Like a shimmering disco ball, the allure of HBO’s Euphoria is the magic it disguises itself in. From elaborate diva outfits to glitter covered features, the show’s aesthetic of teens gone wild is one that’s certainly become well loved by the world. Wrapped in its whimsical haze, the show is a knock-out for a dozen reasons. For one, its cinematography remains unmatched with any show of a similar nature (and quite honestly most films), and the raw vulnerability and honesty they bring to such heavy subjects forces an intricacy that most can relate to.
But one of the things Euphoria is most known for is its beautifully curated soundtrack. Shining a spotlight on tracks new and old, an episode can often jump from a 1950’s croon to a modern day hyperpop hit. And it’s there that we begin to fall deeper into the show’s fantasy, getting swept up in its ability to make a tense situation seem ethereal. Euphoria, ironically, has become a genre of its own; its amalgamation of nostalgia and novelty perfectly summing up the multi-faceted nature of humans, and more specifically teenagers, and its soundtrack is as vital to the show as its dialogue.
Looking back at season one and unpacking what we’ve seen of season 2 so far, here is a definitive guide to our fave tracks from Euphoria.
Warning: Spoilers ahead
‘How Long’ – Tove Lo (Episode 4, Season 2)
The gooey electro-pop hit from the ‘Habits (Stay High)’ singer Tove Lo was penned specifically for Euphoria’s second season, detailing the emotion behind an unrequited love. Fittingly, it’s seen playing in the background of Maddy’s birthday party in episode 4, an environment that adds more fuel to the fire of the scandalous love triangle that is Maddy, Nate and Cassie. “How long have you loved another, while I’m dreaming of us together?” Goes the track. “She got the best of you, part of me always knew. How long have you tried to end it while I’m blaming myself to fix it?”
Hitting Cassie’s turmoil right on the head, the song (which features in full on the upcoming season 2 soundtrack) is only played briefly but sets the stage for Nate’s arrival and therefore a further complication of the trio’s relationship. Cassie is seen getting herself more and more drunk alone as the rest of her friends gather in the kitchen for a toast, a rather in-your-face warning of where the night’s activities are headed.
‘Watercolor Eyes’ – Lana Del Rey (Episode 3, Season 2)
A Lana Del Rey track was bound to end up on Euphoria eventually (after all, who is a better symbolisation of cool teens doing crazy s**t?), but we never thought she’d create a brand new one. Her first song to feature on a TV show, ‘Watercolor Eyes’ is a beautiful testament to the complex relationships in the show, and the way youth live and breathe love. “I think that you taste like rock candy, sweet like beaches leave me all sandy. Why do you leave me with watercolour eyes?” she sings over sultry instrumentation, sonically representing heartbreak, identity and devotion like only she knows how.
The track plays as the credits roll up, tying a bow on an episode that navigates multiple relationships in different ways. Beginning with a flashback of Cal’s one-that-got-away romance with his best friend back in high school, to Cassie’s fixated obsession with the approval and admiration of Nate, to the beginnings of the complicated friendship between Jules, Rue and Elliot, the episode summarises just how far we’d go for love and companionship, and there really couldn’t have been a better backdrop for that than ‘Watercolor Eyes.’
‘sad4whattt’ – ericdoa (Episode 3, Season 2)
Popping up in a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it moment, the hit from newcomer ericdoa is a catchy trap tune that acts as a nice contrast to the intensity of the rest of the show. Playing in the background of Maddy’s birthday party as Cassie opens the door for Nate, it reminds us of the normality of these teens while also poking at the crushed spirit of Cassie looking happy to see Nate while he immediately asks for Maddy. “These fake changes are bad for us,” the song spits as everything we need to know is revealed in their less-than-a-minute interaction. “Can’t spend my time catchin’ up, it’s bad for us.”
‘Work’ – Charlotte Day Wilson (Episode 3, Season 1)
In one of the show’s most lovable moments, Jules falls in love with a guy over text, ShyGuy118, who unbeknownst to her is Nate Jacobs. For most of the show’s first season, we follow along through the pair’s text conversation and watch as they flirt and get to know one another, in cute playground behaviour. It’s a contrast to the Nate we see in real life, instead under ShyGuy118 he shows a softer, charming, and more innocent side to his character and toys with that duality well.
Charlotte Day Wilson’s melodic ‘Work’, off her 2016 EP CDW, reflects this newfound intimacy perfectly. A slow, R&B tune, it cuts through all the chaos of the show and simplifies the very action of having a crush. We hear the track play as a montage of Jules and Nate’s texting ensues, showing them moving through their daily lives side by side whilst simultaneously being a million miles apart. “’Cause people come and go, but I think that you should know that this is gonna work.”
‘Champagne Coast’ – Blood Orange (Episode 3, Season 1)
The disco-esque moody synths of Blood Orange were a perfect pick to join Euphoria’s reverie, with hit ‘Champagne Coast’, off his 2011 album Coastal Grooves, appearing early on in season 1. Backdropping an important moment for Rue and Jules, the song helps to build the sexual tension that is forming between the two. “Come into my bedroom, come into my bedroom,” the song hooks as Rue tries to take sexy photos of Jules for her to send to ShyGuy118 aka Nate Jacobs.
The scene acts as a landmark for both Jules and Rue, not just in their friendship but in their developing relationship. Beautifully playing with that fine line between lust and love, the show captures the yearning of Rue and the camaraderie of Jules. ‘Champagne Coast’ is both a track that the characters could easily have on their personal playlists and a symbol of the desire that’s inevitably brewing.
‘My Body Is a Cage’ – Arcade Fire (Episode 8, Season 1)
Appearing in the season finale, Arcade Fire’s 2007 hit ‘My Body Is a Cage’ provides the backdrop for one of the show’s most intense and emotional scenes, Cassie getting an abortion. With its fitting name (a statement the song keeps repeating), the track begins to play after the doctor advises “just a little pinch”, and we’re instantly transported into Cassie’s mind where she’s dreaming of herself ice skating, a passion she had when she was younger but has since lost.
Not only does the sequence melt into the broodiness of the track, but it reminds us of the innocence Cassie still has. Despite actions that have led her up to this point, she’s still as pure as a donned-in-white dancing angel. “My body is a cage that keeps me dancing from the one I love, but my mind holds the key,” the track hums along, taking us in and out of Cassie’s head and her confronting reality. In between all of that, we’re also contrasted with Fez (a character you can’t help but see as innocent despite his drug dealer lifestyle) sneak into Phillip Redmond’s home to rob him at gunpoint.
‘All For Us’ – Labrinth, Zendaya (Episode 8, Season 1)
Closing off the show’s finale is protagonist Rue, reminding us that despite all the ins and outs of other characters, it will always be Rue’s story first and foremost. In her duet with Labrinth, who does the show’s brilliant score, ‘All For Us’ is one of the few songs that actually interacts with a character. As we watch Rue run around her house a mere minute after relapsing, belting out the lyrics like she’s in her own Broadway show, we can’t help but feel her pain jumping off the screen. She knows the torment she puts her family through, she knows this road doesn’t lead anywhere good, yet here she is about to embark on it all over again.
The show ends with a fantastic musical number by Rue and a crowd of dancers, designed to look like demons dragging her down. “Dreamers are selfish, when it all comes down to it, I hope one of you come back to remind me of who I was when I go disappear into that good night.” We fade to black, the credits begin to roll, and Rue’s right back to where she started.
‘(Pick Me Up) Euphoria’ – James Blake, Labrinth
The recently released track from Labrinth and Blake has yet to appear in the show itself but has nestled it’s way nicely into season 2’s soundtrack, its haunting and delicate sound a perfect reflection of what we’ve seen and felt this season. Detailing the battle of addiction matched with the fear of loss and love, it sends almost a warning of what’s yet to come. “When there’s no control over your state, when you think it’s love and you’re all caught up. Need to escape, am I gonna get in the way of sweet relief?”
Listen to Euphoria Season 2 (An HBO Series Soundtrack): The Playlist below!