Feel like you’re Shazam-ing more than ever while watching TV? We talked to the brains (and ears) behind the tunes you can’t get out of your head.
This Is Us
To match the multiple eras on the NBC family drama, music supervisor Jennifer Pyken went with a “timeless sound” that includes artists both new (Sufjan Stevens) and old (Jackson C. Frank). “It’s an emotional show, and these songs bring out more emotions under the scenes,” Pyken says. Our empty tissue boxes agree.
BEST SONG: Labi Siffre’s “Watch Me”
Southern soul meets modern club rap
The FX show about making it in the music biz brings the Georgia capital alive with a blend of funk, retro staples like Bill Withers, and young rappers such as Kodak Black. “It was important to me that it represented a vibe of Atlanta that was true,” says creator and star Donald Glover.
BEST SONG: Funkadelic’s “Hit It And Quit It”
Anachronistic, moody tunes from beloved bands
While the HBO series’ titular theme park is set in the Old West, there’s not a bro-country twang within earshot. Instead, listen for new instrumental versions of Radiohead and the Rolling Stones. “It’s a subtle reminder that says, ‘This is a theme park. It’s not real,'” says series composer Ramin Djawadi.
BEST SONG: The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”
Marvel’s Luke Cage
Classic R&B and hip-hop jams — live!
Live performances from the likes of Raphael Saadiq and Jidenna are peppered throughout the Netflix series’ first season, reflecting the superhero drama’s Harlem setting. “In a way, the show is kind of like a half musical,” notes music supervisor Gabe Hilfer.
BEST SONG: Jidenna’s “Long Live the Chief”
You’re the Worst
A cocktail of indie rock, soul, and noise rock
Music supervisor Tiffany Anders recently expanded the sardonic FXX rom-com’s indie-rock palette to include everything from alt-rock band Dinosaur to Bill Wright’s ’70s soul. “As the complexity of the characters revealed themselves, we were able to branch out,” she says.
BEST SONG: The Rentals’ “It’s Time to Come Home”
The laid-back vibe of south L.A.
The HBO comedy opened with Compton native Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” which accurately reflects the series’ tone. “We wanted to highlight artists who came from L.A. and use musicians that [co-creator and star] Issa [Rae] listens to,” says music supervisor Kier Lehman. Cue Drake.
BEST SONG: The Internet’s “Girl,” performed by 1500 or Nothin’