As a media junkie, lately, during quarantine, I’ve found myself binging as many movies and TV shows as possible. With that being said, when I’m not watching something, I’m almost always listening to something; whether I’m playing music while doing school work or listening to a podcast to help me fall asleep. As an avid music listener, I almost always try to keep an ear on the music in the movies and shows I’m watching. While binging several shows during this period of self-isolation, I have discovered my love and appreciation for the music in HBO series. HBO produces numerous incredible TV series, and I’m going to share three of my favorites, and why the music makes them all more compelling.
If you’ve seen Euphoria, you probably love it just as much for the storyline as you do for the music. Euphoria follows struggling teen Rue (Zendaya) as she attempts to recover from a drug addiction. In this show, Rue and several other high school-aged characters’ lives and conflicts intertwine with one another. The series paints the picture of all of the main characters’ conflicts, piece by piece, using flashbacks to give each teen a detailed storyline. What is great about the Euphoria soundtrack is that most of the artists featured are young, currently popular or up-and-coming. This is realistic– these are the musicians who real teenagers are actually following, like Beyoncé, Drake, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Solange, Migos, and more. There is also exclusive music for the show by producer Labrinth, featuring Zendaya. Overall, this show and the music it features are incredible. The way the music is used absolutely completes the story. If you haven’t seen this show, it’s a lot to handle subject-wise, but it’s worth it. If you have watched the show, I’m sure you can vouch for the quality of its soundtrack.
2. Big Little Lies
This HBO series, like Euphoria, is a drama with some dark content, but rather than showcasing teens, it follows a group of elite moms in Monterey Bay, California. Big Little Lies is based on a fantastic novel by Australian author Liane Moriarty. The main characters are played by Reece Witherspoon, Zoë Kravitz, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Shailene Woodley. Some of the music on this soundtrack is set to ominous B-roll footage of the waves of the Pacific Ocean crashing to the shore. Otherwise, music is used in scenes to help better tell this super-compelling story. A diverse range of artists, both older and newer, appear on the soundtrack. Classics by musicians such as Aretha Franklin, Carole King, and Elvis are paired with more modern tunes by Frank Ocean, Sufjan Stevens, and Alabama Shakes. Even cast member Zoë Kravitz appears on this soundtrack, covering Elvis’s song “Don’t.” The theme song itself, “Cold Little Heart” by Michael Kiwanuka, is iconic for enthusiastic fans of the show, including myself.
Insecure follows Issa, (Issa Rae), a twenty-something aspiring rapper in Los Angeles, California, who deals with friendship, relationships, and her day job as a non-profit educator. The main characters and cast are majority Black, so the soundtrack definitely heavily features both rap and Black artists alike. Frank Ocean’s lyrics are, at times, even embedded into the characters’ dialogue. Most of the music featured on the show are by young, up-and-coming artists, which is likely what most twenty-somethings in L.A. listen to. Rap favorites on the soundtrack include but are not limited to – Rico Nasty, Mac Miller, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, Kari Faux, and Tyler, the Creator. One of my personal favorite SZA songs, “Quicksand,” was released exclusively for the soundtrack to Season 2 of the show. This is definitely the show to watch if you’re a fan of rap, comedy and pop culture. If you’re not, this show may broaden your horizons and turn you into one.