"It's really using the songs to tell the story and support these characters, not to have the biggest songs from the biggest bands."
Season Kent, Music Supervisor of 13 Reasons Why
The superb music in '13 Reasons Why' season one is among the many facets of the standout features that captivated viewers to emotionally connect to the story and characters with a beautiful nostalgia of 1980s style. The brilliance of music supervisor, Season Kent ('The Fault in Our Stars', 'The Walking Dead') continues to astound throughout the series with a specific palette from her impeccable music selection. Kent also spotlights those unique artists from the Me Era for a layer of dimensionality in Season 2. The composer of the series' theme song, Eskmo, delivers a musical journey itself, with the catchy and moving score in both seasons. Familiar artists such as Selena Gomez, Billie Eilish, and Lord Huron all return in season two, with new tracks that complement the other fascinating fresh bands included on the soundtrack.
Katherine Langford as Hannah (left) and Dylan Minnette as (Clay). Photo credit Beth Dubber. Courtesy of Netflix.
As the overall tonal sound was determined in Season 1, the music in Season 2 is more about enhancement themes with an extra layering on top. Kent described, "The addition was adding in punk music and then also a warmer, brighter 80s sense feel; whether that was bands from the 80s or new bands with that production, but with a warmer sound. (Show creator) Brian Yorkey described the newer music to me like a John Hughes vibe, which is really prevalent especially in Episode 6, which was the Zach/Hannah episode with a lot of bright 80s warm, falling in love music."
The Season 2 sound came from lesser known, underground, or classic bands. The talents included music from, but not limited to, OneRepublic, Logic, YUNGBLUD, Charlotte Lawrence, Parade of Lights, Phoebe Bridgers, Colouring, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), Leon Else, New Order, Years & Years, Tears for Fears, Gus Dapperton, Telekinesis, The Alarm, and others.
"There’s unreleased material in the show, like the Billie Eilish & Khalid song, but it was an existing demo. The Haerts song called 'Your Love' - that was an existing song, but unreleased. In Episode 3, there was a big end montage with a song called 'Promise Not to Fall' by Human Touch, which I got really early on and loved the youth. It's so awesome. We used classic post-punk bands Echo & the Bunnymen this season because we used the cover last season and Siouxsie and the Banshees. There's a flashback with the character Tony when he goes back out with Ryan - we have that Troye Sivan song called 'My My My!' It's definitely a modern production song that has 80s elements," continued the music supervisor.
The song selection for a particular scene impacts and evokes certain emotions for the characters within the story. "It depends on the song length and what we're trying to say. Sad can be a lot of different things: regret, sorrow, internal conflict, or hurt. Whatever the emotion is, it's really honing in on who we are following, the emotion, and making sure it's from their perspective. If it's a montage, we need to find the overall theme of what may be five different characters and are feeling, so that whatever tone and emotion that's existing in the song works for each person. If it doesn't, it may not be the right song or maybe it needs to be score instead of a song. The edit and the characters really tell you what to do. It's really important to watch it without any music, then you can feel it or the characters are so great here that they don't need it. When watching the scene, who am I following, what is this about, and what are we trying to tell here," Kent elaborated.
Ross Butler as Zach (left) and Katherine Langford as Hannah (right). Photo credit Beth Dubber. Courtesy of Netflix.
The music in Season 2 is an elation that evolved with the tailored sound base from Season 1, plus the bright warm 80s sense feelings and a dash of post-punk music, through the discovery of a plethora of indie bands represented in the exclusive music design of the show.
Kent concluded, "I'm not pulling top 40 hits for every episode, thinking I have to put the coolest stuff in here and be cool. That's not what the show is. It's really using the songs to tell the story and support these characters, not to have the biggest songs from the biggest bands. I get to go with lesser known, underground bands that aren't probably being used a lot or much in film and television the way we are. I want to introduce new bands. It's so fun getting these bands that don't have these outlets."
Miles Heizer as Alex (left) and Alisha Boe as Jessica (right). Photo credit Beth Dubber. Courtesy of Netflix.