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Ferociously queer and unapologetically fabulous, Ryan Murphy’s hit TV series, Pose is a cultural zeitgeist. The FX show spotlights the ballroom culture and follows the everyday struggles of LGBTQ New Yorkers in the late ’80s early ’90s. Not unlike other landmark television shows, the Pose soundtrack is spot on, using music to reflect each scene’s cultural sentiment to amplify storylines and aide character development. What better way to celebrate the show’s recent Emmy nominations than by reflecting on the series’ success with a dive into the shows top musical selections!
Since Pose is set at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic while also spotlighting the continued violence against trans Black women–the subject matter is often heavy and heart-wrenching. However, the fashion, balls, and music always highlight how resilient the LGBTQ community is and has been throughout time. As Lulu Abundance says in Season 1, “How lucky are we? We create ourselves.”
STYLECASTER enlisted the help of NYC DJ BMAJR to curate a defining playlist featuring prime Pose moments. Below are the top ten most memorable music moments from Pose to date. This is for the fan who just wants to relish in a musical recap or for Pose newcomers who may need to catch-up.
Here is a breakdown of the must-watch highlights of Pose through the music.
Season 1, Episode 1: “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” – Whitney Houston
The most pivotal musical moment of the Pilot episode comes from Damon’s last chance dance. Damon, played by Ryan Jamaal Swain drops a mystery cassette into the boom box to audition for the New School. It’s here we listen to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and watch while Damon reacts and works out his choreography and his nerves ad libitum. Damon loses himself in the music entirely, creating a glorious moment, the perfect song for Damon’s dream to be realized.
Season 1, Episode 3: “Let’s Wait A While” – Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson’s “Let’s Wait Awhile,” released in 1987, plays alongside an aptly soft and tender scene where Stan and Angel first have sex. Their actions tie directly to the song more so than with any other scenes. The song comments on a couple deciding they should wait to have sex until they know each other better.
Season 1, Episode 6: “Love Is The Message” – MFSB
Providing the show’s most direct music to plot connections, this Pose episode features one song and centers its importance to a Pray Tell’s mental and emotional state. That song, “Love Is the Message” by MFSB is playing during at least three scenes in this episode. Pray Tell plays five minute and thirteen-second song on loop for three consecutive balls.
Season 1, Episode 6: “Home” – Diana Ross
Perhaps one of the show’s most emotional moments, we hear this first vocal performance from Blanca and Pray Tell, and oh do they show their singing chops. Set in the hospital rec room Pray Tell plans an AIDS cabaret to uplift the patients. Blanca steps up to sing “Home” by Diana Ross from The Wiz soundtrack.
Season 1, Episode 7: “Private Dancer” – Tina Turner
Set to a more ominous backdrop, “Private Dancer” closes out the episode in one of the most heartbreaking moments of the season. With Elektra and Angel both being thrown back into their old lifestyles before they found “love” Turner’s signature tune lays on the melancholy thick. The culminating moment is when the song ends with a forlorn Angel picking someone up and driving off into the sunrise, not to be optimistic but just to survive.
Season 1, Episode 8: “Love Is A House” – Force MDs
Blanca is crowned Mother of the Year in one of the hotly anticipated reveals of the first season. With so many viable candidates, it is fitting that “Love is a House” is the song of choice. On numerous occasions, Blanca has expressed the importance of being the mother of a house. Just like on this R&B deep-cut, Blanca’s love for her children is felt from beginning to end.
Season 2, Episode 1: “Vogue” – Madonna
After a trailblazing first season, it was almost a requirement that Pose came back stronger than ever. Madonna’s “Vogue” is an institution in itself and was given the veneration it deserved throughout the season premiere. “Vogue” is interpolated throughout the first episode because of the immediate exposure of the culture and how it jettisoned a movement into the mainstream.
Season 2, Episode 2: “Bad Girls” – Donna Summer
Elektra debuts her signature move ripping the tablecloth from the House of Ferocity. She’s had enough, and with her new night job as a dominatrix, Elektra quits Lulu and Candy’s clique to for the House of Wintour. As Elektra welcomes back her inner bad bitch, Donna Summer’s “Bad Girl” plays to underscore the undeniable fact that “Wintour is Coming.”
Season 2, Episode 4: “Never Knew Love Like This Before” – Stephanie Mills
STYLECASTER asked Pose featured actor B. Hawk Snipes to weigh in on their favorite music moment (frankly mine too). Snipes shares why this Stephanie Mills tune stood out, saying,
The scene in which it was sung was so emotional for everyone while on set, because so many trans women of color were being murdered during that same week of filming. The words really spoke to us because sometimes we wait until someone has passed to show them love and tell them how beautiful and important they are.
Season 2, Episode 5: “U Can’t Touch This” – MC Hammer
This iconic 1990 smash sets the background to a montage of Ricky and Damon, as both house Wintour and Evangelista prep their boys for their audition. The MC Hammer’s hit was the first rap song nominated for Record of the Year and made the perfect tune pump up the energy for the drama ahead.
Check out our StyleCaster Spotify playlist to relive these epic music moments from Pose.