The Music of Hulu's "High Fidelity"
Hulu’s High Fidelity, just like any great music playlist, brings a lot of separately superb elements together to create one exquisite experience. One of these pieces is the story, which follows Rob (Zoe Kravitz) and her record store compatriots Cherise (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) and Simon (David H. Holmes) as they navigate love, heartbreak, and some classic 20-something soul searching set to the backdrop of neon-lit New York.
Another is the performance of the three aforementioned actors, as well as Jake Lacy and Kingsley Ben-Adir, which were charismatic enough to pull me in, but grounded enough to make High Fidelity feel like a realistic look into the messy psyche of young adults. The third element that makes High Fidelity a hit, which in my opinion is just as important as the first two, is the music.
Lots of shows have great music, and there are a lot of shows about music that are great, but I’ve never seen a show that attempted to do both and killed it on either end until High Fidelity.
There are plenty of scenes where the gang discusses music, like the instantly-recognizable Top 5 moments, where Rob, Cherise and Simon sit around with a beer in-hand asking random Top 5 questions. Example:
Cherise: “Top five artists who reinvented themselves?”
Rob: “Prince, Radiohead, Bowie, Iggy Pop” (yeah, it’s only four, but whatever.)
Scenes like these are among my favorite moments in the show. It’s a window into the eclectic mind of music nerds, where they have thousands of songs, albums and artists ready for any music question they’re ever asked. It also showed me that my music IQ is a lot lower than I thought.
But there are also just a lot of beautiful scenes set to classic records, like Rob walking through New York at night as "Nikes" by Frank Ocean blasts through your television’s speakers. Every song is selected specifically to mirror the characters and the situation they’re in, and it enhances every moment.
The music was selected by a veteran team of music supervisors: Manish Raval, Alison Rosenfeld, and Tom Wolfe, along with Kravitz herself. They also consulted with Questlove, a founding member and frontman of The Roots. Their job was made extra challenging by the fact that High Fidelity has no original soundtrack; every song you hear playing was found and procured by this team, not created for the show itself.
They also had to dig deep to find songs that would fit in with the snobby tastes of record store workers. These aren’t your average music listeners; these are people who dedicate their lives to knowing obscure tracks, weird records, and unheard-of artists. The result was a soundtrack full of hidden gems and artists you’ve never heard of, mixed in with a few classics. And every song hits. For your convenience, I linked both Apple Music & Spotify playlists of the show’s entire discography. If you don’t find at least one song that you instantly fall in love with, I’ll Venmo you the balance of my bank account.
High Fidelity is a testament to the everywoman/ everyman genre. It takes a few regular people and turns their lives into stories that are hard to stop watching. The acting is wonderful, the story is captivating, and the wise-cracking, fourth-wall breaking done by Kravitz is the best I’ve seen since Fleabag. However, what takes High Fidelity from good to great is the collection of songs that plays throughout the show. Whether you start the series or just check out our High Fidelity playlist, you won’t regret it.