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A guide to the multigenerational soundtrack of ‘Euphoria’ season 2

The songs accompany intense, emotional moments for the characters in its raw portrayal of high school life.

When season one of “Euphoria” aired on HBO back in 2019 starring Zendaya, the world was introduced to its genre-bending soundtrack from British singer-songwriter Labrinth. The smooth synth background mixes gospel, soul and electronic sounds to create a wide range of musical moods, accompanying the emotional highs and lows of the show. 

But this season, in addition to Labrinth’s signature themes like the TikTok favorite “Still Don’t Know My Name,” each episode also features classics — often a deep cut or forgotten gem from an ‘80s or ‘90s album — interspersed with hit pop songs or hip hop anthems.

Zendaya in "Euphoria" on HBO.
Zendaya in "Euphoria" on HBO.HBO Max

These songs often accompany ethereal camera work and lighting to set the tone for intense, emotional moments for the characters, an artistic hallmark of the show known for its raw, and at times triggering, portrayal of high school life. The tracks often quickly turn into viral sounds on social media, as people share fan theories, recaps or memes about the events of that week’s episode as one of the songs play in the background.

So to make sure you're all caught up on these trending songs, we're compiling a list that will be continuously updated with the ear worms you're hearing all season long.

Here’s a guide to the soundtrack of 'Euphoria' season 2:

Episode 8, 'All My Life My Heart Has Yearned for a Thing I Cannot Name'

'I'm Tired' by Labrinth and Zendaya

Season one ended with a dancing fantasy sequence set to "All For Us" by Labrinth and Zendaya. For season two, the singers paired up again in a duet, this time for a somber ballad entitled "I'm Tired." And after this finale, fans are too.

Episode eight wrapped up some loose ends and left others raw and frayed, which left little time for music. But following Rue's closing monologue revealing that she "stayed clean the rest of the school year," this song ended season two on a haunting and spiritual note. In the song, Zendaya sings the refrain, "Hey lord, you know I'm trying. It's all I got, is this enough?"

Elliot's song, performed by Dominic Fike

Dominic Fike, singer of 2018 hit "3 Nights," joined season two as Elliot, a fast friend to Rue and Jules who eventually becomes the reason Rue's friends and family find out she has relapsed. In the season finale, Rue visits Elliot to forgive him confessing that he likely saved her life. Elliot then plays a song for her, a slow acoustic ballad seemingly about losing a friend, featuring the lyrics "Little star, feels like you fell right on my head. Gave you away to the wind, I hope it was worth it in the end."

As to the future for Fike's character, the actor confirmed to Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” that Elliot will be back for season three.

Episode 7, 'The Theater and It's Double'

'Holding Out for a Hero' by Bonnie Tyler

It one of the show's more comedic moments, Austin Abram's oft-overlooked character Ethan came into the spotlight for his starring role in Lexi's play, "Our Life." In one of the last scenes of the episode, Ethan, playing a fictionalized version of Nate, acts out an innuendo-filled dance sequence in a locker room set to Bonnie Tyler's classic "Holding Out for a Hero." One fan on Twitter hailed it as the best use of the song since "Shrek 2".

"Holding Out for a Hero" was written in 1984 for the soundtrack to "Footloose" and became a top-40 hit. Today, it is regarded as an '80s rock classic.

'More' by Bobby Darin

Most of this episode was dedicated to showcasing Lexi's play. But in classic "Euphoria" fashion, many of the scenes weaved memories from the past into the narrative. One such moment occurred when a scene in Lexi's play depicted her dancing with father interspersed with a happy moment from Lexi and Cassie's childhood: the two sisters, dancing in a circle with both of their parents to Darin's upbeat, jazzy voice.

"More" is a pop standard originally written in 1962 for the Italian documentary "Mondo Cane." Artists such as Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole have all recorded renditions of the song. Darin recorded his version of the song in 1964 for his album "From Hello Dolly to Goodbye Charlie."

Episode 6, 'A Thousand Little Trees of Blood'

‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E. King

Fez and Lexi fans rejoice! As theories teasing a potential romance between these two characters spread after the season two premiere, episode six finally delivered. After watching the 1986 movie “Stand By Me” together, the two sing the end credits, Ben E. King’s titular song. In the end, Fez leans over and holds Lexi’s hand. It isn’t much, but we’ll take it.  

“Stand By Me” was first written in the 1960s and has been recorded more than 400 times, with notable versions from Otis Redding, John Lennon and Tracy Chapman. 

‘Quiet, The Winter Harbor’ by Mazzy Star

Mazzy Star is an alternative rock band formed in the early ‘90s, best known for the song “Fade Into You.” But “Quiet, The Winter Harbor” isn’t a throwback, rather it was released as a single for the band’s 2018 album “Still.” 

This slow, haunting song plays as Cassie leaves home to move in with Nate after Rue exposed their tryst to their friends and family in episode five. The lyrics, describing someone struggling and reaching out for shelter and security, illuminate Cassie’s current logic towards Nate. “I ruined my entire life for you,” she realizes. Yet, she stays with him, still thinking he offers her a harbor.

Episode 5, 'Stand Still Like the Hummingbird'

'Fever' by Sharon Cash

In an episode that many consider to be the most stressful of the series so far, and one that Zendaya herself warned viewers about with an Instagram post stating "(Rue) hits rock bottom," there were notable stylistic differences. Ambient sounds took preference over songs, and the episode moved its focus away from the ensemble and solely on Rue's mad dash around town as she looks for shelter and anything to take away the pain of withdrawal. But one moment of musical levity came when Rue sneaked into someone's house and stole jewelry and money to the backdrop of Sharon Cash's 1970 cover of "Fever."

"Fever" was originally recorded in the 1950s. Peggy Lee's version is the most widely known rendition which features her gentle lilting voice over mid-tempo snaps and the strums of an upright bass. Cash's version picks up the pace and adds horns and background vocals, matching the chaos of Rue's escapade.

'It Never Rains In Southern California' by Albert Hammond

Episode five started with Rue having an explosive fight with her mother, and it ended relatively full circle. Leslie, played by Nika King, sits at a table after failing to find her daughter. She hears the door open and calls out "Rue?"  — before the screen fades to black, and an upbeat soft-rock track plays.

"It Never Rains in Southern California" is a single from the 1972 album of the same name by Albert Hammond.

Episode 4, 'You Who Cannot See, Think of Those Who Can'

'Drink Before the War' by Sinéad O’Connor

Oh, who could forget this scene, which depicts Cassie dancing alone in her living room drinking straight from a bottle of wine, and Cal slow dancing with a stranger at the bar where he had his first kiss with his best friend.

This song is from O’Connor’s 1987 debut album “The Lion and the Cobra." The Irish singer is most well known for her rendition of Prince's “Nothing Compares 2 U" and her infamous Saturday Night Live performance, when she ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II.

The song starts with O’Connor’s chilling vocals but quickly escalates to a heartbreaking scream as she pleads lyrics like “You dig your own grave yeah, But it’s a life you can save.” The music captures the visceral pain of the two drunk characters: the intensity of Cassie’s need for male validation and Cal’s long lost love and suppressed sexual identity. 

'I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar' by Jonathan Richman

This song, from the 1992 album “I, Jonathan,” is an upbeat rock track with swinging guitar and narrative lyrics about, quite literally, dancing in a lesbian bar. The song serves as the backdrop to a scene where in one moment, Rue dances with Elliot, then, Elliot kisses Jules, Rue’s girlfriend.

'How Long' by Tove Lo

Tove Lo, best known for her 2014 hit “Habits (Stay High)" released a new track for “Euphoria” season 2 with lyrics aptly matching certain plot points. The song follows a tumultuous relationship as the singer asks, “how long have you loved another while I’m dreamin’ of us together?” Sound familiar?

This track plays in the background of Maddy’s birthday party, an occasion where the Maddy-Cassie-Nate love triangle somehow gets more complicated.

In a scene of Cal driving, INXS plays.
In a scene of Cal driving, INXS plays. Eddy Chen / HBO

Episode 3, 'Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys'

'Never Tear Us Apart' by INXS

The band INXS, pronounced “in excess,” is featured frequently on the show in connection with Cal.

The Australian rock band formed in 1977. And while “Need You Tonight” is its only single to hit number one in the U.S., “Never Tear Us Apart” from the '80s provided the backdrop for one of the most beautiful and moving scenes in the show yet.  

The episode opened with a look into Cal’s history, where we find out that he was in love with his best friend, Derek, growing up. After their graduation, the two go to a bar, just them, and dance to this song. While it starts off playful and teasing, they eventually grow closer before sharing their first kiss as Cal cries. Soon after, Cal finds out his girlfriend is pregnant.

'Call Me Irresponsible' by Bobby Darin

Originally written in 1962, Bobby Darin covered the jazz song in 1964 for his album “From Hello Dolly to Goodbye Charlie.” In this scene, a high Rue dances with her pillow. She sings along as she moves around her room and waltzes into her kitchen -- before being caught by Gia. 

'Watercolor Eyes' by Lana Del Rey

Released for the second season of the show, “Watercolor Eyes” plays over the credits in episode 3. The slow, sad song matches the signature indie sound of the “Euphoria” aesthetic. The lyrics describe a loving but painful relationship. Fitting.

Cassie tries to catch the attention of Nate, Maddy's ex-boyfriend, while Maddy looks in the mirror next to her.
Cassie tries to catch the attention of Nate, Maddy's ex-boyfriend, while Maddy looks in the mirror next to her. Eddy Chen / HBO

Episode 2, 'Out of Touch'

'Come Rain or Come Shine' by Judy Garland

“Come Rain or Come Shine” was originally written for the Broadway musical St. Louis Woman and covered in a swinging jazz rendition by Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” for her self-titled 1956 album “Judy.” 

The song plays as Maddy lives out a wealthy housewife fantasy, trying on the outfits and accessories of the mother she babysits for, played by Minka Kelly.

'Haunted' by Laura Les

“Haunted” is a hyperpop song from 2020 with chilling electronic instruments, a screamo-sounding chorus and auto tuned vocals. The song plays as Lexi, aiming to move on from her passivity, puts in her headphones to go see visit Fez, a potential match fans are rooting for.  

'She Brings the Rain' by Can

Can is a German experimental rock band from the ‘70s. “She Brings the Rain” is a slow, jazzy track with psychedelic themes. The song plays over a montage of Rue biking and witnessing Cassie getting into Nate’s truck. The secret couple then ignore calls from Maddy. 

Rue and Jules continue their tumultuous relationship in season 2.
Rue and Jules continue their tumultuous relationship in season 2. Eddy Chen / HBO

Episode 1, 'Trying to Get to Heaven Before They Close the Door'

'Don’t Be Cruel' by Billy Swan

"Euphoria" season 2 starts off with a bang. Literally. The opening scene shows a blond woman, later revealed to be Fez’s grandma, walking into a crowded strip club before shooting a man, Fez’s father. 

The song was originally recorded by Elvis Presley and covered by Swan in the '70s for a slow, twangy country rendition. 

'Right Down The Line' by Gerry Rafferty

The song heard round the Euphoria-TikTok world. Released in 1978 as a single to Rafferty’s album “City to City,” the song’s smooth folk rock sound served as a sharp contrast to the jarring and violent scene it accompanies: Rue, Fez and newcomer Faye being forced to strip by a drug dealer, who dances to the song while making sure none of them are wearing a wire.

'Dirty Work' by Steely Dan

From Steely Dan’s 1972 debut album “Can’t Buy a Thrill,” this song’s most famous pop culture moment came from another HBO show: “The Sopranos” back in season 3.

Tony Soprano sings this song in the car while the FBI overhears. In “Euphoria,” the song follows the tense strip-search scene. The upbeat lyrics of “I’m a fool to do your dirty work” play as a drug deal ensues. 

'Dead of Night' by Orville Peck

Peck is an out country singer who has never shown his face publicly, instead wearing a fringed mask in videos. The 2019 country song and lead single to the album “Pony” features Peck’s signature low, silky and crooning voice against a slow guitar. The sensual song tells a story of two lovers driving through Nevada in the “dead of night.”

It serves as the soundtrack to Nate driving Cassie to the New Year’s Eve party, the tension between the pair resulting in their problematic hook up in the bathroom. The scene, where Cassie leans out of the window as Nate checks her out, has been the subject of many a TikTok reenactment.