The music of Ted Lasso has contributed hugely towards making the show such a vivid and engaging watch. Music supervisor Tony Von Pervieux spoke with Subjectify about his role in selecting the show’s unique soundtrack, some of his favorite usages for certain characters, specific requests from Jason Sudeikis, and the challenges of clearing the Dutch music for season 3’s epic Amsterdam episode.
From the pilot’s explosive opening scene, smashing into the football action with the The Sex Pistols, all the way through season 3’s final refrain – “Father and Son,” a usage that hammers home the show’s “bad dads” thesis statement and tells us just how important it was our hero course corrected his life and returned home, Ted Lasso has included some of the most memorable and evocative needle drops in modern TV. The show’s soundtrack has served to set the tone and enhance scenes, creating some of the most unforgettable music moments, and the song choices – from punk to showtunes, britpop, electronica, classic rock, jazz, old-school RnB, from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond – are as diverse and wide-ranging as the show’s eclectic cast of characters. And that’s before you even get into the songs included as live performances and football chants!
The musical identity of Ted Lasso has no one specific sound. There’s room for everything. Any genre, any style, any era – it all has a place, and it all works perfectly, sometimes in a way the audience might not expect. From a tear-jerking Rickroll at a funeral, to the Rolling Stones rom-com moment between a man and his sport, to a team training session set to Jerry Herman’s overture for La Cage Aux Folles, nothing is off-limits, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Tony Von Pervieux, who served as one of Ted Lasso’s music supervisors alongside Christa Miller, is a prior collaborator of Lasso co-creator Bill Lawrence. Ahead of the season 3 finale, Subjectify spoke with Von Pervieux – who’s also working with Miller again as the music supervisor on on Shrinking, the new Apple TV+ comedy from Lawrence and Lasso’s Brett Goldstein – about his role in crafting Ted Lasso’s unique soundtrack, including some personal favorite song choices he’s picked for particular characters, the history of certain tracks hand-selected by the show’s EPs, going down to the wire with Dutch rights clearances for the Amsterdam episode, and the way that the show’s popularity has helped them get approval from artists they might not have otherwise.
Last season I interviewed Tom Howe, the composer you work with on Ted Lasso and also Shrinking. What I found really interesting about his perspective was the amount of character work that he was thinking about, the storytelling element. I know that you work quite closely together, alongside the producers and editors, to work out what moments will have score, what moments will have song. But for you, how much does character play into the song that you’re going to select for a moment? Are there moments where the song stands alone versus moments where you’re actually selecting a song that is relevant to the character’s personality or taste? This is kind of before we even get into the scripted elements when a producer has asked for the song specifically.
I think if we can develop a character and the sound of that character on the score side, we definitely try to translate that onto the needle drop side. So what we’re looking to do is, we’re just trying to find – take Roy Kent. Roy is… He’s a character, right? He’s got his aggressive moments, so sometimes when we’re looking for a type of Roy song, we’re looking for maybe something of that punk era, something that might stand out a little bit more and fit Roy’s character. This season we do it a little bit more and there’s one in episode 10, [Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand”] that’s one of my favorite uses. It’s quite spot on for me as far as what and who Roy Kent and his music would be. As soon as you see it, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
But what we try to do, every single one of the characters obviously has a different kind of vibe, so when we are looking in the editorial stage, when they’re putting together these episodes, the editors are often requesting music specifically for a scene and they’ll give me some descriptive notes on what they’re looking for, because at that point I don’t get to see anything yet. So I’m going blindly as far as what I’m pitching, but if there is a specific character involved, if it’s not the entire group, or the entire coaching staff that’s together, obviously we’re trying to put forth the best song that fits that character’s description.
One of my favorite uses was back in season 2. So when we’re looking at designing a scene or a specific song around a character – in this case, Jamie Tartt, his return to the field, I just remember – and I actually had a conversation with him [Phil Dunster] about it, because I was like “This is one of my favorite uses, because the minute we put it up to picture, I was like, “That’s totally you.””
Yeah, you’re talking about the Queen usage, when he comes back to the team?
Yeah, in 2.02, “Tear It Up.” That was one of my favorites, because he comes out on the field, no one’s expecting it, and he just has this attitude about him. This cockiness, this arrogance. And just to hear the percussion come in, the guitars on Queen, and then Freddie’s vocals, it just encompassed everything that I imagined for him at that time. Because his character obviously kind of morphs a little bit with his attitude, but at that time, he was that arrogant Jamie Tartt, and it just felt so right to use that song. And I’ve been wanting to use that song for quite some time too!
Speaking of Jamie, the most impactful music moment for me back in season 2 was the use of “Beware Of Darkness”, the George Harrison song, coming in off of that dead silence, after the confrontation in the Wembley locker room. How was that particular song chosen?
Well that was a tough spot. Because we’re dealing with his father, obviously, who’s just acting like a piece of shit. And you can tell the sadness and you feel this empathy towards Jamie. Now we understand why he is who he is, right? And with this spot, I know we went through a bunch of song choices. We were putting a bunch of songs to try, to see which one fit the best, because when you’re dealing with these song choices, there’s certain songs that either the production or maybe the vocals kind of get in the way of the dialogue.
So what we’re trying to do is really just make that moment flourish and really accentuate that whole vibe, the whole vibe of the locker room and the whole feel of it. And we hadn’t used a Beatles song, or a member of The Beatles, at this point, so George had been in consideration for other spots as well in that season, but we tried “Beware of Darkness” and it just kind of felt right at that moment, and that was the one that we ended up sticking with.
But I think the tone of that song and his vocal really just accentuated the feel of that scene. And I remember feeling like that whole episode was quite a journey, you know? It obviously started off with Sharon riding her bike and we used the Roots Manuva song [“Witness (1 Hope)”] and then she gets into the accident, and then all of a sudden, everything just feels like it kind of shifts a little bit. Like “Oh shit, I don’t know what to expect.”
I think that episode was a big turning point for the show because it actually started becoming an hour-long at that point, right? They’d been like 30, 35 minute episodes before that, and that one was like a 45, 50 minute, and then they’ve been longer ever since. Presumably the length of the episodes changing affects you quite a bit, in terms of the amount that you’re having to pull?
Yeah, it absolutely does. Obviously with score and with sourced music, the longer the episode, the more music we’re gonna have, whether we’re filling it with Tom’s fantastic original music, or we’re trying to find a needle drop that works – some of these usages are very lengthy. Like the Stones usage?
Yeah, The Rolling Stones “She’s A Rainbow” runs for a really long time in the episode!
Yeah, and the song is, what? Three and a half minutes or something? And we got to use it for over five. So it’s almost unnatural with some of the uses that we use in the show. But the great thing is, especially with our music editor and how much he understands pairing music, sound, with the scene. He’s very good at cutting these songs and making them fit perfectly. Because that’s a process. Obviously the editors are working through that, through those scenes, and sometimes the usages are long. These scenes end up being four, five, six minutes long, and to take a song and try and not make it feel so repetitive, when you are looping the song at times, and we’re talking about classic songs – these artists typically don’t like to have their songs manipulated in this way.
But I think the transparency of us going to these artists and saying “Hey look, I know this is not a normal situation, but you have to trust the fact that we are putting together something special with your song for this scene, and it will run two minutes over how long your song is, the duration of your song.” So it’s really cool working with the editors and then the music editor and figuring out how we make this song work and sound as good as possible and to fit this time. And then of course my other job is to make sure I can sell it to the band, right? Because the Stones are the ones obviously that have final approval on all this stuff.
It seems like there’s a lot of music that needs to be cleared in advance of filming on these shows. I noticed this in Shrinking particularly, but in Ted Lasso as well – in Ted Lasso it’s more like there’s scripted jokes that might be a reference to a song that you’ll use, but in Shrinking you had so many literal sing-alongs, or dialogue that relies on the songs, like with Harrison Ford sing Sugar Ray in the car or Jason Segel riding the bike, “Fuck you, Phoebe Bridgers.” What has that process been like? How much are you clearing in advance so it can be used in the script and in the shooting?
There will be opportunities where the producers and writers have these amazing moments that they’re scripting for these characters to sing, whether it’s a line or two or the entire chorus of a song. And in the production phase, with the script, I’ll kind of get the heads up and then go through the script, and typically the song that they script is the one that they’re definitely going to use, right? Because the producers have a clear vision usually of what they want and what they feel like their characters would sing in that moment.
So with the Harrison Ford one, that was something that the writers, producers and then discussing with Harrison, “Here are options of what you would sing.” And for me, it’s at that point I can tell the producers – because I’ve done this for so long – I can hint to the producers what I know would work, if it’s an artist or a writer, because sometimes it’s not the artist, it’s the writer that I’m gonna have trouble clearing the song with. And I have a history of clearing music, so I know A) Will it clear? Does it have a chance to clear? and B) Is this going to be something that breaks the bank? Or is it something that we can make work and fit within our budget? So when they come to me in the production phase, they’ll give me a heads up and then I’ll go out to the rights holders and put that out there and make sure that we secure the rights prior to the use. Because you definitely do not want someone singing something that we end up not using.
And then there’s a lot of moments too where if it’s a last minute thing, the producers are like “Oh well, maybe we can get them to sing this one line from a song,” and in that situation, we’re looking at just clearing the publishing. But sometimes, they’ll come back to me and be like “We’re shooting this tomorrow,” and I’m like “Well, you know, I probably can’t clear this in a day, but I think it’ll clear,” so we just have them shoot what they want and then shoot coverage to make sure that just in case, for some odd reason, the publishing comes back denied. But typically with shows like Ted Lasso that are in season 2 or 3 and have such a great track record – people love the show, right? So for me, it’s been a lot easier to clear music that has been often difficult to clear. We have gotten artists that are typically notoriously known for taking forever to respond. For example, the Beyoncé song at the end of the first episode of season 3?
“Ring the Alarm,” yeah.
Yeah, that song was not my choice. That was chosen by the producers, because they wanted something that was going to take us out in a big way of that episode, and I just told them “Okay, well, Beyoncé is not easy. She’s clearable, but it can take quite a long time sometimes to respond, and of course, you know it may be a little pricey.” But they obviously wanted to go for it and I totally understood why. So when I send out a request, sometimes you just kind of mentally prepare yourself that you’re gonna be waiting and following up for a few days or a week or two weeks. And I literally got Beyonce’s approval back in two hours.
Oh wow, she must be a fan, or someone in her camp.
For sure, management has to go to her and just say “Hey, you good with this?” And so then, at that moment, you know that they’re a fan of the show. And so it’s kind of cool having the ability to use songs that typically we would never consider for another show.
“Sunflowers,” the Amsterdam episode, had some very interesting music moments that I loved. I was really curious about the choice for the sing-along with Hannah Waddingham, the Dutch Kenny Rogers moment. I assume that was selected well in advance?
That was selected. That was André Hazes, one of the most popular Dutch singers. And that is absolutely the producers, that’s Brendan Hunt, who is very knowledgeable in this space. He’s got extensive knowledge in that song, so we relied on him, for shaping, sonically, what that music would be for those two characters to sing. And they scripted that one, so that one I cleared early early on in the process, before they were shooting it obviously. But [his choices for] some of the other [Dutch] sourced songs, there was one that we had to replace, just because certain rights with the Dutch music, the most difficult part was finding the people sometimes, finding who reps this 25% of the song. And on these there weren’t a ton of writers, maybe there were two or three writers, but there was always one that was not listed anywhere, you couldn’t find a contact for this person.
A lot of the labels that I dealt with for the soundtrack of this episode, they have sometimes minimal information, especially for clearance with their foreign partners. So I go to the US here for maybe Universal Music on the master side and then they have to go to their affiliate overseas and sometimes the information is incorrect, so I get led down a rabbit hole of like “Okay, yeah just reach out to so and so,” and then I hear back two or three days later because it’s international, and they’re like “Sorry, we don’t rep this” or “We don’t have this anymore,” and then you have to go to somebody else.
So this episode was extremely challenging with the type of music, and then obviously with just finding the rights holders that actually rep this song. And there were a few that we had to reach out to personally. They didn’t have a specific rep, so we just had to find the person online and get their email somehow and contact them and make sure that we were secure, once we were finalizing the episode in post-production. So clearance for this episode on the music end literally took until the very last second of post-production. The on-camera stuff, I got that cleared up early, for example “Three Little Birds,” that was another obviously scripted moment from the producers and writers and, it was just a matter of how much were we gonna use for the first scene, for the opening with the crowd, and then how much of the song would we use at the end.
With the traditional football songs, like “Three Little Birds,” “Blue Moon,” “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles,” you’re talking about known chants for the clubs. Does that play into the clearance at all, using it because it’s associated with Manchester City or Ajax? Does it make it more or less likely to clear, or is it completely unrelated? Because the rights holders would have to know when their song is the touchstone of a football club. How does that work, when you’re actually dealing with “Hey we’re using this, but we’re using it as a football chant?”
They’re okay with it. There’s some artists that lean into the lives their songs have taken on. When we used Rick Astley last season, he leans into it. He understands, like, “Okay, look, I understand the Rickroll, I don’t necessarily like it, but…” type thing, and so Jason was great with the creative vision on how to utilize a Rickroll at the end of that episode in a very different way, that Rick Astley had never seen. And I talked to him, I got to talk to Rick and his wife who manages him, and they’re like “It was one of the best uses we’ve ever had of our song.” Because no one’s ever used it for a eulogy. So the fact that we got to use it in that fashion, they were very accepting towards it.
But then again you have songs like Blue Moon that are just used for a lot of different things, but for chants it’s very popular overseas and it’s just accepted, and so the writers and the producers obviously did a lot of research, prior to even shooting season 1, of like, “Okay well, if we’re gonna if we’re gonna talk about Man City, if we’re going to play at Man City, if we’re going to have Tottenham, whatever team we’re playing against, we’re going to want to try and use what those fans are actually singing, right? They want to be authentic to that team. And for me, it was just making sure that correctly, some of them might be in the public domain and a lot of them are not. So it’s just figuring out who I need to go to, to acquire those rights and make sure that everything’s buttoned up on the licensing end. A lot of research was put into it and it just seems like it’s a very accepted thing in the show to utilize what music is actually being played or chanted in those stadiums.
I think it really helps, like you said, to add to the authenticity, so I really really loved that. Ted Lasso is pretty fantastic at pulling off great montages. The one in the Amsterdam episode, set to Chet Baker’s “Let’s Get Lost,” that was a very powerful usage of a song for a montage. How was that chosen?
The Chet Baker was scripted for sure, because all the stuff that we did in the Jazz Club, that stuff there was pre-production work to be done on it. But the Chet Baker song, obviously we’re like “Okay, well we’ll clear it for Higgins and the band playing it and singing,” but then I also later cleared the master, because in post-production we ended up realizing that we’re going to use part of the live production audio that they recorded on the shoot day, and then we wanted to use part of the master Chet Baker recording to kind of take you out of that world and into that montage world. And that was literally all the producers and the editor and I on that, so I just had to make sure that we were able to get the publisher to agree and then utilize the Chet Baker master as well.
Episode 7 this season opens on what feels like a visual homage to the movie You’ve Got Mail, seeing London shops opening up versus New York opening up, set to The Cranberries song “Dreams.” Would something like that be planned as a direct riff, with getting those shots and depending on getting that specific song to intentionally make the classic reference, or was piecing that together something that came about afterwards?
I don’t know as far as how they wanted to shoot that, but when we were dealing with music on this episode, The Cranberries just felt right, you know? Just the feel of opening it up with that, “Dreams” just fit so perfectly, and so I think that choice was in there from early days. Being able to work with the editor on that one, that one just kind of stuck because it just took you in and obviously getting those establishing shots, you just get the vibe of it’s almost like that “movie moment” type feel. So that was one where I sent them a batch of songs for this episode knowing that, and this is one that the editors put in and the producers loved.
That’s really interesting to me, because I probably would have assumed that situation, it would have been them saying “We want to make this homage on purpose to be like You’ve Got Mail, can we get that song?” That’s actually really cool, that there are moments that you are selecting that add to the storytelling, or the references, that came together after the fact.
Obviously it’s their direction for everything, so we can just create the landscape with the music, and the producers have their songs that they put in for those moments as well, because in that episode for example, there were quite a few of those moments where we had the external shots of Richmond, and just coming into the vibe with different songs, The Monkees and Alabama Shakes.
Yeah, it kind of took you through the tone of everyone’s day as they moved through it, I really loved the visuals and music in that one. But that first track “Dreams,” was not a scripted choice from the producers? That was a choice that your team put in, during the edit?
Another really great montage moment from this season was the big Zava scene in episode 3, showing us these weeks passing when they started winning with Zava. I was curious about those selections as well, the use of the Italian gibberish song “Prisencolinensinainciusol,” then cutting into “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Yeah, Adriano Celentano. That was chosen by Jason himself. He absolutely wanted that song and I understood why because it just kind of fit Zava’s personality perfectly.
Yeah, this is the thing! Because I was like “This is representing him, right? He sounds like he’s making sense, but he’s talking bullshit all the time.”
Yeah, and that’s why Jason is really great at what he does, because he has that vision. He knows that character really well, he created that character with the other writers. And so this was the song that he for sure wanted to get, and it was quite a challenging song to get, I have to say, because Mr Celentano is still alive, living somewhere in Italy probably, in his 80s, and again, with this one, the song was not over four minutes long, I think it was probably two to maybe three minutes long, and we’re like “Okay, well, we would like to use this for over four minutes.” So for me it was the battle of trying to get them to agree that this is a good use for the artist, like, this is a really good use, you guys will be very happy with it, and then just figuring out how we get Mr Celentano to actually say yes. Because on this one, he wrote the song 100% and he owns the recording. So I had to go through a major publisher, but then they had to go to their Italy affiliate and make sure that he’s okay approving on both sides. And that just took quite a long time in post-production, but we ended up getting it done. And then, yeah, heading right into Murray Head.
Which was just the best transition, in my opinion, it’s one of my personal favorites. What is your favorite moment that you’ve brought to Ted Lasso musically? Whether you think fits the character the best, or your favorite choice that you think has just really made a difference to the show?
Well I will say, there’s quite a few. I can look back and be like “Oh this was a great song choice, this is a great song choice.” But in season three? For me, Bob Dylan, “Wigwam.” Starting season 3, you see Ted and he’s cleaning up all the Legos and it’s this moment, he’s having this conversation on the phone, right? So there’s dialogue playing, but you’re not seeing him talk. And I was going back and forth with the editors – “Well, what would this be? Maybe it’s an instrumental, maybe it’s a score. But can we find the right song for it?” And I was just going through a wormhole of trying to find music that had more of that instrumental vibe, and I came across this Bob Dylan song and I’m like “I think this fits perfectly.” I didn’t even have to have them cut it in immediately to know. I just looked at the scene and I’m like “This, I think, feels right?”
And it just has that growing instrumental vibe with the background vocals that are very subtle, so it doesn’t step on dialogue. So I sent this. I sent one song for this to the editor and it stuck. Moments like that, sometimes you’re sending five, six, seven, eight songs, just trying to figure out maybe what works the best. This moment I was like “This is what I think we should use,” and hopefully everyone agrees, because it’s all subjective, right? So I can come in with one voice on music and then Jason has the clear vision of what he wants. So if it works for the scene, he’s gonna be like “Yeah, okay, cool” and if it doesn’t for him then he’s gonna be like “Let’s figure this out, let’s find something that I think will work better.” And that was just one moment that was great.
The great thing about this show is it’s such a collaborative effort. Everyone is so wonderful to work with, you just don’t really get that opportunity sometimes on productions and between the editors and the music editor and the composer, who is phenomenal… Not only is Tom one of the best human beings, he’s literally one of the most talented composers I’ve ever worked with, and so just to watch how he works in his process is quite amazing. And we get to work together a lot actually, whereas sometimes music supervisors and composers, they don’t necessarily need to work together all the time, and so you every once in a while we get to collaborate on something which is cool.
Speaking of collaboration, I was curious about the playlists that Apple has released for Ted Lasso and who put those together. In the season 3 premiere, when we had that moment of revealing that Roy and Keeley have broken up, it’s soundtracked by a Sade song that wasn’t specifically on the playlist that he made for her, but still felt very much like a callback because Sade was an artist heavily featured on the “Roy Is Sorry For Not Understanding Keeley” playlist that was released last season, . Is that something that you’re involved in choosing? This season we also had Ted’s Breakup Mix released. How do those playlists come to life, the ones being released by Apple for the fans?
Yeah, I helped Apple put together the Ted’s Breakup Playlist. So it’s just kind of with the mindset of what Ted would be thinking and playing on that playlist. So they come to me for some suggestions, and so I give them a playlist of what I think might work for that, and the Roy and Keeley one, they also came to me for some suggestions on that, but typically it’s kind of a collaborative effort as well. So there’s other people that are throwing some songs in the mix that they think would work for those characters.