At the end of Season 1 of HBO’s Euphoria, Zendaya’s character, Rue, relapses. The moment is communicated via a hazy, melodramatic musical sequence laden with a gospel choir of voices, a marching band, an explosion of buzzy, electric beats, and Zendaya’s own vocals. The episode concludes with Zendaya breaking the fourth wall, her ever-expressive eyes piercing the camera, before she collapses out of frame and things cut to black.
It’s one of the immaculately produced moments, complete with lush lighting and precise camera choreography, that has made the show so beloved — and it wouldn’t have been possible without the person who wrote (and duetted on) that final musical cue — Labrinth.
The award-winning composer, songwriter, and producer joined Consequence to discuss the music in Season 2 of the hit show over Zoom from his home studio, where a wall of keyboards serves as his backdrop. The sophomore entry of the teen addiction drama rolled out with plenty of discourse and off-screen drama as well, with conversations around the show’s notorious nudity, its creator (Sam Levinson), and a rushed, unsatisfying finale reigning as the primary topics.
With so many distractions, viewers who love the show can still agree on a few things, though: Zendaya is amazing. And the music rules.
It could easily be argued that the show might not have taken off the way it did — capturing the social conversation and spawning multiple viral trends on TikTok — without the musical moments created under the direction of Labrinth. Beyond the heart-stopping Season 1 finale, Labrinth’s creations for the show’s score like “Still Don’t Know My Name” and “Mount Everest” had breakout moments of their own, propelling all things Euphoria-core higher and higher in the pop culture conversation.
Despite the messiness around Season 2, it’s clear that Zendaya cares deeply about the story Euphoria is telling. She also serves as an Executive Producer on the show, and the thoughtfulness she seems to have around many aspects of the show silences any detractors who might try to point to that as a vanity title for the young superstar.
Case in point: Labrinth’s confirmation that Zendaya was heavily involved with the musical process, chiming in on ways the story could serve the score. “She would come and hang out in the studio and watch me work on different pieces of the score,” he says of the actress. “She’d be telling me about Rue, and I’d say we should just write together.”
And so they did, with their efforts yielding one of the best moments of a sometimes disjointed season. In Episode 4, a shattered Rue fantasizes about wandering into a church, packed with strangers and peppered with only a few familiar faces. The scene is underscored by a track co-written by Zendaya and Labrinth, titled “I’m Tired,” with Labrinth himself appearing in the scene. “Lord, you know I’m tired,” they sing before Zendaya (as Rue) falls into the arms of Labrinth, seen onscreen as a choir singer in the church.