Euphoria: The Story Behind the Music

Photo posted by @euphoria on Instagram

For a TV show as sensational as HBO’s “Euphoria,” a killer soundtrack for the highly-anticipated second season is a necessity. With Drake as its executive producer, we expect nothing less!

The hit show, led by Emmy-award-winning actress Zendaya, explores the dark world of young adulthood, following her character Rue Bennett’s complicated battle with drug addiction. “Euphoria” is known for delving into subjects such as sex, trauma, drugs and mental health, to name a few. The raw emotions, drama, and intrigue of the show are captured through hazy hues and a powerful soundtrack to match.

Photo posted by @sydney_sweeney on Instagram
The Rap Influence

Thanks to the scene of Rue singing along to the song in the backseat, rapper Tupac Shakur’s 1996 hit, “Hit ‘Em Up” is gaining notoriety once again, becoming one of TikTok’s top trending sounds this month.

The show often loves to pay homage to popular rappers of the ’90s, with Too Short’s “Blow the Whistle” playing at the school’s winter formal, and the late DMX’s “Party Up” at the New Year’s Eve party. Though rap music plays a big role in the show, the music of other genres is integral to “Euphoria,” too.

“I always write to music,” said writer and director Sam Levinson on the show’s YouTube channel in 2019. As he was writing “Euphoria,” his inspiration for the score was Danny Elfman, industrial music composer, with hints of “Yeezus” and “gospel.”

Lead composer, Labrinth, brought Levinson’s vision to life with the electronic beats of “All For Us,” “Mount Everest” and “Still Don’t Know My Name.” Many more were favorites from season one, and have made themselves into quintessential TikTok sounds. Check out the original score below!

Season Two

For its second season, the show is mixing things up, introducing music from other talented artists.

Lana Del Rey, an acclaimed alternative pop artist and muse to her LGBTQ+ fans, made “Watercolor Eyes” specifically for Euphoria. The song set the mood for the backstory of the show’s antagonist, Cal Jacobs. The music helped the audience get some insight into what makes Cal the person he is, detailing his love story and heartbreak with his high school best friend, Derek.

Like most of her music, Lana Del Rey’s “Watercolor Eyes” is soft, tragic and about young love. Though Cal and Derek eventually share an emotional kiss at a bar, they aren’t able to have a happy ending.

“Watercolor Eyes” is already racking up over nine million streams on Spotfiy just six days after the episode was released.

Another song in season two was Orville Peck’s 2019 track ‘Dead of Night’ which played during the infamous Cassie/Nate scene in the car, leading to their sex scene at the New Year’s Eve Party.

Between Nate driving at 100 mph, and Cassie leaning outside the car window, the slow, deep beats of “Dead of Night” ominously signified something huge was about to happen for these two characters. A major part of Cassie’s storyline is her quest to find love and male validation, and Peck regards his 2019 track ‘Dead of Night’ as a song about “unrequited love,” matching Cassie’s story.

A complete album of the season two soundtrack, “Euphoria Season 2,” will be released Feb. 25. It will feature an original song by Tove Lo, along with a collaboration between Labrinth and James Blake, which will be played in the fourth and upcoming episode of season two.

Euphoria streams on HBO Max and new episodes air every Sunday night at 9 p.m. Is there anyone you’d love to see on the soundtrack? Tweet us @VALLEYmag!

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