Emmys Music Cheat Sheet: A Complete Guide to the Nominees in All Seven Categories

As Emmy voting draws to a close, the 2021 music nominations span rookies to regulars. Here’s a guide, sizing up the competition in seven categories including scoring, supervision and song.

There is a wealth of music nominated across different sounds and genres. Variety breaks it all down in the annual Emmy chart.

Music Composition for a Series

“Bridgerton” (Netflix)
Composer: Kris Bowers
Two previous nominations (two this year)
“Diamond of the First Water”
Period-appropriate strings dominate small-ensemble score.

“The Crown” (Netflix)
Composer: Martin Phipps
Six previous nominations
“The Balmoral Test”
Harp, women’s voices for Diana’s entry into the royal family

“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
Composer: Adam Taylor
One previous nomination
“The Crossing”
Eerie textures, string quartet, for June’s capture and torture

“Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
Composers: Laura Karpman, Raphael Saadiq
One win, three noms for Karpman; first nom for Saadiq
“Rewind 1921”
Operatic aria, large orchestra play requiem for Tulsa massacre

“The Mandalorian” (Disney Plus)
Composer:  Ludwig Göransson
Pedigree:  One previous win
“Chapter 16: The Rescue”
Action music, hints of “Star Wars,” as Mando rescues Grogu

“This Is Us” (NBC)
Composer:  Siddhartha Khosla
Pedigree: Two previous nominations
“Birth Mother”
Evocative guitar, piano, cello, for Randall learning about his mom

Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special

“Fargo” (FX)
Composer: Jeff Russo
One win, two prior noms (two more this year)
Guitars, mandolin, ’50s middle-America ambiance

Oslo (HBO)
Composer: Jeff Russo, Zoë Keating
One win for Russo; first nomination for Keating
TV movie about the 1992 Middle Eastern peace accords
Piano, cello, strings for tense Israeli-Palestinian meetings

“The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
Composer:  Carlos Rafael Rivera
One win, one other nomination
“End Game”
Classically styled orchestral score for troubled chess genius

“The Underground Railroad” (Amazon Prime)
Composer: Nicholas Britell
One win, one other nomination
“Chapter 2: South Carolina”
Lush orchestra counterpoints strangeness, anachronisms in story

“WandaVision” (Disney Plus)
Composer: Christophe Beck
One win, one other nomination
“Previously On”
Rich symphonic sound for Salem witches, Wanda’s grief

Music Composition for a Documentary Series or Special

“Allen v. Farrow” (HBO)
Composer: Michael Abels
First nomination (two this year)
Doc about alleged child molestation
Delicate musical approach for Dylan; jazz clarinet for Woody

“American Masters: Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir” (PBS)
Composer: Kathryn Bostic
First nomination
PBS profile of “Joy Luck Club” author
Piano, string quartet score for mother and daughter pianists

“David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet” (Netflix)
Composer: Steven Price
Two prior nominations
Natural historian’s concerns about the environment
Intimate music reflects Attenborough’s personal point of view

“The Social Dilemma” (Netflix)
Composer: Mark Crawford
First nomination
Experts detail dangers of social media
Hybrid score of real musicians and vintage synthesizers

“Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre” (History)
Composer: Branford Marsalis
First nomination
Chronicles horrifying assault on Black Wall Street
Ragtime, early jazz, Americana backdrop for time and place


Music Direction

“Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry “(Apple TV Plus)
Music director:  Aron Forbes
First nomination
Documentary on the superstar
Mixed, supervised all the Eilish performances in film

“Bo Burnham: Inside” (Netflix)
Music director: Bo Burnham
First nomination (one of five this year)
Pandemic-era comedy special shot in his home
Burnham wrote, sang 20 songs

“David Byrne’s American Utopia” (HBO)
Music director: Karl Mansfield
First nomination
Spike Lee film of Byrne’s Broadway show

Bandleader and keyboard player, for show and special

“Celebrating America: An Inauguration Night Special” (multiple platforms)
Music director: Rickey Minor
Two wins, nine other nominations
Tom Hanks-hosted Biden-Harris inauguration special
Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Katy Perry perform

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC)
Music director: Harvey Mason Jr.
Pedigree:First nom (two this year)
“Zoey’s Extraordinary Goodbye”
Produced multiple songs performed by the cast on camera

Music and Lyrics

“Bo Burnham: Inside” (Netflix)
Songwriter: Bo Burnham, music and lyrics
First nomination (one of five this year)
Song: “Comedy”
Introductory tune about need for humor in messed-up world

“The Boys” (Amazon Prime)
Songwriters: Christopher Lennertz, music and lyrics; Michael Saltzman, lyrics
Second nomination for each
Song: “Never Truly Vanish”
Starlight sings heroic anthem at Translucent’s funeral

“The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
Songwriters: Anna Hauss, Robert Wienröder, music; William Horberg, lyrics
First nominations for all
Song:  “I Can’t Remember Love”
Melancholy love song performed while Beth dines alone

“Soundtrack of Our Lives” (YouTube)
Songwriter:  Marc Shaiman, music and lyrics
One win, 10 other nominations
Song: “The End Titles”
Shaiman sings own satirical ditty about end-credit rolls

“WandaVision” (Disney Plus)
Songwriters: Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez, music and lyrics
Three prior noms for Lopez; two for Anderson-Lopez
Song:  “Agatha All Along”
“Munsters”-“Addams Family” sendup explains Agatha’s role

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC)
Songwriters: Harvey Mason Jr., Andrew Hey, music; Austin Winsberg, Lindsey Rosin, lyrics
First nominations for all
Song: “Crimson Love”
Risqué song performed by Aiden at Zoey’s birthday party

Main Title Theme Music

“Allen v. Farrow” (HBO)
Composer: Michael Abels
First nomination (two this year)
Doc about alleged child molestation
Classical string ensemble and piano for intro

“Bridgerton” (Netflix)
Composers: Kris Bowers, Michael Dean Parsons
Two prior nominations for Bowers; first for Parsons
Alternate-history Regency London love story
Elegant, period-style chambermusic piece

“The Flight Attendant ” (HBO Max)
Composer: Blake Neely
Three prior nominations
Dark, humorous murder mystery
Colorful title sequence scored entirely with percussion

“Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)
Composers: Marcus Mumford, Tom Howe
First nominations for both
Comedy about U.S. coach for English football team
“Mid-Atlantic” ’60s-’70s-style rock for American in the U.K.

“WandaVision” (Disney Plus)
Composers: Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
Three prior noms for Lopez; two for Anderson-Lopez
Seriocomic look at suburban marriage for Vision, Scarlet Witch
Title songs in style of sitcom themes through the decades

Courtesy of Apple TV+

Music Supervision

“Bridgerton” (Netflix)
Supervisor: Alexandra Patsavas
First nomination
“Diamond of the First Water”
Clever string-quartet covers of modern pop songs

“The Crown” (Netflix)
Supervisor: Sarah Bridge
First nomination
Diana dances to Stevie Nicks, Elton John songs

“Halston” (Netflix)
Supervisors: Amanda Krieg Thomas, Alexis Martin Woodall, Ryan Murphy
First nominations for Thomas, Woodall; five wins for Murphy
“The Party’s Over”
Dan Hartman, Visage, Yaz songs for Studio 54 era and beyond

“Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
Supervisor: Liza Richardson
One previous nomination
“Strange Case”
Cardi B, Frank Ocean, Moses Sumney songs in stylistic mix

“The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
Supervisor: Randall Poster
First nomination
Sixties-era songs by Kinks, Georgie Fame, Shocking Blue

“I May Destroy You” (HBO)
Supervisor: Ciara Elwis, Matt Biffa
First nominations for both
“Ego Death”
Songs by Janelle Monáe, Weval, for Arabella’s fantasies

“WandaVision” (Disney Plus)
Supervisors: Dave Jordan, Shannon Murphy
First nomination for both
“Don’t Touch That Dial”
Sixties-style TV theme, Beach Boys song evoke era

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