I entered quarantine knowing that if there would ever be a time for me to actually sit down and watch all the TV shows and movies on my list that I had previously been “too busy” for, this was it. At the very top of that list was Euphoria, the electrifying HBO teen drama that shocked audiences in 2018. I’d heard about its unflinching depiction of sexuality, addiction, and more and was intrigued from the start, but had never been able to commit to the eight 45-minute episodes of season 1. Once I finally started it, though, I couldn’t look away. It’s jarring, fast-paced, emotional, and highly addictive. The soundtrack breathes so much life into it, finding a new way to stun the viewer in each episode and really accentuate its modernity. Here are my favorite selections.
Hold Up – Beyonce / Can’t Get Used to Losing You – Andy Williams
Zendaya is a force to be reckoned with, and the scene at which this clever mash-up plays, only 6 minutes into the pilot, proves it. Blue, purple, and red-toned lights flash over her face in slow motion while she stares the camera down as the title screen comes into view.
Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) – Bobby Womack
In a flashback, Rue tries to cheer her mother and sister up by dramatically singing along to this song on the way home from the hospital after her overdose.
Stuntin’ Like My Daddy – Birdman, Lil Wayne
This song plays after Nate’s backstory is told as the title crosses the screen for the episode with the same name.
dead yet – gabriel black, phem
Nate drives Maddy home and tries to apologize for the way he lashed out at the house party; Maddy responds by turning up the music.
Even the Nights Are Better – Air Supply
Nate leaves Tyler’s apartment after brutally attacking him for hooking up with Maddy. The cheery mood of the song completely offsets the image of Tyler, bloody and bruised on the floor, leaving the audience fearful of Nate’s capacity for violence and his disconnect from it.
Work – Charlotte Day Wilson
We see Nate and Jules getting to know each other through an online dating site. The audience realizes their conversations have escalated past small talk, and knowing that Nate isn’t who he says he is but not being able to warn Jules becomes more and more painful.
Champagne Coast – Blood Orange
Rue takes pictures of Jules for her to send to Tyler and steals glances at her in between each shot. The simple, earnest lyrics and understated production of this song perfectly service the scene and portray the girls’ friendship as something sacred, with the potential of reaching even greater heights.
Dancing With Your Ghost – Sasha Sloan
Rue anxiously waits for a text back from Jules.
X Gon’ Give It To Ya – DMX
Kat tries on her new clothes and gets ready to strut into school fully embracing her new style. She gets several double takes and up-downs as she walks by in fishnets, a plaid mini skirt, platform boots, red lipstick, and a leather corset.
New Generation – The Universals
All of our characters get ready for a wild night at the carnival; almost nothing goes to plan.
you should see me in a crown – Billie Eilish
Kat walks through the mall in another killer ensemble with even more new-found confidence.
Tempo – Lizzo (feat. Missy Elliott)
We see Kat in her element, making money off of cam sessions with older men.
Smalltown Boy – Bronski Beat
Chaos descends on the Halloween party as nearly every character starts spiraling in one way or another.
Be Mine – Amandla Stenberg
Jules escapes the realities of her life by visiting her old friend TC in the city.
When I R.I.P. – Labrinth
Jules and TC sing along to this song as they drive through the city and head to TC’s apartment, where Jules meets Anna for the first time.
I’m Not In Love – Kelsey Lu
Anna and Jules go out, get high, and hook up. Jules experiences hallucinations about both Nate and Rue.
Stay Flo – Solange
Rue and Jules get ready for winter formal together.
My Body Is a Cage – Arcade Fire
This song plays over, arguably, one of the most dramatic montages in all of season 1. Cassie gets an abortion, juxtaposed by stunning clips of her ice-skating; Rue finally seizes the moment and kisses Jules the way she’s always wanted to; Fez breaks into the home of Mouse the drug dealer’s supplier and holds him at gunpoint. It’s a pivotal moment for all of these characters.
Still Don’t Know My Name – Labrinth
The montage continues, but we see the aftermath of these few critical moments. Cassie and McKay break up; Rue and Jules ditch the dance on bikes with the intention of dropping everything and leaving for the city; Fez robs the man to pay off his debt to Mouse, after beating him up when he pulls a gun.
All For Us – Zendaya, Labrinth
Rue stumbles home, heartbroken after Jules boards the train without her. She relapses, and the rest of the episode dissolves into an elaborate, unexpected but masterfully executed musical number. The season ends with a shot of Rue being held up high in the arms of several dancers, all dressed in her signature maroon hoodie.
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