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ALWAYS & FOREVER

The ‘To All the Boys’ Soundtracks Brought Lauv, Anna of the North, Ashe—and now Leah Nobel—to Both the Big Screen and Spotify Listeners

February 16, 2021

Over the past three years, Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and its sequel, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, has told the high school love story of Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky against the backdrop of handpicked indie anthems. So when the couple spends a portion of the third and final movie, To All the Boys: Always and Forever, discussing what “their song,” could be, they embark on a conversation symbolic of high school relationships and the trilogy’s musical impact. 

Based on the popular book series by Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before debuted on Netflix in 2018. The movie chronicles Lara Jean, a junior in high school whose life is upended after her secret love letters are accidentally mailed to five boys she loved throughout her life. The heartfelt and honest movie resonated around the world—and so did its soundtrack. There are almost 60,000 user-generated playlists on Spotify based on the trilogy, which inspired an official Netflix playlist that sees the majority of its streams from Spotify listeners in the U.S., followed by the Philippines, the UK, Canada, and Brazil. 

Both of the trilogy’s music supervisors, Lindsay Wolfington and Laura Webb, have worked in the young adult film space before, with Lindsay sourcing music for One Tree Hill and Laura for Teen Wolf. Neither is a stranger to utilizing pop hits, but it was newer indie tracks that helped them tell Lara Jean’s story—truly fitting the vibe of the movie and its main character. 

“If you look at Lara Jean, she’s doing her own thing with her fashion; she’s not the popular girl at school,” Laura explained to For the Record. “It almost makes sense that she wouldn’t necessarily listen to the most popular music that everybody else is listening to.” But working with indie music had other benefits, too. “We’re both big fans of music discovery and find it much more interesting to find the next big artist,” Lindsay explained. And find the next big artists they did. In both the first and second movies, Lindsay and Laura tailored tracks to scenes, propelling songs that later soared on Spotify. Electropop singer-songwriter Lauv saw an increase in streaming after the first movie, in which his now hit song “I like me better” was featured on the way to a fateful school ski trip and in the movie’s trailer. The song now has over 1 billion streams.

In one impactful ski trip scene, Lara Jean joins her fake boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky, in a hot tub for a moment of clarity. As they speak truthfully about their feelings for each other, Norweigian singer Anna of the North’s track “Lovers” begins playing in the background, its peaks and valleys flowing into Lara and Peter’s climactic embrace. Anna’s vocals, soft and dreamy, propelled the artist into a dream as well: Between the weeks preceding and following the movie, she saw a 242% increase in her streams on Spotify.

“What’s really cool about introducing music that people haven’t heard is that they assign new meaning to that song based on the scene,” Laura noted. “If the audience cares about these characters, they’re going to care about the song that plays in the biggest moment between the characters in the film.” 

The audience did care: The first movie was a breakthrough success and gleaned a following that carried through to the second movie, P.S. I Still Love You, two years later. The movie’s music continued to resonate as well, especially songs that conveyed the pivotal emotional scenes. In a tender moment toward the end of the second movie, Lara Jean breaks up with Peter as American singer-songwriter Ashe’s song “Moral of the Story” begins to play. Though a tear-filled moment for the characters, Ashe saw a celebratory 1,220% growth in streams on Spotify compared to the three months prior to the movie’s release, and her song now has over 236 million streams to date.

The music supervisors had a hunch the track would leave its mark. “Our gut told us—obviously you don’t ever really know until the movie comes out and the audience proves it or disproves it—but, you know, we felt that that was one of the biggest moments in the film and was definitely going to resonate with fans,” Lindsay admitted. “The Ashe breakout is probably the biggest thing Laura and I have seen in either of our careers.”

Ahead of the third movie, the music supervisors approached Ashe for a second time as they searched for another impactful song to feature. “I get to do what I love so much because my song was in the movie, which is really, really cool and powerful,” the singer told For the Record.  

During a conversation ahead of the Always and Forever debut, the music supervisors noted that the music on the soundtracks generally remained indie, though the tone changed along with each movie’s themes. The first film features day-dreamy synth tracks that speak to the merging of Lara Jean’s fantasy life with her high school reality. The second movie sees her in her first real relationship, and with it, romantic and fun songs surrounded by hard hitters conveying the reality of high school relationships. (Spoiler: They can be heartbreaking). Finally, the third and most recent movie sees her on adventures: prom, college searching, and even a trip to New York.

Another pivotal plot point in the third movie is the couple’s search for “their song.” They throw around some oldies and pop hits before discovering “Beginning, Middle, End,” written specifically for the film by Leah Nobel and Quinn Redmond. According to the music supervisors, the song had everything they were looking for—and of course, the title matched with the concept of the trilogy’s story coming to its close. The song, which is heard three times in three different versions throughout the movie—the original that Leah wrote, a cover performed by The Greeting Committee during a roof party scene, and a remixed “Always and Forever” version—has propelled Leah Nobel to new streaming heights in just a weekend. Her streams have increased 14,950% since the movie was released compared to the week prior.

Landing a love song in a movie about an impactful high school romance was particularly ironic to Leah. “I didn’t start writing music till I was 18, and I honestly don’t think that I would be where I am now—and maybe wouldn’t even be an artist or a writer—if it weren’t for my high school break up,” she told For the Record. “The first song I ever wrote was in response to that.”

As Leah knows, and the To All the Boys series conveys, the music we fall in love with in high school is powerful. We asked some of the artists on the new movie soundtrack, including The Greeting Committee, Ashe, Jordan Suaste, and FLETCHER, to tell us a little bit about their new songs, as well as the song that they associate with their high school crush—combining the power of the To All the Boys soundtracks and young love. 

Stream Spotify’s Teen Beats playlist, currently featuring music from the new movie, below.