The woman behind Bridgerton's major soundtrack moment

Bridgerton prequel Queen of Charlotte still dominates the streaming charts. Last week, Nielsen's streaming charts reported that the series had been watched nearly 2 billion minutes in the week of May 8, while on Spotify, the series' official playlist has racked up 1 million likes, and Still growing, it contains over 4 hours of Bridgerton tracks. Audiences around the world were captivated not only by Charlotte and King George's love story, but also by the show's soundtrack, which relied heavily on hits from superstars like Alicia Keys and Beyoncé instrumental cover.

One of the creative minds behind the score is Alexandra Patsavas, music director for Queen Charlotte: The Bridgerton Stories and senior director of creative music/production at Netflix. "There is no greater compliment than fan recognition and excitement for the music," Pasavas tells Bustle over Zoom from Los Angeles, California. "But it's a testament to the power of storytelling. The music doesn't stand on its own. The music director is creating an accompanying piece that's worth listening to."

For the past 25 years, the three-time Grammy winner and her company Chop Shop have been curating songs for your favorite movies and TV shows, from The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games to "The OC" and "Gossip Girl." While the job focused on choosing the right track to enhance the scene, Partavas was also responsible for licensing the song's copyright. Today, she manages a team of music directors at Chop Shop, including Justin Kamps, who worked on "Bridgerton."

Before finding his current career, Passavas, 55, booked clubs in Champaign, Ill., and attended the University of Illinois before coming to Los Angeles in 1990 to work in the mailroom at an agency. She then worked in the film and television division of rights management company BMI until 1994. "I didn't know music supervision existed," she said. "Once I discovered it, I was pretty sure I was going to try [it]." Her first directorial debut was for director Roger Corman, with whom she went on to make more than 50 low-profile films. He started making TV movies, then focused on TV series and founded Chop Shop in 1998.

One of Parsavas' longest collaborations was with Shonda Rhimes. Along with the "Bridgerton" franchise, Parsavas penned a number of tear-jerking songs in the early seasons of "Grey's Anatomy ," as well as the soulful Motown hit in "Scandal ." “Music is a character in her show,” she said. "In Grey's , it has a very hand-woven feel. A lot of the songs are almost used as a soundtrack to tie a lot of the scenes together," Partavas said. "Every project I do with Shondaland starts with: What is the music?"

Below, Parsavas talks Queen Charlotte 's wedding song, working with Stevie Wonder, and the Grey's Anatomy moment that changed the industry.

How was the production of Queen Charlotte different from previous seasons of Bridgerton ? What kind of research did you have to do?

Queen Charlotte is known as a strong supporter of music and the arts. We also delved into the work of [black classical musician] St. George Chevalier, so a lot of his cues were woven into the story.

We do focus on some of the composers of the era, like Haydn and Mozart, but we talked early on about [prioritizing coverage] of the women of color who wrote or performed these iconic songs, like SZA, Beyoncé and, of course, Elle Thea Keys. "I Will Always Love You" was written by Dolly Parton, but Whitney Houston wrote the song herself.

At what point in the production process did you finalize which songs you wanted to use? Because SZA’s song “Nobody Gets Me” just came out recently.

This was one of the last covers chosen. I had early access to the script and was able to really absorb the story. We had a lot of creative conversations and then a lot of music started flying back and forth. Some songs were chosen early in the process. As I always say about music supervision, you envision and imagine something from the page, and then actually being able to watch the actors, see the set design, and see how the editor carefully cuts the scene, you start to see what needs to happen, and What song should be chosen in the end. I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to [composer] Kris Bowers, who created this amazing score.

Yes, I really liked the piece he did for the wedding.

This is beyond. It's an original song he co-wrote with Tayla Parx. He watched the footage and then co-wrote, recorded and performed "I've Never Felt Like This" with Tyra. This is one of my favorites.

Alexandra Pasavas and Queen Charlotte Composer Chris PowersJerrod Harris/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

How do you immerse yourself in different types of music? Are there any genres that you’re not interested in?

To enjoy music supervision, you have to be tempted by all genres. One of the best parts of this job is that you're always exploring. When we think about "Bridgerton," for example, what's really concerned about is how the music aligns with the costumes, the production design, and the cast, which is reflective of the era but also contemporary, like Shonda Like Shonda Rhimes did. Those covers of iconic pop songs seemed to make sense. The audience won’t necessarily hear the lyrics, but will recognize the song.

What will your Spotify Wrapped look like at the end of the year?

Looks like someone who has trouble concentrating. Everywhere.

What do you like to listen to when you’re not doing research?

I love Dusty Springfield, Motown, and of course Beyoncé. I found that during the pandemic I gravitated towards things I already liked, and then now that we're all back to freedom it's made me expand my listening to new things again.

After being a music director for so many years, was there a moment when you felt you had succeeded?

No, I don't think this is a moment. I think it’s the realization of the various projects that I’ve had the opportunity to work on. Stevie Wonder ended up writing an original song for the Scandal finale, and I was lucky enough to get to spend some of those moments with artists like Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, and Snow Patrol.

Speaking of Snow Patrol, 2006's Grey's helped propel the band and "Chasing Cars" into the mainstream .

They were definitely excited to be a part of the show. It’s so funny, “Car Chase” isn’t a single; This is a deeper track on the album. It was a ballad, and radio in those years was not dominated by ballads. The pace is faster. I remember the pivot. After [seeing] the fan base for the song, [the record label] made the change [releasing the ballad as a single]. This is the most valuable thing.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.