THE MUSIC BEHIND EUPHORIA
The soundtrack that amplifies the high emotions of HBO’s Euphoria
by Talia Zakalik
Currently airing its second season on HBO, Euphoria has captured the attention of a young audience all over the world. The fashion, glittery eye makeup, moody lighting, and high-quality production value (courtesy of A24) have set it apart from other shows currently on the market.
Euphoria relies heavily on its aesthetics to go beyond being labeled as an average teen drama, with its soundtrack being a key component in doing so.
Labrinth, a British electronic and pop singer, produced most of the show's soundtrack during season one. His music combines elements of traditional EDM, rap, pop, and R&B, truly capturing the essence of Euphoria.
The music was at times dark, yet also upbeat, representing the themes in the show. Rue, a teenager, played by Zendaya, battles addiction while narrating the lives and struggles of those around her. Zendaya even contributed her vocal abilities by collaborating on "All For Us" with Labrinth, which was used in a critical scene in season one.
"Nate Growing Up" is another excellent example of Labrinth's ability to match the scene's tone. This song is high energy and aggressive and plays in the background of a montage of Nate's traumatic childhood, leading him to become the problematic character he is today. The contrasting peaceful moments within the song forces the audience to contemplate feeling sorry for Nate. Yet, Labrinth quickly brings us back to reality by shifting back to the original fast-paced beats.
"Formula," "Forever," and "Still Don't Know My Name" are a few of my personal favorites and serve as high-quality music to listen to even if one has never seen Euphoria.
However, Labrinth is not the only artist featured on the soundtrack. Euphoria utilizes songs across multiple genres and decades to best capture the tone of its scenes.
Season one showcased a wide range of tracks such as "Just Me and You" by Dreamliners, "Juicy" by Doja Cat, "MALAMENTE" by Rosalia, and "A Song for You" by Donny Hathaway. Many older songs from the '50s, '60s, and '70s played to serve as a nice contrast to the rest of the show's commitment to Gen Z references.
Season two built off of its predecessor. This season featured more niche, vintage music, such as "Come Rain or Come Shine" by Judy Garland, "Right Down the Line" by Gerry Rafferty, "Dirty Work" by Steely Dan, "It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over" by Lenny Kravitz, and "Hypnotize" by The Notorious B.I.G..
Amazingly, the music consistently fits the scene it is assigned. "Dirty Work" plays while Fez—a high school drug dealer—has a tense standoff at a drug deal gone wrong. The song is able to capture both the tense situation and the contrasting laidback characteristics of Fez.
Season two included Lana Del Rey's "Watercolor Eyes," written and produced specifically for the Euphoria soundtrack. Del Rey's song plays as the credits roll at the end of an episode, leaving the viewer with an empty feeling.
While Labrinth is still contributing music, it's nice to see other artists enter the mix. Some of the older songs in season two are now being re-popularized on TikTok.
Euphoria offers a soundtrack that not only makes the show, but also explores music while breaking genre barriers. It exists as proof that when music is combined with other mediums, magic happens.
Whether you tune into Euphoria every Sunday or have never seen the show, the soundtrack can serve as a starting point to explore music outside of your comfort zone. You can check the official Euphoria playlist on Spotify.