If you've watched even one episode of NBC series This Is Us, then you've probably also cried a bucketload of tears after being introduced to the highly emotional story of the Pearson family. Even before premiering last year the show was already a success, accumulating millions of views on the trailer alone — and that was well before the twist that all the characters in the show were connected was revealed.
Along with the actors giving us brilliant performances and the writers providing such rich and emotional material, Siddhartha Khosla's beautiful score is the third ingredient that's helped mould This Is Us into the primetime masterpiece it's become.
Khosla, a long-time collaborator of #ThisIsUs creator Dan Fogelman (the two were actually roommates in college), has infused the series with his compositions — many of which are performed on acoustic guitar — and the result is something that instantly evokes memories of the show. Khosla recently spoke to Movie Pilot about his role on the series, which is currently in its second season.
Although initially hesitant to score TV, Khosla jumped into the industry when asked by Fogelman to score his ABC series The Neighbors. Following this, Khosla says he realized that scoring film and television was what he wanted to do, and moved onto projects such as Grandfathered, The Royals and, of course, This Is Us.
Obviously Khosla's music has struck a chord with This Is Us audiences, with his song "We Can Always Come Back To This" from the Season 1 episode "Memphis" reaching #12 on the iTunes Top 100 chart and staying at #1 on the Billboard Blues Charts for four weeks — something that came as quite a surprise to the composer:
"You don't ever expect that stuff to happen, especially in television music. Film music sometimes has a better shot of getting seen and heard and charting, but it just rarely happens [with television music] — you just don't expect it. So I think that made it all the more exciting that I had no expectation of any of that."
But long before the song charted it was already surprising Khosla in very different ways:
"'We Can Always Come Back To This' was a song in our "Memphis" episode that I was asked to write from Dan and the directors. I had to come up with this 1970s-ish Memphis-sounding soul song, which is one of the key moments of the episode. I wrote the song with my friend Chris Pierce. ... And it was just one of those moments where I had written a song that I have never thought I had in my arsenal. It was outside of the usual music that I had written — it was a soul song and I'm just an Indian kid from New Jersey! But maybe there's some soul in me after all."
With the show not only being accompanied by score, but also often featuring music as part of the plot thanks to musical characters such as Rebecca, Kate and William, Khosla works both alone and with the actors to bring the sound to life. Given an early cut of each episode, Khosla works remotely from his studio "for the most part," going through the footage and working out where music would be best suited. However there are times when he works directly with the stars — including small moments that audience members may never expect:
"I get to work with the actors too, which is fun. Last season there were a couple moments where Sterling K. Brown and Mandy Moore came to my studio because there were a couple episodes where they were playing piano. And I had to write this little piece of music for them to play, and I had to teach them what I was doing, and I think Sterling had never played piano before. So he had to get up in this episode,I think it was "Career Day," and he gets up and plays this song — I wrote that song that he plays. So those are those little things that kind of go by quickly that people sometimes don't realize what goes into it, and it's pretty cool."
And after working with the actors they obviously left a great impression, with Khosla being quick to heap praise on them:
"The actors are really lovely people and they're all so incredibly talented. And they're all so curious and interested in learning, they're just perfectionists — they all seem to be to me, which is so cool. They all want to learn as much as they can and get it right."
Working on such a rich and emotional show, there's no shortage of moving scenes, but Khosla reveals that it's the opening montage from Season 2 that stands out as his favorite moment so far in the show:
"I really loved the opening scene of Season 2. ... I'm very proud of that. That's like one of my themes I have going into this part of the series. It's the opening of the first episode this season, it's this whole montage and you hear William's poetry being read while there's a four minute montage of score and everyone's stories kind of resetting and showing what everyone's doing. ... It's quintessential This Is Us, there's just a mix of the joy, the humor and also the disappointment in life. That piece of music and that scene kind of covers the emotional spectrum for me."
However that's not to say that there's not some truly outstanding moments still to come in This Is Us Season 2. Khosla cryptically teased that "there's stuff coming up that I really am proud of, that's really great," adding it's not only the music he's proud of, but the overall scene and vibe of upcoming episodes.
With 14 episodes still to go in Season 2, there's a ton of opportunities for This Is Us to sock you straight in the feels yet. In fact, Khosla himself admits that the one downside of working on the show is that he's an "emotional wreck" by the time he finishes scoring an episode. And I don't know about you, but it's somewhat reassuring to know that even the crew of this Emmy-winning series are moved to the point of emotional destruction by its raw and real storytelling.
This Is Us Season 2 airs Tuesday nights on NBC and the show's official soundtrack is available to buy now.
What moment in This Is Us Season 2 has made you cry the most? Tell us in the comments below.