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REVIEW: Standalone soundtrack of ‘Insecure’ fails to capture the show’s emotion

Courtesy of HBO

Courtesy of HBO

Khanlin Rodgers

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SPOILER ALERT: Review contains spoilers for Season 1 and the first half of Season 2.

Season 2 of the HBO Original Series “Insecure” opens with the main character, Issa Dee, reeling from the events of of the Season 1 finale and, in the process of trying to take matters into her own hands, only ends up torturing herself with ideas of things she knows she can’t have.

Issa finds herself out on a date with her ex as “Scared Money” by NxWorries plays softly in the background. The smooth beat and ‘80s style synths help set a romantic tone and atmosphere to convince the viewer that things are going to work out for Issa.

Then, reality sets in and the audience learns that Issa is actually out on one of many Tinder dates in a futile attempt to get over her last relationship. She becomes increasingly frustrated with herself and the background music changes to samples of forks and knives banging on a table as “Cheater for One” by Issa Rae begins.

The song is a made to resemble a freestyle rap and is performed by the main character as an internal monologue that voices her frustration of the current situation. This practice is a staple of the series that allows the audience to get a look at Issa in her rawest, truest state and relate with her. (Story continues below playlist)

“Insecure” is a complex show with complex characters and most of the worldbuilding successfully comes to life through the soundtrack.

As one of the music consultants for the series, Solange Knowles has a lot of say in which tracks make the cut for the show and which don’t. A lot of the most effective song choices enhance Issa’s personality traits and reflect how she feels in any given situation.

“Attitude,” an upbeat, bassy song about self love and confidence by Leikeli47, plays when aspects of Issa’s work and social lives start to work out in her favor and gives the audience the feeling of hope that her situation is improving.

“Supermodel”, a song by SZA that tells the story of a woman who doesn’t see her own self-worth and relies on others to find it, plays in the background when Issa is at her lowest and seeks validation and happiness wherever she can find it.

However, these connections and relationship between the music and the character don’t translate so well when viewers are only provided with only half of the equation.

As amazing as the soundtrack is in conjunction with the show, their relationship becomes a bit of a crutch when the two are separated.

The soundtrack loses a lot of meaning and feels a lot more like a “Friday Night Kickback” mixtape you would play when you’re hanging out with your friends. Albeit, a mixtape curated by Solange Knowles, but a mixtape nonetheless.

On their own and when played on their respective albums and EPs, the individual songs are still well done. Having individual titles by separate artists make the soundtrack more fragmented than a score primarily produced by one group of people. If you’re looking for more fluid, cohesive listening experience, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

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