The soundtrack in Emerald Fennell's directorial debut Promising Young Woman is practically a character itself. The music that plays throughout the film is rooted in fun, bubbly pop that, along with the movie's candy-coated color schemes and frilly feminine costumes, juxtapose its extremely serious and occasionally brutal content. To find that delicate balance of pop music meets revenge fantasy, Fennell worked with music supervisor Susan Jacobs, whose resume includes movies like Silver Linings Playbook, I, Tonya, Wild, and American Hustle, along with TV's Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects.
The pop music, Jacobs says, was very much a part of Fennell's vision from the early days of the script. When they first met, Jacobs says Fennell told her, "I seriously like pop music, this isn't [a] joke. I'm not making fun of it. This is something that I think is actually great music that often gets treated like a second class citizen."
The average moviegoer might not know the role a music supervisor plays in the movie-making process, but Jacobs laid it all out for Bustle: "You're presenting songs. [The director] ultimately always chooses. But you steer people in a different direction when they're doing something where they think emotionally they're being funny and you're telling them actually that builds up really angry. You're trying to help them, but you give them selections and just put them up like a [paint] color."
Jacobs helped Fennel narrow down her soundtrack, which features a ton of female artists, with a heavy emphasis on pop newcomers like Cyn, FLETCHER, and DeathbyRomy. "Emerald was willing to give up really key real estate in her film to say, here are some artists that nobody's ever heard of before."
But the soundtrack also includes some classic pop standbys like Juice Newton's "Angel of the Morning," Paris Hilton's "Stars Are Blind" and a killer instrumental version of Britney Spears' "Toxic," which was shaped to use in a climactic scene. "I love this movie and I was very happy to help facilitate this vision," Jacobs says.
Here are all of the songs on the Promising Young Woman soundtrack.
1. "Boys" by Charli XCX, DROELOE Remix
2. "Last Laugh" by FLETCHER
3. "Uh-Oh" by Cyn
4. "Selenas" by Maya B
5. "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" by Carmen DeLeon
6. "Nothing's Gonna Hurt You Baby" by Donna Missal
7. "Nihilist" by MUNA
8. "It's Raining Men" by DeathbyRomy
9. "Can't Help the Way I Feel" by Lily & Madeleine
10. "Stars Are Blind" by Paris Hilton
11. "Come and Play with Me" by DeathbyRomy
12. "Drinks" by CYN
13. "Ur Eyes" by BLESSUS
14. "Downhill Lullaby" by Sky Ferreira
15. "Angel of the Morning" by Juice Newton
16. "Toxic" arranged by Anthony Willis