I’m going to let you in on one of my best secrets for finding music. Are you ready?
I watch a lot of television. And I mean, a. lot. of television.
Some people think you can just throw a bunch of top 40 songs into a show, and as long as the mood is right (acoustic-y ballad for sad moments, upbeat pop-y jams for happy moments, blahdeblah) you can call it a day. But the art of carefully choosing songs to correspond with pivotal moments on a television show is just that – an art.
And it’s an under-appreciated one at that. Some of the most memorable moments on television for me have stayed memorable because of brilliant music supervisors who are able to choose a song that not just accompanies the action, but propels it forward.
Below are my top musical moments from television in recent memory. Consider this part 1 – a full list would take me years to compile on account of all the television I watch.
WARNING: This list contains some spoilers. If you plan to watch Sons of Anarchy, or catch up on re-runs of One Tree Hill, I’d hold off on reading this until you’ve at least finished Season 1.
#1. Forever Young by Audra Mae :: Sons of Anarchy
Season 1, Episode 12 “The Sleep of Babies” :: When Donna dies
Most people already know this song, but thanks to the brilliance that is Michelle Kuznetsky & Bob Thiele Jr. (music supervisors for SOA), it feels like a completely new song. This is perhaps one of the saddest moments on the show, and the scene is so beautifully done thanks to this musical theme. It’s a sad ode to Donna’s passing, while also tying together so many of the themes in the story lines of other characters. What is most brilliant about this is that, while the original track has a country/acoustic guitar accompaniment, it is done completely acappella on the show. If you don’t bawl your eyes out for this whole scene, you have no soul.
#2. Dare You to Move by Switchfoot :: One Tree Hill
Season 1, Episode 8 “The Search for Something More” :: When Nathan finally kisses Haley
I know what you’re thinking, but trust me on this. This moment from Season 1 of OTH has been building since episode 1, and music supervisor Lindsay Wolfington chose the perfect song to capture that buildup. It seems rare for a song to build up anticipation so quickly in the first verse, and payoff so nicely as it enters the chorus. But that is exactly was Switchfoot does in this track, and it is a victory for the high school girl in all of us.
#3. UH by Fujiya & Miyagi :: Breaking Bad
Season 1, Episode 5 “Gray Matter” :: When Jesse cooks Meth with Badger in the RV
Music supervisor Thomas Golubic uses music in such an interesting way in this series. The show overall is very serious and very intense, and the music is generally no exception. The only relief you get from it often comes from Jesse’s character, especially early on in the series. The show focuses much of it’s commentary on the dichotomy between good and evil – between right and wrong. The series truly shines when it mirrors this comparison with juxtaposing serious moments and light-heartedness. Sure, they’re cooking crystal meth, but they are doing it in an RV and THIS song is playing. Perfect.
#4. I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt :: CSI
Season 12, Episode 10 “Genetic Disorder” :: When Dr. Robbins learns his wife did not have an affair with their murder victim
I should preface this by saying, this may be my favorite song of all time. Don’t quote me on that, but if I had a gun to my head and had to choose, this would be it. So when I was watching this rerun of CSI, my heart leapt when this song came on. Dr. Robbins has just learned that his wife is not guilty of having an affair with their murder victim, who was found in their bed. This song could not be more perfect for these two, a long married couple who spent the episode dealing with the repercussions of suspecting a spouse of cheating – repercussions that happen whether one is guilty or not.
#5. Dancing On My Own by Robyn :: Girls
Season 1, Episode 3 “All Adventurous Women Do” :: When Hannah and Marnie dance in their apartment
I love this show, I love this show, I love this show. I’m so tired of all the criticism. When HBO released Entourage, a show about a group of white guys and the problems that come from being famous, did people whine about it’s lack of diversity? Did people complain that it was about a privileged bunch of whiners? Um, NO, they didn’t. But as soon as you change that formula to include women instead of men, people lose their shit. I watch SOA, but I’m not a biker. I watch Breaking Bad, but I don’t cook meth. Just because you’re not a white 25 year old girl does not mean you can’t appreciate this show. ANYWAY, this moment for me captures the essence of the 20-something female experience. Dance away, Lena Dunham, I’m picking up what you’re putting down.
Honorable Mention: Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap :: The O.C.
Season 2, Episode 24 “The Dearly Beloved” :: When Marissa shoots Trey
Yes, the SNL parody of this is hilarious. I admittedly was not a religious follower of the show, but this song just kills me. Imogen Heap is so, so weird. But lyrically this song is so beautiful, and so perfect for this moment. Music manager Joe Fischer gets points in my book for this, because this show is a perfect example of one that could’ve just been a sampling ground for future top 40 music. Instead, he chose a song that may have been a bit on the overdramatic side, but at least it has some depth – come on people, he works on a nighttime soap opera.
Categories: Top 5s