Long before a “Class of 2006” banner pops up in “Looking for Alaska,” it’s pretty clear what year the new Hulu show’s characters are living through. Some of that comes from the on-screen MySpace references or the relative state of DVD menu design, but most of that mid-’00s feel comes from the show’s song choices.
As has become standard for shows created by the producing team of Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, the “Looking for Alaska” soundtrack is packed with a mix of cozy radio favorites — no chronicle of 2005 would be complete without The White Stripes and 50 Cent and Gorillaz and Jet and J-Kwon and The Killers — and below-the-surface cuts that might just end up linked with some of the series’ most emotional moments.
In addition to some of the most iconic tracks of the day, there are also a handful of covers of some enduring recognizable favorites. Sufjan Stevens’ “To Be Alone With You,” Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out,” The Bravery’s “An Honest Mistake,” and, of course, Kelis’ “Milkshake” all get special reworkings, many of them specifically for the series.
(This collection of covers means that we get not one, but two tracks from The Postal Service’s “Give Up.” Well done, everyone.)
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There are some clear greatest hits moments — how could you have a show like this and not throw in Spoon’s “The Way We Get By”? — but the show also has some deeper cuts from some of the biggest bands and albums of the day. You get a Modest Mouse song, but it’s not “Float On.” There’s a Strokes track, but it’s nothing off “Is This It.” And the perfect song to close out the show’s opening episode comes from Bloc Party, but it might not be the song from “Silent Alarm” you’re expecting.
For a show so built on capturing a specific time and place, it makes the songs from a different era stand out even more. Toss in some Bill Withers and a Strauss waltz and there’s the occasional counterbalance to the other Goldfrapp and Beck and Wolf Parade found elsewhere.
Rounding out the show’s musical landscape is Siddhartha Khosla’s atmospheric score. The “This is Us” composer is once again tasked with providing a backdrop for some of the most emotional scenes on TV, this time combining echoey keys and some faintly sung vowels to help bring the show’s Alabama high school setting to life.
A handful of tracks from the show aren’t available on Spotify, but for the over four dozen others, we’ve gathered them in a playlist below:
Any ones we missed? Let us know in the comments.
“Looking for Alaska” is now available to stream on Hulu.