Sharp Objects is a show where music is the unspoken co-star in every episode. Camille obsessively listens to her iPhone music player at every turn. Her step-father has a giant vinyl collection to rival any 1970s aficionado. Music haunts characters from every corner, intruding on their dreams, blaring in bars and driving the background scenes. So this past week was a shock when Camille told Alice "It’s not really my thing, music." It was Alice who turned Camille on to the healing powers of music and helped make her someone who listens to Sharp Objects music clues every time she hits the play button.
The debate over music being a better way of self-medicating than drugs has been going on for centuries, but it was only this decade the adage of "music is medicine" actually was discovered to have a real basis in science.
But even without the science, Camille uses music as a form of constant escape, as well as one of the few ways she able to control the environment around her. When music intrudes on her, it can trigger some of the worst flashbacks since she arrived in Wind Gap. Many times, the songs the series has picked have messages of their own.
The songs are curated by the show's music supervisor Susan Jacobs, and there's a Spotify playlist with a running tally of the tunes heard in the show. The show opens with a 1950s era song, "Dance & Angela" by Franz Waxman, suggesting the old-timey world Camille is returning home to, and how out of time with our era the place will be when viewers arrive.
Contrast it to the opening of Episode 2, where the same song is used, but this time a modern electronic version by Jean-Phi Goncalves expressing the intense dark discomfort Camille is. Episode 3 uses a piano variation by Alexandra Strelinski, wistful and classical, like something out of an Oscar-winning drama.
The songs mentioned in the script also deliver clues about our characters. Camille is a damaged woman, the twisted love of her family hurt her badly somehow. Is it such a surprise her stated go-to karaoke number is "Ring of Fire"? It's not the Johnny Cash version playing in the background either, but Eric Burdon and the Animals. Everything Camille listens to which is familiar to a mainstream audience seems to be covers of the original as if she's rebelling against listening to what others might expect.
When she's listening to her own stuff, it's always dark and spacey, or sexy trip-hop tunes by LCD Soundsystem and Emily Wells. Alice may not have been in the story very long, but before she left it, she gifted Camille with a music obsession, one making every episode worth listening to.
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).