The show, produced by Shonda Rhimes, is based on Julia Quinn’s regency romance novels. Season 1 is the love story of the first book in the series, The Duke and I, which charts the romance between Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page).
Since it’s a romance adaptation, it’s no surprise that Bridgerton has a lot of sex scenes. A whole bunch. There’s literally a sex montage to set to an orchestral version of Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams.”
One of the show’s pivotal — and most controversial — moments is one of these sex scenes and occurs in Episode 6, when (spoiler!) Daphne and Simon are getting hot and heavy and she prevents him from pulling out in an attempt to conceive a child, despite his desire not to become a father.
As many viewers pointed out, this is an act of marital rape that isn’t fully addressed in the rest of the show (Vox published a great breakdown and analysis of the scene, if you’d like to read more about this).
Perhaps to signify that there’s something different in this particular sexual encounter between the Duke and Duchess of Hastings, this particular scene is the only part of Bridgerton‘s soundtrack that features a song with lyrics: “The End” by JPOLND.
Since the show’s premiere on Dec. 25, “The End” has been streamed more than 1 million times on Spotify (JPOLND’s second most popular song has fewer than 19,000 streams). For weeks, it’s also been at the top of Shazam’s US discovery chart, which tracks the most popular songs that the app’s users are trying to identify.
This is a particularly impressive statistic because “The End” has not been featured in the official Netflix Spotify playlist of the show’s soundtrack and is not included in the majority of published lists of music from the TV show.
You have to look for it.
BuzzFeed News talked with Jessica Vaughn, the artist behind JPOLND and president of Head Bitch Music, about how her song came to be used in the blockbuster series.
“I wrote the song not thinking about film/TV, but about an ex of mine,” Vaughn told BuzzFeed News. “Just exploring the idea of If I’m going down – so are you. I think I was a bottle of Chardonnay deep with my buddy Jeff Plate just hanging out and having fun.”
Another friend produced the song, but Vaughn said that “it just kind of sat on my iTunes to die” until her music representative pitched the song to the Bridgerton team.
“A music supervisor will send over a brief or that they’re looking for music for a show/film/project. The music rep will send a playlist of material and hopefully (if all goes well) one of their songs is chosen. They then license the music for the show,” she explained.
Vaughn said that she was given a description of the scene after her song had been licensed but had to wait until the show’s premiere to see how her music was used.
“I decided to release [“The End”] the day the show came out, because I don’t think anyone would have found it otherwise,” she said. “It wasn’t a requirement, but I figured… why not give the song a life?”
JPOLND, which stands for “Jessica Poland,” Vaughn’s maiden name, is one of a her many artistic projects. In her 16-year career, she has made music under the names Charlotte Sometimes, JPOLND, LACES, Rvrside, Jessy Jones, and more than 20 others. “I’ve always thought of myself as a songwriter first – so I love creating under different names so I can explore all the genres I love,” she told BuzzFeed News.
Bridgerton isn’t the first time Vaughn’s work has been featured on television shows. She has composed music specifically for the cartoons Jem & the Holograms, Baby Alive, Littlest Pet Shop, and Equestria Girls, while songs she’s written have appeared in shows on Fox, NBC, the CW, ABC, and MTV, along with many others.
“I love the role music plays in TV, because alongside the visual it really sticks with you and takes on new meanings,” she said.
Even with all these monikers, “The End” is her biggest song to date on Spotify. Her next most-popular song — “How I Could Just Kill a Man” from her 2008 album Charlotte Sometimes album Waves And The Both of Us — has just over 400,000 streams. Most of her other songs have listen counts in the 10 thousands.
“The End” is gaining traction on other streaming platforms as well. On Jan. 15, Tidal added the song to its Viral Hits playlist.
“It has been completely unexpected and very flattering,” Vaughn said of her new song’s popularity. “I love when others can connect with a piece of music.”