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It’s been four long years since we last caught up with Donald Glover’s Atlanta.

Now season 3 has dropped on Disney+, what can fans expect? Judging by the trailer, it’ll definitely be a wild ride.

Co-written by Childish Gambino musician and actor Donald and his brother, Stephen Glover, Atlanta has won a slew of Emmys for its writing, directing, cinematography, sound editing and acting.

Glover became the first Black director to win an Emmy for directing a comedy series, in 2017.

What Is 'Atlanta'?

The original series, featuring up-and-coming rapper Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) and his cousin Earn (Glover) might have been pitched as a Black version of country music soap Nashville.

Or maybe a quirky take on Empire. But Atlanta seems to rejoice in defying expectations – Glover once described it as ‘Twin Peaks with rappers’, whilst the Washington Post positioned it more seriously as, ‘an auteur-driven, genre-defying absurdist dramedy.’

Hitting the Big Time

Now, Paper Boi and his entourage are even breaking out of their titular city, and heading to Europe for a tour.

They’re joined by their buddy Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) and Earn’s on/off girlfriend, and mother of his daughter, Van (Zazie Beetz). Yes, since we last saw him, when he was flat broke, Paper Boi has hit the big time.

Season 3, however, has a number of stand-alone episodes, focusing on solo characters that we haven’t seen before (apart from the season finale, ‘Tarrare’, which focuses on Van), which, it’s fair to say, have somewhat divided critics and fans.

Donald Glover told that, ‘we just wanted to make a Black fairy tale. I remember sitting in the writers’ room and being, like, “What do we write about?” We just wanted to do short stories. Something I would want to watch.’

'Us' Meets 'Midsommar'

There are doses of horror, with elements bringing to mind Jordan Peele and Midsommar, themes interrogating whiteness, and what that means in America, together with slavery and reparations.

Plus, Atlanta is famous for its cameos – the series features Liam Neeson and the finale treats us to Alexander Skarsgård – last seen as an obnoxious tech bro in Succession – gamely playing a ‘bizarro version of himself’.

Miles Davis to Ludacris

Music is, as ever, central to this season of Atlanta. Music supervisors Jen Malone (Euphoria, Yellowjackets) and Fam Udeorji (The King of Staten Island, Creed II) return, showcasing some eclectic choices.

The first two episodes feature mellow tracks from artists including Miles Davis, Don Cherry and Eunice Collins – plus ‘Precious Memories’ by Sister Rosetta Tharpe and ‘Hail Mary’, a classic 2Pac hit. 

Astrud Gilberto and Chet Baker make an appearance in episode 3, which features 18 songs, while Jamie Levinson scores most of episode 4.

$Not and A$AP Rocky’s ‘Doja’ is paired up with The Temprees’ version of ‘Dedicated to the One I Love’ in episode 5, showing the breadth of the music supervisors’ choices.

Crooked Stilo’s ‘Reales’ brings a tougher edge in episode 7, while episode 8 features a dreamy Stereolab track (‘The Flower Called Nowhere’) and ‘Lorelei’ by Tom Tom Club.

Lalo Shifrin (most famous for the original Mission Impossible theme) brings something unexpected to a scene from episode 9, ‘Rich Wigga, Poor Wigga’, where two teenagers have a flamethrower fight at the high school:

The season finale features everything from Skarsgård’s character being an unexpected Ashanti fan (‘Rock Wit U’) to Wayne Wonder, Kaaris and Ludacris.

'Atlanta’s Music Supervisor

Jen Malone revealed to what makes her love her job so much. ‘There’s a song in Atlanta at the end of Season 3 episode 2 called ‘At the Hotel’ by Eunice Collins, and she hasn’t been synced a ton. I’m very close with the label that has her catalogue, and [they told me] she’s so happy it’s being introduced to another audience. The impact our little show has on other people, whether it’s a legacy artist like Tupac or Billy Swan, or Laura Les, or an unknown artist like Eunice Collins, it’s one of the best parts about my job.’

Much like Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ in Stranger Things, it seems that music supervisors might well be the biggest influencers on our music tastes at the moment.  

Find out more about season 3 of Atlanta in this Q&A from the 2022 SXSW Film Festival:

Need Music for Your Project?

At Audio Network we create premium-quality original music for licensing to broadcastersbrandscreators and agencies. For more inspiration, check out Jen Malone’s recent work as a music supervisor on Yellowjackets and Euphoria, as well as all you need to know about hip hop.


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