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Adib Khorram’s KISS & TELL boyband playlist

Did you know Adib Khorram wrote the amazing queer YA book about a boy band you’ve always wanted, AND wrote you a playlist to jam to while you read?

So, if you’re ready to go on tour with Hunter Drake and the Kiss & Tell crew, scroll down, grab your headphones, and kick back for a reading/jam session.

Oh, and bonus: Adib gave us some insider info about why he chose each song!

kiss and tell

From Author Adib Khorram:

KISS & TELL is the story of Hunter Drake, the only out gay member of a hit Canadian boyband, navigating a messy breakup, a rebound romance, and the complicated nature of being queer in the public eye. So it’s probably no surprise I listened to lots of boy bands while writing it—but that’s not all I listened to. I listened to a ton of Pink Floyd—especially their album The Wall, which is about the isolation that comes from fame. Plus plenty of One Direction (my favorite album is definitely Midnight Memories), some boy bands from my own teen years, and a few surprises.

So here it is, my Kiss & Tell Playlist


  1. Up All Night (One Direction): I like the energy of this. And also I hope people will stay up all night reading!
  2. I Want It That Way (Backstreet Boys): I was a teen when this song came out and I saw BSB perform it on Saturday Night Live and it was definitely an awakening.
  3. It’s Gonna Be Me (*NSYNC): While I was a BSB fan, my sister, who drove us to school most mornings, was an *NSYNC fan, so this one got a lot of play, even though she is objectively wrong.
  4. Lonely (Justin Bieber, benny blanco): I’ve never been much of a Justin Bieber fan since he gives me strong “would have bullied you in middle school vibes” but maybe that’s just me. Still, this song about the pressures of fame and success when you’re young felt painfully relevant to Hunter’s journey.
  5. Have a Cigar (Pink Floyd): Maybe the best song ever written about the music industry?
  6. Glad You Came (The Wanted): To be honest I’m not a huge fan of The Wanted but I do like this song and the clever wordplay in the lyrics.
  7. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd, but I included my favorite live version because why not?): This is one of my favorite songs, about the longing for connection, and the feeling of missing people who aren’t here. Hunter’s pretty lonely at times.
  8. You & I (One Direction): Okay but this is an amazing ballad: great guitar work, stellar vocals, and it’s gender neutral which is awesome!
  9. Wu Ji [Chorus Edition] (Xiao Zhan, Wang Yibo): The Untamed was my emotional support C-drama through the deepest part of the pandemic, when everything was shutdown and I couldn’t leave home at all, and this song takes me back to those big feelings I had when I watched it, of a love that transcends everything, even death. Also it’s very very gay, and somehow being censored for queer content managed to make it even more gay!
  10. Yuri on ICE (Taro Umebayashi): The entire soundtrack for Yuri!!! On Ice is amazing but this piano-heavy track that Yuri does his free skate to manages to capture an entire journey in under four minutes. To be honest I just listen to this song when I need to remind myself that even when we stumble, we can pick ourselves up again.
  11. THATS WHAT I WANT (Lil Nas X): This song wasn’t even out when I was writing KISS & TELL but it’s pretty much perfect: love and heartbreak and so much gay excellence.
  12. Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd, but again, this is my second favorite live version, since Spotify doesn’t have the version with special guest David Bowie): Quite possibly one of the greatest musical representations of the “dark night of the soul” I’ve ever heard. Also one of the greatest guitar solos of all time.
  13. Best Song Ever (One Direction): I mean. It is, right?
Penguin Teen