Hearing a specific piece of music can alert your senses in a very special way. It’s not unlike when you smell something and it takes you back to a particular time in your life, but music carries a lot of history and meaning depending on when you hear a song and how it triggers something in your brain. For HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant and Amazon’s Sylvie’s Love, music supervisor Frankie Pine got to play with two very different tones and time periods to make us swoon and fall in love.
For The Flight Attendant, Pine’s first task was to show us the life of Kaley Cuoco’s Cassie, a free-spirited (and hard drinking) young woman who finds herself in the middle of a murder conspiracy. She elected to use two songs by artist Sofi Tukker, “Good Time Girl (featuring Charlie Barker)” and “Energia” and they immediately inform the audience of the type of girl Cassie is.
“It was our goal to find some songs to show who Cassie is, and there is something about Sofi Tukker songs that stuck out as it played over this montage of her partying all over the world. It just screamed who she was. After all that partying, she wakes up on the bench with the little girl looking at her. I thought it was just perfect. As we go, the music changes as Cassie changes. That’s the fun thing about The Flight Attendant and we don’t always get to do that as a music supervisor.”
Many have wondered about the tone of the HBO Max comedy series. It has dark elements but its essence is rooted in comedy despite all the action and danger and trauma. One of the ways that Pine wanted to infuse some levity was Cassie’s Wham! ringtone of “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.”
“I sent over some silly choices that people would have as their ringtone. Any song that would have time in it or get on up. I was looking or things that make you chuckle. The thing that’s so fun about that is that it’s a comedy even though it’s dark. There’s nothing that add to the humor to something. It was fun to dive into those comedic songs.”
One of the softer moments of The Flight Attendant‘s first season comes with Cassie and Alex slow dance to a cover of John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Yes, Cassie is literally imagining this while she is on a plane, but it helps the audience buy into the romance between Cassie and Alex a little bit more.
“It was written into the script that it was John Denver, but I looked for different cover versions of the song. There are quite a few out there. My Morning Jacket did the most unique version for that particular scene. I think they actually danced to the John Denver version when they shot, but when we got into post, they switched it out.”
At the end of Cassie’s journey, we hear Sia’s powerful, “Angel on the Wings” and while the song was not written for the series, it perfectly captures the precarious emotional state Cuoco’s character is in as the first season concludes. The opening lyrics are: ‘Oh so, your wounds they show/I know you have never felt so alone/But hold on, head up, be strong.’ As we depart from Cassie, we need to know that she is on the right track.
“I am not going to take one stitch of credit–that was Kaley’s pick. She wanted that song and this was one of those things when it’s the final song you’re going to hear. We spent so much time trying to find the right song. I always say that I am a server and you pick what you want. Kaley brought it and it sat in there for a while and we tried to switch it out and then it came back. We kept coming back to it, so we knew that it was the right song.”
A music supervisor can change the tone of a show with what songs he or she adds to a particular moment, and this HBO Max show has such a tricky tone that she could bend it depending on what we hear. Pine reveals what the most difficult sequence to find music for was.
“The hardest section was the montage of Alex and Cassie’s date. At one point we had 75 options for that. We tried so many different types of songs–some were energetic and some were sexy–but none melded that together to make it work. It’s finding a needle in a haystack. We wanted to stay within the certain world once we put in the Sofi Tukker. It’s the spaghetti test–if it sticks, it’s done. That’s how we ended up with Karen O and Danger Mouse’s “Woman” and we use it a few times throughout the season when we flashback to their date. That song not only helped us feel the intensity of their time together but also the connection. It wasn’t just this one night stand up pick-up. There was a true connection with them and that song solidifies that.”
One of the first songs we hear in Eugene Ashe’s gorgeous Sylvie’s Love is “The Nearness of You.” We have heard that song a million times in numerous movies, but the lushness of the film’s aesthetic pulls you in. It feels like we are hearing that classic song for the very first time.
“Anyting that exudes the beauty of how that film was shot and the overall lushness…finding music that had that same feel was really what we were going for. Any spots where there was a montage or any time when Tessa [Thompson] and Nnamdi [Asomugha] looked at one another. You hear that in the score of the film as well. It’s almost a package–it’s like a musical. Those bigger highlighted pieces make you swoon and melt.”
There is so much music in Ashe’s film but Pine never over saturates the sound. It’s such an iconic, pivotal moment for music, and watching Sylvie’s Love is both a nostalgic and unique experience.
“That is my favorite part of my job–the research. Finding those special gems that you know but when you hear them you say, “Oh, I remember that song!”
The Flight Attendant is streaming on HBO Max and Sylvie’s Love is streaming on Amazon.