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Emmys Music Cheat Sheet: A Complete Guide to the Nominees in All Seven Categories

Emmys Music Cheat Sheet
Fargo: FX; American Utopia & Flight Attendant: HBO; Inside: Netflix

As Emmy voting draws to a close, the 2021 music nominations span rookies to regulars. Here’s a guide, sizing up the competition in seven categories including scoring, supervision and song.

There is a wealth of music nominated across different sounds and genres. Variety breaks it all down in the annual Emmy chart.

Music Composition for a Series

“Bridgerton” (Netflix)
Composer: Kris Bowers
Two previous nominations (two this year)
“Diamond of the First Water”
Period-appropriate strings dominate small-ensemble score.

“The Crown” (Netflix)
Composer: Martin Phipps
Six previous nominations
“The Balmoral Test”
Harp, women’s voices for Diana’s entry into the royal family

“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
Composer: Adam Taylor
One previous nomination
“The Crossing”
Eerie textures, string quartet, for June’s capture and torture

“Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
Composers: Laura Karpman, Raphael Saadiq
One win, three noms for Karpman; first nom for Saadiq
“Rewind 1921”
Operatic aria, large orchestra play requiem for Tulsa massacre

“The Mandalorian” (Disney Plus)
Composer:  Ludwig Göransson
Pedigree:  One previous win
“Chapter 16: The Rescue”
Action music, hints of “Star Wars,” as Mando rescues Grogu

“This Is Us” (NBC)
Composer:  Siddhartha Khosla
Pedigree: Two previous nominations
“Birth Mother”
Evocative guitar, piano, cello, for Randall learning about his mom

Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special

“Fargo” (FX)
Composer: Jeff Russo
One win, two prior noms (two more this year)
“East/West”
Guitars, mandolin, ’50s middle-America ambiance

Oslo (HBO)
Composer: Jeff Russo, Zoë Keating
One win for Russo; first nomination for Keating
TV movie about the 1992 Middle Eastern peace accords
Piano, cello, strings for tense Israeli-Palestinian meetings

“The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
Composer:  Carlos Rafael Rivera
One win, one other nomination
“End Game”
Classically styled orchestral score for troubled chess genius

“The Underground Railroad” (Amazon Prime)
Composer: Nicholas Britell
One win, one other nomination
“Chapter 2: South Carolina”
Lush orchestra counterpoints strangeness, anachronisms in story

“WandaVision” (Disney Plus)
Composer: Christophe Beck
One win, one other nomination
“Previously On”
Rich symphonic sound for Salem witches, Wanda’s grief

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff on “WandaVision” Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Music Composition for a Documentary Series or Special

“Allen v. Farrow” (HBO)
Composer: Michael Abels
First nomination (two this year)
Doc about alleged child molestation
Delicate musical approach for Dylan; jazz clarinet for Woody

“American Masters: Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir” (PBS)
Composer: Kathryn Bostic
First nomination
PBS profile of “Joy Luck Club” author
Piano, string quartet score for mother and daughter pianists

“David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet” (Netflix)
Composer: Steven Price
Two prior nominations
Natural historian’s concerns about the environment
Intimate music reflects Attenborough’s personal point of view

“The Social Dilemma” (Netflix)
Composer: Mark Crawford
First nomination
Experts detail dangers of social media
Hybrid score of real musicians and vintage synthesizers

“Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre” (History)
Composer: Branford Marsalis
First nomination
Chronicles horrifying assault on Black Wall Street
Ragtime, early jazz, Americana backdrop for time and place

“The Social Dilemma” Courtesy of Sundance Institute

 

Music Direction

“Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry “(Apple TV Plus)
Music director:  Aron Forbes
First nomination
Documentary on the superstar
Mixed, supervised all the Eilish performances in film

“Bo Burnham: Inside” (Netflix)
Music director: Bo Burnham
First nomination (one of five this year)
Pandemic-era comedy special shot in his home
Burnham wrote, sang 20 songs

“David Byrne’s American Utopia” (HBO)
Music director: Karl Mansfield
First nomination
Spike Lee film of Byrne’s Broadway show

Bandleader and keyboard player, for show and special

“Celebrating America: An Inauguration Night Special” (multiple platforms)
Music director: Rickey Minor
Two wins, nine other nominations
Tom Hanks-hosted Biden-Harris inauguration special
Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Katy Perry perform

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC)
Music director: Harvey Mason Jr.
Pedigree:First nom (two this year)
“Zoey’s Extraordinary Goodbye”
Produced multiple songs performed by the cast on camera

Music and Lyrics

“Bo Burnham: Inside” (Netflix)
Songwriter: Bo Burnham, music and lyrics
First nomination (one of five this year)
Song: “Comedy”
Introductory tune about need for humor in messed-up world

“The Boys” (Amazon Prime)
Songwriters: Christopher Lennertz, music and lyrics; Michael Saltzman, lyrics
Second nomination for each
Song: “Never Truly Vanish”
Starlight sings heroic anthem at Translucent’s funeral

“The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
Songwriters: Anna Hauss, Robert Wienröder, music; William Horberg, lyrics
First nominations for all
Song:  “I Can’t Remember Love”
Melancholy love song performed while Beth dines alone

“Soundtrack of Our Lives” (YouTube)
Songwriter:  Marc Shaiman, music and lyrics
One win, 10 other nominations
Song: “The End Titles”
Shaiman sings own satirical ditty about end-credit rolls

“WandaVision” (Disney Plus)
Songwriters: Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez, music and lyrics
Three prior noms for Lopez; two for Anderson-Lopez
Song:  “Agatha All Along”
“Munsters”-“Addams Family” sendup explains Agatha’s role

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC)
Songwriters: Harvey Mason Jr., Andrew Hey, music; Austin Winsberg, Lindsey Rosin, lyrics
First nominations for all
Song: “Crimson Love”
Risqué song performed by Aiden at Zoey’s birthday party

Main Title Theme Music

“Allen v. Farrow” (HBO)
Composer: Michael Abels
First nomination (two this year)
Doc about alleged child molestation
Classical string ensemble and piano for intro

“Bridgerton” (Netflix)
Composers: Kris Bowers, Michael Dean Parsons
Two prior nominations for Bowers; first for Parsons
Alternate-history Regency London love story
Elegant, period-style chambermusic piece

“The Flight Attendant ” (HBO Max)
Composer: Blake Neely
Three prior nominations
Dark, humorous murder mystery
Colorful title sequence scored entirely with percussion

“Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)
Composers: Marcus Mumford, Tom Howe
First nominations for both
Comedy about U.S. coach for English football team
“Mid-Atlantic” ’60s-’70s-style rock for American in the U.K.

“WandaVision” (Disney Plus)
Composers: Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
Three prior noms for Lopez; two for Anderson-Lopez
Seriocomic look at suburban marriage for Vision, Scarlet Witch
Title songs in style of sitcom themes through the decades

Ted Lasso

Courtesy of Apple TV+

Music Supervision

“Bridgerton” (Netflix)
Supervisor: Alexandra Patsavas
First nomination
“Diamond of the First Water”
Clever string-quartet covers of modern pop songs

“The Crown” (Netflix)
Supervisor: Sarah Bridge
First nomination
“Fairytale”
Diana dances to Stevie Nicks, Elton John songs

“Halston” (Netflix)
Supervisors: Amanda Krieg Thomas, Alexis Martin Woodall, Ryan Murphy
First nominations for Thomas, Woodall; five wins for Murphy
“The Party’s Over”
Dan Hartman, Visage, Yaz songs for Studio 54 era and beyond

“Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
Supervisor: Liza Richardson
One previous nomination
“Strange Case”
Cardi B, Frank Ocean, Moses Sumney songs in stylistic mix

“The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
Supervisor: Randall Poster
First nomination
“Adjournment”
Sixties-era songs by Kinks, Georgie Fame, Shocking Blue

“I May Destroy You” (HBO)
Supervisor: Ciara Elwis, Matt Biffa
First nominations for both
“Ego Death”
Songs by Janelle Monáe, Weval, for Arabella’s fantasies

“WandaVision” (Disney Plus)
Supervisors: Dave Jordan, Shannon Murphy
First nomination for both
“Don’t Touch That Dial”
Sixties-style TV theme, Beach Boys song evoke era