Things are truly happening on The Americans so far in S2: All-American Stan is doing things that may not be so patriotic; new son of Mother Russia (and old fashioned beneficiary of stateside nepotism) Oleg isn’t as incapable as he seems; and if you’re a new sleeper cell in this universe who meets with Phillip and Elizabeth—well, get a good insurance policy.
But with all of the A-story unfolding, The Americans appeared to be continually dialing back the smaller, fan-obsession-friendly details that endeared the show to many in S1. Anecdotally, there are way, way less wigs this time around. And in the first third of S2, it seemed like there was way (only one “way”) less music as well. At the midway point of S1, The Americans playlist was 13-deep with one or two unidentified songs to boot. This year? Well, we’ll be damned—14-deep with a few unidentified songs as well.
Maybe the soundtrack for S2 feels less than because S1 utilized so many familiar tracks early on—”Tusk” and “In the Air Tonight,” plus music from The Cure and Roxy Music. S2 continues so far with the quantity, but the instantly recognizable sounds have been toned down a bit (perhaps so we can hear what’s happening rather than running to Spotify). Still, when Brian Setzer, Peter Gabriel and Rod Stewart are playing (and your biggest new character loves everyone from Blondie to Curtis Mayfield), the music supervisors are rightfully earning their due. With apologies to new challenger True Detective, The Americans continues to be the best sounding show on television (among its other deserving accolades).
Episode Five—”The Deal”
Kenny Rogers—”The Gambler,” when pretending to be drunk and American, few bearded men work this well.
[Unknown country song] Phillip’s love of country (music in this instance) comes across again during a short interlude in the car. Lyrics sounds like “how you broke my heart, so many times,” but it’s been difficult to identify. Anyone with intel?
Episode Six—”Behind The Red Door”
No significant soundtrack moments?!? (Second time in eight episodes, 25 percent. Hard to believe after season one’s sound.)
Utopia—”Set Me Free” painting an entire office requires some good ol’, uplifting soft rock.
Eddie Rabbitt—”Drivin’ My Life Away” browsing a new, fast car calls for driving music, even if you’re a sleeper cell Russian.
Our resident Russian pop expert also name checks Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Aretha Franklin to impress his Russian love interest.
Episode Eight—”New Car”
Brian Setzer—”Rock This Town” because said car was purchased, and nothing was cooler in the 80s than the Stray Cats.
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