Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Inspired by recently posted song Travis' "Love Will Come Through", which played over the climax of the series finale of Alden-favourite TV show Wonderfalls, this roulette will focus on music that is inexorably linked to their respective TV moments. As you well know, I'm a complete TV junkie, and I love moments where the song meets the visual and combine to create an even fuller sense of emotion and story, leaving both inexorably linked in the viewer's mind. One career option I've long considered is music supervisor for a TV show, combining my two great loves. If I could construct a seminal TV moment like many of the below, I'd be a proud man.

Five such moments are below, with another post to come.

[Note that the below spoils, to varying degrees, Weeds season 2, Supernatural season 2 and Grey's Anatomy seasons 2 and 3.]

Jenny Owen Youngs - Fuck Was I [Batten the Hatches, 2005]
Weeds, "Corn Snake"

"What the fuck was I thinking?" sings Youngs on this track, set to Mary-Louise Parker's drug-dealing Nancy Botwin reeling from discovering her new beau is a DEA agent. This choice of song pulls out so many of the emotions of the scene - the fact that this was her first tryst since her husband's death and the guilt that comes with compromising his memory and her family's stability and safety because of her own loneliness. "Love grows in me like a tumor", the song warns, reminding us that we all think "maybe I'll be the lucky one that doesn't get burned". Unfortunately for Nancy, she's got plenty of trouble ahead of her.

Screaming Trees - Look At You [Dust, 1996]
Supernatural, "Heart"

When creating a montage for an 'intimate moment', a music supervisor has to choose very carefully, or else the mood of the entire scene is ruined. Luckily, Supernatural hired Alexandra Patsavas (look below for more amazing work she's done for Grey's Anatomy). This tune is sensual, haunted and fits the series rock aesthetic, while simultaneously layering the scene with a sense of unease and imbalance... Hinting at the tragic end of the story, wherein one is forced to kill the other.

Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars [Eyes Open, 2006]
Grey's Anatomy, "Losing My Religion"

The Grey's moment that gets the most press, though my only third-favourite music moment from that show, is a doozy. Using Snow Patrol's soaring anthem as a funereal tone for the weeping Izzie, as the show balances its ethical and moral questions about the sacrifices she's made for love, was remembered by fans for a long time after. The moment is scored perfectly: "If I lay here, would you lay with me and just forget the world?", as Izzie lays on the hospital bed and tries to forget the world, tries to forget that the future she'd built for herself in her head has come crashing down, and can't. Beautiful moment, and a cap to the show's best season.

Anna Nalick - Breathe [Wreck of the Day, 2005]
Grey's Anatomy, "...As We Know It"

The show had an even more intense musical moment earlier that season, however, in the second half of the riveting bomb-episode. The episode that launched Anatomy to the hit it became, part of it must have been attributed to this sequence, in which the lead character must remove her hand from a body cavity with live ammunition in it. The song's climactic moment, urging us to "breathe, just breathe" as the music swells, certainly added a great rhythm and emotion to an already pretty powerful scene. But Anatomy's stand-out musical moment:

Ingrid Michaelson - Keep Breathing [Be OK, 2008]
Grey's Anatomy, "Didn't We Almost Have It All?"

Though following up from a season full of questionable plot elements, the series moved towards a crescendo in its finale, tying together all of the character's various arcs and destroying their hopes, one-by-one. The song, emulating the rhythm of deep breaths with its violin while keeping a quick pace via piano, underscored the climactic moment wherein a character, who had boxed away more and more of herself in order to become a 'bride' and appease the man she loved, found herself alone and begging her best friend to cut her out of her restrictive wedding dress. As the song rises and rises in emotion, she breaks down and exclaims the mystifying statement that she's finally free. Combining the visuals of the dress and her need to breathe with the song, which moves faster and faster until the viewer feels as if they, too, need more air. Perfect synthesis of song and visual, combining to create a greater sense of the story.

I'll post part two soon, with moments from Battlestar Galactica and How I Met Your Mother, among others. If I remember/uncover more, part three will follow soon enough, no doubt. Now, I'm sure everyone has one or two of these moments in their mental vault. What are the greatest TV/music moments in recent history for you?

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marya said...

i think my two favorite grey's anatomy music scenes are 'chasing cars' and then that scene in the episode when denny came back as a ghost or whatever and talked to meredith when she was dead where izzie can kind of feel him. i think that song was called 'swans' i must have watched that scene over and over on youtube a zillion times.

Vinny said...

Some people would have my ass for this, but Kansas's 'Carry On My Wayward Son' in the 'previously on Supernatural' segments of 1x22 and 2x22 fit the moments perfectly. There's also a beautiful song that plays during a scene where Sookie eats the last pie her Grandma made before she died, finally crying for her loss. It's from 'True Blood', but I can't find the name of the song.