The camera zooms in on a pool of blood flowing across a hardwood floor. A crooning singer laments in the background that she is "laughing on the outside, crying on the inside." The trail of blood grows longer, and longer. Then we cut to self-proclaimed psychopath James laying in bed with Alyssa, and we realize that the blood had been a figment of James' daydreams. That's how the third episode begins in the new series on Netflix The End of the F***ing World (directed by: Lucy Tcherniak, four episodes) — a buddy comedy unlike any other. Part of what makes the show so unique, beyond the fact that its protagonist is a teenage psychopath who wants to kill his girlfriend, is the incredible soundtrack. But where can you listen to the soundtrack for The End of the F***ing World? (Spoilers ahead)
Luckily for you, one superfan on Spotify, user darcie2000, has compiled a playlist filled with all of the songs featured on the show throughout the season, including the opening track from Episode 3, "Laughing on the Outside" by Bernadette Carroll. Just scrolling through the list, it becomes apparent that songs were selected carefully to fit within the theme of the show. Quite a few of the tracks have the word "love" in the title, and one is even called "The End of the World." The connection there is obvious.
End of the F***ing World is a dark comedy that centers around two particularly unconventional British teenagers who run away together. James believes himself to be a psychopath, and is on a desperate hunt to kill someone. When Alyssa, a confused classmate looking for adventure, asks him to run away with her, he agrees, thinking she might be an easy target. The more Alyssa begins to fall in love with James, the more he begins to question whether he can actually bring himself to kill her.
Music plays a pivotal role in bringing out the humor in even the darkest of scenes. When James kills a man who attempts to attack Alyssa, the pair decide to clean up the crime scene rather than call the police. Alyssa suggests they play music as they clean, and what ensues is a montage of dusting off finger prints and removing bloody gloves set to the tune of the charming old-school bop "Zu Zu" by The Bonnevilles. Setting the aftermath of a murder to a doo-wop hit emphasizes the absurdity of the whole situation. Later, James starts to realize he has feelings for Alyssa while they are dancing around an empty house to "Settin' the Woods on Fire" by Hank Williams. These songs set the tone of the whole show — offbeat and unique, yet somehow still classic.
Though End of the F***ing World takes place in modern-day England, most of the songs from the soundtrack are old American country, blues, and Motown hits, as well as songs written just for the show by Blur's Graham Coxon. The music is part of what makes the show's setting and time period feel a little ambiguous, which is what the creators intended. "[Director Jonathan Entwistle's] idea was always to try and do Americana, British-style. So if you look at the way Lucy Tcherniak and Jonathan both shot it, there are lots of nods to American TV shows, hopefully, and American landscapes," the show's writer, Charlie Covell, shared in an interview with British Comedy Guide. "So we were trying to find parts of the UK that didn't look quintessentially British."
Covell also shared that though the story definitely takes place in current day, the aesthetic of the show was meant to feel a little retro. "I know that Jonathan and Justin, the Director of Photography in the first block, were very keen to have an aesthetic that didn't feel necessarily really current - there were nods to other eras," she said in the same interview with British Comedy Guide. Songs from the show, such as the 1960 hit "I'm Sorry" by Brenda Lee, and "Oh Daddy" from Fleetwood Mac's 1977 album Rumours, help create that vintage feel.
So if you've already flown through the episodes available on Netflix and find yourself wishing you could find a way to once again be immersed in the bizarre world of End of the F***ing World, darcie2000's Spotify playlist is a great place to start.