At the 2004 Oscars, Will Ferrell smartly pointed out that “there is no greater weapon in a director’s arsenal than a strategically placed song.” If you’ve seen Ted Lasso, you know that adage is true. The show about the titular lovable American Football coach who takes the mean Premiere British soccer world by storm, has a distinctly unique sound. Combining lots of 90s and 00s British pop jams with more modern selections help the show strike the perfect emotional chord in every scene. From David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” to Celeste’s “Strange” to A Tribe Called Quest’s “Award Tour” to Frozen’s “Let It Go,” Ted Lasso’s music selections are as diverse and surprising as the show itself.
At a recent press conference, I had the opportunity to pick the post-production team’s brain about the show’s sound, whether that be music selection or sound mixing and found the group function much like the show’s fictional Richmond Greyhounds. Though music supervisor Tony Von Pervieux led the charge, editors Melissa McCoy and AJ Caroline, supervising producer Kip Kroeger, composer Tom Howe, and supervising sound editor Brent Findley were not afraid to chime in praise one another. Owning their own accomplishments but graciously acknowledging the group effort, this post-production team truly works within the Ted Lasso mindset.
This is one of two interviews done with the Ted Lasso crew. Read our interview with the pre-production team here.
The show’s music selection is a wonderful kind of throwback. Often a lot of television now is looking for current songs and you definitely pull from all over, from the 90s and the 00s and even further back, obviously. You still use current material like Celeste’s “Strange,” from episode 8. Talk to me a little bit about what elements you look for when you are selecting a song for a scene and how sound plays in overall in a scene.
Tony Von Pervieux (Music Supervisor): The first season is always like an exploration phase – trying to figure out what the sound of the show is. You always get into that with the pilot and then from the pilot, how does that change into episode 102 and then 103, 104. The idea is that you put together a nice playlist of songs that potentially could work, just great songs overall. Jason [Sudeikis, co-creator and star] has somewhat of a clear vision, especially certain songs that he scripts or the writers script into the episode.
Obviously we go after those first and then the editors do an amazing job to cut it in and if it works, great. Then that’s what we go for. If not, then that’s when we start diving in as to which songs fit better. The idea from the beginning was to kind of lean towards more British acts, right? Because obviously it’s about premier league football, we shoot in the UK. That’s always one like point to look at first, but at the end of the day it’s about the best songs. It’s kind of a collaborative effort. So it’s me pitching songs, it’s the editors who are diving in early on these episodes. They do an incredible job of finding some good selects too, so that we can have a good temp place holder. Once we start getting into spotting the show, then we figure out what’s working and what’s not. What does Jason really like? Which ones do we have to absolutely keep and then go after those and make sure that we stick to those.
Ultimately what’s cool about this show is that everything from the writing to the acting, to the editing, to everything just landing – the good thing about music, and maybe Tom can also agree is that with a great show, the music is just there to enhance the experience or the emotion, whether it’s happy or joyful or sad or whatever. Finding the right songs at the right pivotal moments was a lot of fun because it really leaves the viewer excited about the next episode or anxious about the next episode. It’s really cool because we get to use a diverse group of songs and genres. Jason’s a huge hip hop fan. Just being able to use current and catalog songs is really cool because often I’m usually stuck to maybe one type of music in other shows that I work on and you really just don’t get to utilize the full spectrum of music out there. And there’s so much music out there to explore. So it’s pretty cool to just be able to get into these episodes and figure out that process. Now we have a really good, strong idea to what the direction of the show and the music should be so it makes it a lot easier in a second season to really just dive in and say these are the types of songs that we’re going to try first and see if they work. It’s been a cool experience. And if the show is well written and well edited and all of that, then music is just there make it better.
AJ Catoline (Editor): Jason always says that he knows it when he hears it. Yeah.
Tom Howe (Composer): That’s so right. What you were saying there about the music, whether it’s with a placement or a composed piece, you’re often told to make something funny or for example someone’s driving a car and it’s not going very fast, so you need the music to hype it up. Actually on this, if you take the music out, it’s still funny. When you’re watching them play football, they’ve got skills. It looks completely authentic. I had no idea how much of that stadium was built in after the event, but it just all looks so real and all the performances are just so good that nothing has to try to hide. It’s just to kind of everything kind of meets in the right way as it should. So kudos to the team all around, I think.
Tony Von Pervieux: Yeah. It’s definitely a collaborative effort on every level. It’s cool to also figure out your sound even in season one, because there’s shows in seasons two and three and four that are still kind of figuring it out. So it’s kind of ideal that we’ve been able to do that. Jason seems to know what he wants as soon as he sees it and hears it, so whether he likes it or not. If it’s me trying to like fight for something, then I’ll do it. But other than that, there’s other songs that we could potentially choose and we just go through that process and it seemed to work out really well in season one. I think we’re going to try more and be not different, but like just explore even more for season two, but just using the same ideology that we used in season one.
Kip Kroegen (Supervising Producer): You guys had a lot of fun interacting with editors Mel [McCoy] and AJ [Catoline] all season, which I think is something that is worth mentioning. They would take an early pass at an edit of a cut and they would temp in some music based on some ideas and Tom would take it and build on those. Tony would throw some more pitches in there. They would discuss some of the pitches that Mel and AJ had for songs. Then you guys went back and forth, sometimes two or three times before we presented it to Jason and Bill [Lawrence, executive producer] and that kind of back and forth, I think, really solidified such a nice pocket for all the music. It all sort of fed on each other, much the way you guys were feeding off of each other in those sort of early passes.
Melissa McCoy (Editor): But I think we’re still exploring too, even in season two. I want to just give a shout out to Tony of the current episode that I just did. It’s kind of an homage episode and I said to him “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know where it’s going to go and where we’re going to put things, but I really want this kind of soundtrack.” And he said, “I’m on it.” I got a bin back of 120 songs. And I just I love every song that he just gave me and then just had fun trying to find places for them. Who knows if it’s going to stick. But that’s the great thing about Jason, they give us such a great blueprint of a show and then we can have a little bit of fun in our editor’s cuts and sometimes it sticks and sometimes it doesn’t. Whether we end up with it, Jason or Bill are always happy that you tried, that you tried it and explored and flexed your creative muscle of elevating the shows even more.
Tony Von Pervieux: Agreed. And I don’t typically pitch 120 songs per episode or scene because I think that’s obscene, but when you guys knew exactly what type of music and what soundtrack to go for on that episode, I just knew I was going to give them the whole thing and then let them just go through it. And the great thing about our editors here is that they just they have good ears and they’re just going to choosing music. There’s no egos with anybody so like if a song sticks and they chose it, I don’t care as long as it works amazingly well and you everyone’s happy with it. So it’s like at the end of the day, we’re just figuring out what works best for the scene.
AJ Catoline: We say that to Tony, “You know, this may change.” We just laugh at that. Of course it’s going to change, but you know Jason really knows the song when he hears it, unless it’s written in the script. It’s rare that we get the suggestion so we do have to try things. I think the only song that he told me about that he wanted to use was Marcus Mumford’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” He had that vision that song going there at the end. So that was something to work around. But for example, the ending song of episode 10, we were trying different things and we’d keep auditioning things and Jason was like, “No, no.” When he knows that he’s not finding it, he’ll think about it and he ended up selecting “Je Ne Regrette Rien,” Edith Piaf. Oh my God, it’s the perfect Ted Lasso anthem. “Regret nothing, be goldfish.” So when we had that fit at the end, that was just like a piece of the puzzle and I remember how excited we were and Tony had to chase that down.
And I just want to say that it’s great to have Tom on here. The cue that he’s talking about in the football scenes is a cue called “American Football,” and you could hear it on iTunes. I still listen to the soundtrack. I’ve heard so many times and I still love it. When we heard “American Football” come to life with the Lasso special at the end, it really just brought up all the feels of that scene. It brought all the VFX to life and the crowd and the sound design. So that is an amazing piece of music. The music is like a character in the show. Absolutely. You feel the feels of Ted lasso because of the music. Thank you, Tom and Marcus Mumford.
Tom Howe: Thank you. But I was just going to say, I don’t know if you guys felt the same way when talking about the back and forth with the editor, one of the things that also was unusual for me, in terms of being not a network show and it is a streaming show, there was a sort of unusual amount of time at the beginning. Normally, I don’t have time to be chatting to everyone and they don’t have time to chat to me cause you get the episode and a week later you’re mixing and you’re onto the next one. And so that’s why Tony says that sometimes shows are in season three, four trying to find a sound. Sometimes that’s a product of literally there is no time. You kind of race to the end and finish, and then you start again on the next one. It was very unusual obviously as we started this that everything shut down, but it did then mean the schedule changed quite a lot. So I was able to spend a lot of time talking with AJ and Melissa and Tony and Kip and there were a lot of conversations going back and forth, which think that in a way we were very lucky to have, cause it was a very unusual thing.
Brent Findley (Supervision Sound Editor): A lot of times on projects, we’re trying to decide what needs to help land or drive a scene. A lot of times maybe the music isn’t doing that and I’m not talking about this project, just talking about kind of in general. So on the mix stage, we’re trying to figure out, “How do we get this scene to land and this scene to stick?” With Tom and Marcus’s material and the stuff Tony was able to bring, it was a pleasure to get out of the way of what the music was able to do. It wasn’t like, “Oh, which one do we pick?” It was, it was clear like, “This is the time. Let’s duck those crowds out. Let’s make room for the music, the script and the photography. Let’s get out of the way of this because that’s telling the story, we’re a supporting player at this point. Like when Roy (Brett Goldstein) walks into the locker room for the last time, when that door shuts, the stadium goes away with it. Normally, when we’re down in the locker rooms during a game, we’re hearing the crowds, but at this point this choice was that song leading the heavy words of Arlo the announcer saying, “Hey, this might be the last time Roy is on the pitch,” and just letting the song stick and just getting out of the way of it. It’s just good. I love it. It’s just fantastic.
You can catch the first season of Ted Lasso on Apple TV Plus. The second season is set to premiere July 23. Watch the trailer for season 2 below.