By Kristen Hawley | 20 February, 2021
What makes a good soundtrack? One that represents the whole ideology and different themes of the show or film. It encompasses each arch and character development in the songs that sound different but flow together in one sonic universe. The same way that episodes fit into a season’s slot, but uniquely stand on their own.
A soundtrack’s power is that it transcends the space that the show or movie lives in. It can become the soundtrack to people’s lives, that those can relate to and find it enjoyable outside the context of the show.
The soundtrack that has been a powerful force is HBO Max’s show Euphoria. The soundtrack for season one was written and produced single handedly by the artist Labrinth. Euphoria’s 26 track score is so funky, weird, and clashing, that it does not seem like it should work-but it does. It works perfectly.
The show is filled with dark themes, daring narratives, and yes, glitter. Lots of glitter. Euphoria’s score seems to bottle these components up sonically. Every time someone plays the album or a song, the magic is released.
While Euphoria has an incredible ensemble cast with Zendaya as the lead, the one, break-out star that is not on the cast list is the music. It embodies so much and is more than just the white, background noise. It doesn’t let the actors shine and the scene play out without taking note of its presence.
The score is strategically utilized and demands attention. Highlighting themes and capturing feelings with haunting lyrics that challenge listeners to become introspective as if they were characters on the show.
Sonically and lyrically, the score matches the show and is cohesive because one artist is at the helm. Besides Labrinth’s work, Kendrick Lamar led the Black Panther: The Album for the Marvel Studios’ film, Black Panther. Kendrick was involved in every song’s production and you can feel his touch on each track. Unlike the soundtracks of the Fifty Shades trilogy, which is a collection of songs made by various artists about their interpretations of select movie scenes. They are enjoyable and collectively great soundtracks, but you can feel the difference between each song and how it is a different perspective throughout. Labrinth has brilliantly been a single artist directing one, continuing vision. An unwavering line that is drawn through each song with the same tone and feel.
While Euphoria is a massive HBO hit, TikTok has had a hand in Labrinth’s work becoming popularized. Songs like “Forever”, “All For Us”, and “Still Don’t Know My Name” have been heavily used as sounds on the app and “Still Don’t Know My Name” even became the sound to a makeup, transition trend.
Fans were even treated to Zendaya leading her voice to the track, “All For Us' ' in addition to Labrinth’s vocals for the first season’s epic finale. And the pair teased on Instagram they have another collaboration for the show coming and it will be even better than their previous work.
The combination of jarring lyrics and conflicting beats would make anyone think that this album would be the bane of the show’s existence. A distraction or deterrent for audiences, but rather it invites you in. Every time you listen, you feel as if you are the main character of the production. Not many soundtracks can have such an impact outside the context of the show, let alone can an artist create a body of work that is a time capsule of a feeling among a fandom that will be talked about for years to come.
A couple of aspects of Euphoria can be dissected and referenced in years to come. First, is the popularity, draw, and shock value of the show’s content. Next, is the daring makeup looks and glitters that pushes everyone to be adventurous with their makeup because it might just turn out amazing. But, most importantly is the body of work that Labrinth has created that fans love and connect with so deeply.
His music leaves listeners with the same thought as the show’s second season tagline: “Remember this feeling”.