As the final episode of The Vampire Diaries airs this week, we reflect back on eight years of a cultural and musical phenomenon. Music Supervisor Chris Mollere (@cmollere) walks us through his favorite songs featured across the 8 seasons of the show, including all of the major moments of the series. This post is the first of a series covering all 8 seasons of The Vampire Diaries soundtrack. Check out: Part II and Part III now.
AMANDA BYERS OF TUNEFIND: Chris, after 8 seasons working on this show and with this team, this week has got to be pretty emotional for you, right?
CHRIS MOLLERE: Absolutely. Especially going back through all of the music we’ve used and all of the fan Tweets and articles this week. You know, eight years ago when Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson created The Vampire Diaries, they thought they were just creating a TV series, but what they ended up creating was something much more significant and that was a family.
AB: When the show first premiered it had been hyped a lot and we added it to Tunefind expecting some good music – it was on the CW, after all! – but we had no idea just how big the show would get. It was an absolute monster hit. Generally, but especially for music. TVD quickly hit our top 10 most popular shows on Tunefind, and it’s been up there ever since. Did you expect that kind of reaction?
CM: The fans have been so invested in these characters right from the start, and I was thrilled they were loving the music so much. Without the fans undying support and love for the show for the entire eight years we wouldn’t have been able to create a show that had so much impact for this very long. It’s been an unbelievable journey.
AB: Can you talk a little bit about your approach to using music in TVD?
CM: Totally. I’ve always felt that music plays as another character in the show that just adds those deeper levels and brings everything together for the fans to fully enjoy the journey we are taking them on with the show. We are so very thankful, appreciative and honored to be able to feature such phenomenal music from all of the amazing artists that allowed us to include their music in TVD over the past eight years! Their music helped us tell the stories of the show and many of these songs are right there in some of our most pivotal and biggest moments of the series.
AB: Yes! Let’s get into that a bit now, because you’ve featured a LOT of music in the show for so many dramatic and emotional moments, and introduced fans to so many new artists and songs over the years. How did you pick your favorites?
CM: This was so hard! I started out by going through the songs lists – 1,228 songs across 170 episodes! – and re-watching a lot of the scenes. Originally, I was trying to put together my top ten favorite song moments of the series, but then I started looking back season by season and I knew that just wasn’t possible because there were too many huge scenes that featured gorgeous music that just took these scenes from amazing to simply out of this world!
AB: Luckily for us, we’ve expanded things to get your favorites from each season. We’ll chat more in a bit, but why don’t you take us through the first few seasons now? And readers can listen along with all the featured songs in our Best of The Vampire Diaries playlist on Spotify.
CM: Gladly! First up, season 1…
Say (All I Need)
from S1E1: Pilot
CM: Elena is headed the cemetery to write in her diary about her day at school. She has been dealing with a lot with the loss of her family and just dealing with life. We needed a song with an ethereal vibe that wasn’t too happy, but something with a tiny bit of hope in there. “Say (All I Need)” played this very nicely for us for Elena’s feeling of being lost in her mind and not knowing what she is supposed to do next.
AB: This song was huge on TuneFind, and I think it was the start of viewers’ emotional connection with Elena.
Never Say Never
by The Fray
from S1E1: Pilot
CM: This song was truly the beginning of the story of TVD. We have Elena and Stefan both writing in their dairies. We then see Jenna watching Jeremy looking at a picture of his Mom, then we see Damon at the Mystic Grill and he sees Caroline at a table when Bonnie walks away. Then we’re back to Elena writing in her diary and then she sees Stefan standing outside her house, so she goes to the door. The lyrics of this song just hit exactly what is going on in the start to our epic journey that each of these characters are about to embark on. It’s the start of each of these characters coming together as friends, lovers and in the end, family.
by Sara Bareilles
CM: And then we have the Elena and Stefan kiss, which Sara Bareilles’ song “Gravity” took to a whole other level. It’s epic while staying more sparse, which is gorgeous. It was calm after the craziness of their lives and this song just allowed the moment to occur between these two in such a beautiful way.
Enjoy The Silence
from S1E6: Lost Girls
CM: Damon’s having a good time while partying with Vicki and this Depeche Mode cover made so much sense for the place he was at being the bad boy. He was trying to do whatever he wanted to do and this song just exudes the “live in the moment now” feeling. The heavier and driving parts of the song drive us through the debauchery that was happening at the Salvatore mansion.
by Jason Walker
from S1E6: Lost Girls
CM: And only six episodes into the series we have the Elena and Stefan breakup. This song played so beautifully for this scene with the sparse piano intro to start, then more instrumentation comes in and then after Elena tells Stefan she can’t be with him, we have these poignant lyrics that just shoot you through the heart. The song just adds to the power of the scene of Elena falling to the ground just inside the door and Stefan standing outside not knowing what to do because he just lost Elena.
CM: As we know, with epic love there is always a chance of two people coming back together, as it was here for Elena and Stefan. The piano intro plays beautifully in the moment of Stefan going in for the kiss and then the song grows to play through Stefan’s fear of who he is and how he is afraid Elena won’t love him because he is a vampire. The song continues to swell as the scene heats up and then hits truly epic for them kissing in bed.
AB: The fans always love a super-emotional love scene, and this one – and Plumb’s song – was a highlight for fans.
All I Need
by Within Temptation
CM: This song set the tone for the Miss Mystic Falls pageants. We initially tried classical songs, but quickly decided to move to contemporary songs due to the musical identity that we created for TVD. “All I Need” gave us the dance tempo we needed, but also gave us the power of a rock song to take us to the much needed epic place for Damon and Elena dancing, which definitely is a hint to what would happen later in the story. It had a classical feel at the start of the song, but once it blows up and with the almost waltz-ish dance tempo, we get a gorgeous scene for the dance that’ll live on forever.
from S1E22: Founder’s Day
CM: This song is truly a special one. It has a vibe to it that you don’t find with very many other songs. It plays the tension between Elena and Damon very nicely, but with a sexy feel with the backing music. Then the way it hits the kiss with the chorus is just perfect. It takes you to that other world for this kiss, but then nicely drops back down for the awkwardness of Jenna walking outside and seeing what’s going on between Elena and Damon.
All This Time
CM: Stefan wakes up Elena and takes her to the carnival to watch the sunrise. This song gave us the feeling that all is right in the world again and as the scene keep moving forward the song keeps building the the place we need it to be. It’s almost like a dream with this song and just takes you away to the bubble of them atop the ferris wheel. The feeling of the song personifies what Stefan is trying to say and something that we all should do in our lives, which is enjoy the moments.
I Was Wrong
from S2E8: Rose
AB: This one was the season 2 fan favorite on Tunefind.
CM: The hypnotic feel to this song and almost dreaminess to it was vital to this scene with Damon telling Elena how he feels and then compelling her to forget. Not to mention the lyrics, “I was wrong” were a precursor to what ends up happening in our story of Elena and Damon.
In My Veins
by Andrew Belle feat. Erin McCarley
from S2E8: Rose
CM: This song hit lyrically and emotional for all that is going on in the show at the moment. With the lyrics “you’re in my veins” and it’s slower, powerful feel it’s just accentuating the worry, uncertainty, questions and feelings taking place between Bonnie and Jeremy.
AB: This one is a personal favorite – it haunted me. Birdy’s voice is so stunning here.
CM: Right? This gorgeous cover of Bon Iver’s amazing song is just a heartbreaker. The power of this cover with just piano and Birdy’s phenomenal vocals allows us all to feel the place that each of our characters are in and the loss they all feel. This is truly one of my favorite music placements in the show and it exudes the emotion we strive to create with our storytelling.
Holding On and Letting Go
by Ross Copperman
from S3E10: The New Deal
CM: Damon compels Jeremy to leave Mystic Falls and go live his life. The piano and guitar start the song giving a bed of hope for the scene. Ross’ vocals fit so nicely under the dialogue in the scene and just keeps pushing the scene forward with the tempo of the song that keep building little by little. We then see Stefan and Bonnie talking, but the real power comes in the scene with Elena and Damon on the porch. When the woah, ooh, ooh part of the song comes in it just leaves the scene full of tension of what’s going to happen. Then Damon walks away and then comes back to Elena. The song has a guitar strum that hits right on him kissing her. The lyrics of one door swinging open and the other one swinging closed hits right in the sweet spot of what’s happening in our story. Ross has been pivotal in multiple Elena and Damon scenes, which just raised the scenes to the place we all hoped they’d land.
Give Me Love
by Ed Sheeran
CM: This gorgeous song plays during one of our choreographed dances and with all of the couples involved in the scene, it’s truly a favorite of many. The tempo and feel of the song worked beautifully of the dance and with the lyrics of “give me love,” it was just stating what some of the characters were thinking in the moment with their dance partners. Take a deep listen to the lyrics and it’s hitting so very much going on in the scene, as well as between the couples or those that want to be with someone else.
Never Let Me Go
by Florence + The Machine
CM: When the song starts in this scene there is a whole lot of tension between Elena and Damon. They both know what they want to do, but just can’t. The tone of the song just gives an overwhelming feeling of giving into what you want, and then when Elena goes back to Damon to kiss him it just hits beautifully, as if they’re being drawn together even more moment by moment and then they just give into the magnetism between each other. This is one of those scenes and songs that go to that truly epic place.
by The Fray
CM: The sparseness of this song is gut wrenching. With the piano and Isaac’s vocals as the guiding force for this song, it allowed the weight of the scene to shine through fully. This is still one of the most sad scenes we’ve ever had in the show. Once Alaric goes outside with Elena, he sees everyone gathered there for him to say goodbye. With the song being so sparse we utilized a swell in the volume to hit this just a little more to represent the strong emotion that encompassed the scene fully. The family was losing one of their favorites and this hit everyone so very strongly. Whenever we’d be looking for goodbye songs for deaths, we looked back to this song and tried to find other songs that had the emotion, power and gravity of this one. It’s such a beautiful song with brilliant lyrics and we were fortunate to find it for this scene.
by Sigur Ros
from S3E22: The Departed
CM: This is my favorite placement for the entire series. It wasn’t an easy one to get approved, but that’s a story for another time. All in all, Sigur Ros was so gracious in allowing us to feature this song in the sequence. This scene went from so amazing to out of this world amazing due to this song featured in there! This is truly the most unique and special song placement we’ve ever done in the show. In the words of Julie Plec, “A truly epic sequence filled with beauty and tragedy.” The way it was shot, the way it was cut, the power of the music and with the ridiculously amazing performances by our actors… This will always be my favorite sequence in the show! Not to mention, Sigur Ros is one of my favorite bands in the world too.
AB: This was the Tunefind fan favorite for season 3, too. It was a pretty amazing way to close out the season, and took us on an emotional rollercoaster. And, on that note, we’ll wrap up for now and continue with season 4 soon. In the meantime, any hints about what we’ll see in the big finale tonight?
CM: No way! You’re going to have to wait and see what happens! But emotions will definitely be high…