E: Sure, it’s random, but I’ve been really grateful for great music lately. When I was a teen, which was back when they actually played music, we didn’t have MTV. The music I listened to came from the radio, and from a ton of fantastic soundtracks. Ah, the heady days of Pretty in Pink, Dirty Dancing, Purple Rain and Empire Records. Not that you could prove it by this blog, but I actually see a lot of movies (we just haven’t blogged through Oscar season yet – wait a few weeks) but except in cases like Once, I’m not falling in love with the soundtracks as much anymore. While I do listen to the radio, more often than not it’s NPR. No, these days, I get a lot of my music off TV.
Maybe I’m a sucker for smart musical marketing, but I don’t care. Sometimes it’s the strains from a commercial that captures me – who can resist those slick Ipod commercials? More often, though, a song underscores a pivotal moment in a drama, provides the intention behind a montage, or the backbone of a dance. And I can’t help but observe though it may be music I heard first on tv, there’s no way I’d ever have found most of them if I couldn’t google the lyrics. Hurrah for tv in the digital age! Here’s a sample of my very favorites (minus the ones I’ve mentioned here):
Mads Langer, “Fact-Fiction”/Castle: This was a case where the lyrics of a song puzzled me, and then I fell in love with the music once I found it on youtube. It’s a haunting, magnificent song about the way romances sometimes misfire when we can’t truly get to know each other despite promising circumstances. “I fell in love with her longing/lets just say she never found out/who it was she never found in me.”
The Reindeer Section, “You Are My Joy”/Grey’s Anatomy: Can I adequately express what a beautiful moment this was, as the words “you are my joy” repeated over and over while the doctors harvested a man’s organs as if it were a sacrament? The nature of that gift – that amazing, selfless gift of life – was underscored perfectly by the song. I bawled. Then I bought it on itunes. It’s even more meaningful now in terms of the show when I think of poor George reverently assisting, knowing now that he would make the same gift.
Koop featuring Ane Brun, “Koop Island Blues”/So You Think You Can Dance: SYTYCD actually gives you the song title and artist at the start of the dance. It’s my most consistent source for amazing new music, and this song is one of the best. Thank you, Mia Michaels! This song is jazzy, jaunty, seductively French (so very, very French) , a little bit nostalgic, and too catchy for words. It couldn’t be better for dancing, either; you can’t help twitching to it.
The Stars, “Your Ex-Lover is Dead”/So You Think You Can Dance: New choreographer Travis Wall (a former contestant on the show) is a marvel at literal interpretations of music. He looks into the lyrics and he makes the story flesh. It’s that simple. This song, too, is a marvelous mashup of regrets and uncomfortable awareness. The moment (being re-introduced to an old lover by a new friend who doesn’t know your history) might be awkward, but The Stars give us pretty, pretty pain.
Roisin Murphys, “Ruby Blue”/So You Think You Can Dance: Wade Robson is a genius, and he likes really neat music. If this doesn’t make you want to dance, I don’t know what would.
George Baker, “Little Green Bag”/So You Think You Can Dance: Another Wade Robson selection (one I think was used by Quentin Tranatino in Reservoir Dogs), and another fantastic dance tune. You won’t be able to help yourself. The funny thing about finding songs this way? I’ll always think they should be danced to the way they were danced on SYTYCD.
Jeff Buckley, “Halleluiah”/The West Wing: This song has played in many tv shows and movies, but never more powerfully than the first time I heard it – during “Posse Comitatus,” the third season finale of The West Wing, over the death of Mark Harmon’s secret service agent. Harmon rose again in NCIS, but the pathos is indelible.
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole “What a Wonderful World/Somewhere Over the Rainbow”/Etoys commercial: Everyone I knew was fascinated by the gentle strains of the ukele playing on this commercial, as a little boy played with shells on a beach. I still remember being at a wedding where the song played and all the guests at my table exclaiming “this is that song! from that commercial!”. Gentle and lovely – and later, I believed, used to great effect on ER to mark a beloved character’s passing.
Ingrid Michaelson, “The Way I Am”/Old Navy commercial: “If you are chilly, here take my sweater!” I love the drums, and I love her quiet voice. I love the clapping and the quirky little melody. It’s just a cute, cute song.
Yael Naim, “New Soul”/Macbook Air commercial: Talk about quirky and cute and catchy. “I’m a young soul, in this very strange world, hoping I could learn a bit bout what is true and fake.”
Lea Michele, “Take a Bow”, /Glee: It seems I live under a rock, because I didn’t know this song before I heard it on Glee. Heavens, but it’s gorgeous. Leah Michelle bests the Rihanna original easily.
Billy Vera, “At This Moment”/Family Ties: The classic TV musical moment, as Alex P. Keaton confesses his love for Ellen Reed at a train station. Romantic genius, and in the end made even cooler by the actors’ own lasting love story. What DID you think I would do at this moment? Swoon at your feet, that’s what I’d do.
And with that, I’m going to wish you all a day replete with family, food, fun, and thankfulness for all your blessings, large and small. Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the remains of the day.