The Best Musical Moments from TV's Ted Lasso | Dallas Observer

Film and TV

A Look Back at the Music That Made Us Believe in Ted Lasso

(From left) Nick Mohammed, Anthony Head and Jason Sudeikis return for the third and final season of the Apple TV+ comedy Ted Lasso.
(From left) Nick Mohammed, Anthony Head and Jason Sudeikis return for the third and final season of the Apple TV+ comedy Ted Lasso. Courtesy of Apple TV+
The Ted Lasso series has done things no one thought were possible in television. It created comedy by pointing out the absurdity of cynicism rather than wallowing in it. It made American audiences ravenous for soccer. It made Apple TV+ popular.

Ted Lasso is one of those "If you haven't watched it, you should" kind of shows because just like its titular character, it defies all expectations about what we think a television comedy should try to be. It has heart without being so sickly sweet that it makes your cheeks pucker. It has wit without making it seem like it's trying to go over your head with the humor. It has charm, something that 99 percent of shows sacrifice entirely to seem hip and edgy.

The show stars Jason Sudeikis as a cornfed, optimistic coach who's hired by a British football club after he goes viral in the States with a video of a high-spirited celebration with his American football — not soccer — team. British club owner Rebecca Welton, played by Hannah Waddingham, is the ex-wife of an unfaithful rich prick, and she wins control of the team as part of a divorce settlement. She hires Ted only because he's never run a soccer club, and she wants her club to fail to get back at her rotten ex. The initial plot is basically the same as the first Major League movie but imagine if the Cleveland Indians coach charmed the pants off his team's owner and got her on board to actually root for victory instead of reveling in revenge.

Just like all great TV shows, its stars are supported by soundtracks that offer one of the most unusual rock mixes in any medium. It runs the gamut of British rock and throws in original and recycled tunes from other genres to punctuate its scenes. Ed Sheeran is writing a song right now for the show's next batch of episodes. We thought it was worth exploring some of the music choices in the first two seasons as Ted Lasso prepares to enter its third go-round on March 15. The music drives the show's central theme and has helped discover some amazing talent.
Ted Lasso at its core is really about expectations and how easily they fool and blind us. Ted seems like the average all-American guy with an "aww shucks" attitude who's dropped into coaching the underdog team AFC Richmond. He's in an unwinnable situation and appears to be in over his head. The very first scene of the series opens with a team practice punctuated by The Sex Pistols' classic "God Save the Queen" minus lines like how she's "a fascist regime" and "She's not a human being." It's a clever choice because Lasso is walking into a hostile environment where the owner intends to immediately throw him to the sharks and send the rest of the team with him. It's as cynical as situations get, but somehow he always makes it back to shore in one piece.
Then it goes into the theme song. Every show's gotta have one. Composer Tom Howe and Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons became responsible for the show's opening song after Sudeikis called Mumford and left him "the world's longest voice note" with notes and suggestions on how it should sound, according to an interview in The Hollywood Reporter.

Ted Lasso is an American comedy in a British setting or a British comedy in an American setting depending on the episode. So the theme (which doesn't appear to have a title) is a geographic mix of British rock and American folk with some on-the-nose lyrics like, "Yeah, it might be all that you get/Yeah, I guess this might well be it." It's catchy, so it sticks in your head until you remember that the "By Mennen" jingle is an ear worm killer. It's also a nice reminder that you're watching more than a simple sitcom and feeding your brain some emotions and thoughts you can apply to other areas of your life.
One of my favorite moments from the first season happens during the team's annual charity auction. Every year, the team hires a big musical name to perform for the show, and Rebecca hires Robbie Williams for the event. Alas, her conniving ex-husband steals Robbie away at the last minute. Lasso takes to the streets to find a replacement and runs into Cam Cole, who looks like one of those one-man music groups that hustle for change on The Drag in Austin. However, Cam is good. He's really fucking good. He's so good that it makes me mad he wasn't on my radar before this moment. He's better than Williams (no offense) ever could be, and the evening is saved.

Cam Cole is a powerful mix of Southern blues guitar and electric rock with a powerhouse voice. He's a one-man band without the novelty getting in the way of music. He plays a set of drums with his feet. He reverberates his voice with a paper cup wrapped around a mic. If you listened to him before actually seeing him on Ted Lasso, you'd think he's got at least two other guys backing up his vocals, but it's just him and he's so good. As Ted Lasso thinks Walt Whitman once said, "Be curious, not judgmental."
One of my favorite B-stories of the series plays with this same idea of looks being deceiving. By now, we think we know Ted, an eternal optimist with a sunshine-bright sense of humor who believes in the best of everyone and everything. Then he starts having panic attacks. It turns out that all this time, the jokes and references he makes and the biscuits he bakes every morning are just masking what he's really feeling and how scared he is to confront it until it takes over.

This moment really hit me because panic attacks were something I struggled with for most of my life that kept me closed off and alienated, especially in high school when just sitting by yourself could make you an easy target for scorn, ridicule and even abuse. When I tried to get help or understand why my mind kept me in this constant state of alert, it was written off as a bad attitude or outright blamed on me choosing to feel a certain way even if it felt out of my control. It got to a point where I almost lost control on more than one occasion. Let's just leave the story there.

Ted resists the opportunity to speak with the team's psychologist for all the same reasons I was told that I didn't need therapy: "the whole thing is a scam," "they aren't going to tell you anything that I'm telling you now," "no one can you fix you but you." Eventually, it gets to the point where Ted's jokes can't protect him, and he accepts that getting help is not a weakness. It's punctuated by RY X's "Only," a beautiful tune that mixes sad tones with a harmonious chorus and guitar. The first time I heard it, I thought it was just something a composer made for the episode because it fit so perfectly with Ted's feelings. It resonated with me because so many people thought they knew me whenever I tried to get help.

Ted is ashamed to say that he thinks he might be broken, and he's powerless to fix it. He forgets the one rule he's taught so many people, but he comes to realize it's not a burden or a weakness to ask for help. It's an amazing moment to see and learn that no one has to be alone or imprisoned by their feelings. It's a great feeling of release, relief and realization punctuated by the great music choice for the scene. 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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