How ‘This Is Us’ Music Team Chooses Tracks to Help You Cry

Jon Huertas, Siddhartha Khosla, Chris Sullivan
John Salangsang/Variety/REX/Shut

This Is Us” now has an official soundtrack to accompany the show’s emotionally charged moments.

Cast members Chris Sullivan and Jon Huertas were joined by music supervisor Jennifer Pyken and composer-musician Siddhartha Khosla at the “This Is Us (Music from the Show)” album release at Clutch in Venice, Calif. on Wednesday night.

The soundtrack opens with “Death With Dignity” by Sufjan Stevens and concludes with “This Is Us Score Suite” by Khosla. Filling out the album are classics such as Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” and Ringo Starr’s “Photograph,” along with newer tracks like “Willin'” by Mandy Moore and “We Can Always Come Back To This” by Brian Tyree Henry.

“Our older songs are already legacy artists, I’m hoping our newer artists will be legacy artist 30, 40 years from now,” Pyken said.

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The album itself, which includes 20 tracks featured in the first season, tells it’s own story, Sullivan said, adding, “Music, not only in this show but in any show, is a very universal and very specific way to evoke memory, emotion in a large group of people.”

Pyken, along with creator Dan Fogelman and Khosla, collaborated to select songs for both the show and the album.

“It can be magic and happen very quickly, or it can take weeks to find the right song for a scene,” Pyken said. “Sometimes I have the scene and I know the song I’m going to put in. Sometimes I have to start listening to indie artists. We don’t have a formula.”

“Watch Me” by Labi Siffre, the song scoring the closing scene at the hospital from the pilot episode, is one that particularly resonated with Khosla.

“You couldn’t pick a better song to capture those emotions,” he said. “Anything that’s heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time, that’s an oxymoron, but that song does it.”

The generation-spanning element of the show lends itself to a unique selection of songs, Huertas said.

“It’s important to make those scenes believable. To have music that represents, and the best music of that time to play in the background lets the audience feel like they really are there,” he said. “Music is super important to grounding that, to making that authentic.”

UMe will release “This Is Us (Music from the Series)” on Sept. 15. Season 2 premieres Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. on NBC.

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