Obsessed with the Soundtracks to ‘Euphoria’ and ‘Yellowjackets’? Thank Music Supervisor Jen Malone

“It’s a common misconception that a music supervisor’s job is to just sit around and listen to music all day,” says Jen Malone. With her team (“the best women in the music supervision world: Whitney, Nicole, Sarah, and Hailey”) she masterminds song selection for the shows and films that generate the most awe around their soundtracks—Euphoria, Yellowjackets, Atlanta, and Zola, to name a few—and explains that “music supervisors are one of the very few department heads that are there from day one until that episode is delivered,” sometimes days before airtime.

From the moment they see the script, all music—whether a background song in a store or person singing—will need to be cleared. “You can have the most perfect song for the scene, but if you can’t clear it or you can’t afford it, you cannot use it.” It’s the “unsexy” side of the job: “We tackle all music issues that come up. And when you have shows like I work on, that are super heavy with music, they will always come up.”

At the start, her team feeds every song that could work for the show into a giant Spotify playlist. Working with labels and publishers, they get songs in, and send to video editors to try. “I’m a very visual person, so it’s important to see the scene.” Ideas from script-reading can get flipped after seeing “the pacing, the tone, the performance, how the scene is actually cut.” A bar’s aesthetic might change the songs playing there. Even the colors—Euphoria’s blue-purples and Yellowjackets’s yellow and earth tones—are a factor in a show’s musical identity. Songs sometimes reflect where a character is at: “For example, you’re gonna see a lot more of Lexi and her story in this Euphoria season, and the Laura Les song she played in [Episode 2, called “Haunted”] was a nod to her character’s evolution.”

Composing is a separate beast, and for Euphoria, Malone’s team don’t cross over much with Labrinth. And—if you were wondering—Drake supports the show more broadly, and isn’t involved in the nitty-gritty of music selection. 

Some shows are easier for Malone. “Yellowjackets was all in the mid-’90s. I’m from New Jersey; I was in high school. Boy, it was great,” she grins. “I can give options all day… we haven’t even scratched the surface.” Euphoria’s next episode (S2, E3) is “where I’m at personally, musically—what I’ll listen to on my own.”

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