Behind the Magical and Psychotic: A Look Inside HBO’s Euphoria Soundtrack
Now and then there is a movie or television show that deeply connects with its audience beyond the scope of the norm. Its cinematography, writing, score, and actors connect with you in the most personal, intimate way and leave you speechless, cementing the work as a landmark piece of art. For Generation Z, that is Euphoria, HBO’s gritty and controversial series following a group of teens navigating sexuality, addiction, mental illness, family, and high school.
Euphoria gained traction not just for showcasing almost thirty penises on screen at once, but for its honest approach to high school: the drama, the relationships, the parties, and the general trope of finding yourself when no one else seems to understand. Of course, there are teen shows and movies that have tackled this before, but none seem to have nailed it quite on the head like Euphoria, and we as an audience have Labrinth to thank for that.
A show or movie without a score is pointless. Music adds to the drama, the mystery, the suspense, the romance. Without music, there is no drive to a climax, no dramatic goodbye, no suspenseful first kiss. Music adds theatricality, and with a perfectly curated score comes a perfect portrayal of raw and real emotion in all its forms.
With a show as honest as Euphoria, it was important to have a score that reflected its originality and grit. Aiming to capture the “semi-magical and semi-psychotic” feeling of the teenage years, electronic pop musician Labrinth composed an alluring score full of beauty, zest, grief, and candor. He incorporates dreamy vocals mixed with synth-pop to accompany the trippy and psychedelic scenes of Euphoria.
Labrinth uses the distinct personality of each character to compose the scene accompanying them, saying “I was inspired by the different dynamics of characters like Nate, who’s kind of… he’s an asshole! But in a beautiful way, because he contrasts with this mystical, almost fairylike character Jules. And then you’ve got Rue, who creates this incredible friendship and relationship with Jules.”
As the show progresses, the music sticks to the general theme of each character, letting the viewer know the central component of the scene, as well as what this character is feeling and how they are doing emotionally. When Rue uses drugs the scenes are accompanied by quick, jarring, aggressive vocals, but when she is with Jules the instrumentation is soft and light, almost out of a fairytale. Not only do the characters tell a story, but the music does as well.
Labrinth’s musical genius did not go unnoticed, as his scoring was praised by critics, and even winning an Emmy. While many young people tend to shy away from instrumental music, Labrinth has made it accessible to all ages. There is no doubt that Euphoria would not be the show it is without its music. It is hard to score film with instrumental music that is any genre other than classical, but Labrinth finds the fine line between the two and created a show-stopping body of work that has cemented itself in musical history.
Listen to the Euphoria soundtrack here!
Sarah Stukalin is a writer and singer from Houston, TX. She is currently a junior at Bucknell University where she is studying Vocal Performance and English while contributing to on-campus publications and a classical opera ensemble. She loves learning about new artists and discovering new music. Some of her favorite artists include Mac Miller, Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift, Frank Ocean, Megan Thee Stallion, and many more.