Content warning: This article discusses drug use and other mature themes present in “Euphoria.”
Editor’s note: This article contains spoilers for season 2 of “Euphoria.”
HBO’s hit series, “Euphoria,” has captured the hearts of Gen-Z with its tumultuous plot, provocative imagery and gifted cast. “Euphoria”‘s influence in the makeup and fashion scene has also taken the world by storm, as it continues to set trends for its audience.
Season two’s musical soundtrack portrays a dramatic shift in the characters’ lives and reflects what the season is about: surviving trauma, reminiscing on the past and navigating complex relationships.
The song choices in “Euphoria” are fitting to the evocative plot. From 90s R&B to modern-day hyperpop, the soundtrack to the past season has brought older music back into the spotlight and highlighted emerging genres and artists.
Looking back on the season two finale last Sunday, let’s assess this season’s highlights and our picks for the best songs in “Euphoria”’s season two soundtrack.
KCPR’s Picks: Euphoria Season Two
- Episode one started the season off with a bang by showing the audience Fezco’s history in dealing drugs with his grandma. His life, along with every other character in the show’s lives, is the epitome of doing dirty work.
- Euphoria’s cinematography is breathtaking. As the camera zooms in on Rue rapping every line to “Hypnotize” by The Notorious B.I.G., those watching could not help but sing along with her.
- There are a few songs on season two’s soundtrack that we will never be able to listen to again without thinking of “Euphoria,” and “Dead of Night” by Orville Peck is at the top of the list. Watching Cassie and Nate drive down the highway to the New Year’s Eve party was nothing short of iconic, and this song amplified the beginning of season two.
- Coleman Domingo’s character, Ali, tries to explain to Rue the importance of jazz music — specifically Thelonious Monk — while he drives her home from their weekly Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Ali arguably is the strongest father figure in Rue’s life, and he attempts to show her that there is more to life than high school drama, grief or drugs.
- Hyperpop star Laura Les provides the perfect soundtrack for do-gooder Lexi Howard to break out of her shell and take her life into her own hands. Featuring a montage of a strut down the school’s hallway and a bike ride through town, the use of this song juxtaposes Lexi’s innocent character with a symbol of her growth.
- “Right Down the Line” is season two’s overall most influential song, as it was used for the trailer. This song gave Euphoria fans a feel for what the season would be. Gerry Rafferty’s hit song set the tone for this season’s sentimental feel.
- This suspenseful 80’s rock song with a slight jazz influence set the scene for this entire episode filled with childhood flashbacks. This song personifies the feeling of yearning for what could have been.
- Alexa Demie’s character, Maddy Perez, basks in the sunlight with Theo, the kid she babysits, and her best friend, Cassie, played by Sydney Sweeney. The uptempo song with lyrics about a failed relationship serves as the perfect representation of Maddy’s past and foreshadows her unfortunate future; her best friend Cassie sleeping with her ex-boyfriend Nate.
- This Echo & The Bunnymen classic paints the scene for the high school flashback of Cal and Derek’s double date with their girlfriends. This song again speaks to the 80’s-rock influence that is continually present in this show and connects to both older and younger generations.
- This electronic synth-pop song has all the right vibes for this show. Written especially for this episode, where we see beautiful artistic interpretations of Jules and Rue as their relationship blossoms romantically. We also see Maddy’s 18th birthday party turn from fun into a projectile-vomit fueled disaster. This song brings a light-hearted pop feel to this chaotic episode.
- Episode four also commences Labrinth’s emergence into season two. In an effort to cope with the grief from the loss of her father, Rue turns back to drugs and is catapulted into a dream world where Labrinth sings to her and embraces her in a church. James Blake and Labrinth’s collaboration on this track is sensational and gorgeous.
- Baby Keem and Euphoria fans united when this song was used in a car scene as Elliot, played by singer/rapper Dominic Fike, drives Rue and Jules through town. This song touches on the music taste of many high school students and definitely makes its mark on this episode as a catchy and easily recognizable song.
- Labrinth once again proves to be the heart and soul behind Euphoria’s soundtrack. His exquisite electronic soul-pop soundtrack for season one was breathtakingly unique and catapulted Euphoria into the forefront of popular music. This song is only one of many unforgettable songs born out of this show.
- The Doobie Brothers contribute greatly to this episode with this classic song, connecting audiences throughout generations with their genre-defiant sound. This band has been a part of the rock-scene since the early 1970s–and their feature in a modern show such as this one shows how timeless and iconic their sound truly is.
- Albert Hammond’s folk-inspired rock hit “It Never Rains in Southern California” sets a happier tone to this emotional and dark episode where Rue is confronted by her family and friends through a dramatic intervention. This song adds a touch of irony to the episode because it never rains in sunny California, but Rue’s life has never looked more gloomy.
- Possible lovebirds Lexi and Fezco share a sweet moment while watching the iconic film “Stand By Me.” We hear Ben E. King’s song throughout this scene and this episode as it brings a naive, sweet and wholesome energy to the intense scenes.
- Grammy-award winning single “I’ll Be There For You” by Method Man and Mary J. Blige made a standout appearance during season two. This song amplifies Euphoria’s taste for R&B and gives the viewers a throwback vibe while they watch the mothers on the show take the spotlight.
- Originally released in 2018, this song is among the latest releases from the legendary band. The build and paced rhythm plays into the slow and almost melancholic end scenes of the episode, especially Rue’s family dinner with Ali, as she acknowledges her failures, and the family begins to mend.
- In what was possibly the most iconic scene of the season so far, “Holding Out For A Hero” perfectly encapsulates the satirical irony of the football team’s locker-room shenanigans. Paired with an excellently choreographed dance number, this scene was unforgettable, hilarious and momentous.
- Episode 7 gives Euphoria fans insight into Lexi’s point of view featuring dream sequences, flashbacks and over-the-top visuals of her school play. Viewers listen to “Love Will Keep Us Together” during the beginning of the play as we see lookalike actors portray the iconic Euphoria cast during their high school picture day. This song along with the orchestral overture piece at the beginning of the episode, gives a nostalgic and youthful feel before we see a tumultuous turn to the characters’ lives.
- Following a similar sentimental theme, “More” by Bobby Darin perfectly captures Lexi’s flashback of her dancing in her living room with her family, specifically her dad. Lexi’s relationship with people who struggle with substance abuse has taken a toll on her life and created lots of stress and anxiety. Viewers finally get to witness Lexi’s complicated relationship with her father and how she perceives each character in this episode.
“Elliot’s Song” by Dominic Fike
- This song was played live in this episode by Dominic Fike’s character, Elliot, on the acoustic guitar, moving Rue to tears. Fike’s musical talent brings this song to life, but he isn’t the musical mastermind behind it. This song was collaboratively written by Zendaya and Labrinth.
- Kylie Minogue’s catchy song fits seamlessly into this episode, adding a funky twist to the otherwise melancholic soundtrack to the season finale. This season definitely impressed and covered all genres, this song being only one of many songs Euphoria fans know and love.
- This slow and dreary piano ballad builds into a devastating crescendo within the four-minute mark, and beautifully encapsulates the feeling of this episode. Although there are no lyrics in this song, the instruments are enough to bring a sense of closure but also feelings of a new beginning for Rue and all other characters.
This article first appeared on KCPR.org.