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Music Monday: The Leftovers and the End of the World

29 May

There is no other show that has the ability to make me tear up at the sound of a few bars of music quite as easily as The Leftovers. Max Richter’s score is the number cause of my best Claire Danes chin quiver impression and this has been out in full force during this last season.

This isn’t to take away from the acting or the writing as I was a full ugly crying mess before “Dona Nobis Pacem 1” kicked in during the impromptu therapy session between Laurie and Nora in last week’s episode “Certified,” but there are few tracks that can conjure this kind of reaction later on when the music has been separated from the scene. In fact the only other track I can think of that has done this recently is The Gloaming’s “Allistrum’s March” from Fleabag.One of the things the score does best on The Leftovers is reach deep into your soul while also recalling previous scenes that have used these pieces of music; a cue to remember. Some of these are themes are for certain characters or emphasizing aspects such as Kevin’s internal struggle. Or in the case of every time Kevin crosses over to the other side the use of Verdi’s “Va, pensiero” signals the bizarro world aspects and the mission at hand.Blending contemporary with classic and genres across the board could become incoherent, but like a lot of things that makes The Leftovers so special the variety of song choices works because you don’t know what you’re going to get next. It might be trampolining to the Wu-Tang Clan or A-ha’s “Take on Me” becoming a poignant reminder of all that has been lost and might be found. Or it could be Max Richter’s score giving your tear ducts a cathartic workout.

Season 3 also saw a shift in how the opening credits music has operated with a song of the week instead of the typical one song. “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” dove back into the well using the original theme from season 1 causing me to burst out laughing quickly followed by tears. Aka The Leftovers way; the absurdity levels of aspects like penis scanners coupled with Justin Theroux’s ability to crush me with his eyebrow emotions was off the scale this week.  Instead of using the score during the dramatic double Kevin surgery as blood spattered all over the tailored to perfection white suit – so much boot envy too – music supervisor Liza Richardson opted for The Beach Boys classic “God Only Knows.” In an interview with Alan Sepinwall, Richardson talks about using a song that has connotations with another show (in this case Big Love) and ultimately this was a showrunner decision:

“I find that my show runners in general don’t usually care about that. Whenever I see something scripted or they request a song, I always look it up to see where it’s been used before. I would rather a song have sort of a fresh use, so I always warn them and say, “Oh this has been used in this, this, this, and this. Are you sure you want to go there?” I find that usually they don’t care. It doesn’t matter. There’s so much TV out there, everybody has a unique experience of it.”

It is a fascinating interview and includes how they landed on which Wu-Tang Clan track to use, the Kevin karaoke moment and what songs missed the cut for one reason or another.Bringing me to the final credits track choice from the penultimate episode of The Leftovers and this is a strength of many HBO shows. It is also one I have discussed on numerous occasions in relation to why this final song of an episode is so important.

Here it plays out after Kevin Sr. has asked the most rom-com movie question of them all – “Now what?” – and there is a definite leaning into these romantic elements as we hit the final stretch. The opening scene of “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” flashes back to when things between Kevin and Nora were good; they’re sharing a candle lit bubble bath while talking about what they would like to happen to their remains after they die.

Not the most romantic conversation per se, but there is tenderness, intimacy and dark humor here that gives weight to why Kevin and Nora are the OTP of The Leftovers world. Damon Lindelof has described this show as a love story with these two characters at its heart and my shipper loving heart is hoping they find their way back to each other. Even if the final scene of the season 3 premiere suggests something far bleaker.

Kevin spends his time chasing Nora or the idea of her at least when he is in this alt-universe; she is the image that keeps flashing up and there’s even the untitled romance novel he has written that concludes he is to blame for the end of their relationship. Is this “The Book of Nora” that the title of the finale alludes to? He’s removed one heart in another world, but does this mean he can save himself, his relationship and the small circle of broken souls who have put so much faith in him?

The grand question of “Now what?” for Kevin Sr. has nothing to do with his son’s ex, but as the strains of Patty Duke’s “The End of the World” plays over this rooftop chat it is all I can think about.

Everything looks the same, but the internal struggle continues.

With just one episode left can Kevin et al find some semblance of peace?

Bonus Leftovers content via Instagram and director/producer Mimi Leder shared a couple of delights.

Mind bending Spectacular!!!

A post shared by Mimi Leder (@mimi.leder) on

Alt-American Gothic

The most BRILLIANT cast. EVER!!!

A post shared by Mimi Leder (@mimi.leder) on

The second time I’ve used this in a week – much to my dismay – but #SquadGoals. And yes I am coveting Carrie Coon’s striped top, because of course.

And for all your Leftovers season 3 playlist needs:

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Music Monday: A Hazy Shade of Winter on Stranger Things

18 Jul

Stranger Things is here for all your coming of age movie nostalgia needs and the new 8-part Netflix series delivers on the early 80s front on a variety of levels. The music is one thing that instantly stands out blending a tension building synth score with a variety of standout songs including The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” threading throughout. Stranger ThingsOne standout moment comes at the end of the second episode when we smash to the credits just as the guitar kicks in on The Bangle’s version of the classic Simon & Garfunkel track “A Hazy Shade of Winter.” Simon & Garfunkel have a special place in my heart and I have been listening to them for as long as I can remember – they were a staple cassette choice in car journeys – and I am always thrilled to hear one of their tracks getting used; cover version or original.

Even though you will want to click straight on the next episode (because whoa that ending) and Netflix might even autoplay (as it rudely tried to do with me) take a moment to enjoy this song choice. Or click on the video below.

Music Monday: The Game of Thrones Season 6 Finale Edition

28 Jun

The Game of Thrones season 6 finale delivered on every front finally confirming a long held theory about a certain character’s parentage, resolving conflicts, setting up new ones and leaving us in a place clamoring for more episodes. Some spoilers ahead.

Plus this piece of music is so good we’re doing Music Monday on a Tuesday.

Cersei’s big plan paid off while leaving a trail of the dead and this opening extended sequence is one of the best that Game of Thrones has ever done ratcheting up the tension at every turn. Part of this was down to Ramin Djawadi’s score which started off sounding like a less melancholy version of the Leftovers repeated piano themes. Bringing in cellos and then the super dramatic sounding organ as the pieces fall into place is next level score genius and it has been pretty much been on repeat for most of yesterday and this morning. It makes typing feel all the more urgent.

Music Monday: Orange is the New Black and Sharon Van Etten’s “You Know Me Well”

20 Jun

Happy Monday or not depending on where you are in your Orange is the New Black watch. I’m going to keep things on the spoiler free side as much as possible and as with previous seasons OITNB is another in contention for “Best Closing Creditssong choices. I’ve talked at length about songs that end an episode and how important this selection can be when dictating the emotional stakes of the action it plays over or that has preceded it.

The tone can be set in this moment and can leave you feeling uplifted, but that’s not what we’re doing this morning. Sorry.

This Music Monday selection is in a devastating vein harking back to the equally heartbreaking and amazing Dum Dum Girls “Coming Down” from season 3 and Sharon Van Etten’s “You Know Me Well” closes out episode 6. This is when the season really kicks into gear; bringing together old threads with the overall themes of this season. Themes which go deeper and darker than previous years and I don’t want to say too much more other than whoa this is an A+ pick.

Be right back, just gonna continue sobbing all over my keyboard thanks to this song/show.

Music Monday: Mixed Emotions and the Togetherness End Credits

4 Apr

The end is near for Togetherness and there is just enough time for a couple more excellent end credit song choices to accompany scenes of renewed friendships and broken marriages. End credit music is one of my soundtrack obsessions and HBO half-hours rate highly on the excellent song choice meter with Girls and Looking – another two season affair *sob* – performing well on this front. You’re the Worst is another title contender for best closing music and there is something special about a show which can end an episode with the perfect song that sums up the emotions of what we have just watched.TogethernessLast year Togetherness introduced me to Lily & Madeleine – I have been listening to them non-stop since including earlier today – and the music department has a fondness for excellent lady artists and this tradition continued this week with Laura Marling and the melancholy “Walk Alone.”

I’m feeling pretty sad that Togetherness only has one more episode to go and as a end credits song bonus I’m going to leave you with the much more upbeat “My Mistakes” by Eleanor Friedberger from last week’s episode “Geri-ina” and a song I have danced around my kitchen to on numerous occasions.

No pressure guys, but I have high expectations for next week’s series finale and the final final song choice.

 

Music Monday – Girls Season 5 Closing Credits Playlist

14 Mar

For any Music Monday regulars you will know already how much I appreciate the variety of end credit music on shows like GirlsYou’re the Worst (which took the Best of 2015 crown) and TogethernessMad Men crushed end credit music selections week in week out and Orange is the New BlackDeutschland 83 and The Leftovers are also strong contenders in this field. With this in mind and for this season Girls instead of producing a playlist at the end of the season I will be adding to the closing credits playlist on weekly basis.

Starting on episode 4 makes it an EP of sorts and one of my favorite things about the music on Girls is that even if the episode has been kinda shitty for the characters there tends to be a hopeful edge to the song choices. The last few moments of “Old Loves” showcases the after of the bad/awkward sex encounters we have just witnessed with Elijah wondering around Dill’s fancy apartment in his underwear and Jessa watches a sleeping Adam before laying her head down on his bare chest. Hannah and Fran are dealing with non-sex related issues this week and this is the most fractured environment.Girls season 5Thankfully we are spared Desi and Marnie post-coital bliss or tears or whatever because if Desi can’t even get his top off properly I’m not sure I want to see that. The song that plays over these moments and the credits is “iT” by Christine and the Queens.Girls season 5There is a whole lot of coming together in “Old Loves” but as the title suggests there is a lot from the past bubbling beneath the surface and like those old celebrity couples has time run its course on a friendship like Hannah and Jessa’s? The argument in the rice pudding place (which I really want to go to because I love rice pudding) would suggest this and perhaps this is Jessa’s way of self sabotaging her friendship because of Adam. And also because Hannah and Jessa have always had this contentious thing that doesn’t quite match up with the best in best friends.

PS I love Old Loves and now I share this with Marnie I’m not entirely sure how I feel because as Abbi pointed out in the Broad City season 3 premiere with Charlotte from SATC – who Marnie clearly is the closest equivalent of* – even if you can identify that way you’re reluctant to admit it as she’s really annoying at times. I also have love/hate feelings towards her silver pants and they are the perfect clothing representation of my relationship with Marnie.  

*Updated because it just occurred to me that her apartment/wall situation made me think of Aidan renovating Carrie’s apartment and there is also something Carrie about Marnie. Aidan is no Desi thankfully. 

Here is the start of the Girls season 5 closing credits playlist.

 

Check back every week as the playlist gets longer and becomes album length.

Update! The “Life on Mars” AURORA performed cover of the incredible David Bowie song is not available on Spotify (it is on iTunes) so instead I have opted to switch it out for my favorite non-Bowie version of this song. This one comes from another soundtrack (The Life Aquatic) with Seu Jorge singing this track. The original version also appears on this soundtrack.

Best of TV 2015: The Music Monday Edition – You’re the Worst

14 Dec

Costumes are not the only thing we are celebrating from this year in television and there have been plenty of incredible music infused moments. A lot of these have come in the final minutes of an episode with a song nailing the emotional pitch of a last scene. One such striking track use comes in the third episode of Orange is the New Black with the Dum Dum Girls “Coming Down” playing over one character’s devastating descent; further adding to the despair felt by these character and the glassy eye reaction from me.

HBO shows tend to be experts at the end credit music choices with GirlsLookingTogetherness and The Leftovers (Simon & Garfunkel featured here as well as in hotel karaoke) delivering fantastic selections. This includes both songs I already hold close to me – “This is the Day” by The The – and ones I had never heard before like Lily & Madeleine; Spotify tells me they are one of my most listened to bands this year and that is all because of Togetherness. There is also my favorite end credits sing along moment that came courtesy of Mad Men and the use of “Space Oddity.”

There is one show that consistently had me reaching for the rewind button and my phone to Shazam the end track week in, week out and that is You’re the Worst. Sometimes it would be after I stopped laughing, but more often than not I had to wait to stop crying and uncurl myself from the ball I found myself in. Yep this season has still been hilarious, but it also did some incredible things on an entirely different emotional level and quite often these came in the closing moments.
You're the WorstThe first indicator that all is not well comes at the end of episode 4 as Gretchen drives off in the night to destinations unknown (at this point), but the manner in which she does it and Torres’ “New Skin” point to something much bigger. At the time I referred to it as a gut punch of a moment and it still remains this way; knowing where Gretchen was going only adds to this sentiment and it is one of the most emotionally affecting scenes on television this year.

When we discover where Gretchen has been going – to cry in her car while playing Snake – and Jimmy responds with relief that she’s not cheating on him the song by Still Corners is a dreamy like affair as he walks away smiling and she returns to sobbing. It is somewhat emotionally surreal and wouldn’t sound out of place on a Sofia Coppola soundtrack.

By episode 9 Gretchen’s depression has hit new levels and Jimmy is so oblivious to her Claire Danes level of scrunched up face despair his dialogue gets slowly muffled as the music gets louder; like an alternate less murdery take on Simon & Garfunkel’s “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night.” What about when Jimmy stays? In between my sobs which mirror Gretchen’s and then my laughter that immediately follows Lindsay’s utterance of “farts” this Siskiyou track feels like a joyous warm blanket.

Sadly there is no “New Phone Who Dis?” on either Spotify or the end credits, but this is also one of my TV music highlights of the year. I am also waiting for the perfect time to respond to a text with this line.

So thank you You’re the Worst for all the new bands you have introduced me to and for ending each episode in ways which deliver such an emotional response. I’m sure regular TV Ate My Wardrobe readers will know how much I relish a good misty eye moment.

And for your listening enjoyment here is a complete playlist of the You’re the Worst season 2 end credits music.

 

Stay tuned for more Best of 2015 posts!

Music Monday: Homeward Bound, Family and the Season Finale of The Leftovers

7 Dec

Justin Theroux is good at many things – no one quite does despair and bewilderment quite like him – plus he is super good looking to boot, but one thing he is not so hot at is singing. This we discovered in his rendition of “Homeward Bound” as he buys his freedom from the hotel limbo nightmare (Part II) in The Leftover’s season 2 finale and the episode benefits from his shaky and far from perfect vocal.

The Leftovers 2.10 KevinWhen Kevin wakes up in that same bathtub and is faced with the same selection of clothes he opts for the uniform he once wore. His mission isn’t to rid himself of Patti this time; instead he needs to find his way back and we don’t have a whole episode to complete this task. Instead things take an even more surreal turn when he gets told that all he needs to do is sing for his freedom like a twisted version of a reality competition. Luckily it isn’t based on how good Kevin is and he crushes the song on a deeper level than talent. Also I get how hard it is to sing along to Simon & Garfunkel because a) I am a terrible singer and b) Simon & Garfunkel are one of my go to writing/reading music choices and I tend to enthusiastically join in at random points.

Instead what this song allows Kevin to do is see flickers of his past from the cigarettes he smokes (being the only thing he shares with the GR), to the issue of National Geographic his father was intent on him reading and then to the images of family when all was not well in “The Garveys at Their Best” prior to the sudden departure (with the lyrics “I’ll play the game and pretend”) and ending on Nora’s smiling face when they decided to really make a go of it at the start of this season. These last two are the most important because they focus on the one thing Kevin realizes he desperately needs and that is family. Patti wanted to destroy the idea of family because the only ones she knew had marginalized her and treated her like shit, but now Patti is gone and Meg has a different opinion on the matter as she tells Tommy that “Family is everything.”

The leftovers 2.10 TommyThe latter helps Tommy with his journey and thereby becomes part of the striking final motif joining the rest of his family at the Garvey/Durst residence while chaos reigns outside. Everyone is searching for something to make them feel okay and while some are better at pretending (see Michael’s story about the truth behind the bathtub incident) Tommy has been bouncing from one ideology to another finding temporary solace. Nothing has stuck, but seeing Nora and Lily in danger on the bridge connects both his pre-departure life and the one which started his journey on looking for a broader meaning in this fucked up world. Tommy has never met Nora before, but he played a vital part in Nora’s decision to stay when he left Christine and Holy Wayne’s baby on his dad’s porch and she was the one who found her. Lily gave hope and the chance for these broken people to connect.

In the second episode this season Kevin couldn’t quite understand why Nora spent such a vast sum on money on a house she had never seen and Jill was the one who had to point out the obvious – she did it to feel safe. When Tommy bundles Nora and Lily into the Airstream he tells her she is okay and they are safe. Everything she has wanted to feel since October 14, four years ago.

The Leftovers 2.10 NoraBabies aren’t band-aids (and now I’m singing a weird version of “Bad Blood”) and one of the questions which plagued Kevin this season (mostly from Patti, sometimes from Jill) was whether he really loves Nora and Lily or if they are just an attempt to cover up the chaos. Ever since Holy Wayne hugged Nora she has been full steam ahead on the ‘everything is good’ train and Kevin’s Patti revelation coupled with the ‘lens’ theory really shook this whole idea prompting her to flee the house. It’s why she reacted so violently to the radio discussion about the departure and moving on, but she also has her faith renewed in her choices by how panicked/devastated she is when Lily is snatched from her arms. The image of Lily lying unprotected on the bridge is where my stress levels went through the roof as was Nora’s decision to lie down and protect her with her body as the crowd continued to surge forward. But Lily is more than just a concept in helping Nora move on and this confirms just how important she is.

The same can be said for Kevin and while he has never wavered from his position of loving his family this rendition of “Homeward Bound” is like the weirdest test of putting his money where his mouth is. It is an ordeal of a completely different kind to the challenges he has previously faced and he nails it. The tight close ups on his face captures the intense emotions of the song and what it means to Kevin; it’s not just the far from perfect singing which shows a lack of vanity in this performance as there is also snot dripping from his nose. Justin Theroux continues his spectacular portrayal of Kevin’s desperation and desire to be with his family again as his voice cracks on certain words.

The Leftovers 2.10 Kevin singingIt turns out that “Homeward Bound” wasn’t the first choice of song for Kevin to sing as Damon Lindelof tells Alan Sepinwall in this excellent interview that Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” was the original intended track (it is still on the wheel). They couldn’t get the rights and so it fell to Simon & Garfunkel and I agree with Lindelof that this is a better choice. I also love that Justin Theroux pointed out that he can’t sing and still went with it.

Despite losing a fuck tonne of blood (an official measurement) Kevin does indeed make it home and I’m not even going to question the logistics here – maybe there are miracles in Miracle – and his place is far from empty (as John fears his house will be). Panning around the darkened room with the strains of the Leftovers signature theme we first see those he had told to stay (Jill and Laurie), Matt and the now wide awake Mary, followed by Tommy holding Lily still dressed in his all GR white and finally Nora entering the room illuminated by a candle. Kevin has found his way home in all senses of the word. And as with the first season finale we are left with Nora saying the final line of dialogue and a repeated sense of hope even as everything burns up the street.

It is unclear whether The Leftovers will get a third season pickup, but I am so not ready to be done with this crazy fucked up world. Especially if next season has some kind of version of all these characters living under one roof as things sure could get uncomfortable fast. But first Kevin should probably go see a doctor about that hole in his chest.

And for your listening pleasure here is the Simon & Garfunkel version of “Homeward Bound” and sadly HBO has yet to put up the Kevin version.

Midweek Music: Delivering a Gut Punch on You’re the Worst

1 Oct

Music posts tend to be a Monday thing here at TV Ate My Wardrobe, but the choice of closing credits song on this week’s You’re the Worst was far too good and devastating to wait until next week.

Only read on if you have seen “All About That Paper” because we will be discussing those all important final confusing moments.

Okay, everyone prepared? Last warning.

Gretchen You're the Worst 2.04So where the fuck is Gretchen going in the middle of the night? She scoops up heels, her trusty leather jacket, pants and a burner phone and all while making as little noise as possible so she doesn’t wake a sleeping Jimmy; going so far as starting her car once she has rolled it down the hill. Gretchen clearly doesn’t want him to know where she is going or that she has even gone and even though this is the first time we see her doing this it doesn’t mean this is the first time she has done it.

My first thought is that she’s heading to the sleazy directors house from last season as he has been her first port of call when hitting self destruct in the past and everything is becoming too comfortable despite all their attempts to not become “disgusting normals” or “sweater people.”

This scene is definitely not played for laughs and while You’re the Worst is one of the funniest shows on TV at its core it deals with some pretty profound shit in how we mask pain and fear when it comes to relationships. Lindsay’s attempts to win Paul back are ridiculous and disturbing, but deep down as she explained last week she doesn’t believe she is a good person and this is how she attempts to conceal her self-loathing.

Gretchen spends the episode in what appears to be a good place; she’s comfortable with sending Jimmy text updates about her day (she’s not ‘checking in’) and then meeting up with him for a post work drink. Not to get wasted and end up passed out in some random place, but just a casual couple. And it seems like this where we’re going to leave them this week, until we cut to their bedroom in the middle of the night and the opening bars of “New Skin” by Torres kick in alerting us that SOMETHING IS UP. This song choice is perfect in its growing restlessness and putting us in a position of uncertainty as Gretchen drives away to a destination unknown.

Thanks You’re the Worst for this singer intro and for setting up such a spectacular headfuck.

Music Monday: Matt Bomer’s “Untitled (How Does it Feel)” from Magic Mike XXL

6 Jul

Let’s start the week with a treat for the ears and Matt Bomer’s version of D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does it Feel)” from Magic Mike XXL. Both this final solo and his cover of “Heaven” are on the Magic Mike XXL soundtrack and while I will probably have “Pony” stuck in my head forever (which is fine) these are two of the standout musical moments from the film.

Magic Mike XXL Matt BomerYou will have to go watch Magic Mike XXL to see the actual performance (and it is well worth it) and here is an accurate representation of my face throughout:

[Source]

Just look at how great his all black outfit with a hint of sparkle is.

This isn’t the first time Bomer has sung on screen; he played Blaine’s brother on Glee and even though I haven’t seen the whole episode I did buy their version of Somebody That I Used to Know. And yes I do sing along in an enthusiastic (read terrible) manner whenever it comes on my shuffle. Plus there is this super adorable singing moment from the season 1 White Collar gag reel.

Matt Bomer discussed the reason why he ended up singing in the sequel on his recent Late Night with Seth Meyers appearance as well as his college days with co-star Joe Manganiello.

Listen to both “Untitled (How Does it Feel)” and “Heaven” below and for a very good time go watch Magic Mike XXL.

Plus here are a couple of essays which explore what makes Magic Mike XXL such a good experience from Anne Helen Petersen and Roxane Gay.

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