What is the White Lotus soundtrack and who wrote all the music?

26 October 2023, 15:47 | Updated: 26 October 2023, 15:50

Jennifer Coolidge, Aubrey Plaza, Sydney Sweeney and Brittany O’Grady star in HBO’s hit series, The White Lotus.
Jennifer Coolidge, Aubrey Plaza, Sydney Sweeney and Brittany O’Grady star in HBO’s hit series, The White Lotus. Picture: Alamy

By Rosie Pentreath

‘The White Lotus’ brings picture-perfect travellers, accommodating hotel employees, and idyllic locales together under the ornate ceilings of a luxury international hotel chain. And the music is just one of the ingredients that adds to the TV series’ depth and flavour.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The White Lotus, created by Mike White for HBO, blends the irresistible elements of rich, unsatisfied holiday makers’ interactions with (almost) endlessly patient hotel workers, and stunning vistas captured through breathtaking cinematography. It’s all tied together with brilliant music, and an impossibly catchy theme tune by a team of top composers.

The show, which premiered as a limited series in 2021 before being renewed for a second (and then a third) season, follows the holidays of various hotel guests over the span of a week.

With each passing day, the dark complexities that arise in pressurised human interactions, especially those made across the wealth divide, expose themselves and soon the flawless holiday-makers, (outwardly) cheerful employees and the stunning scenery are thrown into disarray.

Read more: Succession soundtrack: Here’s why the HBO show’s theme tune is stuck in your head

Watch the trailer for The White Lotus Season 2

The likes of Jennifer Coolidge, Murray Bartlett, Sydney Sweeney, Aubrey Plaza and Connie Britton have starred in one or both of the seasons to date. As for season 3, Natasha Rothwell is confirmed, and Connie Britton and Michael Imperioli (who plays Dominic Di Grasso in season 2) are among those rumoured for season 3, in addition to a hinted iconic comeback for Jennifer Coolidge’s character, Tanya.

In the background of the irresistible drama of The White Lotus is a rich soundtrack which, coupled with the stunning cinematography, helps transport us to the locations of the luxury hotels in such a consuming way that we feel we’ve spent a week staying there ourselves.

Fan favourite Jennifer Coolidge stars as Tanya in HBO’s The White Lotus.
Fan favourite Jennifer Coolidge stars as Tanya in HBO’s The White Lotus. Picture: Alamy

Who wrote The White Lotus theme music?

The White Lotus theme music is by Chilean-Canadian film composer, Cristobal Tapia de Veer.

It started in season 1: a strikingly textural, quite addictive opening theme that became hard to forget. There were layers of angsty percussion, discordant flutes, moaning and puffing vocalisations, and the monkeys on screen were being echoed in screeches that punctuated the main melody.

Series creator Mike White had requested “music that makes you feel like there’s gonna be some kind of human sacrifice at some point,” apparently. He was aiming for “tropical anxiety,” and tropical anxiety he got.

Ella Taylor and the CBSO perform The White Lotus theme live at Classical Pride

By season 2, the White Lotus theme (listen in full here) had morphed into quite the banger, the percussion building into clubby EDM rhythms behind the same melody as Season 1. And then it took off, and flew from the small screen into the actual club, via viral TikTok memes, repeat plays, and placements on energetic workout soundtracks. Even mega DJ Tiësto did a remix. Huge.

The season 2 version, penned by Tapia de Veer and collaborator Kim Neundorf, cemented The White Lotus theme as an icon.

What is The White Lotus soundtrack and who wrote the Season 1 soundtrack?

The rest of The White Lotus soundtrack is a mix of original music by Cristobal Tapia de Veer and existing songs.

Season 1’s soundtrack is largely Tapia de Veer’s original music, and after the opening theme entitled ‘Aloha’, tracks have evocative and cheeky titles like ‘Pineapple Suite,’ ‘Jungle Fever’ and ‘Special Chosen Baby Child’.

Louis Armstrong With The Polynesians’ nostalgic ‘On a Coconut Island’ makes an appearance on the soundtrack, along with other Hawaii-inspired songs.

Aubrey Plaza plays Harper in seasons 1 and 2 of The White Lotus.
Aubrey Plaza plays Harper in seasons 1 and 2 of The White Lotus. Picture: Alamy

Who wrote The White Lotus Season 2 soundtrack?

The White Lotus Season 2 soundtrack also has original music composed by Cristobal Tapia de Veer, as well as that written by him and his collaborator Kim Neundorf.

Weaved into these are sun-drenched, romantic Italian songs dripping in sentimentality, including Raffaella Carrà’s ‘A far l’amore comincia tu’, Fabrizio De André’s ‘Bocca di rosa’, Pink Martini’s ‘Una notte e napoli’ and Mina’s ‘Un anno d’amore’.

What instruments are used in The White Lotus soundtrack?

Composer Christobal Tapia de Veer used the charango, a South American string instrument similar to a ukulele, various handmade drums, natural shakers and the piano in The White Lotus Season 1 theme music.

The Season 2 score features a harp and bel canto-style singing to pull the series into its refined Italian setting. There’s also a distinctive – and again meme-worthy – use of the hand in the vocals to create distortion and uncertainty.

The distinctive vocals are performed by Colombian-Canadian singer Stephanie Osorio. She held a long, single note as she wavered the sound through her hand, and Tapia de Veer recorded it and sampled it into the melody.

The White Lotus Season 2 Opening Theme Song | The White Lotus | HBO

“For the second season, I was trying to fit into the Italian and the Sicilian vibe. We spoke about having some renaissance sounds, some harps, mandolin, violin, things that we’d connect with Italian music and opera,” composer Tapia de Veer told Spotify.

“I did a demo of some classical Italian music, something operatic, and that’s the beginning of the track. From there, I wanted to somehow bring back the sound of the first season, which is these screaming voices that are so recognisable.”

White, Tapia de Veer, Neundorf and the team have an ingenious knack of choosing and writing the very best music to transport us to the locations of their fictional hotel chain.

We can’t wait to see what they have in store for the third season, which will be set in Thailand.