Music Television Done Perfectly: 5 Television Shows Who Used Music to Convey Their Stories Right
When it comes to details, it helps make something ordinary transform into something or someone extraordinary. It takes good clothes to make a good man look even better. For television shows, it takes a good soundtrack to make each episode even better. A bad song can cause audiences to tune out immediately. If a viewer doesn't like the song, they won't stick around for the show for very long. The instrumental beat in the Law & Order introduction is literally connected with each show or spin-off. Not hearing it would be the biggest shock of all time. Some shows have made the strategic decision not to have a theme song, which hasn't helped or hurt them yet.
Here are a list of five television shows who have done great with their music choices and in marketing them with corresponding soundtracks. Sometimes the music has even surpassed the show itself once it reached its prime. Read on to see if you agree with the list and if any other soundtracks should be discovered for the first or second time.
Miami Vice (1984-1989)- This Michael Mann produced show has become an 80s cornerstone for pastel fashions and great music that went along with each episode. Where else would audiences been able to have heard the Glenn Frey song "Smuggler's Blues" and seen the singer in a rare acting appearance? Frey contributed this song and "You Belong to the City" for the first soundtrack cd that was released for the show. One more volume was released, but it came out during the time that the show's quality was hitting a slump so it didn't have the same impact. It took years for the show to be released on DVD because of the numerous songs and artists that they had to get permission to use again. Luckily, it was well worth the wait.
The O.C. (2003-2007)- This popular Fox television show mixed the Southern California vibe with mellow rock/pop songs to convey the mood. The show's theme song "California" from the band Phantom Planet projected the main character's feeling of hope, despair and faith that he could make his new home work. The first soundtrack was so successful that it spawned at least five soundtrack albums. Listen to them to remember the show's youthful feeling, since it's been off the air for four years.
One Tree Hill (2003-2012)- A teenage drama that spanned two networks (The WB and The CW) during the course of the series run that ends next year in a midseason run. Hill made famous a soap opera drama between two very different brothers from two different walks of life. The show also used Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want to Be" for its theme song and literally put the singer on the map. Stars like Sheryl Crow and Kate Voegele have made appearances. The show spanned a few soundtracks, but the music has lately become the most memorable thing about the show which has been on the air for far too long.
Grey's Anatomy (2005-present)- The show has four soundtrack albums to its name and makes excellent use of mostly alternative/pop songs to demonstrate the characters' feelings of fear and pressure. Anatomy made stellar use of The Fray's "How to Save a Life" to show how the show's main doctors worked effortlessly to save their patients' lives as well as their own. The show even did a risky musical episode with the doctors singing to songs that have been on the show in the past. It was a bizarre idea, but the cast somehow pulled it off last season perfectly.
Glee (2009-2015)- A musical show about a group of talented high school students and their teachers. The show featured some talented guest stars (Idina Menzel and Gwyneth Paltrow) and some great cast additions that are too many to count. They've covered Madonna, Katy Perry and even Rocky Horror Picture Show. There are countless soundtracks albums available from the course of the show's run. Despite some missteps and a few awkward marketing ploys, the show used some catchy tunes that would have any cynic singing along to them. Watch the show and dare yourself not to sing along to the music.
In the end, good music makes audiences want to stick around and see what the show is all about. Okay, the teenage subject matter of ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars might be off-putting to some, but the theme song done by The Pierces which showcased how secrets can kill. Another memorable song would be True Blood's theme song "Bad Things" from Jace Everett set to a cruel and violent supernatural Southern backdrop. Very creepy and twisted indeed. Listen to these songs and dare yourself not to watch these shows from start to finish. Now that's definitely a challenge that should be just that.