Along with the dialogue and the cinematography, a well-orchestrated soundtrack can depict the narrative of a story and can help alter your perception and emotion about a certain moment — a song can heighten the stress of a scary scene or provide solace to a heartwarming interaction on screen. And even though people may binge the heck out of a good series because of its story, some shows are worth a watch simply because of their soundtrack. So to help you figure out which shows you need to add to your queue, we rounded up our favorite TV soundtracks you need to hit play on over and over again.
1. Master of None
Master of None season two not only killed it when it came to its story, it also — in my opinion — won best TV soundtrack this year. Music supervisor Zach Cowie experimented with multiple genres to encompass the Italian-New York crossover that the show so excellently exemplified. With dance-worthy Italian tunes and classic hip-hop tracks, Master of None’s soundtrack explodes with personality and is a must-add to your record collection.
2. Big Little Lies
While the show itself can be a big pill to swallow, the music is a powerful relaxer to help digest those hard-to-breathe moments. The songs usually parallel the emotions and trials of the troublesome character, and sometimes becomes the vessel for the entire series.
3. Stranger Things
If the opening song doesn’t make you want to turn back time (BTW, it has already won the Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music award at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. NBD.), then we can guess the rest of the soundtrack from this ‘80s thriller will. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s creepily awesome score is the perfect sidekick to the kids’ supernatural adventure. From ambient notes and video game-like sounds, this soundtrack beautifully blends into the story one song at a time.
4. Luke Cage
Not only was Luke Cage one of the best Marvel shows that Netflix has produced, but it also has one of the best soundtracks out of the whole group. Artists like Faith Evans and Jidenna graced the fictional stage and soundtrack with their R&B and old-school flair. The juxtaposition of the retro-style tunes and the scenes in modern Harlem is a match made in Marvel heaven and should be recognized. Plus, with composers like Adrian Younge (Black Dynamite) and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (A Tribe Called Quest) you can guarantee that this album will not disappoint.
5. The Leftovers
Even though The Leftovers has ended, the soundtrack is known to be one of the best ever scored. The music supervisor, Liza Richardson, had the opportunity to get creative thanks to the direction of the TV show, and it clearly shows. Between opera, classical, and ‘80s songs, nothing is left unturned when it came to the sound and overall tone of the show. The soundtrack is somber and dark and light-hearted at times, which perfectly resembles the whole show itself. Make sure to listen to all three seasons’ soundtracks to get the full effect.
It would only make sense that rapper and hip-hop artist Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) would make sure his show Atlanta (which so happens to surround the subject of music too) would have a stellar soundtrack. Of course, it has its hip-hop and R&B songs, but the soundtrack also incorporates ‘70s melodies that are just too good to ignore. This mix is unique and diverse and deserves the praise it’s getting.
This show might lean on the weird side of the spectrum, but the soundtrack is a must-listen thanks to the composer, Jeff Russo, who just so happened to compose for shows like Fargo and The Night Of. But even though Russo’s hauntingly beautiful Pink Floyd-inspired songs are worth a listen, the ‘70s tracks are where it’s at. The Rolling Stones and The Who are just some of the time-period songs that flood the scenes and make the series come to life.