Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

Cristobal Tapia de Veer, Composer of the Viral White Lotus' Theme Song, Reveals His Process and Expectations for Season 3


Plenty of TV sitcom theme songs stand the test of time. The singability of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, clap-infused pop of I'll Be There For You from Friends, and nostalgic harmonies of Where Everybody Knows Your Name from Cheers each holds a notable slot in the cultural zeitgeist. It's less common for a drama's theme song to meet the same reception. And that picture is even more complicated when the theme is a wordless instrumental used-in the first moments of the show-to set the scene for dead bodies washing ashore.

Yet composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer's Aloha! and Renaissance, which serve as the theme songs for first and second seasons of The White Lotus, respectively, have reached such success. Each track features a consistent melody with high-pitched instrumentation, a danceable beat, and breathless vocals. Each is also tailored to reflect its season's location-Hawaii in the first and Sicily in the second.

Each season, The White Lotus offers colorful, suspenseful commentary on exploitation, wealth, class, and race with a backdrop of murder and dysfunction set in a fictional luxury resort. The combination of Cristobal's masterful composition, the show's alluring storytelling, and a rabid global fan base has propelled both themes to viral fame and millions of Spotify streams, and raised the profile of their composer.

Fans on the prowl Since its July 2021 release, Aloha! has been streamed most by fans in Warsaw, Berlin, and Paris. The song's popularity only grew in the lead-up to the October 2022 premier of the second season, with fans taking to the internet to share commentary on the song.

One popular fan theory was that its repeated notes created a musical allusion to the Gregorian chant Dies Irae, or The Day of Wrath. In a rare interview with For the Record, Cristobal explained that this is but a coincidence. Those melodies are the result of chanting with voices and finding a melody that works with the sound. For lots of reasons, I ended up with those types of harmonies, but I wasn't specifically inspired by that music or trying to use it intentionally.

Following the debut episode of the second season on October 30, 2022, searches for White Lotus on Spotify increased more than 500%. But to the chagrin of fans, Renaissance wasn't released on Spotify until December 11, the end of the season.

Even so, dedicated fans steadily played Aloha! on Spotify while they waited, and on December 12, streams of Aloha! jumped 200% compared to the month prior. Searches for White Lotus soared to 4,800% compared to two months prior.

Once released, daily streams of Renaissance hit an all-time high on December 13, 2022, with fans in Paris, Oslo, and Berlin leading the charge. And as for Cristobal? The composer saw a 162% lift in his own catalog's daily streams following season two.

Even after the season came to an end, fans continued to circulate the song, using it as the musical background to their viral videos. On February 17, 2023, Dutch DJ Ti sto put out his own remix of Renaissance, which became a favorite among fans in Sydney, New York, and Oslo in particular.

Soundtracking suspense So what went into creating the right soundtrack? Cristobal employed wind instruments to create the whirling bird sounds on Aloha! For the first season, I wasn't trying to make Hawaiian music. It was more about making something about nature kicking the characters in the ass, and the wild stuff coming for the characters, Cristobal explained. To hit his mark, he combined bird calls with tribal chants for an island feel with a spooky tropical depth.

Composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer

The temp score was this loungy, rather soft thing-something that would be playing in a nice luxury cafe when you're on vacation somewhere, he recalled. It was very different from what I came up with. I went with a tribal, rather aggressive screaming, and drums and flutes.

That screaming, which seems to be the best way to describe the vocal sounds, became a driving force behind the song's virality when it came time to adapt it for the second season. Cristobal knew he wanted to match the vibe of the location and utilize disconcerting vocal tones.

The oululus' are the most important thing, said Cristobal, using his tongue heavily to propel the sound from his own mouth. For the second season, I was trying to fit into the Italian and the Sicilian vibe. We spoke about having some renaissance sounds, some harps, mandolin, violin, things that we'd connect with Italian music and opera. I did a demo of some classical Italian music, something operatic, and that's the beginning of the track. From there, I wanted to somehow bring back the sound of the first season, which is these screaming voices that are so recognizable.

He also wanted to evoke a different journey for a new cast of characters.

In the first season, there's a lot of conflict in the music, he said. It feels very stressful and more tense than how it should; it has more dissonance. But this was something calculated. And I think the second season is funnier because things become dark later, towards the end of the show. So the song keeps it more playful, more light and harmonious.

A trip to Thailand Cristobal finds the composing process as tumultuous as life is for the White Lotus patrons at times. I don't do anything particular to get into the zone, he notes. Sometimes people try to have the best conditions-relaxed and with a view-but surprisingly, for me, I like to see the stuff that results from being in a bad situation, a stressful situation, not having the right equipment, or not being in the right place.

For Cristobal, discomfort is more impactful, motivating, and conducive to creativity than pleasure or perfection. When I feel tha
See more stories from spotify

More from Spotify


10 Great Musical Biographies That Tell the Stories Behind Your Favorite Artists

You might know all the songs and albums of your favorite musicians, but do you know the experiences and inspirations behind their work? Luckily, you can find ou...


Level Up With These 12 Motivational Audiobooks for a Productive Workday

There are times when the daily grind might not leave you feeling the most inspired. But it doesn't always have to be like that. Words of wisdom may be just ...


9 Trending-On-Social Audiobooks To Appeal to Your Inner Influencer

Sometimes you might notice on a thoughtful review from a friend on your feed, or stumble upon a flash summary straight out of your favorite social influencer...


Kick Back With 9 Audiobooks To Help You Unwind

Whether it's chilling on the couch or crashing into bed, nothing beats settling into a nice long rest at the end of the day. And few things are more frustra...


7 Compelling Book-To-Screen Adaptations That Are Now Available as Audiobooks

Which was better, the book or the movie? It's a common argument that has withstood the test of time and has only gotten stronger as more and more hit tele...


Start Your Day Off Right With 9 Audiobooks for Your Morning Commute

Whether you like to begin your day the moment you get out of bed or ease gently into it with a cup of coffee, you can count on audiobooks to boost your mornings...


9 Audiobooks To Start You on Your Literary Journey

With elaborate storytelling, immersive worlds, and an enthusiastic fandom hyping it up, getting into a new book can be an exciting and fun moment. And with the ...


Spotify EQUAL Presents the All Things Go Creator Summit to Inspire Action Through Music

Fans flock to music festivals to see dozens of their favorite artists in one go,...


Everything In Store for Podcast Listeners and Creators This International Podcast Day

At Spotify, you could say we think about podcasts 24/7. Spotify is now the most-...


10 Years Later, HAIM Dishes on the Success of Debut Album Days Are Gone'

Ten years ago, L.A. trio HAIM announced its arrival to the world with the album Days Are Gone, an indie rock classic that has continued to resonate with fans ar...


Spotify Advertising Kicks Off Spotify Sparks in Brazil to Bring Marketers and Listeners Closer Together

Audiences worldwide are tuned into digital audio at record rates, and Brazil is ...


EQUAL Fest Turns Up the Volume in Madrid

Over two years ago, Spotify created EQUAL, a global initiative that aims to promote gender equity in music and give female artists around the world the prominen...


Spotify Unveils Jam, a New, Personalized Way to Listen With Your Entire Squad

There are few things more powerful than connecting over a shared love of music. So over the past few years, Spotify has unveiled a wide range of new features, i...


Share Your Biggest Mandopop Moments With My Mandopop Memories'

Whether it's an unforgettable first love or heartbreak, those adventurous road trips with friends, or planning for the dream wedding, millions of fans aroun...


India's Classical Music Takes Center Stage in Spotify's Echo Campaign

In India, music fans are diving into classical music. Recent data shows that over the last two years, India's classical music consumption grew by nearly 500...


Spotify's AI Voice Translation Pilot Means Your Favorite Podcasters Might Be Heard in Your Native Language

Across cultures, countries, and communities, the stories we share bring us toget...


From Heathrow to Heartstopper,' GLOW Artist Baby Queen is on a Musical Journey All Her Own

Bella Latham has long believed in her songwriting and composing abilities-even w...


Celebrate Latinx Heritage Month on Spotify With Our Estamos Ready' Campaign

Latinx culture continues to set the tone around the world, as evidenced by the rise of genres like M sica Mexicana, corridos, and urbano. September 15 through O...


Dive Into Screaming Creativity,' a New Podcast Hosted by WPP's Chief Creative Officer, Rob Reilly

What does it mean to be creative and who determines what creativity is? In Screa...


Binge Season 2 of the Chart-Topping Spotify Original Podcast, Case 63' Beginning September 26

If you can't stay away from a good mind-bending time travel paradox, look no...


Spotify Rocks the Weekend With the Festival EQUAL in Buenos Aires

Last week in Argentina, artists, podcasters, fans, and industry luminaries came together for Spotify's highly anticipated Festival EQUAL to celebrate the cr...


Spotify rockea el fin de semana con el Festival EQUAL en Buenos Aires

En Argentina la semana pasada se reunieron artistas, podcasters, fan ticos y luminarias de la industria en el muy esperado Festival EQUAL de Spotify para celebr...


Holding Apple Accountable: The Future of the Internet Economy Depends On It

Dustee Jenkins Chief Public Affairs Officer, Spotify Five years ago, I sat in a conference room with key members of our legal team, several antitrust experts a...


How Music Helps Black Queer Artists and Industry Creatives Tell Their Stories

Photo credit: Jonathan Parham In the vibrant tapestry of human expression and experience, music has always been a powerful medium for storytelling, and one wit...


Scores, Songs, and Supper Served at Our Spotify Supper in London

Good food, good conversation, and amazing music. Is there anything better? That's what was served up last week in London at our annual Spotify Supper, whic...


Spotify rinde homenaje a Shakira, embajadora global de EQUAL, con un da especial dedicado a su trayectoria musical

Como cono de la m sica latina a nivel internacional, Shakira ha brindado a sus ...


What Gen Z Listeners Are Streaming in Pakistan

Since Spotify's launch in Pakistan in 2021, the platform has become a destination for younger generations to make their voices heard by powering unprecedent...


Spotify Honors EQUAL Global Ambassador Shakira With a Special Day Dedicated to Her Enduring Legacy

Standing tall on the global stage as a beacon of Latin music and representation,...


Get Fresh Music Sunup to Sundown With daylist, Your Ever-Changing Spotify Playlist

Throughout the day, your mood changes, and so does the music you listen to. Last...


Rema's Calm Down Becomes the First Track Led by an African Artist to Join Spotify's Billions Club

Rema, one of Nigeria's fastest-rising stars, is joining the Billions Club on...


Spotify and CFDA Get New York Fashion Week Started With Its First-Ever Official Playlist

It's fashion week in New York, and to kick things off we've partnered wi...


Spotify's Soundtrack Behind The Runway Celebrates Fall Fashion Week With Inspiring Designers From New York, London, Milan, and Paris

It takes more than a little confidence to strut down a runway. It also requires ...


Spotify and American Express Get Ready for GUTS' With an Olivia Rodrigo Pop-Up in New York

From the moment Olivia Rodrigo's second album, GUTS, was announced in June, ...


Frana e o Labirinto' estreia como a primeira audiossrie com roteiro original do Spotify produzida no Brasil

Os f s do Spotify no Brasil adoram uma boa hist ria em udio com roteiro, como e...


Frana e o Labirinto' Launches as the First Brazilian-Produced Spotify Original Scripted Audio Series

Spotify fans in Brazil love a good scripted audio story, as evidenced by the pop...


Here's All the Artists, Creators, and Athletes You Can Blend with on Spotify

In 2021, Spotify took bonding over music to the next level with Blend, our shared social listening experience that combines the different tastes of friends and ...


Spotify Celebra el Pasado y el Presente de los Corridos con La Tierra del Corrido

Entre los innumerables xitos y canciones favoritas de los aficionados a la M si...


Spotify Celebrates the Past and Present of Corridos With La Tierra del Corrido'

Among the countless hits and fan favorites under the M sica Mexicana umbrella, n...


Judeline Puts Her Own Spin on Two Favorites as the First Spotify Singles From Spain

Judeline is ready to give fans new twists on La Tortura by Shakira (featuring ...


See if You've Got What It Takes To Be a Spotify Star

On Spotify's Community Support forum, users can find answers to their toughest Spotify questions. These days, we aim for 90% of new help topics to receive a...


Spotify's Sizzling 2023 Songs of Summer Are Here

We've been waiting all summer, speculating and ruminating on what hot tracks would rise to the top as the songs of the summer. And now we have our answers f...


Las canciones de verano ms hot de 2023 de Spotify estn aqu

Hemos estado esperando todo el verano, especulando y reflexionando sobre qu canciones llegar an al top como las canciones del verano. Y ahora tenemos las respu...


Spotify's Podcasting Leaders Share Their Top 6 Takeaways From Podcast Movement

As podcast listenership has grown, a global community of creators has risen to m...


Take Action Against Harassment at Concerts With Spotify and Calling All Crows

For some, attending a show means belting out your favorite lyrics alongside other screaming fans. For others, it's grooving to the beat of a funky melody. A...


Seleo Brasileira de Breaking se prepara para uma Nova Batalha de Dana

Ritmos incr veis, footwork sofisticado, dan arinos talentosos, batalhas de tirar o f lego tudo isso comp e o Breaking, uma forma de dan a que combina moviment...


Brazil's National Breaking Team Prepares for a New Dance Battle

Incredible rhythms, fancy footwork, talented dancers, heart-pumping battles-all this makes up breaking, a form of dancing that combines complex moves with styli...


bummer summer Is Spotify's New Playlist for Gen Z Listeners To Tap Into Their Feels

Lana Del Rey's Summertime Sadness stuck in your head? You're not alone...


Tech Creator iJustine Shares Her Favorite Ways To Dig Deeper Into Her Latest Obsessions

You may have noticed that we're into helping our listeners find something ne...


RADAR Artist Rene Rapp Dives Headfirst Into Her Music Career With a New Single, Album, and Tour

Fans may already know 23-year-old Rene Rapp from her theater and television car...