As the final episode of The Vampire Diaries airs tonight, 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 Part II in a series covering all 8 seasons of The Vampire Diaries soundtrack. Check out Part I.
AMANDA BYERS OF TUNEFIND: Hey Chris, so in Part I of our chat you gave us an intro to being a part of The Vampire Diaries phenomenon and took us behind the scenes on some of your music favorite moments in the first three seasons. Now I’d love to dive a little deeper into how you think about the music.
CHRIS MOLLERE: Excellent! My favorite part! You know, I think I’m very lucky to have had the amazing opportunity to work on this project. With some TV shows and films, music is there to pick up the slack for phoned in performances, story issues, bad episodes, lack of emotion, etc. This was never the case with TVD because we were so fortunate to always have amazing writers, immensely talented directors, brilliant producers, fantastic crew members and phenomenally talented actors that brought their very best to work each and every day to help tell our stories. It was truly an honor to work with each and every one of these unique and utterly magnificent people for the past eight years! I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of that collaboration.
AB: One of your key collaborators has been Mike Suby. Tell us a little about working with Mike.
CM: Mike is a genius. From working with him on multiple shows for over a decade now (on shows like The Originals, Pretty Little Liars, Containment…), I’m constantly in awe of the music he creates that just masterfully guides us through the story and episodes. The themes he created for each character, the relationships, the terror, the haunting, the joy and every other emotion that was evoked throughout the series are so very powerful.
AB: And the fans certainly feel that way, too. We can see their frustration on Tunefind when they can’t get hold of Mike’s gorgeous score. Are there any plans to release another soundtrack album?
CM: Yes, actually! A score soundtrack is coming out very soon and we’re seeing what we can do for more song soundtracks, too. More news on all of that to come soon!
AB: Excellent! You’ll be making a lot of fans happy with that comment! In the meantime, we’ll have to console ourselves with the score that’s been released so far, and Mike’s favorites, which he’s posted on Soundcloud.
Now, in our last chat you talked a bit about how the music is a character on the show. Can you tell us a little more about that?
CM: Definitely. You know, from the start all of the creators and the network were really committed to a strong role for the music. It’s not just playing in the background or smoothing over transitions. Instead, music on TVD was utilized as a character to help tell the story throughout each episode. You can see this with Mike’s character and relationship themes, which really bring out the emotion and personalities they represent, but also with all of the other artists whose music has been featured on the show. We have so many examples of this, where music plays as another character 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.
AB: Let’s get back into some of those examples, as we continue with your favorite songs from Season 4. And everyone can listen along on the Best of The Vampire Diaries playlist on Spotify, too.
CM: Here we go…
by Ed Sheeran
CM: Ed Sheeran has a way of creating such beautiful songs that just play the right scenes so gorgeously. There is a power to them and especially this one, that has a prettiness to it, but also a sultriness to it, which for this scene that started innocent and turned sexy, was just the right tone and feel. I know a lot of fans of the show are enormous fans of Ed’s music and rightfully so. We’ve been so thankful to be able to feature multiple songs in huge scenes over the years!
AB: Ed Sheeran’s music always seems to get the fans excited, and this was the Tunefind #2 fan favorite for Season 4.
O Holy Night
by Cary Brothers
CM: This was the holiday episode and definitely made me wonder if we were all going to get struck by lightning on the mix stage. Nothing quite like the Christmas standard “O Holy Night” playing in the background while Klaus is taking part in a massacre of hybrids. Cary Brothers’ fantastic version of this holiday classic played so great for this sequence and truly took our holiday episode to a whole other place. I’ve seen a lot of holiday episodes and movies, but this was a whole other direction for sure and was the beginning of TVD and The Originals holiday episodes for the ages. Whiskey shots to Cary for this fantastic cover of the holiday classic!
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
by Digital Daggers
CM: Klaus drowns Mayor Lockwood and it’s playing to the most iconic Christmas song ever! This was one that we truly felt like we were getting away with something when we finished the mix. Digital Daggers created such a beautiful and haunting version of the Christmas classic and then we took it into a very un-Christmas-like scene to make something very special in a very twisted way. Just rewatch this scene if you need to remember how shocking and haunting it played to close out the episode. Christmas in Mystic Falls would never be the same after this moment.
by Noah Gundersen
from S4E15: Stand By Me
CM: This was a very different type of music placement, as it’s not a typical song that would play this type of scene, but it worked beautifully with its sparse instrumentation and Noah’s haunting vocals. It gives the feeling of being reflective and stuck inside your head, which fits so well because I think everyone in the scene is just wondering what to do next. After Elena lights her house on fire and Elena, Damon and Stefan walk out the door, the instrumentation builds to give us that more powerful emotion, but not going too big, since you’re just blown away at what’s happening on screen. It was an end of an era for Elena as she’s trying to move on from the past, and this song plays that so very nicely.
by Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko
CM: Bonnie sees Jeremy again, Matt talks to Rebekah and then Stefan, who doesn’t like to dance, dances with Elena. The simplicity and gorgeousness of this song plays the scene so very well because there is longing between all of these couples, but then also a good amount of uncertainty with each other due to all that’s happened in the past. Lyrically it just hits all that’s not being said between Stefan and Elena as he’s trying to get her to give any type of reaction while they’re dancing. At the moment between them at the very end, you have Stefan feeling like he’s making a breakthrough as the song is just fluttering beautifully in the background, but then Elena tells Stefan “what heart,” which shows he’s not even close to getting her back to who she was before.
by Cary Brothers
from S4E23: Graduation
CM: For this scene between Elena and Stefan, there is something very special with the song playing in the background while Damon is stating why he doesn’t want to be human, and doing so completely unapologetically. Then we have Elena saying that even in death Damon has been the one that makes her feel the most alive. The song keeps building to the point where she says she loves him and then we hit another epic moment of them kissing. This is one of those scenes where the song, the performances, and scene work together to take the story to a whole other level, which is beautiful. Then we see Stefan who’s lost in his head and the song drops down to more sparse to finish out, which just worked so nicely for the scene and not that many songs have this structure to keep playing through after the epic kiss.
AB: Yes – this was beautiful. The quiet build up to this huge emotional moment and kiss, and then back to the quiet angst that follows. This was the #1 fan favorite for the season on Tunefind.
CM: Elena leaves the house to head off to college and as she walks out the door she pops back in to give Damon one more kiss. This song has a lightness to it, but also a bit of anticipation, which is pretty much the way you feel when you’re headed off to take part in something new. The great beat and overall vibe of the song adds excitement to when our girls are headed off to college to try to do something normal in life. The lyrics at the end of the scene that say “Let me live that fantasy” where Elena get excited and dance around a bit hits it right on the head, because they’re trying to be normal and be teenagers just enjoying life.
Don’t Deserve You
from S5E2: True Lies
CM: This song is very poignant with the lyrics and also dreamy at the same time. Elena and Damon are trying to track down Stefan because he’s missing. The song has an airy feel to it that makes you feel that everything around Elena and Damon has stopped and it’s just these two talking, and then it hits another level once they kiss. Damon’s phone rings and we’re popped back into reality from this brief escape.
CM: Damon and Elena are fighting and then say it’s over. There’s a look between them and then they just are pulled to each other. This song with it’s sexy, dreamy feel accentuates the scene where Elena and Damon are just drawn to each other and can’t keep their hands off each other.
AB: This was an emotional scene that had fans on edge and they really responded to this song choice. This was the fan favorite for season 5.
Don’t Let Me Go
from S5E21: Promised Land
CM: The synth at the beginning of this song adds to the tension as Bonnie and Enzo talk, then Stefan appears. Raign’s epic and powerful vocals hit as Bonnie says she lost the way to bring everyone back and Stefan disappears. Caroline is screaming and the song just keeps growing with despair for what is to come. It’s a powerful song that guides us out of the episode to leave everyone wondering what will happen? And are they really gone?
All Through The Night
by Sleeping At Last
CM: This is such a gorgeous cover of the Cyndi Lauper classic. Ryan O’Neal (aka Sleeping At Last) always creates such amazing music! This song is more stripped down and is exactly what we needed for this scene where Elena is telling Alaric how she knew that she was in love with Damon. The song is a bed to the scene jumping back and forth from Elena to Damon. The lyrics guide us through this entire sequence so eloquently with its sparse instrumentation that is just so very powerful. Sometime less can be more with songs and scenes, which this is a great example of that! Also, I’m a huge fan of covers that artists make completely their own, which Ryan does here so well!
AB: We have a lot of fans of Ryan’s work here on Tunefind from The Vampire Diaries, but also shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Supergirl, Criminal Minds, So You Think You Can Dance, and more. He’s not a household name (yet!), but so many people will recognize Sleeping At Last’s songs from many of their favorite shows.
CM: Liv and Tyler are talking and the song comes in, which leads us to Stefan walking into the family crypt and then he sees Damon. This song and so many M83 songs just gradually build. They’re so cinematic with their music and are the epitome of epic. It’s as if the music comes in waves with each one getting just a little bit larger each time. This keep pushing along the scene and raising the emotion until at the end of this scene Damon says he’s back and the brothers embrace with the song at a powerful crescendo. M83 is a very special band and their music can definitely take you away to many places. Lucky for us in this scene, that place was an epic reunion of two brothers and it plays it beautifully!
by Tom Odell
CM: I could listen to this song over and over. It’s a very special song that evokes the optimism of life, but with a haunting undertone. We see Damon in the cemetery pouring out some liquor to his friend and then having a drink himself. He then thinks of the time he and Elena got caught in the rain. She makes him wait there instead of running for cover. The song continues to build and as the added emotion is evoked, they kiss. She tells him to tell her that this is forever. We then see Damon back in the cemetery without too much hope, but then he sees Bonnie’s teddy bear and hope is restored that she’s still alive. The optimism of the song also rings through in the scene at the end.
Colour Me In
by Damien Rice
from S6E14: Stay
CM: What more can I say about Damien Rice other than his music is blissfully gorgeous and can shatter your soul. It’s a more sparse song, but with that sparseness the emotion exudes fully. The acoustic guitar and his vocals just create a world of endless emotion. As Caroline is next to her Mom’s bed as she’s dying, Stefan tells her to go into her memories and find a time when she was truly happy. Caroline sits down next to her and hold her hand, which is where we have the flashback to her Mom teaching her how to ride a bike. As she’s inside this memory, strings start to come into the song and notches up the emotion just a little bit more, which builds throughout the rest of the scene. This is one of my favorite scenes in the series because it reminds us that those little moments in life can be big lessons for the future. The strings take over the song even more and the emotion is at a climax for the scene as her Mom lets go of her bike and young Caroline rides away on her own. We then make it back into hospital room where everyone else has gathered to pay their respects to Sheriff Forbes, too. If this scene doesn’t kill you emotionally, then you’ve got some personal problems, because in my mind it is utterly beautiful! Caroline comes out of the memory and her Mom passes away. The song becomes more sparse for this realization and the sadness just hits fully as everyone takes this in.
Go In Peace
by Candice King
from S6E15: Let Her Go
CM: This is a gorgeous song by a fellow Texan by the name of Sam Baker. It’s a pretty simple song, but it is what I call simplistic bliss. It is very straightforward in its arrangement, but so very powerful with its lyrics, which the feeling it evokes is unmatched by almost every song ever written. What Candice (the character Caroline, on the show) did with her performance of this song was truly breathtaking. This scene is one of the most powerful scenes as she is performing for the loss of her Mom, the beloved Liz Forbes. A truly gorgeous song and a truly gorgeous performance! One funny note on this: I had to track down Sam on tour and called a venue he was playing at and left my phone number for him to call back. Sam was amazing to talk with and so kind to allow us to feature his song. It’s crazy how some things get done in life, but you’ve got to find a way to make the special things happen! I hope I actually just turn into a vampire and live forever or at least another 80 years, but if I don’t turn into a vampire and I do die, I’d love for this song to be sung at my funeral. Then maybe a party afterwards with lots of live bands playing for everyone to have a great time.
AB: You’ve been lucky to have featured Candice’s beautiful voice in a few episodes throughout the series and fans have really responded each time. Those might be some good candidates for any future soundtrack planning!
by Ross Copperman
CM: The moment I heard this song I knew there was something so very special about it! I sent it off to someone to hear and get their thoughts, but they didn’t find it as special. This didn’t stop me, because I just felt this could be the one we were looking for and fortunately everyone else felt the same. We then prepped for the shoot, which involved a choreographed dance that came out so amazing. This song has a dreamlike epicness to it that I am so fortunate to have come across, because it took an amazing scene to a whole other world in epic fashion. From the piano, to the vocals, to the build and to the every other facet of the song, it was just something that you truly hope to find for a scene of this magnitude for these characters. It played through Damon telling Elena what had happened, and then through Stefan telling Caroline that he loves her and he’ll wait for her for when she’s ready for him. Epic gorgeousness personified in every piece of this sequence and the song just kicked it into that place you dream to be when you finish an episode, as well as a season.
AB: Hands down, this was the top song of the season for Tunefind users, who were tracking it down as the episode aired.
And on that insanely emotional note, we’re going to take a break there and let everyone go find some kleenex and recover a bit. Then we’ll be back with our third and final installment to take us though the music of the final two seasons. Thanks, Chris.