Some TV shows seem to have such impressive soundtracks that their musicality would outweigh any other element. Apart from other pre-released singles and their covers, shows like Euphoria, Empire, and Phineas & Ferb end up featuring some original tracks that become as popular as the show itself.
Other examples like Atlanta and Betty end up benefiting greatly from exceptional musical curation with picks that perfectly go along with the thematic tropes of these shows. From rock to pop to hip-hop to country, these diverse soundtracks also end up incorporating multiple music genres.
10 Euphoria (2019-)
From Zendaya and Hunter Schafer’s performances to the psychedelic visual style, Euphoria has many things to flaunt. But one of the most identifiable elements also happens to be the atmospheric score by Labrinth. The British singer and record producer relied on a variety of vocal chops and fast-paced beats to capture the chaotic nature of the main characters of Euphoria.
The highlight is, of course, the duet with Zendaya called “All For Us” that closes the Season 1 finale. To capture the protagonist Rue’s intoxicated state and the antagonistic Nate’s toxic masculinity, the OST also incorporates hip-hop, trap and R&B songs like Jamie xx and Young Thug’s “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” and Labrinth’s own single “Mount Everest”.
9 Empire (2015-2020)
Given the fact that Empire is a hip-hop musical set within the music industry, the show is bound to have a stellar soundtrack. With both originals and covers, Empire boasts the vocal prowess of stars like Taraji P Henson and Jussie Smollett. Throughout its six-season run, the show has recruited producers and songwriters such as Timbaland, Ne-Yo, Darkchild, and Esther Dean.
In its exploration of rap music, Empire incorporates both old-school and new-school approaches. The rap battle between Freda Gatz and Hakeem bears testimony to this, making for one of the top performances on Empire. Apart from individual characters, the lead ensemble can also join forces together to express their differing views as is evident from the Season 1 classic “Chasing the Sky”.
8 Phineas And Ferb (2007-2015)
Compared to other Disney animated shows in recent years, Phineas and Ferb is as innovative as its titular inventors with new gadgets and gizmos being created in every episode. But what is even more interesting is the sheer musicality of Phineas and Ferb and their friends.
During every new invention, the lead cast breaks into a musical number with themes that can range from a good, old summer to a shoe’s aglet. Even supporting characters like Candace and Dr. Doofenshmirtz have lent their vocals to some of the catchiest songs on Phineas & Ferb like “Busted” and “My Nemesis”.
7 The Umbrella Academy (2019-)
The Umbrella Academy‘s music catalog boasts a good number of rock and electro-pop tracks that might either be too popular or too obscure. Some of the best musical moments come out during the hand-to-hand combat sequences.
So, viewers can expect an alt-rock version of “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”, a bizarrely catchy track on the history of the Turkish city. In another fight scene, a ska-punk version of Billie Eilish’s hit “Bad Guy” plays in the background to set the atmosphere. Such is the diversity of the Netflix show’s soundtrack.
6 Ramy (2019-)
The FX dramedy show Ramy doesn’t only introduce global audiences to the life experiences of a Muslim Egyptian-American family but it also introduces them to new music from Egypt. With two seasons so far, the misadventures of the titular protagonist are accompanied by upbeat jazzy tracks in Arabic by the Egyptian pop group Al Massrieen. When Ramy visits Egypt, audiences can also listen to “Ayonha” by Hamid Al Shaeri, a Libyan-Egyptian singer largely known as a legend of Westernized synthesizer-driven Arabic Pop.
At the same time, the soundtrack is adorned with several French tracks mainly because Ramy’s mother is shown to be knowing the language. So, in an episode that is centered entirely upon her, one can hear the melancholic love song “Je ne veux pas mourir ce soir” by Vincent Delerm. Feel-good pop and soulful hip-hop also find their way in the tracklist with additions like Robyn’s “Ever Again” and Rejjie Snow’s “Egyptian Luvr”.
5 Betty (2020-2021)
Most of Betty‘s episodes follow a free-flowing narrative with the characters mostly skating their way from one spot to another. As the teenagers also party a lot, electronic and hip-hop tracks can be heard throughout the HBO original series. Even the skating montages incorporate some popular tracks like Doja Cat’s “Go To Town”, and Sheck Wes’ “Mo Bamba”. In contrast, more obscure electronic tracks like Otha’s “One of the Girls” and Suboi’s “Cho Khong” make Betty‘s soundtrack perfect for a dance party.
With that being said, Betty has its mellow and introspective moments too as can be seen from the presence of slow-paced tracks like “Apocalypse” by Cigarettes After Sex, and “Up All Night” by SAULT.
4 Sex Education (2019-)
Netflix’s Sex Education has some heartwarming characters with equally heartwarming storylines. And for every mood, Sex Education’s soundtrack seems to have one ambient song or the other. From Muddy Waters to Billy Idol, the protagonist Otis Milburn loves collecting classic artists on vinyl records and this is reflected in the soundtrack itself.
At the same time, some of the best songs in Sex Education are adequately based on the characters’ moods. So, when Jackson wants to ask out Maeve, he breaks into an adorable rendition of Billy Ocean’s “Love Really Hurts Without You”. Similarly, when Eric gets ready for a merry trip to Nigeria, he is seen dancing to Nigerian rapper Skales’ hit song “Shake Body”.
3 13 Reasons Why (2017-2020)
The latter seasons of this Netflix drama might have polarized viewers but the show is consistent in delivering hard-hitting soundtracks. For instance, Clay Jensen’s claustrophobic panic was exemplified by WoodKid’s “Run Boy Run” while the dance on Lord Huron’s “The Night We Met” makes for one of the best 13 Reasons Why episodes.
Over the seasons, several popular artists have also recorded exclusive singles for the show that goes well with its themes. If 5 Seconds of Summer’s “Teeth” captures the teen angst of its characters, Selena Gomez’s “Back To You” also depicts the confusing stages of love they are going through. Logic and One Republic’s collaborative track “Start Again” is also a highlight from the Season 2 soundtrack as it captures the show’s recurring themes of loneliness and despair.
2 Nashville (2012-2018)
The way Empire reinvents the hip-hop musical genre, Nashville attempts to do the same with country music. The musical drama revolves around the rivalry between a fading country star and a new talent in the genre. To prove Rayna James and Juliette Barnes’ superstardom, both characters receive a healthy amount of solo tracks making for an impressive fictional discography.
The six seasons of the show have received individual soundtracks in separate volumes. Songs like “Sanctuary” and “Fade Into You” were so popular among fans that the show spawned musical tours in the US and the UK, with the lead cast performing live.
1 Atlanta (2016-)
Given the fact that showrunner and leading man Donald Glover has had his own multi-genre musical endeavors, it is not surprising to find Atlanta‘s soundtrack to have a variety of fine hip-hop tracks by artists like Migos, Future, and Young Thug. At the same time, a healthy dose of funk, jazz, and R&B classics by Funkadelics, Bill Withers, and Outkast.
Some of the fast-paced tracks go along with the show’s rapper Paper Boy’s random misadventures. But some of the mellow portions of the show (especially in Earn’s scenes) make use of mellower picks like Michael Kiwanuka’s “Home Again”.
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