The music of Riverdale is as integral to the soapy noir as the quippy, self-aware pop culture references and delectable teen angst. From Blake Neely's original score to music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas's impeccable curation, Riverdale's soundtrack is both dreamy and foreboding, the perfect blend of saccharine pop and wistful teen emotions.
Like The O.C. and Gossip Girl before it, music is a character on Riverdale. (Patsavas has played a pivotal role in creating the sound of all three.) In honor of the Season 2 premiere of Riverdale, airing October 11, let's take a look at some of the most memorable music moments from the first season.
For the record, we're going to let Archie slide for not knowing who Bob Dylan is, despite the fact he aspires to be a singer-songwriter.
Johnny Jewel — "Tell Me (feat. Saoirse Ronan)"
It was the moment that started it all. Cheryl Blossom and her twin brother Jason row across the Sweetwater River — but only one Blossom makes it back to shore alive. Johnny Jewel's "Tell Me," featuring haunting vocals from actress Saoirse Ronan, set the tone for Riverdale's unique sound from the jump.
RY X — "Only"
As much as our hearts broke for Betty, there was no denying the chemistry between Archie and Veronica during this particularly steamy game of Seven Minutes in Heaven in the pilot episode. Their lips are like magnetics. Plus, everyone knows that a falsetto is the key to true romance.
Kiiara — "Gold"
Hello, Dark Betty. Despite the fact that Kiiara's infectious pop tune "Gold" had already run its course in the zeitgeist by the time it was featured on Riverdale, it perfectly captured the feisty mood in this scene — you know, before Betty went full dark, no stars and nearly killed Chuck in the hot tub.
Dean Lewis — "Waves"
Remember when Jughead walked away from the Twilight Drive-In and his dad was there waiting for him? "I'll figure it out dad, I always do," a homeless Jughead broods. Patsavas has a knack for finding songs that evoke sincere emotion, and when you hear the wistful lyric "we watch as our young hearts fade into the flood" as Jughead packs up his entire life in a backpack, it's like a knife to the heart. (Also, here's hoping Betty has another "Dear Diary" moment in Season 2.)
The Shacks — "Strange Boy (Bonus Track)"
Veronica helps Archie wrap his hand in the hallway in what became one of the more intimate scenes of the first season. It was a short and sweet moment between two characters who had a mutual attraction to one another — but neither was ready to act on it just yet. And the song captures that longing brilliantly.
Emily Afton — "Lost"
Bughead's first kiss will forever be immortalized with this sweet song. Pay special attention to the lyric as their lips meet: "And I'm lost inside of something new to me." Is that not the most perfect Bughead anthem?!
FEFE — "Born To You"
There something dark and foreboding about the way FeFe Dobson sings "I was born to you" as the camera zooms in on Jason Blossom's bloody varsity jack in FP's trailer at the end of Episode 7. You'd be forgiven for mistaking this for something from Lana Del Rey's drowsy-pop catalogue. There's a hazy decadence to the production that resembles the gritty Americana of "Born to Die."
Donora — "If You See My Boyfriend"
Riverdale's fondness for retro pop is part of its charm. Between the drum beat and catchy vocal melodies, "If You See My Boyfriend" is a charmed throwback to the Archie comics of yesteryear. Not to mention, it could be All-American teen Archie Andrews's theme song.
King Khan & The Shrines — "Pray for Lil" (ep 10)
Let's set the scene: Following his birthday outburst, Jughead meets Betty for milkshakes at Pop's, and she tells him about the darkness that's been brewing inside of her. Being the awesome boyfriend that he is, Jug comforts Betty, and they share an emotionally raw moment. That scene could have easily been accompanied by something sad and mopey, but instead, "Pray for Lil" — a song about the power of human connection — balances the scene's earnestness with its own blend of blues and rock and roll.
TeamMate — "What You Got"
Ah, those simple halcyon days of milkshakes and burgers at Pop's. In the Season 1 finale, there's a brief moment of happiness between friends — hence the sunny pop tune — before it all comes crashing down for Archie and the gang in the episode's harrowing final moments.
Imagine Dragons — "Believer"
It's honestly impossible to hear "Believer" on the radio and not think, "Hey, that's the Riverdale sex song!" Every good teen drama needs a hook-up montage, and for Riverdale, this was it. While Archie and Veronica are hooking up in Archie's bedroom, across town Betty and Jughead are saying "I love you" and hastily knocking over kitchen appliances mid-make out. "Believer" may not be the most sensual song, but that perfectly timed moment when Bughead crashes into the kitchen counter at the same time the heavy drum beat kicks in? Unforgettable.