How Music Supervisor Susan Jacobs Crafted Sharp Objects’ Sound
By Ariana Bacle
The Emmy Award winner explains why the music for the limited series’ opening credits changes each week — and the story behind why there’s so much Led Zeppelin on Camille’s iPod.
Love the Sharp Objects soundtrack? Music supervisor Susan Jacobs is partly to thank for that. After previously collaborating on the music in 2014’s Wild and Big Little Lies, the Emmy Award winner teamed up with Sharp Objects director Jean-Marc Vallée to craft the limited series’ nuanced sound. “He’s a painter with music,” Jacobs says of Vallée.
Some of Vallée’s most experimental work comes in the form of Sharp Objects’ opening credits. The first episode, “Vanish,” opens with “Dance and Angela” from 1951’s A Place in the Sun, and each hour thereafter begins with a different version of the song — a creative choice Jacobs says came from the desire to represent the range of music featured in the series. The team’s guiding question: “What’s going to be inclusive and also really interesting?”
“Each version of the song gives us a broader representation of the complexity of all the characters,” Jacobs explains. And they chose “Dance and Angela” as the base tune, she reveals, because it felt like something Alan Crellin (Henry Czerny) — Camille Preaker’s (Amy Adams) vinyl-collecting stepfather — would place on his turntable. “It’s melancholic but really romantic,” Jacobs muses. “And then the things we did to that piece of music...” She adds with a laugh: “We really had fun.”
The opening sequence for Episode 2, “Dirt,” contains a dance remix, which Jacobs calls “an homage” to LCD Soundsystem’s “Black Screen,” heard later in the episode when Camille is toying with a needle as she prepares to attend a gathering after Natalie Keene’s funeral. “It’s much groovier,” Jacobs says. “Things are taking off [in the story].” Come Episode 3, “Fix,” “Dance and Angela” is reimagined through a solo piano version that also sounds like something Alan would enjoy. Jacobs explains this was to tease audiences: “[They will be] really getting to know who Alan is.”
As for what you hear within the episodes themselves, rock ballads from Led Zeppelin form a running theme throughout the series. “Led Zeppelin was something very personal for Jean-Marc,” Jacobs shares. “They’re a band that helped him get through adolescence.” While Camille is a grown woman by the time she discovers the iconic group, Led Zeppelin helps her through her own times of hardship, particularly in rehab. “With these,” Alice says as she stuffs the earbuds in her ears, “I can get the hell out of here whenever I want.” After Alice dies by suicide in rehab, Camille inherits her iPod.
“At first, Camille is like, ‘I don’t listen to music, I don’t care,’” Jacobs says. “And now she never leaves anywhere without that iPod. Camille is still obviously struggling, but music is such a lifeline for her."
Follow the official Sharp Objects playlist, updated Fridays, and watch new episodes Sundays at 9 pm.
Jacobs reveals the Acid, a band featured throughout the entire series, did the opening sequence for "Falling." "They're coming back because the heat is getting turned up," she says. Listen here before the episode premieres Sunday.