'Bridgerton' Composer on How Regé-Jean Page's Departure Will Impact Season 2 (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
One of the many reasons Bridgerton, Shondaland’s Regency drama set in 1800s London during the reign of King George III, is such a hit is thanks to the soundtrack. The music captures the series’ many emotional ups and downs with its clever mix of composer Kris Bowers’ lush, Emmy-nominated score and orchestral covers of modern pop songs selected by music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas.
While looking back on the soundtrack for season 1, which will be available on vinyl in November, Bowers explains to ET how the soundtrack came together, what changes to the score are in store for season 2 now that the narrative has shifted focus onto a different Bridgerton family member and Regé-Jean Page has left the series, and which pop star the composer would like to see covered next.
After previously working with Shondaland on For the People, Bowers was quick to say yes to reuniting with Shonda Rhimes’ team to compose the original score for the Netflix series. “Once I read the scripts, I really just fell in love with the story and got even more excited about how we might reference that musically,” Bowers says, adding that he was “excited about the idea of writing music for that time period.”
Of course, it wasn’t just as simple as producing a period-specific score with Bowers explaining that showrunner Chris Van Dusen wanted something with a modern twist. As a result, it was “a lot of trial and error, just kind of thinking of how we might go about doing it.”
But it all started coming together once Dusen shared some 20th century Ravel piano pieces that had inspired him, and that sparked an “aha moment” for Bowers, who drew from that to write the theme for Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset (Page). “That really opened up things for me,” Bowers says. “So, that was one of the first pieces I wrote.”
That eventually led to the music cue, “We Could Form an Attachment,” which is heard at the end of episode 1 that Bowers is most proud of. Since it was written early on in the process, “it was when we first discovered Daphne and Simon’s theme and how these things could come together. That was one of more difficult sequences in the show because it’s this long three-and-a-half-minute scene where they decide to go on this adventure and pretend to be courting in front of everyone. And at the same time, they’re making their way to the dance floor and it’s this huge moment that ended up being successful,” he says.
The other thing that helped bring the score together was Patsavas’ selection of covers, which includes Vitamin String Quartet versions of Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift and others. “Hearing these classical representations of these pop songs really clicked for me in terms of how much it would make the show relatable,” Bowers says. “If we hear those songs in this context and think about what those songs mean to us on a social level, it would help us understand how these characters are feeling in these social environments.”
When it comes to the soundtrack for season 2, which is slated to premiere on Netflix in 2022, Bowers is already a few of episodes into the process. “We’re pretty deep into it,” he says, noting how they’re planning to have him do more of the covers this year in addition to the one he did (Celeste’s “Strange”) for season 1.
Not only that, but Bowers explains how Page’s departure and the shift in focus onto Jonathan Bailey’s character, Anthony Bridgerton, will change the direction of the score. “The biggest thing is seeing how some of these themes will exist this season given the focus on characters is different,” Bowers says, explaining how they’re trying to figure out if something like Daphne’s solo theme can be repurposed “in a way that still like it made sense. So, questioning whether or not that’s Daphne’s theme or the theme for the diamond of the season.” (The diamond being the main character of each season.)
One thing for sure is “Simon and Daphne’s theme is not prevalent because of the fact that Simon’s not even in this season,” Bowers adds. “So far – at least from what I’ve seen – there's not a moment where we’re really focusing on Daphne’s or their story.”
That said, “the new love story that we have in this season is getting its own theme and that’s been interesting to develop,” Bowers continues, adding that despite Anthony and Siena Rosso (Sabrina Bartlett) having a theme that appeared briefly in season 1, it was “important to develop something new this season.”
Additionally, Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews) will also be getting some new music to go with the reveal of her true identity at the end of season 1. “Given that now we know who that is, we have two themes. We have a theme for Lady Whistledown but also for who that person is and how she’s trying to go about maintaining her secret identity,” Bowers says, teasing “how those themes can interact with one another [will be] interesting.”
And when it comes to what’s covered in season 2, Bowers says the final decision is made by the music supervisor. But he does hope to see at least two artists covered on the series moving forward: Olivia Rodrigo and Moses Sumney, whose song, “Lonely World,” was most recently featured in Lovecraft Country.
“There’s so many of his songs that I would love to hear done in orchestral,” the composer says, adding that “Doomed,” which has appeared on Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder, could be perfect for this show given the right context. “That would be a pretty cool option.” As for the “Drivers License” singer, Bowers says, “She’s really great. She captured this generation in such an amazing way... So, I think that having a song by her would be pretty cool.”
The double A-side limited LPs from Lakeshore Records are available for pre-order, with select colors and styles available in Barnes & Noble, Pias and Urban Outfitters starting Nov. 15.
For the record, I’m in love with these #Bridgerton Soundtrack Vinyls featuring @krisbowersmusic’s original compositions and all the cover songs (with music supervision by Alex Patsavas) 🎧