You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Songs for Screens: How Freya Ridings’ ‘Lost Without You’ Became 2019’s Big Synch Power Ballad

A cover of the song from Tuesday's “America’s Got Talent” is among the top 20 trending videos on YouTube.

Freya Ridings was still nursing the emotional wounds of a breakup when she sat down at her parents’ piano in her North London home to compose what eventually became her breakout hit “Lost Without You.”

“I was in an isolated place. When you lose a connection to someone where you put your heart, mind and soul into it, you feel very sort of lost literally,” says Ridings, 25. “It was the first song I’d ever written from beginning to finish almost from a deeply subconsciously place. There’s something about that unfilteredness where I wasn’t trying to do anything that I actually thought would connect with people. I was just expressing an isolation that I was in after heartbreak.”

Freya RidingsLatitude Festival, day 1, Southwold, UK - 19 Jul 2019
CREDIT: Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

By the time Ridings shared the song with her U.S. label team at Good Solider/Capitol Records, however, it became clear “Lost Without You” would soon find an audience well beyond Ridings’ living room. To date, the song has been synched 16 times for TV and film, including high-profile placements in ABC’s “American Idol” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” Freeform’s “Shadowhunters” and The CW’s “Legacies,” each prompting spikes in Shazams ranging from 10,000 to nearly 40,000. Back in her native U.K., the song soared to the top 10 on the Official Charts Company’s Singles chart on the strength of a use on popular reality series “Love Island.”

A cover of the song from Tuesday night’s “America’s Got Talent” is currently among the top 20 trending videos on YouTube, even prompting judge Simon Cowell to declare contestant Kodi Lee’s performance “one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever, ever heard.”

Like her labelmate Lewis Capaldi, Ridings’ music seems to be striking a chord with music supervisors and fans alike looking for the powerful combination of evocative lyrics and stripped-down production that made Adele, Sam Smith and Ridings’ fall U.S. tour partner Hozier such global success stories.

“She writes emotionally moving lyrics and she has an innate talent and specificity to her sound that you don’t often find,” says Jenny Swiatowy, VP-head of creative sync licensing at Capitol Music Group. “The rich tone of her voice just demands your attention. It can be akin to a Florence and the Machine-type voice; it has that power to it. And combined with her lyrics it just packs that one-two punch you need to elevate a scene that might already be moving and create that TV magic that we always hope for when we have a great song or placement.”

The song has been experiencing its biggest U.S. Shazam activity in nearly six months after its prominent use in the current and final season of Starz’s “Power,” which featured a nearly four-minute placement of the song during a key funeral scene mourning one of the series’ main characters, Angela Valdes (Lela Loren). Jen Ross, the show’s music supervisor at Grand Plan Entertainment, first heard the song after Swiatowy shared it with her months prior to Ridings’ self-titled debut being released in July, and never considered another song once she paired “Lost Without You” with the scene.

“It was a tall task to find a song that fit both the complexity and tonal weight of the scene,” Ross says. “You have characters and audience members who loved [Angela] her for her good side, and another side of the spectrum who questioned her for her intentions. And between that love and hate, you have to give this character a proper send-off, and this song really did that. We start the scene with a wide shot of the casket being pulled out and carried over to the gravesite, and you hear the opening lyrics ‘Standing on the platform, watching you go, it’s like no other pain I’ll ever know’ and it creates this emotional moment that gives some closure to the scene.”

For Ridings, the groundswell of attention from “Lost Without You”’s licensing activity has taken her from playing to intimate crowds of 200 to over 30,000 at European festivals this past summer, with large U.S. sheds and theaters with Hozier soon to follow next month. “It’s almost a decade’s worth of work paying off in one song,” she says.

The fact that the single’s piano-and-vocals arrangement runs counter to the current trend of pop songs with multiple features, seven co-writes and low-rattling beats is not, well, “Lost” on Ridings either. “Because I wrote it completely on my own and there was no thinking about what might work, it was letting go of what people might want from me,” she says. “For a long time, I was told ‘Your songs are too sad or without drums or about heartbreak and they aren’t going to connect to people.’ It’s become a force I couldn’t really control, and I’m so grateful that it’s happened.”

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 highlights noteworthy use of music in advertising and marketing campaigns, as well as film and TV. Follow Andrew on Twitter at @ahampp.

More TV


    'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' Renewed for Season 2 at Disney Plus

    It may not have even premiered yet, but Disney Plus has handed out a second season renewal for “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” Inspired by the “High School Musical” movies, the series was created and is executive produced by Tim Federle, and stars Olivia Rodrigo, Joshua Bassett, Matt Cornett, Sofia Wylie, Larry Saperstein, Julia [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld Dickinson Premiere

    Hailee Steinfeld, Jane Krakowski on What Modern Women Can Learn from Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson lived in the 1800’s, but if you ask the team behind Apple TV Plus’ upcoming series, “Dickinson,” her story is more current than ever. Hailee Steinfeld stars in the the modern-day retelling of the poet’s young life. The actress — who makes her first full-time foray into television with the role and also [...]

  • Mackenzie Davis Himesh Patel

    Mackenzie Davis, Himesh Patel to Star in 'Station Eleven' Series at HBO Max

    Mackenzie Davis and Himesh Patel have been cast in the lead roles of HBO Max’s upcoming “Station Eleven” series adaptation. The show is based on the book of the same name by Emily St. John Mandel. Described as a postapocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines, the series tells the stories of survivors of a devastating flu [...]


    How a Recurring Childhood Nightmare Inspired 'Living With Yourself'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Living With Yourself,” streaming now on Netflix. When writer and producer Timothy Greenberg was a child, he used to have a recurring nightmare. In it, he was sitting at his family’s kitchen table when the doorbell would ring and suddenly he would feel terrified, [...]

  • Meghan Duchess of Sussex during a

    Meghan Markle on Media Scrutiny During Pregnancy: 'Not Many People Have Asked if I'm OK'

    Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, opened up about being a newlywed and first-time mother amidst media scrutiny in an interview with “ITV News at Ten” anchor Tom Bradby. Markle, along with her husband, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, were interviewed for the new documentary, “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey.” Markle, who addressed the [...]

  • Bless The Harts

    'Bless the Harts' Renewed for Season 2 at Fox

    “Bless the Harts” has scored an early second season renewal at Fox. This marks the first Season 2 renewal for a freshman show this season. The series has aired three episodes to date, with the fourth set to air this Sunday. The animated comedy hails from creator Emily Spivey and is loosely based on her [...]

  • Donald TrumpCNN Republican Presidential Debate, Las

    Trump Letter Threatens to Sue CNN; Network Calls It 'Desperate PR Stunt'

    An attorney for President Donald Trump has sent a letter to CNN that threatens to sue the AT&T-owned cable-news network for violating the Lanham Act and making misrepresentations to the public and advertisers about its content, but the network says the missive isn’t worth discussing. “This is nothing more than a desperate PR stunt and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content