Role Playlist: 'Mean Girls' Star Barrett Weed Fangirls Over First Aid Kit, Robyn and Cardi

Joan Marcus
Barrett Wilbert Weed (center) in the Broadway production of "Mean Girls"

A few years ago, when Barrett Weed was starring as Veronica Sawyer in Heathers: The Musical, she created a playlist of songs to prepare for the stage each night. “It was an ‘80s show, and I had to warm up for like an hour every day, so I had a long playlist for that one,” she recalls.

Since then, Weed hasn’t as closely integrated her listening choices with her acting preparation, but she still finds that a great playlist “helps [her] settle in the moment, for sure” before going on in her current role -- the sardonic Janis in Broadway’s Mean Girls.

“I have a lot of anxiety, a  constant stream of thoughts,” Weed says. “Music helps me turn it off.”

Below, she takes Billboard through the winter 2018 playlist that’s been helping her chill before belting onstage eight shows a week.

“Master Pretender,” First Aid Kit

The Swedish sister-duo are “like, my favorite band,” Weed says. This track is “the song version of the vibe I’m trying to achieve [as Janis]. It’s a very ‘up’ song about sad shit. About kind of faking your way through life. It’s a good idea to start the show with.”

“Mitchell: All I’ve Ever Known” from Hadestown: The Musical

Anais Mitchell’s rootsy musical will come to Broadway in 2019, and Weed loves this live recording of the off-Broadway production’s cast. “It’s a lovely acoustic song about being really scared to fall in love,” Weed explains of the track. “And that’s completely irrelevant to what I do in Mean Girls -- I just love the song!”

“Heartworms,” The Shins

A Shins fan since high school, Weed calls the band “angsty and quirky, always using bizarre but to-the-point sound effects.” She likes this track in particular because “it’s almost like a joke about a Beatles song -- it’s so trite, so self-aware.”

“When I Fall In Love,” Nat King Cole

Before each show, Weed likes to listen to singers with “phenomenal vocal technique -- it reminds you to get in touch with your breath and your placement, all that important stuff before you go onstage and scream.” She’s floored by Cole in particular. “His technique was like a God-given gift. To come out the gate with that gorgeous recorded voice? He’s one of the only artists I think who can get away with drama on a recording and it’s completely sincere," she says.

“Purple Rain,” Prince

As with Cole, Weed is attracted to the combination of drama and sincerity in Prince’s music, as well as his sexual fluidity. “In the show, we leave Janis’s sexuality open to interpretation,” she says. “She was a straight girl in the movie, but in the times we’re living in, I think it’s important to include people who are a little more sexually fluid, or private about their sexuality. The lyrics of ‘Purple Rain’ could definitely be a story for her about keeping secrets.”

“I Like It,” Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin

“It’s just a bop,” says Weed with a laugh. “There’s no other reason this song is on the list. The beat is sick. And it’s just a list of things she likes! Something about that makes me laugh.”

“I Wanna Get Better,” Bleachers

Weed calls this a “My Emotions!” song -- perfect for tapping into teenage angst.

“You Know I’m No Good,” Amy Winehouse

“Another excellent singer,” Weed says. “It’s so wild to listen to her recordings knowing what happened to her. She was literally telling us she was having a hard time, and we were all just bopping along, thinking it was tongue-in-cheek, and it was not.”

“Hoodie,” Hey Violet

Weed wasn’t aware of the pop-rock quartet until Spotify recommended it to her. “I was like, what’s this? And it’s the most teenage-angsty-wonderful song. Hey Violet can really tear it up.”

“Be Mine!,” Robyn

“Every single song she comes out with is a masterpiece,” says Weed of the Swedish pop queen. “I die for Robyn.”

“I’ll Be Seeing You,” Billie Holliday

Weed is a big fan of older recordings like this one, on which sonic imperfections aren’t masked by Auto-Tune or other technological innovations. As for Holliday, “I don’t need to explain the beauty of Billie Holliday. I love these old sentimental songs.”

“In a Sentimental Mood,” Duke Ellington & John Coltrane

Weed rarely makes it this far through her playlist by show time, “but this needed to go on it for ceremony purposes. It’s just a very glamorous, fabulous recording!”


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