Music of Billions Season 2 – Repost

Compared to Season 1, this season of Billions, for whatever reason, used a bit less music, fewer seminal tracks to accompany its richly crafted scenes. Music was still important this season, but somewhat less so than last. In my review of last year’s music, you’ll count 36 tracks. Here, the major songs in all episodes amounted to 20. Interesting revelation from this exercise is that they seem to follow a certain pattern in genres from one season to the next. That is to say, the aural landscape of this season seemed to contain the same proportion of arena metal, 70’s funk, contemporary alternative, live ballad, perennial classics, and lovely alt-country. All the tracks they chose, regardless of number, hit all the marks.

Let’s follow along with Season 2’s playlist, shall we?

2.01: “Risk Management”

Oliver Dake enters the canvas, bespectacled in throwback horn rims, loaded up with briefcases gliding up the escalator in Penn Station to the tune of Harry Nilsson’s “Jump into the Fire” from 1971. Found that this song was also used in the Dumbo drop scene in Goodfellas. It also closes out the episode.

2.02: “Dead Cat Bounce”

Ryan Bingham’s “Top Shelf Drug” accompanies the entry of new (and short-lived) performance coach Gus to Axe Capital. We hear the song as Gus clears out Wendy’s detritus, making room for his own.

As Chuck is spreading word that he’s not investigating Lawrence Boyd, by which, of course, he means he IS, we hear the aptly chosen “Fill in the Blank” by Car Seat Headrest. We’re still holding our breath as the episode closes.

2.03: “Optimal Play”

Accompaniment to Bobby walking into The Alpha Cup poker tournament is Keith Richards, “Trouble.”

At that tournament, we get a montage of a bunch of guys walking away from tables after they’ve reached their losing limits set to Beach Slang, “Atom Bomb.”

Stephanie tells Axe that buying up all the Churchill books everywhere will be expensive. He replies:

Then it’s a good thing I’m a rich fucking man.

This potent quotable cues the cranking up guitar riff lead-in to R.E.M.’s “Begin the Begin.”

2.04: “The Oath”

Here we get the first big showdown between Chuck and Bobby. It’s a deposition wherein Chuck jabs Bobby with congratulations on rebuilding the offices since the last time he visited, and Bobby goads right back by asking about Chuck’s sleeping arrangements since then. We also get Ira, kick-assed-ly, asserting that since Bobby’s not claiming monetary damage, the wound inflicted by Chuck must be emotional: Just how did wittle Chuckie wound wittle Bobby? Megadeth, “Peace Sells”, but, alas, nobody’s buying.

2.05: “Currency”

Wags drives back to Axe after his session with Wendy, ready to get back in the saddle, to Johnny Cash, “A Legend in my Time”. Same song plays as Chuck celebrates the Boyd arrest with plates full of the sexiest carbs imaginable at The Mile End.

source: Showtime

2.06: “Indian Four”

Chuck has learned that Wendy went back to Axe. The song playing as he walks away is my favorite song of the season, not surprisingly written by my favorite new artist of last season (and since) Jason Isbell: Drive-by Truckers, “Goddamn Lonely Love.” Really, there’s a lot of good music, and even a fair amount of great music, but only rarely are we awarded with a genius songwriter, no hyperbole at all in that word “genius.” Mark my words, young people 50 years from now will be covering Jason Isbell’s songs, the same way young people will cover Dylan and Leonard Cohen till the end of our days. Amen.

Say, you don’t really like country music? Or sleepy guitar? Or a good honest voice? Well, here are the lyrics, to read, like poetry, because that’s exactly what this is (emphasis mine):

I got green and I got blues
And everyday there’s a little less difference between the two
I belly-up and disappear
Well I ain’t really drowning ’cause I see the beach from here
And I could take a Greyhound home but when I got there it’d be gone
Along with everything a home is made up of
So I’ll take two of what you’re having and I’ll take all of what you got
To kill this goddamn lonely, goddamn lonely love
Sister, listen to what your daddy says
Don’t be ashamed of things that hide behind your dress
Belly-up and arch your back
Well I ain’t really falling asleep; I’m fading to black
And you could come to me by plane, but that wouldn’t be the same
As that old motel room in Texarkana was
So I’ll take two of what you’re having and I’ll take all of what you got
To kill this goddamn lonely, goddamn lonely love
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
A man walks into a bar and leaves before his ashes hit the floor
Stop me if I ever get that far
The sun’s a desperate star that burns like every single one before
And I could find another dream,
One that keeps me warm and clean
But I ain’t dreamin’ anymore, girl, I’m waking up
So I’ll take two of what you’re having and I’ll take everything you got
To kill this goddamn lonely, goddamn lonely love
All I got is this goddamn lonely, goddamn lonely love
All I got is this goddamn lonely, goddamn lonely love
All I got is this goddamn lonely, goddamn lonely love
Songwriters: Jason Isbell
Goddamn Lonely Love lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

2.07: “Victory Lap”

Seems each season has featured a one-hit wonder song. Last season’s Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping” is followed this year by comparably cheesy grunge-wannabe Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy.” The song plays as Chef Ryan is serving up some pool-side snacks (as cleverly described by someone on twitter).

As Bobby is reaching his conclusions on what to do about that pesky town of Sandicot, we hear AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock.” Personally, not at all a rare tune to hear at middle school pep rallies and football games growing up.

2.08: “The Kingmaker”

Wags is vaping a vaportini to the tune of Fucked Up, “Turn the Season.” We hear it again when Bobby has realized that Foley is in cahoots with familia Rhoades and hops on his bike to confront them at the Yale Club, and once more as the Rhoades light up their stogies to close out the episode.

source: Showtime

At Foley’s party, of course, is Ben Folds, live and in person, singing “Landed.”

2.09: “Sic Transit Imperium”

Closing out the episode, as Wags opens up Bobby’s returned gift of membership in the virtual utopia, and Bobby skips his own party to take leery, fearful, hurt Lara to the races, we hear Bob Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna.”

2.10: “With or Without You”

Well, the episode is named for a song, which I was bemused to learn was one of the only two (other was “Where the Streets Have No Name”) to make it big in the States from U2. Arguably, the band had plenty of songs better than “With or Without You,” but this one fit the episode nearly perfectly.

Before we hear that titular song, we hear The Crystals “What a Nice Way to Turn 17” as Axe’s big birthday bash on the estate is being wrapped up. Axe wakes to find his candles have indeed got out. Lara has packed up the boys and is gone.

Chuck Sr.’s spy is cloaked to finagle the theft of a cherry red laptop belonging to Junior’s femdom friend. The computer contains all her client information, and, to ease the way to the coveted governor’s mansion, the Rhoades need this particular drive wiped squeaky clean. K.Flay’s “Blood in the Cut.”

Bobby mentions the title song in one of his voicemails to Lara. Rainy night in Paris, not wanting to get out of bed, letting the song play on repeat all night. We hear the song as Lara comes home. U2, “With or Without You”

2.11: “Golden Frog Time”

Lara’s goon cousins are doing wise guy things, doing their bit to help along Axe’s side of the Ice Juice play. Song accompanying them is Tom Petty’s “Even the Losers.” We hear the song again as Chuck, in a time jump to the past, gets the ball rolling on that very same smoothie play.

2.12: “Ball in Hand”

Suited and booted Lawrence Boyd says goodbye to incarceration and we see Chuck and Bobby and others at their respective morning ministrations to the tune of The Blasters, “So Long Baby Goodbye.”

The episode closes with Kate celebrating her win to Head of Crim, Lonnie packing up his desk, the best and brightest at Axe battening down the hatches, Bobby being processed back out of prison and heading home after posting bail, and Chuck and Wendy meeting at their marital home. The tune is another apt one: Josh Ritter’s “Homecoming.”

Now, here’s a handy dandy playlist for your listening pleasure: Spotify Playlist.

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