This Is Us TV show music - An Overview 
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This Is Us TV show music – An Overview 



This Is Us has become one of the most popular drama series on television since its premiere in 2016. The show is praised for its emotional storytelling that aims to remind us how meaningful life is, even during difficulties. One aspect that greatly contributes to the show’s ability to move viewers is its powerful use of music. The This Is Us TV show music is carefully selected to complement key moments and elevate the storytelling.

The Show’s Use of Music

Music has been an integral part of This Is Us since the very first episode. Creator Dan Fogelman has emphasized the importance of music in setting the tone and eliciting emotion. In fact, specific songs are written into the scripts for pivotal scenes. The show has featured both original compositions and licensed songs spanning several decades.

Some ways This Is Us effectively utilizes music include:

  • Underscoring significant scenes – Songs are used to underscore especially poignant, emotional, or meaningful moments and heighten the impact on the audience. For example, Sufjan Stevens’ “Death With Dignity” played during a heavy scene in the pilot episode, helping set the tone.
  • Flashbacks – Familiar oldies songs are commonly used during flashback scenes to immerse viewers in the time period. For example, Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” brought viewers back to the 70s during an early Randall scene.
  • Montages – Musical montages featuring a compilation of scenes are used to great effect. A memorable season two montage featured John Lennon’s “Instant Karma!” underscoring a series of chaotic, fateful moments.
  • Closing scenes – Impactful songs often play at the end of episodes, leaving viewers with sentiments to ponder. Songs like The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination” have perfectly capped off emotional episodes.

Notable Musical Moments

Certain uses of music on This Is Us have become remarkably memorable. Here are some of the most noteworthy musical highlights:

  • Sufjan Stevens’ “Death With Dignity” in the pilot – Established the show’s emotional tone from the start.
  • The Memphis Soul score – Unique original soul music, composed by Labrinth and Raphael Saadiq, gave season one episodes distinct, nostalgic feelings.
  • “The Pool” episode – Solemn scenes were accented by the melancholic track “American” by Julianna Barwick.
  • William’s funeral – A moving a cappella rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Close To You” performed by the cast provided one of the series’ most poignant musical moments.
  • Jack’s death – Moby’s heartrending cover of “Wait For Me” soundtracked present-day Rebecca driving on the anniversary of Jack’s death, powerfully evoking melancholy.
  • Vietnam episode – The use of the anti-war protest song “Get Together” by The Youngbloods provided ironic, impactful underscoring.
  • Kate’s miscarriage – New original song “Memorized” by Shiragirl marked a tear-jerking sequence where Kate deals with her grief after losing her pregnancy.
  • Acoustic covers – Sparse covers of songs like “Time After Time” and “Landslide” have greatly accentuated emotional beats.

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Music Supervision

The key behind all of the evocative uses of music on the show is effective music supervision. Music supervisors Manish Raval, Tom Wolfe, and Jen Ross carefully curate all songs used on This Is Us.

The music supervisors revealed some of their techniques in an interview with Variety:

  • Searching for unfamiliar covers to give songs new connections to storylines
  • Licensing a wealth of songs, beyond what’s needed, so they can be matched perfectly
  • Recording quality a cappella covers with cast members
  • Composing new originals with artists like Labrinth when covers can’t convey what’s needed

Thanks to their creative, thoughtful work finding and placing songs, the music on This Is Us elicits reactions and immerses viewers in the story like never before.

Original Music

In addition to the existing songs featured, This Is Us also incorporates a lot of original music composed specifically for the show. Emmy-winning composer Siddhartha Khosla creates the poignant instrumental score. Many solo piano pieces are written to accent sentimental moments.

There are also numerous original songs with lyrics written for the show. Some of the artists who have contributed originals are Toulouse, Tim Moriarty, Shira, Rhye, Bahari, and Declan O’Rourke. These custom songs help capture feelings central to storylines in an intimate way. For example, Toulouse’s songs for Kevin’s rehab scenes provided raw emotionality.

The original This Is Us music adds an additional layer of depth to the show and forms a profound connection with viewers.

Music Available to Fans

Beyond watching the show, fans of This Is Us can continue appreciating the meaning behind the music by:

  • Listening to official show soundtracks – Songs from Seasons 1-3 have been compiled into albums.
  • Watching musical performances – Videos of cast covers are shared on YouTube and the show’s social media.
  • Seeing artists live – Labrinth, Toulouse, and Bahari have done live concerts inspired by their work on the show.
  • Following the Spotify playlist – Features songs from the show to stream anytime.

The music of This Is Us has an ability to elicit powerful emotions and meaning outside of the context of the show as well. Since music is so integral to the viewer experience, it makes sense that it lives on beyond the screen.

Why The Music Matters

At its core, This Is Us is about human connection during life’s complex moments. Music is one of the most powerful universal connectors. Showrunner Dan Fogelman summed up the show’s use of music perfectly:

“We take pride in using our music as a storytelling tool, as opposed to something that just props up a scene.”

The music selected for pivotal scenes isn’t arbitrary. The songs become part of the story themselves, providing insight, emotion, and significance that words alone couldn’t achieve in the same way.

This Is Us tapped into music’s profound effects. The soundtrack elicits reactions from laughter to tears to goosebumps because it perfectly complements and elevates the story. It helps immerse viewers in moments that reflect life’s beauty, sadness, messiness, passion, and nostalgia.

So whether it’s a melancholy original composition or a stirring 80s pop classic, the music of This Is Us will continue touching the hearts and minds of audiences, potentially long after the show concludes. Because music, much like the love at the core of the Pearson family, has a way of connecting us across generations and through life’s ups and downs.

Reference List

  1. MannieFresh55. “This Is Us (NBC) | Soundtrack.” Tunefind, Accessed 18 Jan. 2024.


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