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TV Ate My Soundtrack: The “Look What You Made Me Do” Edition

25 Aug

Taylor Swift has a new song out — news I’m sure you are aware of — and while I was far, far from blown away, I have had the line “Look what you made me do” playing on a loop in my head since. And I’ve only listened to it once. Even a mediocre song can create an earworm.While this is no “All Too Well” or “Out of the Woods” it will make for a good TV soundtrack moment and my first thought after pushing aside those underwhelmed feelings was “What TV show will use this song?” Well, the TGIT ABC line-up was quick out the gate proving this song might not be a banger, but it works well alongside Shonda dramas. The Right Said Fred beat has a lot to do with that.

TV show playlists pretty much make up a good 75% of my Spotify playlists — current and old shows — and so here are the shows/scenes both past and present that I think this new Taylor track could accompany.

Sidenote — I just remembered Taylor has both been referenced in New Girl and has appeared on New Girl as an entirely different character. Here is the fantasy soundtrack casting of this song:

Felicity – Meghan finally reveals the contents of her box. She is not very happy about doing so, but we do get another Twilight Zone style episode so it is a win/win.

Game of Thrones – Taylor guest stars as Arya Stark, or rather a version of Arya as part of the acting troupe we met last season. And after hearing Arya recite her list of names actress Arya turned it into this song. It does not go over well with viewers.

Girls – Marnie sings a cover version of this song to absolve her from any wrong doing. It is simultaneously the best thing I have ever heard and the most cringe worthy moment. Classic Marnie.

Gossip Girl – pre Dan is Gossip Girl reveal, Dan feels conflicted about a Serena blast he sent to Gossip Girl after seeing her with a mystery new guy. Later on, when it is revealed that Dan is Gossip Girl, this is one scene of many that makes no sense

How to Get Away with Murder – we find out how not to get away with murder and I can still only name two characters by name (other than Annalise).

Mad Men – occasionally Mad Men would delve into contemporary music for the closing credits and I like to think this would follow on from when Pete tried to get his revenge on Don by revealing his real identity (and it failed).

New Girl – a montage of Jess attempting to appear a little edgy to her students because she wants them to think she is cool. It does not work and she instantly reverts back to all things twee. Sounds like a plan someone else should stick to.

Revenge – Emily Thorne red sharpie of doom montage. A tad on the nose, but sometimes it is best to keep it simple.

Riverdale – After a fight with Jughead, Betty sticks on red lipstick, brunette wig and bralette and goes to some dark, dark places at a nightclub while Veronica looks concerned. Yes, this is sort of a repeat of last season. But with added Tay.

Scandal – one of the main characters kills someone, but it’s handled. Red wine is consumed and cardigans are coveted.

Wonderfalls – a plastic snake tells Jaye to blow up her relationship with Eric and this song plays as Jay drowns her sorrows with a lot of shots.

You’re the Worst – Sam makes a remix version of “New Phone, Who Dis?” with the line “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now.” “Why?” “Oh ’cause she’s dead!” It is a surprise hit and now Gretchen has to do a lot more work.

Taylor, look what you made me do.

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Scandal Soundtrack Preview: Music For Gladiators

28 Aug

Chop Shop Records have produced some of my favorite TV soundtracks – including the recently discussed The O.C.Gossip GirlChuckMad Men and The Carrie Diaries. They’ve also produced some pretty topnotch ones for films and while I’ve never been particularly fond of the Twilight series, the music made up for my lack of love triangle intrigue. Now they are releasing music that has featured on Scandal and it’s a collection of songs that has a heavy ’70s influence with a smattering of new music.

Scandal Soundtrack

Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes has worked with Chop Shop Records and music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas on both Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice and there’s something to be said about striking the balance between angst and upbeat in a show like this. A soundtrack is important in establishing tone and can enhance the narrative elements; as we have seen on Scandal there is plenty of drama and the pacing is something that is propelled at times by the music.

This is why a track like KC & the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight” is just as important as “The Light” by The Album Leaf. Both songs feature in the HUGE episode “Nobody Likes Babies,” an episode that marked the voter fraud story coming to a head and all of the characters facing the consequences of their actions. Plus Fitz did something very bad.


The reason I have picked these two songs is because one represents the way they use music to show the associates sifting through information (on this occasion conversations between Abby and David) and the other is all about Olivia and Fitz (and a eulogy). Even though I’m not Fitz’s biggest fan I’m not immune to the chemistry between the pair and “The Light” by The Album Leaf is a haunting and touching piece of music.  It is used later in the season in the episode “Seven Fifty-Two” and has become a love theme of sorts for Olivia and Fitz; repetition with songs in this way is a good way of giving cues to an audience with no dialogue necessary. You can listen to both tracks below.

If you follow Chop Shop Records on Twitter you will have seen that they are doing a countdown to the release of the soundtrack with other tracks that have featured on the show but didn’t make the playlist. It’s a shame that only 12 songs make the list as there are some really great songs that are missing. This is the benefit of sites like Spotify as you can make your own Scandal playlist to accompany the official one.

The Scandal soundtrack is released Tuesday, September 3 and for a full list of the songs used on the show (including episode and scene) head here.

Music Monday: The O.C. Turns 10

5 Aug

When The O.C. premiered in August 2003, the iTunes store had only been open for a few months and buying CDs didn’t seem so antiquated. The O.C. pretty much lived in the death throes of how we used to purchase and consume music; this is also the time that I still worked in a record store, a record store that unsurprisingly is no longer in existence. As I’ve previously mentioned, TV and particularly teen TV has been a constant source of finding new music and The O.C. did this on a whole new level as it embraced bands that the characters listened to.

Death Cab for Cutie posters adorned Seth Cohen’s wall and featured in the Seth Cohen Starter Pack (along with albums by Bright Eyes and The Shins, The Goonies and Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay), they also played at the Bait Shop in season 2 along with a host of others such as Modest Mouse, The Walkman and The Killers.

I should really start with the theme song by Phantom Planet (which I wrote about for This Was TV) and how it sets the tone; in the pilot the song is used as a transition from the grainy Chino-cam to the glorious and bright world that Ryan will be joining after he has given Sandy Cohen a call – everything gets a lot bluer and sun-kissed as we head to Newport. The theme song is hopeful and that shot of Ryan looking out of the car window is one that is linked to both the opening credits and a shot that is repeated emphasizing Ryan’s outsider status. It’s a song that I have hated and now love; Californiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! 

The Bait Shop as a music venue became a bit of a punch line – I seem to recall the nickname The Hate Shop – and the first time a live band appeared on that show was before The Bait Shop was conceived. Rooney (please yell their name like Luke) get the honor of being The O.C.’s inaugural band. Appearing on a teen show might not be the cool indie way to do things but as Josh Schwartz explains in this new interview with Alan Sepinwall the amount of exposure translated into sales as Rooney “saw a crazy, like 200 percent increase the week after. And then it built to a place where we got a call that the Beastie Boys would like to world premiere their song on your show.” Schwartz also notes that this was a time when there weren’t that many platforms to promote music and several other bands like U2 and Coldplay also debuted tracks on the show.

“Fix You” was one of those tracks and so The O.C. can lay claim to this song; all other shows should not attempt to use this as an emotionally manipulative tool. “Hallelujah” is a trickier case, though I would also say that this show used this song before it hit saturation point and they used it to form a connection between Ryan and Marissa. They tried to mix it up by swapping the Jeff Buckley version for Imogen Heap in the season 3 finale; sadly I find the style of Imogen Heap’s music to be intensely irritating (sorry Imogen Heap fans, I just can’t) and her music instantly sucks all the emotion out of a scene. Instead enjoy the end montage of season 1 as Ryan leaves Newport, Seth sails away, Kirsten cries and Marissa embraces day drinking.

Hallelujah is probably the most famous cover version The O.C. used, but others like Youth Group taking on “Forever Young” and Placebo’s version of “Running up the Hill” (which has also reached saturation point, take note music supervisors) provide poignant moments. The final mix CD that was released in association with the show is called “Covering Our Tracks” and has bands covering tracks that had already featured in previous seasons. One thing The O.C. attempted to do was to push the boundaries of what a TV soundtrack could be and a lot of that is thanks to music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas and Josh Schwartz’s own enthusiasm for music. In retrospect Schwartz isn’t afraid to take the blame for some of these missteps, on the Bait Shop he explains to Alan Sepinwall that “I think my appetite for seeing bands lip sync their playback on a fake set may have been greater than some of our audience members but, hey. It was fun. When else was I going to get that chance?”

Talking about the legacy of a show can sound grandiose and while The O.C. flailed at times (season 3 anyone?); it has definitely had a lasting impact on teen TV from the music to narrative aspects such as increasing plots for the parental characters.  It is a testament to the soundtrack that there are too many to mention in this piece and so many more videos that I could have chosen (from this YouTube channel) – somehow Oliver features in half of the clips.

So Happy 10th Anniversary The O.C.! It won’t be long before you will be able start drinking and take all your rage out on the pool furniture.

Now That’s What I Call TV Music (2012-2013 Season)

21 May

Since My So-Called Life and Dawson’s Creek, TV has been one way that I discover new music. Things have changed a lot since the mid-90s and now you can have access to a song within minutes of hearing it on a show. MTV no longer has the influence it once did and the days of spending hours watching music videos have long gone, though MTV is still represented on this 2012-2013 playlist. Some shows like GirlsNew Girl and The Carrie Diaries (it turns out I really like the music from the pilot) feature more than once on the list and there are 19 tracks that represent a variety of moments; some incidental while others might drastically change a relationship.

girls bad friends dancingWhile I’m not going to into specific reasons for each song choice some deserve explanation; “Stay” by Lisa Loeb has featured on both Girls and New Girl, Lisa Loeb ended up with Rufus Humphrey on Gossip Girl so this sealed its inclusion (plus I was a teen in the mid-90s so this song will always hold a special place). When I first saw The Americans pilot I mentioned on Twitter that I like the ‘jaunty’ opening track revealing that I know nothing about Fleetwood Mac (I’m hanging my head in shame), now I understand the power of “Tusk.” The LMFAO track is from one of my favorite moments on Parks and Recreation this season when Anne and Leslie had their impromptu dance party. Ellie Goulding earns her place for being part of a huge New Girl moment and the same applies for The Vaccines “I Always Knew.” Some tracks feature from shows that I haven’t seen all season (How I Met Your MotherAwkward) or only saw a few episodes (Nashville) but were suggestions from some lovely folk on Twitter.

I’m sure there are some great tracks that I haven’t included so what would be on your 2012-13 TV playlist?

Here are the tracks featured, including which show/episode they were on and you can click on the Spotify box below to listen. Enjoy!

1)      I Love It – Icona Pop ft. Charli XCX (Girls 2.03 “Bad Friend”)
2)     Blue Monday – New Order (The Carrie Diaries 1.01 “Pilot”)
3)     Tusk – Fleetwood Mac (The Americans 1.01 “Pilot”)
4)     I Always Knew – The Vaccines (New Girl 2.25 “Elaine’s Big Day”)
5)     Burning Down the House – Talking Heads (The Carrie Diaries 1.01 “Pilot”)
6)     Black Tambourine – Beck (The Good Wife 4.22 “What’s in the Box?”)
7)     Super Rich Kids – Frank Ocean ft. Earl Sweatshirt (Gossip Girl 6.05 “Monstrous Ball”)
8)     Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett (Parks and Recreation 5.05 “Halloween Surprise”)
9)     Bad Girls – M.I.A. (The Mindy Project 1.01/1.24 “Pilot” and “Take me with You”)
10)  Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding (New Girl 2.23 “Virgins”)
11)   Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas) – Regina Spektor (Girls 2.04 “It’s a Shame About Ray)
12)  22 – Taylor Swift (New Girl 2.13 “Table 34”)
13)  Simple Song – The Shins (How I Met Your Mother 8.24 “Something New”)
14)  Nancy From Now On – Father John Misty (Girls 2.05 “One Man’s Trash”)
15)  Stay – Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories (Girls 2.04 “It’s a Shame About Ray” and New Girl 2.23 “Virgins”)
16)  Girls Just Want To Have Fun – Greg Laswell (The Carrie Diaries 1.01 “Pilot”)
17)  Fade Into You – Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio (Nashville 1.03 “Someday You’ll Call My Name”)
18)  Gone – Olivia Broadfield (The Vampire Diaries 4.23 “Graduation”)
19)  I Was a Fool – Tegan and Sara (Awkward 3.05 “Indecent Exposure”)

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