Songs For Screens is a Variety column sponsored by music experiential agency MAC Presents, based in NYC. It is written by Andrew Hampp, founder of music marketing consultancy 1803 LLC and former correspondent for Billboard. Each week, the column will highlight noteworthy use of music in advertising and marketing campaigns, as well as new and catalog songs that we deem ripe for synch use.
In its first season, Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” pulled off what few TV shows have done in recent years by sending an indie-rock band into the mainstream with the single use of one of its songs.
Lord Huron, whose song “The Night We Met” was featured in a climactic mid-season Winter Formal sequence during Season 1, suddenly found themselves on the Hot 100 and in the top 5 of Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart with a two-year-old single from their 2015 album “Strange Trails.” The track was eventually certified platinum, and paved the way for the band’s major-label debut, “Vide Noir,” to enter the Billboard 200 in the top 10 earlier this month.
For Season 2, which premiered on Friday (May 18), “13 Reasons Why” music supervisor Season Kent found what she hopes will become this year’s “Lord Huron moment” when she was scoring a key three-minute montage in Episode 6 when it’s revealed that (spoiler alert!) Hannah (Katherine Langford) and Zach (Ross Butler) shared a secret romance in the months before Hannah’s Season 1 suicide.
When she heard “Your Love,” a new song by German-American indie-pop duo Haerts, Kent knew she had found the perfect track to express the scene’s many emotions. “The song has this warm female vocal, so you feel it from Hannah’s perspective,” she says. “It has those builds, the sweetness, the drive. It’s not cheesy. You feel like you are sitting in those ‘80s nostalgia John Hughes movies.” (And indeed, a marquee for a retrospective of the Hughes-scripted “Some Kind of Wonderful” is shown during the montage.)
The only slight hurdle in Kent’s way of clearing the song? “Your Love” was commercially released by the band last fall, and Kent was hoping to secure an exclusive single to drive value for the series’ popular soundtrack. So she put in a call to Haerts’ manager, Jonathan Pardo at Free Association, to make her case for a re-release. “I told [him], ‘This feels to me like our Lord Huron moment of Season 2.’ When we had our final playback watching the final mix of the show, everyone clapped after that whole montage.”
For Haerts singer Nini Fabi and producer/instrumentalist Ben Gebert, the synch took on a whole new life after the duo originally wrote as a tribute to the strength of their own real-life marriage and romance during a time of turmoil. The band had parted ways with Columbia Records after their 2014 debut, and retreated to their home in upstate New York to work through their relationship and their career.
“We were thinking about love and freedom as one thing, and is that possible?” says Fabi, whose best-known Haerts song, “Wings,” was also licensed by Kent earlier this year for the romantic comedy “Love, Simon.” “Can we be together and still be free? That’s what ‘Your Love’ was for us, and for people around us feeling similar things at certain points in their relationships.”
Once the band saw the scene, Gebert says, “it made me respect the song a little differently. Hopefully people will take something away from it.” Fabi added, “The most rewarding thing is when you write something personal and someone else can still connect to it.”
Since the release of the Season 2 soundtrack on Friday, “Your Love” has been one of the album’s most-streamed tracks, helping pave the way for Haerts’ forthcoming sophomore album set for release this fall via Toronto-based indie Arts & Crafts. Though TV synch history has rarely repeated itself since the glory days of “Grey’s Anatomy,” Free Association’s Pardo says Kent has already done her job by bringing the “13 Reasons Why” marketing machine to Haerts’ music.
“Season was able to take an already great band with a song that had been around for two to three years to the next level, and we hope that by re-launching the record this is something where 14 or 15-year-olds can say, ‘We previously didn’t know this band, but now we wanna know everything about them.’”
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