The Secret to The Leftovers Is in Its Music
The Leftovers isn’t known as a rip-roaring good time, so far as grief meditations go, but in relation to the music, there’s an virtually giddy undercurrent of enjoyable. I might be stunned if there’s a music supervisor having fun with their job greater than Liza Richardson. With this season’s wild, intoxicating mixture of gospel, pop, hip hop, classical, indigenous Australian music and past, Richardson and her crew are clearly killing it.
What’s hanging about the usage of music this season is the way it stands out even compared to the nice music decisions of prior seasons. It is probably the most assertive use of music for the reason that marvelous “Worldwide Murderer” episode by which the operatic and theatrical rating labored to create a uniquely transcendent episode in an already otherworldly sequence. It was one of the vital adventurous episodes on TV final yr, and the music performed a vital function within the storytelling quite than being incidental to it.
This season continues that vein, and this is a take a look at how music has formed the ultimate season to this point.
Gospel and religious music
The season kicked off with a canopy of Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman’s “I Want We would All Been Prepared.” The opening performs like a mini silent film that gives historic context to the Responsible Remnants whereas illustrating humankind’s obsession with its personal demise all through time. In a dialogue-free, four-minute chilly open we get an entire narrative arc powered by a track that tells you all the things it’s essential know.
In Kevin’s first look of the season, he leads a caravan of recent arrivals, all Moses-like, to the highly effective, thunderous “Signal of Judgement” by The McIntosh County Shouters. This type of music—ring shouts—has its American origins in slavery, with its roots in Africa. It is deeply religious, pre-dates American people music, and has its fingerprints on most modern music genres. (It is price trying out extra of The McIntosh County Shouters. Get obsessed.) The track establishes the Kevin-might-be-the-messiah theme stitched into the season and is reprised twice within the episode each time Kevin shows savior-adjacent actions. We hear it when Kevin breaks up a battle between protestors and native minister Matt Jamison’s congregation by coming into a river that seems to have been poisoned. He offers the all-clear and is straight away baptized in that very same river. It performs a closing time when Kevin rejects then contemplates burning the one draft of The E book of Kevin. The track arrives as a pronouncement and leaves as a warning.
Gospel and religious music take up plenty of area because the season progresses. There is a tiny shot of gospel when “I Had a Speak With Jesus” performs as Kevin dismisses a former “searching buddy” throughout a disturbing go to and an angelic model of “A Rocking Carol”—to not be confused with Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” but it’s the 5 Blind Boys of Mississippi’s “I By no means Heard a Man,” which performs us out of the “Do not Be Ridiculous” episode, that leaves a long-lasting impression. There may be a lot to remove as “I By no means Heard a Man” begins after misguided Australian girls, led by Grace, kidnap and drown the mistaken police chief named Kevin simply as one other Kevin—Kevin Garvey’s father, Kevin Sr.—emerges.
Since Matt and John Murphy theorize that Kevin cannot be killed whereas in Miracle, Texas, this hints on the potential hazard that awaits when these similar girls get their fingers on him. It is an uplifting religious that, on this context, offers option to a way of foreboding.
Simon and Garfunkel’s vivid “The 59th Road Bridge Track (Feelin’ Groovy)” performs as Nora bikes away and Kevin prepares his coping ritual, a form of meditation by which he suffocates himself with a plastic bag and duct tape. Whereas it appears to be like terrifying and slightly deranged, I felt a way of aid that he’d discovered a option to deal that works for him. When Nora later catches him within the act, she’s initially alarmed, but assures him that she will get it. No matter works.
Once we later study why and the way she broke her arm, it is clear why Nora understands that damaging impulse; she additionally inflicts ache on herself as a approach of managing her grief. Throughout her go to with Erika Murphy, she confesses to the damage’s origin and divulges her tattoo overlaying her kids’s names. Wu-Tang perfection is achieved when “Shield Ya Neck” rolls in to accompany probably the most morose-turned-joyful trampoline bounce on TV.
Eddie Rabbitt’s jaunty “I Love a Wet Evening” scores Kevin Sr.’s unhappy, self-inflicted sojourn throughout the desert, made extra depressing by the storm to return. Having insulted the indigenous individuals of Australia one time too many along with his overt cultural appropriation, he’s left to roam within the unforgiving warmth and wilderness of the outback. He encounters a self-immolating man, defeats a snake and almost dies of dehydration earlier than his journey is thru.
The easy, delicate piano association of a-ha’s “Tackle Me” that greets Nora as she arrives at her assembly with vaguely European scientists appears like a jarring, unusual alternative. She meets them for a sequence of exams to find out if she ought to be reunited along with her departed household. By the tip of these scenes, nevertheless, “Tackle Me” doubles as Nora’s plea after she’s rejected for giving a mistaken reply to a query for which there’s seemingly no proper reply (see additionally: the self-immolating man within the desert). Her pleading with the scientists after they reject her seems to be as a lot of a shock to her as it’s to us.
The track seems once more as a trumpet-heavy instrumental reprise when Kevin approaches the library seeking Evie, who he hallucinates as he begins to return undone as soon as once more. We lastly hear the radio model throughout Kevin and Nora’s break-up as Nora smokes, paralyzed, throughout the indoor rain storm on the resort and Kevin drives away along with his father and the Kevin-drowning Grace. With every repetition of the track, Kevin and Nora are both being rejected by others or rejecting one another.
Gone is the “Let the Thriller Be” theme track from the earlier season and, in its place, thematically acceptable surprises that really feel like opening a present every week. The opening credit score sequence proves itself extremely malleable, melding with each track thrown at it.
The Good Strangers theme track from the “Do not Be Ridiculous” episode, is a enjoyable reference to the title of the episode and Mark Linn Baker’s look on the present, but the place it actually shines is as a delicate, slowed-down instrumental that performs over Nora’s transient encounter with Lily. It transforms right into a heart-wrenching coda to their relationship when the now-older Lily now not acknowledges the lady who adopted and raised her throughout her babyhood.
The lounge lizard cowl of Depeche Mode “Private Jesus” would possibly wink on the present’s Kevin-as-messiah storyline, even Nora jokes about whether or not or not holy balls will be busted, but it surely additionally factors to the existential desperation of the characters. There is a deep want to connect with different individuals and to one thing higher than themselves that nobody has been capable of obtain but. Everyone seems to be trying to find salvation in some type of one other, for their very own private peace, nevertheless they’ll get it. And after seven years of unceasing sorrow, who can blame them?
Ray LaMontagne’s gorgeous, intimate “This Love Is Over” fantastically foreshadows what occurs to Kevin and Nora’s relationship. The mournful longing and remorse that carries the track is so heartbreaking within the context of this couple, it is virtually laborious to hearken to, but so beautiful you will need to play it on repeat.
This season of The Leftovers has been a form of grasp class in musical genre-hopping that, regardless of,—or perhaps due to—the varied, disparate kinds and references, all works collectively to create a cohesive narrative. The present’s creators are taking artistic dangers and experimenting with story and music in a approach that is thrilling to look at. Based mostly on what we have already seen and heard, there’s a lot to look ahead to because the sequence attracts to its finish.