened, Tao’s feelings of betrayal as Charlie grew closer to Nick, and hung out with him and Elle less, this tearjerker would help him cope.
14. ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele
Tao obviously had a hard time dealing with Charlie’s budding connection with Nick, as he’s always had a dependence on always being together with him and Elle. And while Adele’s modern classic is primarily about closeness and dependency in romantic relationships, this could fit Tao’s internal journey as he came to accept his best friend’s social life outside of him.
15. ‘How to Save a Life’ by The Fray
This famous selection by The Fray could totally be tied into Tao’s struggle to protect Charlie from his own self-loathing, and its deeper message about helping someone avoid a downward spiral.
16. ‘If You Love Her’ by Forest Blakk and Meghan Trainor
This beautiful love song is something that would’ve been a great motivator for Tao to express his true affection for Elle. While the artist had meant it as a tribute to his former partner, it is a beautiful expression of gratitude towards the best person you know.
17. ‘You Know My Name’ by Chris Cornell
Co-written with David Arnold for the Bond film Casino Royale, this completely relates itself to Tao’s deeper reluctance to open up to anyone outside of his two best friends. Talking all about protecting yourself, out of the fear that others will only betray you, it’s a heartbreaking work that Tao could probably empathize with.
18. ‘Best Day of My Life’ by American Authors
This banger from the beloved group taps wonderfully into Tao’s, in the end, relentless optimism despite all his internal and external struggles. He’s a character who always seems convinced that everything’s gonna be okay, and this would absolutely be on his personal playlist.
19. ‘A Thousand Years’ by Christina Perri
This melodic declaration of love would have been a great accompaniment to Tao’s realization that he was in love with Elle, his closest friend outside of Charlie. Perfectly emphasizing the feeling of ‘Where have you been all my life’, we’re sure Tao probably felt he’d been waiting for Elle for a thousand years, once they finally realized how they felt about each other.
20. ‘Sky on Fire’ by Handsome Poets
We all know Tao is all about loyalty, and sticking together with your friends through thick and thin, and this upbeat song about supporting each other, good times or bad, probably would’ve been used by Tao as the anthem for his bond with Elle and Charlie.