Monday, Sept. 17 marks the 70th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, a celebration for some of the best the world of television has to offer. And for us music lovers here, and fans of the innovation of the fusion of moving picture of sound, the music that goes into making some of our favorite TV series is arguably one of the best parts of the entire experience. While this year’s award for “Outstanding Music Supervision” may have gone to The Marvelous Ms. Maisel–certain categories are announced ahead of the actual ceremony, don’t ask us why–there were a number series with superb music supervision. This is our shortlist of the musical moments of the last year that stuck with us long after the end credits cut to commercial or Netflix asked us if we’re still watching.
Atlanta Season 2
By this point, it’s no secret that Atlanta has some of the best music supervision in recent memory. The brainchild of Donald Glover, Childish Gambino, Atlanta’s music serves as a love letter to the culture that helped shape it. Paying ode to rap’s current landscape alongside some indie hits in the making all while never neglecting the classic, every episode of Atlanta is rife with musical discoveries to be made. Season 2 of the hit show kept the tradition running before the first episode even aired. Promoting the track with trailers that featured Yellow Days’ “Gap In The Clouds” and Sonder’s “Too Fast,” an excitement about the music of Atlanta’s yet-to-be-released season was ignited immediately. A fire they stoked throughout the season’s 11-episode run thanks to music from Nina Simone, 6LACK, Vince Staples, Troye Sivan, Stevie Wonder and so, so much more.
Stranger Things Season 2
Released at the end of 2017, season 2 of Strangers Things just barely qualifies for this list. Yet, its celebration of all things ‘80s makes it qualify for this list a hundred time over. Building on the love affair with nostalgic synth-laden ‘80s music that the original season brought about, the second season of Stranger Things has all the easily recognizable classics. From Devo’s “Whip It,” The Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” to even the Ghostbusters theme song, the gang is all here. However, the true beauty behind the ‘80s-fueled soundtrack of Stranger Things is its sense of authenticity and attention to detail. Making sure to only feature music that had been released by the exact timeframe of the time frame, the backing soundtrack goes from hackneyed nostalgia to devoted recreation. Plus, it fits amazingly well with the atmospheric and haunting works of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of S U R V I V E.
The End of the Fucking World
Based on the comic by Charles Forsman, The End of the Fucking World is a British dark comedy that follows a psychopath and a rebellious classmate going on a road trip across England and provided one of the best soundtracks of the year. Beyond the show’s leading cast, the star of the show is musical juxtaposition and storytelling. Director Jonathan Entwistle had spent years prior to the show’s fruition collecting songs that he envisioned would match the tone of the world he was bound to create. Those years of collection resulted in over 700 songs, which would be whittled down to a selection of ’50s, ’60s, and ‘70s doo-wop and pop. Teenage drama and turbulence abound alongside a musical time period that defined the notion of suburban teenagers. Add all of that to a score orchestrated by legendary Blur founding member Graham Coxon, and you have a modern class on your hands.
Insecure Season 3
The music supervision of HBO’s critically-acclaimed Insecure is arguably some of the best and most important of this past decade. Focusing primarily on debuting new artists and songs, as well as highlighting artist of color, Insecure host some of the most cutting-edge acts of the present day. A joint venture between creator Issa Rae and music supervisor Kier Lehman, the show has hosted the musical talents of everyone from SZA, Rico Nasty, to Jorja Smith. As a matter of fact, the first season of Insecure was such an impeccable collection of songs that It was released on RCA. Season 3, which is currently in the midst of airing, may only be five episodes in but in that short manner of time, Insecure has brought a host of new R&B and hip-hop viewers the world over. With Tierra Whack, Childish Major, Saweetie, Buddy, The Internet, Ravyn Lenane, Mahalia, Omar Apollo, and plenty more lending their talents, season 3 of Insecure may just have some of the best music yet.