The music supervisor explains how the Netflix Regency drama selected classical covers of modern pop songs for its soundtrack.
While Bridgerton, Shondaland’s first Netflix original series, is set in 1800s London during the reign of King George III, it’s infused with plenty of modern sensibilities, from its racially diverse ensemble to an anachronistic soundtrack featuring the likes of Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift.
In order to cleverly incorporate the pop songs into the Regency era-inspired original score and to keep things sounding like the time period, music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas says they opted to go for classical covers by composer Kris Bowers, the Vitamin String Quartet and Duomo.
“The familiarity of these pop songs performed by a quartet or orchestral seemed the most seamless way to create a Bridgerton musical signature and also support Kris Bowers' beautiful score,” Patsavas tells ET, adding that the concept was originally creator Chris Van Husen “contemplated in pre-production and throughout the filming and post process.”
While Bowers’ lush score captures the loves, lusts and scandals of high society courtship, the classical covers add unexpected emotion and spark to many of the ball scenes. In fact, it’s where the first modern cue, “Thank U, Next” by Ariana Grande, is heard, perhaps pricking audiences’ ears with an unexpected sense of familiarity. And that effect is “exactly” what Patsavas intended.
Later in the season, Vitamin String Quartet covers of Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You,” Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood,” and Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” can be heard in various, unexpected moments. Meanwhile, Duomo’s cover of “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift tugs at the heartstrings.
When it came to deciding on these particular songs, Patsavas “did a deep dive into orchestral covers and we had many gorgeous versions to choose from and tried many in editorial,” she says, adding, “The covers that we finally selected were the best to support the drama and storytelling.”
As for using some many songs by Vitamin String Quartet, Patsavas says she has been a longtime fan of the Los Angeles-based tribute foursome. Since 1999, the group has been producing classical versions of today’s biggest hits as well as a number of rock-n-roll classics.
“I believe I have most of their collection and love the Lana Del Rey performances released earlier this year,” she reveals.
Aside from Bridgerton, their music can be heard on everything from Westworld to The Vampire Diaries to Gossip Girl, the latter of which certainly inspired the show’s mysterious gossip monger voiced by Julie Andrews. (Kristen Bell, meanwhile, voices a modern version on The CW teen series and its upcoming HBO Max reboot.)
While there are plenty of more covers heard throughout season 1, Bridgerton released an EP of covers alongside Bowers’ original score on the same day as the series’ Netflix debut. In addition to Vitamin String Quartet and Duomo, Bowers’ cover of “Strange” featuring Hillary Smith rounds out the six-track album.
“I’m so thankful to not only have been a part of this incredible show, but to also make music like this with all of our musicians recording remotely,” Bowers said in a statement to ET. “I couldn’t have done this without my team and the amazing musicians who put a tremendous amount of heart and emotion into this score, all from their home studios.”
Bridgerton is now streaming on Netflix.