My Definitive Ranking of Every Song From ‘Julie and the Phantoms’

In case you’ve been living under a rock this autumn, Kenny Ortega (the visionary director behind High School Musical and Descendants) has returned with his latest project. It’s a nine-episode Netflix Family series about a girl, Julie, who plays a CD of the tunes from ’90s boy band Sunset Curve (who sounds eerily similar to 5SOS, just saying) when the band — now [cute] ghosts — appear to her. So, naturally, they form a band together because they are all musically inclined. This show is one of my new favorite Netflix obsessions even though I’m way older its suggested demographics. But, oh well, it’s just that good. Part of the reason, I’m loving JATP is due to its bop-worthy soundtrack because all 15 tracks are massive hits, I promise you.

So, for all my fellow JATP-loving fans and unapologetic Sunset Curve stans, here’s my official, definitive ranking of the entire soundtrack.

15. “All Eyes on Me”

Sure, this track has a catchy beat that makes me want to dance like the girls of Dirty Candy, and Alex too, but that’s about it. Now, when the pandemic is over, who wants to join me and choreograph our own dance to this track and become our own version of Dirty Candy?


14. “I Got the Music”

Yes, these young ladies are absolutely, incredibly talented, but this just isn’t my type of music. It’s the hip hop-py vibe and yelling thing that I just can’t get into. But, it’s very upbeat and has me wishing I could be in a flash mob every day of my life.


13. “Wow”

Seriously, Carrie is poised to be a miniature pop star already. Girl has the drive, determination, and precision to be the leader of a girl group. Flawless, that’s right.


12. “You’ve Got Nothing to Lose”

What do you get when you put Broadway veteran Cheyenne Jackson in a musical TV show? A fabulous musical number, obviously. This track has a big-band feel that makes me want to get up and dance. Also, Dancing With the Stars producers are seriously lacking if they don’t give one of their couples a quickstep or something to this number. I need to see it.


11. “Wake Up”

Madison Reyes was born to sing and be a star, that’s for sure, and this track proves that tenfold. This is only No. 11 because it’s less catchy than some other tunes, and I’m less likely to have this stuck in my head, singing and dancing along at every aspect. It’s still incredible, because of her voice, just wow.


10. “Edge of Great”

Here’s pure proof that this band was meant to play together. Like, their chemistry as a group is just electric and gives me chills every time. Also, I just want to stand on all my furniture and belt out their tunes. Seriously, if there’s a concert, I’ll be first in line to buy tickets next to all the teenybopper fans.


9. “Flying Solo”

This ode to best friends is beyond precious, but also makes me wanna sing and dance along throughout my entire apartment. Next time you want to tell your besties how much you appreciate them for always supporting you, just send them this link and that alone will say a lot.


8. “The Other Side of Hollywood”

But this Cheyenne Jackson number is pure Broadway and I love this track for that exact reason. It has a 1920s-inspired groovy beat, and it’s everything us theater nerds love. It’s flashy, has killer vocals, and perfect dance breaks. Yes, please!


7. “Perfect Harmony”

This ballad is absolutely pure and romantic from the very first moment that Luke appears through the mirror to dance with Julie, and gah, I’m a puddle. It’s so freaking cute, my heart has melted for these two and this beautiful duet.


6.”This Band is Back (Reggie’s Jam)”

This feels like a backyard jam sesh and is just plain, good fun! It starts with my favorite line, “Come on, Reginald” which, of course, I say every time I listen to. It’s just such a fun, cute line because Reggie is so lovable and underrated as a character. This track is just for fun, I dig it.


5. “Now or Never”

The opening number of the entire show gives off so much 5 Seconds of Summer vibes, and as a 5SOS stan, I’m on board. It has that rocking boy band music type that makes me want to stan Sunset Curve as a massive fangirl (oops, too late). Now, excuse me as I go blast this track and dance around my apartment while I do my chores.


4. “Bright”

For the first time the band played together in front of a crowd, I have chills. Their chemistry together is electric, pure poetry, and I’m obsessed; just call me a Fantom already!! This band was just meant to play together, and then, uhh, Luke, his voice is like an angel.


3. “Finally Free”

I think the section where Luke and Julie share a mic, look deep into each other’s eyes, and repeat “I got a spark in me” is why I love this so much. They ooze chemistry and it just makes me melt, like gah, it’s so perfect. Other than that, it’s an upbeat track that makes me want to sing along and dance around. I love it. Also, I saw a TikTok theorizing that Kenny Ortega included this song as the follow-up to HSM‘s “Breaking Free,” which, ahhhh, that would be amazing.


2. “Stand Tall”

This song is now my go-to confidence-building, empowering track to power pose to before I have to do anything important. Seriously, hit play and then power pose for the duration of the track, it works every time. When the song ends, you’ll feel so freaking empowered and fierce, ready to conquer the world. Which, like, yes, we need more of that especially as women in today’s world. Plus, each of the guys’ solos make my heart race, and then Luke’s grand entrance, after nearly giving me a heart attack, was everything to see him get there and it made me smile.


1. “Unsaid Emily”

Here’s the big one. The all-time best. The one that makes me cry literally every single time I hear it. And if Spotify is on shuffle and this comes on, then I’m a goner. It’s so vulnerable and raw, but so beautiful and authentic that I’ll always stan Charlie Gillespie and his character of Luke because look at his range! Look at what this boy can do! Now, considering the emotional impact of “Unsaid Emily” and Luke’s backstory, I’m gonna need all the tissues when Season 2 (please, please, please renew this, Netflix!) gives us songs and moments about both Reggie’s and Alex’s backstories.

7 More New Books I Couldn’t Put Down

Oh, we’re still stuck at home? Ha ha ha, It’s July already. Well, I’ve still been reading and just powering through my spring-summer TBR, and finding even more new reads to add to it. And out of my latest reading list, I’ve discovered so many more new authors and books that I’ve loved that have provided some much-needed comfort during this weird time.

So, welcome back to Miranda’s Book Nook with more of my latest book recommendations. I hope you find these books as engaging, fun, impactful, and comforting as I have.

Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe by Sarah Mlynowski

Honestly, I immediately preordered this on Amazon as soon as I saw the title alone, because that happens to be one of my all-time favorite camp songs, “A Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe,” so yea, it was a definite. Then, I read the description, and it was a YA romance set at sleepaway camp. Though, I went to an all-girls camp and never had a camp fling because we had no boys on the premises, it still remains one of my favorite teen romance tropes.

We follow Sam who’s summer isn’t off to a great start when her boyfriend Eli heads out on a European backpacking trip and she’s back at the summer camp she hated as a kid and now a counselor. There, she meets good-looking sailing counselor Gavin who also spends his free periods with his girlfriend who is also in Europe this summer. Cue the inevitable friendship, which of course, turns into a bona fide summer fling. While Eli is away and Gavin is right there, Sam learns exactly what she’s really looking for and what she isn’t. This book is sectioned off by the different camp weeks, from staff training, the first week, and the last week, which is how chapters are divided. It’s a fun, summertime YA read for all of us who are missing camp because they’re either too old or COVID ruined the fun.

Available: Now


Most Likely by Sarah Watson

Another book I knew I had to get immediately, but this time, based solely on the author. Sure, it’s her debut novel, but Sarah Watson created one of my all-time favorite TV series, The Bold Type, and that was enough to tell me I needed this book for my collection. Here, we follow for best friends throughout their senior year of high school, and one of whom will eventually be President of the United States — except you have no clue who it is.

BFFs Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha have been a foursome for their entire lives. By senior year, these vastly different personalities face their faces about growing up and what they want to do. The prologue indicates one girl is about to be sworn in as the first female president. But of course, we never see the name. This way, as you read the book, you can see each of the girls equalling taking on the gig. The prologue did set aside some hints that could potentially help you figure out which girl is the prez. Well, I had my predictions (which, of course, was right LOL), but even I kept second-guessing myself because it could have been anyone’s future story. They are all interesting, smart, and engaging characters on their own. And together? They are a powerful force to be reckoned with in this tale of four best friends who have each other’s back through all the highs and lows of high school and beyond.

Available: Now


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Yep, of course I read the new Hunger Games book, no surprise there. Now, I don’t want to give too much away to avoid spoilers before other HG fans have a chance to power through all 500+ pages or the movie adaptation comes out. But, I do have to say that I didn’t hate it. And Snow as the protagonist, well, I didn’t hate him, but I certainly didn’t like him. That being said, it was interesting to see how Snow got to the dictator-like position he has the original book.

Here, we go back 60-something years to the morning of the tenth annual Games. For the first time, Capital teens at the prestigious Academy will serve as mentors to the tributes to jumpstart their adult societal statuses. Eighteen-year-old orphan Coriolanus Snow is assigned to mentor the female tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird. You see, Snow needs this victory to restore his family’s position and wealth in society to what it once was. The Games are totally different early on, from the treatment of the tributes, the arena, and how the Games are watched/ how mentors are involved.

The book goes past an account of the Games because it’s a love story of sorts. I mean, whatever happens in the movie, we better get that Lucy-Snow compact scene, because I NEED IT. So adorable. We then see Snow and Lucy Gray navigate post-Games life, together and apart. And wowza, I did not see that twist ending coming with Snow’s ultimate fate and the master plan. I mean, mind blown.

Available: Now


You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria*

This was the ultimate, perfect summer beach rom-com read and I enjoyed devouring every morsel of Jasmine’s and Ashton’s stories. Here, readers are thrust into soap star Jasmine’s fast-paced Hollywood world immediately, and I’m captivated and just want to keep reading.  Both telenovela star Ashton and Jasmine have their own complex backstories, which makes them so much more vulnerable, intriguing, and dynamic as characters. It’s a quick, indulgent telenovela-inspired romance read and gives me Jane the Virgin vibes.

In the book, these two scene partners have a lack of chemistry after a mortifying first encounter. To build up their chemistry, the duo starts rehearsing on their own in private, and of course, they both have all the feels that they are desperately trying to ignore, because professionalism. All that tension and passion is brewing and is bound to explode. So, of course, the pair stars kissing and making out, even though they know its a bad idea. They just can’t quit each other, so we get the whole secret romance trope. Things do get, um, very steamy and descriptive, as a heads up if that’s not your thing, just a warning. But aside from that, these characters are vulnerable, emotional, and raw, and that’s why they make such endearing leads, and an eventual romance so interesting and sweet.

I love seeing more representation in the romance industry, and I love to see these romance stories are so reflective of today’s world and reality. The cute romance, the drama of telenovela, and the representation will have this all over romance readers’ radars this summer. Trust me on that one.

Available: August 4


Smash It! by Francina Simone*

This was an impactful and intriguing YA work with such a vibrant point of view, as I briefly referenced in my last post. The book features a fun, authentic tone to represent the protagonist Liv and I was so so so thrilled to see more diversity (race and body) representation in contemporary YA, I love that.

It’s the story of a shy girl who has an unrequited crush on one of her best friends. She’s ready to move and start living life, and be open to new possibilities, including finally trying out for the school musical. So, Liv makes a “F*ck It” list to inspire her to be bolder and free, and I want to make a list of my own.

The book is like a love square of romance and feelings and Liv is just so awkward and relatable, which is endearing as a reader. It’s realistic and engaging, and I love Liv’s growing sense of confidence. Like Othello, which is the school musical, there’s a lot going on with all the characters, and I just want to keep reading and get all the juicy details. Then, in the end, Eli and his letter to her is just so vulnerable and raw and I saw both of their whole hearts explode, and I felt all that emotion. As a good book should.

I’m so here for all these strong and empowered AF women that are owning their lives! Love to see it. Liv as a character finds her voice and confidence, which is so raw and honest and impactful. It made me smile to see her grow because that’s inspiring. If she can smash it, so can all of us.

Available: September 22


Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade*

First off, I love a good geeky love story. So, I was instantly intrigued by this. This story reminds me of Ashley Polston’s YA geek romances, but obviously with adults. Here, we follow two anonymous virtual pen pals that chat through a fanfiction site about their favorite TV show characters and OTP. Both Marcus and April have descriptive point-of-views that make it exciting to read on. He’s the actual star of the show they’re writing fanfic about and she’s a massive fan of the show. Also, I love to see a body-positive lead in general, and also it brings more diversity to the cosplay community. That’s always great to see. April is so proud of herself and confident, and I love to see that; even though she’s not stick-thin, she still knows her value and deserves the world.

Within a few chapters, it’s already super cute. It’s sort of like the old musical She Loves Me, where he learns they are pen pals but keeps her in the dark instead of filling her in. It’s fun to read the actual fanfics and their DMs throughout the novel, as a nod to the backstory of the characters and how they met. It’s definitely a cute romance and plenty enjoyable.

Available: October 6


Come On In: 15 Stories about Immigration and Finding Home by Adi Alsaid*

This a compelling, touching anthology of short stories about immigration and the perspectives of teens who’ve dealt with it. It tells the stories of different teens all dealing with immigration (past and present) struggles and their own racial identities, as they find a sense of belonging. With everything that’s going on in the world right now and the important fight for social justice, it’s eye-opening to see so many different worldly perspectives through these essays. Obviously, as it is a collection, some essays were more engaging than others, but they all had a unique point of view.

We see the highs and lows of immigration through these stories written by so many acclaimed YA authors. These teen characters deal with being stopped on the street, TSA detention, customs anxiety, and the terrifying journey to new places. We see fifteen different parts of the immigrant experience on these characters’ (and authors) journey to find a home.

Available: October 13


*Advance reader copies of several of the books listed were provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

It’s Time to Put on The Damn Swimsuit This Summer

Recently, the body positive movement has reached a fever pitch, especially considering we are reaching peak swimsuit season.

Now, I’m normally pretty proud of my body, accepting what I look like (FYI: it’s taken awhile to fully embrace what I look like.), but I still feel self-conscious when it comes to *shudder* wearing a bathing suit… in public.

To backtrack, I’ve known that I don’t have the traditional “bikini body” since elementary school, where I always had a little tummy sticking out of my two-piece swimsuit. And so, since third grade, I embraced the tankini (as long as it was long enough!) and one-piece life. And sure, I often felt embarrassed standing next to my skinny-mini friends in their trendy two-pieces while I seemed super modest in a Target-brand one-piece.

And by early high school, I was deeply immersed into the world of Spanx and had adapted my swimsuits to only wear ones with ruching or get a flowy cover-up, so as little of my body would be visible as possible… or just avoiding a swimsuit whenever I could get away with it. Which even meant avoiding the water on sweltering days or running into the water quickly so that as little people got a glimpse of my swimsuit and my so-called “problem areas.” But that type of beauty standards really mess with a young girl’s head. Makes you think that they way you look isn’t good enough, that no one would ever like you for it, and that really screws up your sense of self.

OK, back to my point:

In reading about all the kick-ass women out there standing up to the body shamers, it truly inspires me. Why should being a certain size be the key factor in IF you can pull off a swimsuit. New mantra: if you like the suit, wear it with pride. Body size be damned. No shallow body-shaming haters have the right to take that away from you. It hurts me to admit that worrying what other people would think about me once prevented me from enjoying my life and feeling confident in my skin.

I’ve known skinny-mini Barbie types that have admitted to feeling self-conscious in their own skin because they (who regularly fit in sizes 2-6 mind you, something I have never been) feel overweight and thus, not pretty? What?! That really put a lot in perspective for me. How do people who arguably look far more like the traditional beauty standards of models and Hollywood than I not feel confident as they are? So, then and there, I slowly started to look at my body in the mirror and learn to rock it. So what if I’ve never fit in anything less than a size 10? So what if I have a little tummy poking out of my two piece? So what if I don’t look like a supermodel? SO WHAT? At some point, I hope you can look at yourself as is, and realize you are a queen, regardless of what Hollywood would approve of.

So, I’m proposing a change this summer: PUT. ON. THAT. DAMN. SWIMSUIT. ALREADY. Rock that bikini, that crop top, that dress, those shorts, rock whatever the hell you want. It shouldn’t matter what some outsider thinks you should be wearing. If you like it, wear it. And not just wear it, OWN it.

You’ll never be okay with your body and self-image until you learn to accept it. Sure, we all have our insecurities. But, the sooner you learn that you can never look like stick-skinny Hollywood and fashion types, the better. Because it starts with acceptance. Look in the mirror and say, You are beautiful, You are awesome. Start the day with confidence. Next step, head to the pool/beach in your swimsuit — SANS cover-up. And just enjoy your freaking life. Life’s too short to worry if someone is judging your bathing suit. (I’ll save them the trouble: I may not look like a Kardashian in my swimsuit (nor will I ever), but who cares? It’s a cute suit and I feel like a supermodel when I hit the water.) BAM.

Own it, love it, live it.

…There’s your summer mantra. And mine too. We’ll get through this together.