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We Made a European Pop Playlist for The White Lotus Season Two
We Made a European Pop Playlist for The White Lotus Season Two,In ‘The White Lotus,’ the visuals and sound cues are almost as important as the text on Mike White’s page. Here’s your guide to the music of season two’s trip to Italy, from yé-yé to Italo disco.

We Made a European Pop Playlist for The White Lotus Season Two

A new season of The White Lotus means a new aesthetic for Jennifer Coolidge to ugly-American her way through. And like everyone last summer, The White Lotus is doing an Italy trip. Post-lockdown, pre-resurgence-of-fascism Italy is like Tender Is the Night–era French Riviera right now. Couldn’t be hotter.

Season two of The White Lotus is about sexual jealousy and ambivalence toward traditional gender roles. But even more so, it’s about vibes. The visuals and sound cues are almost as important as the text on Mike White’s pages; the threesome between Lucia, Mia, and Christopher Moltisanti in episode two is soundtracked to “Figli Delle Stelle,” a song by the Welsh Neapolitan singer Alan Sorrenti that also happened to be my song of the summer. European pop is full of subgenres and stylistic cul-de-sacs — including yé-yé, Italo disco, and one called, confusingly enough, Europop. It’s a fertile ground for renewed appreciation, vibe curation, and online crate-digging. It’s giving hotel pool or only club on the cruise ship, providing the energy needed for meeting acerbic people in paradise. Here are the molto bene bangers that will transport you to a land of sexual intrigue and aperitivi.

Raffaella Carrà, “A Far l’Amore Comincia Tu” 

White and music consultant Este Haim score the show’s all-important arrivals scene to this song from Italian movie star, TV presenter, and icon Raffaella Carrà. She was the coolest: cutting tracks in Italian and Spanish, breaking barriers as the first woman to show her navel on Italian TV, and always voting Communist. Carrà was beloved by Romance-language gays, a clear predecessor of Tanya McQuoid. Eat your heart out, Monica Vitti!

Clio, “Faces”

“Faces” is a standout of Italo disco — a genre that isn’t entirely Italian or exactly disco. It’s the music that played in European nightclubs during the ’80s after America turned its back on disco like the bitches we are. Producer and record-company founder Roberto Ferrante wrote “Faces” when he was 20 years old; singing on the track is Maria Chiara Perugini (stage name, Clio). The 12-inch features an incredible Patrick Nagel–esque cover, in case you needed the ’80s of it all intensified.

Claudine Longet, “Both Sides Now”

This song may be performed by a French actress-chanteuse, but Claudine Longet couldn’t be more White Lotus season two if she’d been born in Sicily. Longet shot her boyfriend, pro skier Spider Sabich, in the bedroom of their Aspen home. According to her, the gun discharged when he was explaining how to use it — partially clothed while getting ready to shower, as most gun-safety demonstrations are offered. Longet married her defense attorney and went on vacation with him while she was supposed to be serving a sentence for criminal negligence. Her criminal and civil defenses were partially funded by her ex-husband, Andy Williams, who remained devoted to Longet despite her sleeping with (and shooting) other men.

Sparks, “When I’m With You” 

Any celebration of Italian fuck music must pay homage to thee fuck master himself, Giorgio Moroder. It was he who helped pioneer the absurdly long dance cut by writing “Love to Love You Baby” with Donna Summer and Pete Bellotte. If you want to get a sense of Moroder’s whole deal, watch Live at the Necropolis: The Lords of Synth or Edgar Wright’s documentary about the American brother duo Sparks. Sparks always made more sense in Europe, popping off a French No. 1 with the help of Moroder on “When I’m With You.” The synths do the heavy lifting, but the song really explodes with Ron Mael’s lyrics: “I never feel like garbage when I’m with you / I almost feel normal when I’m with you.” This cutting satire of allegedly functional relationships fits in perfectly at a White Lotus hotel.

France Gall, “Il Jouait du Piano Debout”

A TikTok I once saw described this as the “Mr. Brightside” of France, the song everyone sings drunkenly together at the end of the party. You can picture the cast of The White Lotus singing this during one of their debauched karaoke nights. France Gall got her start in yé-yé, the French response to American bubblegum pop. Real Wes Anderson shit, yé-yé is parodied in The French Dispatch and perfectly exemplifies the American dream of Europe.

Plustwo, “Melody”

Forgotten in its time, this song got new life from TikTok. Released in 1983 with a limited pressing of 3,000 seven-inch records, “Melody” was a hit on the radio, but Plustwo’s original record company went bankrupt. Shortly after, the band broke up due to “personal differences and relationship issues.” Then, miraculously, someone got ahold of this track on TikTok. The song went hella viral, the band reformed, and now everyone has to pretend the personal differences and relationship issues are things of the past.

Régine, “Ouvre la Bouche, Ferme les Yeux”

If we’re here to celebrate Euro disco, we must pay homage to the founder of the first discotheque ever, Régine. She died earlier this year and squeezed a whole lotta living into her time on this earth. After inventing dance clubs, she came to America and opened Régine’s on the ground floor of the Delmonico Hotel. Studio 54 before Studio 54, Régine’s was the place to be in the mid-’70s. Besides opening and closing clubs, Régine tried to get a chanteuse career off the ground in France and cut multiple albums. One was exclusively Serge Gainsbourg covers like this.

Adriano Celentano, “Prisencolinensinainciusol”

This song is written entirely in gibberish, apparently what Adriano Celentano thought English sounds like. This is a great companion to The White Lotus season two, for which some of the Italian actors had to learn their English lines phonetically. Early weird-internet aficionados will recognize the song from this video of Celentano performing it (with Carrà) on an Italian variety show. It’s also the only song on this list to be covered by James Adomian (as Slavoj Žižek).

An Luu, “Pourquoi Tu Me Fous Plus des Coups?”

This is one of those songs (like “Plastic Love,” by Mariya Takeuchi) that have been brought to the forefront by the caprice of algorithms. French Vietnamese actor-singer An Luu has found her song on Spotify playlists around the world, and many who bop along to the French disco track have no idea the lyrics are so dark. “Pourquoi tu me fous plus des coups?” essentially means “Why don’t you hit me anymore?” It’s about a woman who thinks her abusive partner’s laying off her is a sign he’s no longer in love with her. Talk about ambivalence toward outdated gender norms.

All-Star Sexy Players, “People Are Still Having Sex”

Self-explanatory.

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