A modern high school student’s birthday party, led by a drunken mother, with no family rules except discretion, begins to take on the sound of Montell Jordan’s “This is how we do it,” that indelible 1990s relic. “I like this song!” exclaimed the mother, accompanied by an obscenity.
At the same time, three teenagers in a fight are on their way to drink. “US Brand” by Baby Keem, a rising rapper right now, reverberating through car speakers.
Not long after, a troubled father flips through the jukebox at a gay bar, looking for INXS’ “Kick” but finding Nicki Minaj’s “The Pinkprint.” He’s immersed in nostalgic slow dance in Sinead O’Connor’s “Drink Before the War,” a devastatingly powerful ballad from 1987. Back at the birthday party, a wasted girl in the series bathing suit melts, while lacing up to the same music, one that was released long before she was born.
For some TV shows, this will be an episode worth the big musical moments. But on “Happiness,” high school maximalism psychedelic currently in the second season on HBO, it’s just a handpicked collection of songs and references that, like the series itself, aim to create emotional resonance rather than superficial precision.
Usually cramming a few dozen tracks in an hour – from underground to instantly recognizable, 1950s to 2020s – the show doesn’t do the needle-piercing jabs as forcefully as a shuffling TikTokian mixes audio and visual stimuli, igniting genres, eras and moods.
In addition to O’Connor and Keem, Sunday’s episode featured a composite mix of pop culture allusions set to Townes Van Zandt’s “I’ll be here in the morning,” plus the premiere of a new song by Lana Del Rey and an on-screen neo-gospel performance by singer-producer Labrinth, who also provided the show’s music.
Delicious leisure was never the goal. “We weren’t interested in playing by those rules,” said Julio Perez IV, the show’s lead editor, who recalls forming their own ‘galaxy of sounds’ with the creator, Screenwriter and director Sam Levinson. “We are interested in a wide variety of music – too much music for some people. The performance, in a sense, will be a musical. “
A collage of flashbacks, daydreams, nightmares, and rhythmic music video sequences, “Euphoria” uses the interplay of an eclectic soundtrack and Labrinth’s recurring scores to create a “wild dream” blends raw naturalism with surrealism,” said Perez.
“If it works, it works,” she said in an interview, describing the show’s creative characterization and noting that Levinson writes for the music, which often includes his song selections. in the script. “The library of music he has in his brain is endless,” added Malone.
She and her team were then tasked with turning Levinson’s vision into reality, coming up with proposals of their own, seeking relief from the music’s many copyright holders, and filling in the gaps. empty when needed.
In the show’s second season, the episode opening tells the back stories of the characters that act as their own short films, with distinct tones and time frames. One jumps from Elvis Presley covers to Bo Diddley, Harry Nilsson, Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes, while the other jumps through tracks by INXS, Depeche Mode, Roxette, Erasure, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Cult, Lenny Kravitz and Dan Hartman, all in the span of 15 minutes.
“It’s crazy about the amount of music on this show,” Malone said.
Further complicating her work is the fact that “Euphoria” revolves around bad transgressions – particularly lust, substance abuse, and violence – and that scenes must be detailed within music approval process. “We have to be smart with how we say certain things, but sometimes there’s just no way around that,” says Malone.
The final sequence was set to an Elvis cover that opened this season featuring nudity, drugs, guns, and gore – “all the red marks you can think of” – leading to several pre-rejections. when the show ends Billy Swan’s Performance of “Don’t Be Cruel” after the call of the music publisher and the Presley estate.
In the guarantee of use “Drinking Before the War” by O’Connor “Euphoria” staff had to confirm that it wouldn’t be re-enacted because of any sexual violence scenes, “because I thought she knew the show,” Malone added.
But brands and artists were happy to see interest spiked that a spot on “Euphoria” could trigger, whether for an upstart act like Laura Les, whose track “Haunted” played in a recent episode, or an episode that has become as established as Tupac Shakur, with “Hit ‘Em Up” from 1996, rapped by a teenage drug addict. Featured tracks by Gerry Rafferty and Steely Dan have even started appearing on TikTok.
Whether or not the show’s Gen Z characters actually listen to this music has sparked some debate and eye-rolling. (“The taste of the euphoric teenager in Rap is ridiculous,” Pitchfork rule.) But with them designer wardrobeverisimilitude is next to the point.
“Realism is secondary,” said Perez, editor. “This approach has certain romanticism,” prioritizing “the psychological complexity of the inner world.”
A song selection can signal something, like when Selena “Como La Flor” plays faintly in a scene where a character with Mexican-American heritage is alluded to, but not explored. Or it could simply sound good.
In the playlist age, “Interesting kids enjoy a ton of things,” says Labrinth, who reflects the show’s scope in his “infinite” original music for the show, which incorporates hip-sounding- hop, rock, funk and electronic. He compares Levinson to a barrel-digging DJ for his ability to refer to an ’80s punk band as an obscure Italian composer.
For the uninitiated, “Euphoria” can also act as a recommendation engine for a new generation, much like the Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino films to which it repeatedly nods.
“Knowing that our audience is a lot of Gen Z, it’s almost like, ‘Hey guys, listen to some of this,’ Malone said, noting a party scene in which the songs are intended. Juvenile and DMX are also more recent, lesser known tracks by artists like Blaq Tuxedo and GLAM
“’Oh, how do you like all this now? Listen to this! ‘” she added. “We’re giving them a mixtape that I got when I was in high school.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/31/arts/music/euphoria-soundtrack.html Why the ‘Euphoria Teens’ Listen to Sinead O’Connor, Tupac and Selena