2020s

Soundtracks of Television: ‘The Staircase’

The Staircase Soundtrack - Every Song in the HBO Max Miniseries

The Staircase soundtrack includes music by The Mills Brothers, the Bee Gees and Warren Zevon. This info article contains spoilers for Antonio Campos and Maggie Cohn’s 2022 HBO Max miniseries. Visit the Soundtracks of Television section for more Vague Visages music guides.

In The Staircase, Colin Firth stars as a philandering husband named Michael Peterson. Toni Collette co-stars as Kathleen Peterson, the central figure/victim in a bizarre murder investigation. The storyline examines Michael’s personal life and the dark truth about his past in Germany. Composers Danny Bensi (Ozark) and Saunder Jurriaans (Ozark) scored the HBO Max miniseries, which includes nearly 30 needle-drop tracks during the first three episodes. Here’s every song in The Staircase.

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The Staircase Soundtrack: Every Song in Episode 1 “911”

The Staircase Soundtrack on HBO Max - Every Song in Episode 1

  • The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Sinéad O’Connor (00:10): The Staircase soundtrack song scores a flashback sequence. Kathleen pops a bottle of champagne. She fills the glasses of Margaret (Sophie Turner) and Caitlin (Olivia DeJonge).
  • “You Are the Woman” by Firefall (00:28): Mike plays a compact disc. He helps his wife with dinner. Kathleen guzzles a glass of wine.
  • “Baby, Bunny (Sugar, Honey)” by Little Jerry Williams (00:35): The music scores a diner sequence. Mike watches David Rudolf (Michael Stuhlbarg) eat. Bill (Tim Guinee) sits by his brother.
  • “You Always Hurt the One You Love” by The Mills Brothers (00:46): Lori (Maria Dizzia) speaks with Kathleen during a bedroom sequence. She sings The Staircase soundtrack song. The vocal plays over a dark transition scene.
  • “More Than Yesterday” by Spiral Staircase (00:47): An “Empty Nest” party begins on September 10, 2011. Kathleen guzzles a glass of white wine. She pour another as Michael tells a story to partygoers.
  • “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by The Mills Brothers (00:51): The music plays during a memorial scene. Michael arrives with Bill and Todd (Patrick Schwarzenegger). The characters approach Kathleen’s coffin as Clayton (Dane DeHaan) stands.
  • “You Always Hurt the One You Love” by The Mills Brothers (01:05:00): The Staircase soundtrack song accompanies the end credits.

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The Staircase Soundtrack: Every Song in Episode 2 “Chiroptera”

The Staircase Soundtrack on HBO Max - Every Song in Episode 2

  • A Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives (00:05): The opening sequence takes place on Christmas Day 2001. Music plays from within the Peterson home. Martha (Odessa Young) grabs four glasses in the kitchen.
  • “Hooked On Santa Claus: Jingle Bells/Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer/Here Comes Santa Claus” by Gene Autry & Bing Crosby & Les Paul & Doris Day (00:09): Michael makes a phone call from the Durham County Jail. The Staircase soundtrack song plays at the Peterson residence. Mark (Kevin Sizemore) stokes a fire with a blow poke.
  • “Out of the Blue” by Debbie Gibson (00:16): Kathleen stands in her office. The music continues during a transition sequence. Michael works out and gazes at a man.

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The Staircase Soundtrack: Every Song in Episode 3 “The Great Dissembler”

The Staircase Soundtrack on HBO Max - Every Song in Episode 3

  • Ride on Time” by Black Box (00:15): The track scores a night club sequence. Tom Maher (Justice Leak) receives a tip involving Dennis Rowe.
  • “Concerto N°5 En La Mineur: Allegro Ma Non Molto, Falk. 45” by Brigitte Haudebourg & Orchestre Pro Arte & Kurt Redel (00:17): Kathleen walks up a staircase. She arrives at a bedroom door. The Staircase soundtrack song fades as Michael introduces Kathleen to a masseuse.
  • “I Started a Joke” by Bee Gees (00:25): Michael plays a compact disc. Jim (Cullen Moss) speaks with Dennis at the local police station. Michael works out as a man conducts a blood test experiment with a blow poke.
  • “Paisiello: Il Barbiere Di Siviglia: The Barber Of Seville (Act I: Cavatina: Saper Bramate: Count Almaviva, Rosina)” by Jozsef Gregor & Krisztina Laki & Denes Gulyas & Hungarian State Orchestra & Adam Fischer (00:33): Michael enters the back room of a video store. A male patron pleasures himself. Michael puts his hand down the man’s pants as The Staircase soundtrack song continues.
  • “Here Without You” by 3 Doors Down (00:45): The music plays during a bar sequence. Todd hangs out with a friend. The music changes as the characters snort cocaine in a bathroom stall.
  • “Idomeneo Re Di Creta, K. 366: Act II Scene 4: March” by Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra (01:01:00): Margaret and Martha sign a legal document for Michael. The orchestral music sets in during an exterior court sequence. Michael enters an elevator.
  • “Lawyers, Guns and Money” by Warren Zevon (01:04:00): The Staircase soundtrack song scores the end credits.

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The Staircase Soundtrack: Every Song in Episode 4 “Common Sense”

The Staircase Soundtrack on HBO Max - Every Song in Episode 4

  • “Mandatory Suicide” by Slayer (00:37): Clayton (Dane DeHaan) works on a vehicle. The song plays as the car engine sputters. Clayton laughs and spots a missing blow poke.

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The Staircase Soundtrack: Every Song in Episode 5 “The Beating Heart”

The Staircase Soundtrack on HBO Max - Every Song in Episode 5

  • “Good Guys and Bad Guys” by Camper Van Beethoven (00:10): Payton (Sailor Larocque) makes pasta. Martha arrives and reveals that she just quit her job. The Staircase soundtrack song plays from within the residence.
  • “Vindicated” by Dashboard Confessional (00:20): Bill speaks with David on the phone. Clayton and Todd move furniture. They sit down and talk.
  • “Whenever, Wherever” by Shakira (00:25): Kathleen works out at a gym. The music plays through a stereo system. Kathleen reunites with Carol (Cynthia Barrett).
  • “Slow Motion” by Juvenile feat. Soulja Slim (00:41): Todd grabs a bottle of alcohol and plays a song. He grooves to the 2003 hip-hop track. Todd talks with friends in a Cabo vacation home.

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The Staircase airs weekly on HBO Max. New episodes premiere every Thursday through June 9, 2022. This article about the The Staircase soundtrack will be updated as the series progresses.

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.