A theme song sets the tone for a series. That definitely goes for HBO’s favorite awards,”White Lotuswon an Emmy last year for “Aloha”. Jungle sounds, exotic tones, songs and screams set over percussive rhythms and treble flutes became instantly identifiable, an echo of the contentious characters vacationing at the famous Hawaii-based resort.
Considering how iconic “Aloha” has become, it was a bold choice to change the theme of the second season, based in Sicily. Chilean Canadian composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer got his original musical ideas from the script and conversations with the show’s creator Mike White. Of his studio in Montréal, de Veer says White “wanted the music to feel like it was boiling under these characters.”
“I felt that vernacular sounds were the way to go, not to imitate the sound of Hawaii, but to reflect the way guests treat nature and locals,” De Veer says. “When you have so much detail on the page and depth in the characters, it can get lost sometimes. Music can help bring out these details.”
For season two, Veer reimagined the borderline-dangerous original theme music through a piano to be calm and romantic, uplifting to a dancefloor-ready techno beat and keeping the tension at its core.
The renamed “Renaissance” theme plays with the opening credits once against the wallpaper – only evoking 16th-century Italy rather than an island setting in its time.
De Veer thinks Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino’s style has had a big influence on his sound choices this season. “This is how he uses dance music as well as really beautiful classical music,” Sorrentino says. “At first, I wasn’t sure about making this a dance floor. Sounds like a lot of remixes.
“There was an understatement in ‘Aloha’,” he says. “’Renaissance’ felt too beautiful, too clean, too welcoming. i didn’t
you thought it would work but [White] I liked it.”
“Renaissance” is burning dance floors around the world. And who can forget the “Saturday Night Live” parody of “M3GAN”, where “The White Lotus” Season 2 star Audrey Plaza performs robot dancing with “Renaissance” as “M3GAN 2.0”?
“A calculated genius,” De Veer says, “but it’s a coincidence that it fits so well on the dance floor.”