There’s Meaning In Every ’90s Song You’ve Heard On Cruel Summer

Photo: Courtesy of Freeform.
Spoilers are ahead. Freeform's Cruel Summer might be the best mystery on TV right now. And thanks to its period '90s setting it also has a perfectly nostalgic soundtrack for your summer playlist. Set over three years, Cruel Summer interrogates the case of a missing teenager, her shocking return, and her one-time friend who may or may not have been involved. The triple timeline means that we get to span the '90s from pop hits to R&B classics, and creepy recurring themes that represent more about the characters and their storylines than Cruel Summer's chosen era.
The soundtrack follows Jeanette (Chiara Aurelia) and Kate (Olivia Holt) through high school halls, summer malls, and far less happy settings. It's an angsty story that is matched by an equally emotional set of retro teen bangers. If you were a kid in the '90s, this playlist will likely take you right back. But this is more than aural mise-en-scene; the music propels the plot and also foreshadows the journeys of both troubled teens. It's particularly interesting, as the three different timelines have three completely different tones and temperaments: '93 is uplifting, '94 is angsty, and '95 is pure raw teen anger. 
If you've been pausing throughout Cruel Summer to try and pinpoint a given song, or just want to re-listen to your favorites before the next episode, here's an episode-by-episode guide of every song featured in the Jessica Biel-produced teen thriller.

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