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HBO’s cult teen show Euphoria has been regularly trending across the Twittersphere – we take a look at season two, to see what’s happening with the characters – and of course who’s featured on the celebrated soundtrack.

Euphoria, which debuted in 2019, follows the story of troubled teen Rue, played by Zendaya, who won an Emmy for her portrayal in season one, and her friends at high school as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma, toxic masculinity and social media.

She’s joined by an ensemble cast that includes Cassie (Sydney Sweeney from White Lotus), Cassie’s sister Lexi (Maude Apatow, Girls), Kat (Barbie Ferreira) and Jules (Hunter Shafer). Here’s a refresher on season one’s main characters and action:

Euphoria’s first season was full of plenty of shocks, not least when Rue, who has been battling with sobriety, overdoses in the last episode.

However, showrunner, writer and director Sam Levinson explained that his thinking for the show was, ‘if season one was sort of a house party at 2am, season two should feel like 5am, way past the point at which everyone should have gone home.’

It’s fair to say that in the second season, all of the characters are dealing with a lot. Many of them seem to be on a downward spiral – Rue, especially, post-relapse, is lying to her friends and family and putting herself in a dangerous position with a drug dealer called Laurie.

Even the show’s celebrated visual style has shifted – where season one was full of blues and purples, with the girls sporting an array of amazing make-up looks heavy on glitter and neon eyeliner, season 2 has a much more subdued black and gold palette.

As well as the teen drama staples of friends falling out with each other and relationship make ups and break ups, the show looks at unresolved grief (Rue’s dad died when she was 14); the impact of addiction on families; family secrets and the damage that can be passed down the generations, deep dives into the characters’ backstories and the nature of desire – what the characters want, or think they want, and whether that’s positive or negative. (Spoiler: it’s mostly the latter).

The cult HBO hit’s return to our screens has been getting some pretty mixed reviews, but one thing that everyone is loving is the music. Over the past decade or so, music supervision has risen up the ranks of film and TV – as evidenced by having its own category at the Emmys from 2017.

This year’s nominees were Halston, Lovecraft Country, The Crown and The Queen’s Gambit, with winners Ciara Elwis and Matt Biffa taking home the award for Michaela Coel’s brilliant I May Destroy You.

Next year, we wouldn’t be surprised if Euphoria’s music supervisor Jen Malone is battling against herself for the award. She’s already been nominated twice, for the first season of Euphoria and for her work on Atlanta.

We recently fell head over heels for her soundtrack on the dual timeline (90s/now) show Yellowjackets, and if anything, her choices for season 2 of Euphoria have been even more eclectic.

Malone is famous for creating genre-blurring soundtracks that expertly combine recent and retro songs; she revealed to that one of her major goals on any project is almost making the music into its own character, and she finds inspiration everywhere from Instagram to SoundCloud, Twitter to Twitch to create huge Spotify lists for showrunner Sam Levinson to choose from.

As you’d expect in a teen show, Euphoria has plenty of party scenes – which require Malone and her team to go above and beyond to select and clear the tracks.

In the first season, episode 6 (‘The Next Episode’) features a Hallowe’en party and 28 songs.

Season two’s premiere is built around a New Year’s Eve party, and has around 37 tracks, including everything from 90s hits by Tupac, the Notorious B.I.G, and DMX to Big Mali and B.o.B.

At the opposite end of the spectrum in the same episode, there’s Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Right Down the Line’, ‘Dirty Work’ by Steely Dan and 80s classic ‘(I Just) Died in Your Arms’ by Cutting Crew.

Across the season, Malone mixes up everything from classical music – Pierre Piccioni’s ‘Amore Mio Aiutami’ - to Mazzy Star, a number of INXS tracks (written into the script by Sam Levinson, who’s clearly a fan), The Pussycat Dolls and a great placement of Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Drink Before the War’.

Our favourite sequences are definitely Rue’s exuberant morning routine to Bobby Darin’s ‘Call Me Irresponsible’:

And there’s no way we can overlook the absurdly OTT dance sequence set in a gym during Lexi’s play in episode seven, ‘The Theatre and It’s Double’, set to Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Holding out for a Hero’, which will have you gasping along with the audience in the show at its audacity.

Explore the whole soundtrack for all eight episodes of season two on HBO’s official Euphoria Spotify playlist:

The score for both seasons of Euphoria has been composed by UK star Labrinth, who also wanted to merge different genres for the project, and has written tracks including ‘Still Don’t Know My Name’ for the show.

Take an in-depth look as he elaborates more on his process with Sam Levinson and supervising editor Julio Perez:

Gritty teen drama is certainly having a moment right now. Check out Yellowjackets and Sex Education for more high school action, or if you love the 90s music that Jen Malone features in her work, then you need our best soundtracks of the 90s.

If you're looking for music for TV shows we have masses of playlists, including 90s, 80s, hip hop and more.

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