Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Music and pictures

Today's open thread, inspired by the superb use of Johnny Cash's "I Hung My Head" during tonight's "Shield" premiere: What's your favorite use of a pre-existing song on a TV drama? I'm not talking about about best theme songs, though there can be exceptions. ("California," for instance, became the theme to "The O.C." because Josh Schwartz loved the way it worked in a scene in the pilot.) I'm talking about "It Was a Very Good Year" accompanying the "Sopranos" season two premiere, or "Full Moon, Empty Heart" playing over a "Homicide" raid (before that show overdid the montage thing), or "Nights in White Satin" over the close of the Sonny Steelgrave arc on "Wiseguy" (which you can see at the tail end of this very long clip, since it's been grievously removed from the DVD because of rights issues), or, obviously, "In the Air Tonight" in the "Miami Vice" pilot. That sort of thing.

So what's your favorite musical moment, and why? YouTube links appreciated if possible but not at all required, especially as I was too lazy to do it myself.

107 comments:

Tobias said...

Solomon Burke's "Fast Train" at the end of The Wire's third season finale is the first thing that comes to mind for me...

Isaac said...

"Fast Train" was awesome, I agree. Off the top of my head, Final Countdown on Arrested Development absolutely never failed to crack me up. I thought Colin Hay sitting around the hospital playing his acoustic version of Overkill on Scrubs was very well-done.

M.Chavez said...

It's a guilty pleasure nowadays, but I'm brave enough to admit it. Smallville is still fun to watch, and I think the opening song is really great - "Save me" by Remy Zero. It qualifies since I believe that all the music on the show comes from indie bands, so it wasn't actually a theme song, it just became one? OK, maybe I'm rambling here.

kristinj said...

The one that's lasted the longest for me is the use of "Moorlough Shore" by Caroline Lavelle in the EZ Streets pilot. (Though I'm not positive it wasn't commissioned for the show.) That scene on the docks is just incredible, as is the way it opens the series and then kicks you in the stomach right near the end when things come full circle. It's not really a pop song I listen to outside of that context, but it's now inextricable from the mood of the series.

"Final Countdown" is such a close second.

Anonymous said...

The OC was great at showcasing good music. My favorite moment was the first season finale with Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah". Kelly Rowan's silent sob as Peter Gallagher comes in to comfort her was perfect.

I also loved the Scrubs episode where they all sing Colin Hay's "Waiting for My Real Life to Begin" in a callback to the beginning of the episode where the patient compares death to a musical.

Elwood said...

How mentioned "Homicide" already, but my favorite musical cue comes from the season 5 premiere ("Hostage pt. 1") and the Cowboy Junkies song "This Street, That Man, This Life" being played as Frank returns to the station after recovering from his stroke. It couldn't have been a more haunting and appropriate song. [url]http://www.junkiesfan.com/lyrics_bem.htm[/url] , song #3.

Michael said...

I'm currently giving praise wherever and whenever possible to Friday Night Lights but I can't honestly think of a better use than the closing montage of the 2nd episode, set to Bright Eyes' cover of "Devil Town."

Get chills just thinking about it.

Old Man Snap said...

Sia's "Breathe Me," to close out Six Feet Under, makes me cry every time. It's perfect.

Bravo showcased the series finale twice last night and, well, tears.

Alan Sepinwall said...

It qualifies since I believe that all the music on the show comes from indie bands, so it wasn't actually a theme song, it just became one?

If that's our criteria, then we're opening the door to hundreds of theme songs that existed as pop songs before they were used on a show. I mentioned "California" not because Phantom Planet pre-dated "The O.C.," but because the song was used as part of the action in the pilot episode (the montage where Ryan gets kicked out of his mom's house and gets a lift from Sandy Cohen), and it was only at that point that someone in production decided it would make a good theme.

Plus, I always thought "Smallville" should have used the Five For Fighting song as its theme, but that's just me. :)

The one that's lasted the longest for me is the use of "Moorlough Shore" by Caroline Lavelle in the EZ Streets pilot. (Though I'm not positive it wasn't commissioned for the show.)

That's a really good one -- the music and Joey Pants were the two best things about "EZ Streets" -- and it doesn't matter if it was commissioned for the show, so long as it was actually used as part of the show, and not just over the opening titles.

And while I initially mentioned dramas, "Final Countdown" is too good not to mention. (In the "Sopranos in 7 minutes" film on YouTube, they play a snippet of it when Will Arnett shows up as the undercover FBI agent's husband.)

Carrie said...

"Bright Eyes' cover of "Devil Town.""

That's acutally a cover by Tony Lucca. They couldn't get rights to the Bright Eyes version so they used Tony's. (I think it is going to be on the upcoming FNL soundtrack.) I agree, great moment.

I also love The O.C.'s usage of Hallelujah in the season finale. Far too many shows have done the Hallelujah montage, but this one was my favorite.

Anonymous said...

Good topic; lots of options here. The one that pops into my head first is the "Brothers in Arms" montage by Dire Straits at the end of the West Wing S2 finale "Two Cathedrals".

Also, Nick Lowe's version of "The Beast in Me" that plays over the closing credits of The Sopranos pilot has stuck with me for quite some time.

(Failed to find youtube links for either of these)
-Lance

Mike said...

Three come to mind...

I really liked the Sopranos ending a couple of seasons ago - sorry, drawing a blank on the exact episode -- where Tony closed the show by shouting at janice about something. Then he stormed out of her house and briskly walked up the street away from the camera as what seemed like a newer version of "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" by the Kinks was playing.

When Tommy Gavin's son died on Rescue Me, they play "Wild Horses" by Ray Lamontague which almost had me in tears.

Also, the Season 1 finale of the Shield, when Vic comes home and Corinee is gone, "Trouble" by Coldplay is playing as Vic goes into a rage ripping apart everything inside the house.

Those were the three that first came to mind.

Old Man Snap said...

Alan, wow, this *is* a fantastic topic.

I think 21 Jump Street used "Where the Streets Have No Name" to close an episode, but I forget which one.

And David Gray's "The One I Love" to close out this year's Rescue Me finale, though it was also used in Ladder 49, was powerful, as well.

Done, now.

Anonymous said...

Definitely Sia's Breathe Me in the SFU finale.

I also think Zero 7's In the Waiting Line playing at the end of the SATC episode where Carrie takes care of Big during his heart scare and then realizes he's never going to come around was great.

And from The O.C.: South's Paint the Silence. It was used in the first season when Ryan and Marissa had their first kiss on the ferris wheel and then last season when Marissa stumbles upon the model home and is so overcome with emotion/memories that she faints.

Anonymous said...

I'll second the "Brothers in Arms" montage on West Wing's Season 2 finale. It perfectly capped one of the finest hours of TV I ever saw.

Russ said...

I'll try to think of one that hasn't been mentioned, but "Brothers in Arms" is definitely #1 for me. Especially because the action is choreographed to link, in certain parts, to the lyrics (e.g. I believe CJ is answering a question about expected subpoenas as the phrase "As the battle raged higher" plays).

Rob Rogers said...

When Mark Greene died on ER and they played Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's "Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World," it packed a lot of punch. In some ways, it was overly maudlin, etc., but it moved me nonetheless.

Rebecca said...

the prelude to the Bach G Major in Josh's PTSD episode on West Wing.

Mellie McKay's "The Dog Song" while everyone in Seattle Grace is getting treated for Syphilis?

Seriously though, as annoying as Grey's Anatomy is, they sure know how to showcase a tune

Russ said...

While we're on West Wing, it's worth mentioning Massive Attack's "Angel," which appropriately creeped me out at the end of "Commencement."

Dennis Wilson said...

I'm sure it comes off as terminally hokey today, but I recall that the Miami Vice pilot's use of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" was quite effective (and novel) at the time.

Tosy And Cosh said...

The much lamented Once and Again had a pretty good ear for songs. Tori Amos' "Winter" for the melancholy first-season Chrisatmas episode and Leonard Cohen's "The Sisters of Mercy" from the second-season episode featuring Patrick Dempsey in his recurring role as the main character's schzophrenic brother are two standouts.

Also worh a mention is the exquisitely timed "Sail Away" in the Freaks and Geeks pilot.

Greg said...

What come to mind for me was the, I believe, second season premier of Sports Night and "It's in His Kiss." I never really cared much about the Casey/Dana romance on the show, but that was a great moment.

BF said...

* SportsNight's multiple uses of Neil Finn's She Will Have Her Way

* Scrubs has a ton, but my favorite is probably Easy Tonight by 5 for Fighting (which they took out of the 1st season DVD GRRR!) in My Blind Date

* Does the Peter Gunn / Police mash-up from Mr. Ruggerio's Neighborhood count?

* Most recently, Kyle Chandler going BOOM to Natasha Bedingfield's Breathe on Grey's Anatomy was pretty cool.

Gonna have to rifle through the DVD collection when I get home for some more ideas.

Mike said...

"When Mark Greene died on ER"

that reminds me of something regarding this episode (sorry, it's off topic)...

was i imagining things, or was there a scene in his final episode where he fell out of bed, or was struggling to get up while laying on the floor, and he was so frustrated at the whole situation, and his imminent death that he slammed his hand on the floor and yelled "shit!!!"

did dr. greene really say that, or was i imagining it.

Lindy said...

Sadly I can't find a YouTube clip of this, but in the first season of Veronica Mars (I think it was the "Silence of the Lamb" episode), they showcased "The Way You Are" by 46bliss as Clarence Wiedman opened a package of photos showing him in a set of crosshairs -- a package sent by Veronica after she discovered that Wiedman was responsible for photographing her the same way. The creepy monotone refrain of "put yourself in my place" as Wiedman flipped through those pictures was pretty close to perfect.

hilary said...

Pretty much every episode of Homicide used music well (even at the end), I think, but I'll always love The Iguanas' "Boom Boom Boom" in "The Documentary." And I have to agree "Breathe Me" was miraculous in SFU. Though I think we also have to just credit the montage itself and how perfectly it ended the series. (That episode is certainly on my list of best series finales.)

Sports Night also had a couple good moments: Dana going to the bar too late to see Casey with Susan Tedeschi's "It Hurts So Bad" playing and "She Will Have Her Way" by Neil Finn. And the best of all is in "Eli's Coming" (Three Dog Night) -- the song has been a joke all episode until it plays when Dan finds out about Isaac's stroke and has to go on air and pretend he's fine.

On Scrubs, I loved Joshua Radin's "Winter" during Ben Sullivan's (Brendan Fraser) funeral.

God, there are too many...

Alan Sepinwall said...

was i imagining things, or was there a scene in his final episode where he fell out of bed, or was struggling to get up while laying on the floor, and he was so frustrated at the whole situation, and his imminent death that he slammed his hand on the floor and yelled "shit!!!"

You didn't imagine it. There was a brief window, shortly before Nipplegate, where a handful of 10 o'clock network dramas were allowed to use "shit" or "bullshit." Off the top of my head, "Chicago Hope," "NYPD Blue" and "ER" all did it at various points.

Tosy And Cosh said...

mike - Pretty sure you're right on Greene saying "shit."

JR Nelson said...

The obvious one is, of course, "In the Air Tonight" on the premiere of "Miami Vice." Who can forget that?

Maureen said...

The third season of West Wing season finale episode "Posse Comitatus", "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley was played over the death of Mark Harmon's character. That was really memorable.

Russ said...

Tosy and Cosh reminds me of another remarkable use of music in "Once and Again." Not a famous song (that I know of, anyway), but in the "Ozymandias 2.0" episode, Z&H did a great job of cutting between Rick's fall from grace into the tentacles of Miles Drentell (and simultaneous embrace of what he does best, which in this case was charming a roomful of investor types with his ideas for the property at issue) and Eli's own fall from grace (and simultaneous embrace of what he does best, which in this case was his music). The song, as I said, isn't famous, but it contributed immensely to a tremendously moving scene.

Anonymous said...

I agree on the West Wing's use of Dire Strait's "Brothers in Arms" and Six Feet Under's use of Sia's "Breate Me" during the haunting series finale. Six Feet Under also used Radiohead's "Lucky" when the Fishers congregated in their driveway to burn some possessions. Homicide used Filter's "Hey Man Nice Shot" in a neat way in an episode about two twins making their way up the interstate all the while killing people on the journey.

Anytime "Rescue Me" uses Ray LaMontage, too, is good in my book.

Hopefully, Sopranos will use some Sanjaya in the final season.

Anonymous said...

"Eli's Coming" in Sports Night.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Spike leaving town to the Sid Vicious version of "My Way" during the third season of BUFFY.

R.A. Porter said...

I'll second "Eli's Coming" on SportsNight. That was quite intense. I'll also cheat and say that a really good cover of "All Along the Watchtower" might have been used effectively of late. :)

Mostly, everyone's gone for decent-to-good shows and their use of music, so here's one for my fellow cheese fans: "Dust in the Wind" over the season one finale of Highlander.

velvetcannibal said...

I'd say my most memorable choice is in Veronica Mars. It's the season one finale use of "Lily Dreams On" by Cotton Mather during the final dream sequence where Veronica and Lilly float in the pool together. I can't think of a more beautiful, perfect moment.

Joe f said...

Matt -

The episode you were thinking of was Cold Cuts, the 10th episode of Season Five (I think). Also my favourite use of a song, without a shadow of a doubt.

And while it plays in the credits not during the actual episode itself, I thought "Mary Don't You Weep No More" by Bruce Springsteen was perfect for the final Deadwood episode.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't that the Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious version of "My Way" in the Buffy episode and not the actual Sid Vicious version?

Anonymous said...

I think The O.C.'s use of Placebo's cover of "Runnning Up that Hill" in the season premiere was pretty great.

And in the first season they used the intro snippet of the Dandy Warhol's "We used to be Friends" during the scene transitions in one episode. That was pretty cool.

Donlee said...

Moby's "When It's Cold, I'd Like To Die" when Tony's in the hotel during his coma during the first part of this season of the Sopranos.

Sheryl Crow's "I Shall Believe Believe" during the unexpected happy ending montage for all the characters (Leary gets back with his wife, Lou rides home with the hooker) in episode 208 of "Rescue Me."

And it's really a shame that the first season of Scrubs gets bastardized on DVD because some of their musical choices really were genius.

My "Scrubs" pick which isn't on the DVD would be Sebadoh's "On Fire" in the first season where Carla leaves J.D. at the bus stop in the rain after getting him to confess that sometimes he believes he's better than she is.

And for one that's available on Youtube, here's Scrubs' usage of Fray's How To Save a Life which predates Grey's Anatomy's:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbEkKa-W55s

BF said...

The third season of West Wing season finale episode "Posse Comitatus", "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley was played over the death of Mark Harmon's character. That was really memorable.

See, when I hear Hallelujah, I think of Scrubs. Then The Shield. Then Nip/Tuck. Then Without a Trace. Then Shrek.

Anonymous said...

CSI used the Gary Jules cover of "Mad World" in one episode. I forget the plot, but it was incredibly haunting.

Anonymous said...

Rescue Me: "Bonnie Brae" by the Twilight Singers after Tommy beats up his brother and walks away into the moonlight down the street.

Dark Tyler said...

"All My Little Words" by The Magnetic Fields. At some point during season 1 of The Shield.

I believe it played while a semi-creepy lonely widow was straightening Dutch's suits while he was taking a shower. Such a strange, creepy, sad, lovely moment.


"Fall From Grace" by Sarah McLahlan. Season 2 finale of Buffy.

She had just killed Angel after telling him that everything's gonna be fine while he had his eyes closed and she was kissing him. The song played while Buffy was leaving Sunnydale and I was such a mess, crying my ass off uncontrollably. Perfect.


And,yes. Many other fine moments that everyone's already mentioned. Sia's "Breathe me", "Brothers in Arms", "Final Countdown", "How to Save a Life" on Scrubs, and many, many more.


Oh, oh! I also loved Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek" while Marissa shot Trey! It really made the whole thing effective, you know? Ditto for Coldplay's "Fix It" while Caleb was having the heart attack, the previous week.

Tosy And Cosh said...

russ - wasn't that an "original" by Eli that played over that moment on Once and Again - Agreed, a great match of music to moment.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't give respect to to Mandy Patinkin's in-character singing on that first season of Chicago Hope. The scene in the second or third ep where he sings a sad, whispered version of "I Dreamed a Dream" to his institutionalized wife is genius.

Susan said...

My favorites have already been mentioned, but just to second them:

- "Brothers in Arms" on the West Wing
- "Hallelujah" on West Wing
- Sarah McLachlan over the season 2 ender of Buffy as she's leaving town
- "Breathe Me" at the end of Six Feet Under

West Wing also used "Someone's Going to Emergency, Someone's Going to Jail" brilliantly.

And to go way back, I can never hear "At this Moment" without thinking of Alex and Ellen dancing on "Family Ties."

jim treacher said...

My favorite use of an existing song on a TV drama didn't actually happen, and the episode wasn't even shown in TV. It's Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" in the climactic montage of the last episode of Day Break. Which was only shown on the ABC site, and it was replaced at the last minute with some other song because ABC couldn't agree with the Cash estate on a price. But man, if you've heard that song and seen that episode, it would have been PERFECT. (I watched it again with the sound off at started that song when the montage started, which is the closest it'll ever get...)

Second place is the one Mike mentioned: "Trouble" at the end of season 1 of The Shield. I'm sick to death of Coldplay, but that was amazing.

Elwood said...

Going even further back, WKRP's use of Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" while Les was putting on his wig in "A Date With Jennifer" was a classic. Not that we'll ever see that again, since the syndicated and soon-to-be released DVD versions are bastardized with generic music instead of the original tunes.

mkr said...

okay...there are three awesome uses of a pre-existing song that i can think of off the top of my head:
1) Worry About You by Ivy - used for the theme of the The 4400 (first season anyway).
2) Climbatize by The Prodigy - used in the pilot of Harsh Realm in several spots.

but the clear winner is:

3) Change by the Deftones - used during Arvin Sloane's death scene in Alias. This one gives me chills just remembering...

seek out these scenes!
you will not regret it.

Carrie said...

Great examples, everyone! One of my favorite uses of music last season actually didn't occur in an episode proper -- it was used as a "previously" segment on Supernatural. It's a recap of pretty much the entirety of Season One set to "Carry On My Wayward Son," and it's awesome:

The Road So Far

BEC said...

Great topic and terrific blog! A song and a moment that really stand out for me was The Wire's season two finale montage featuring Steve Earle's "I Feel Alright." All of their season ending montages are great but I had to go out immediately and buy that album.

Piece_of_Work said...

The first two that came to mind were: -Tommy beating the crap out of his
brother to the tune of the Twilight Singers "Bonnie Brae" on Rescue Me (anonymous beat me to it!)

-The Elvis Costello cover of "Beautiful" from the Autopsy episode of House.

owen said...

Peggy Lee's "Fever" in China Beach. It gives me chills just thinking about it. It's a last season episode where McMurphy returns home. As tv.com says: "In 1970, McMurphy returns home to Lawrence, Kansas to make peace with her mother and try to settle down into civilian life, but finds both goals beyond her grasp". The episode is haunting and heartbreaking which fits perfectly with the song. I'm going to watch my tape of the episode right now. China Beach really needs to be released on DVD.

Buffalo Tom's "Late at Night" in My So-Called Life. Who can forget the squee-worthy scene when Jordan takes Angela's hand in the hallway as a public display of affection? Somehow the song matches pefectly, and is, for me, forever paired with that trancendant tv moment.

Dan Jardine said...

Can't remember which season of Homicide, but I remember that the use of Counting Crows "Raining in Baltimore" in one of the episodes knocked my socks off.

SJ said...

Rolling Stones' "Thru and thru" at the end of the Season 2 finale of "The Sopranos". I just sat speechless at the end and the brilliant directing and music just made it better. It's one of the few scenes I would watch again and again.

Then of course there's the music at the end of each season of The Wire. Perfectly used since the show never uses music otherwise. I can't think of any of the song names right now though.

Undercover Black Man said...

I nominate myself, dammit. Grace Jones's "Walking in the Rain" over the montage at the end of the "Kingpin" pilot. I wish somebody would YouTube that puppy... or teach me how to.

mac said...

Radiohead's "Lucky" on Six Feet Under, at the end of the episode, where the Fischers all stand in the driveway burning a pile of their old possessions. Probably one of the most emotional scenes in the series.

Mac said...

There are so many from "Scrubs" and "Homicide" that have already been mentioned... I'll throw in Tom Waits' "Cold Cold Ground" and the Kinks' "A Well-Respected Man" from the latter -- though the first one that comes to mind is "Boom Boom Boom", already called. Oh, and "All Along The Watchtower" from the third season premiere, though some other show is using it now.

Adam said...

Hells yeah to "Boom Boom Boom", to "At This Moment", to "Someone's Going To Emergency, Someone's Going To Jail", and to the Mark Greene Death Dirge, which I can't listen to anymore without hearing him impotently say "shit!"

Also for H:LOTS -- "Super Bon Bon", from Strangers and Other Partners. And The Cosby Show's "The Night Time Is The Right Time." Had YouTube existed then, it'd have gotten 2 million views in 48 hours.

Zodin2008 said...

I felt "Buffy" used a lot of great songs towards the end of its run, but a few of my favorite TV themes:

"Save Me" by Remy Zero is awesome for "Smallville".

"C'mon C'Mon" by the Von Bondies for "Rescue Me".

I also love the opening music for "Bones" by the group "Crystal Method".

Past shows...I always love the opening theme to "Quantum Leap" and "These Kids Aren't all Right" for "Buffy". Going back further? I always loved the opening to "L.A. Law".

BF said...

A Late Entry: Green Day's Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) in the Seinfeld Finale Clip Show.

And while The Shield's 1st Season Finale music was good, the 2nd season finale, featuring Live's I am Overcome was good too.

Kristen said...

Can't remember which season of Homicide, but I remember that the use of Counting Crows "Raining in Baltimore" in one of the episodes knocked my socks off.

They used it in the ep when Howard goes home to the shore and ends up solving a murder in her small hometown. One of my favorite eps of the series.

My late, lamented Third Watch used a lot of great music over the years.

kp said...

One of my favorites ever is Sarah MacLachlan's version of "The Prayer of St. Francis" on the Season 6 finale of Buffy (when Willow went bad) and I also thought the use of Colin Hay sitting around Sacred Heart singing "Overkill" was great, too.

Adam said...

Also, Hizzy, "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Of course.

Adam said...

One more -- the better use of That Green Day Song was on ER, when Dr. Jeanie Boulet sang it at Scott Anspaugh's funeral. No doubt.

Kim Cosmopolitan said...

I'll toss in Sports Night's use of "Boogie Shoes" just for fun.

Russ said...

Tosy & Cosh -- yeah, I was breaking the rules... I think Eli was just jamming (or is that "riffing?).

Christy said...

Thanks for posting that clip of Wiseguy. I loved, loved, love the Steelgrave arc and did remember the use of "Nights in..."

I always loved that Mike Hammer used Earl Hagen's "Harlem Nocturne" as a theme song.

Back in the early 90s was a sci fi show called Space, Above and Beyond. I remember an episode ending with a pilot playing Cash's "Ring of Fire" at full blast as he dives into a black hole to distract the enemy while his buddies escape. First time I really appreciated Johnny Cash.

ooda said...

Six Feet Under will always take my number one spot for its use of Breathe Me. I can't help not crying whenever I watch the montage, and even the song gets me.

My other two picks go to Nip/Tuck:

Rocket Man - Elton John: God damn that scene killed me when Sean was sitting next to Megan after she committed suicide.

All I Know - Art Garfunkel: The scene where you see the montage with Sean in bed readying his revolver thinking 'The Carver' (side note: a massive fuck you to Ryan Murphy for subsequently shitting all over the show) was about to kill him, with the camera then switching to seeing Julian laying in bed, incapacitated, and The Carver slicing him. My jaw was literally left agape after watching that.

Bobby P. said...

I'd also join the numerous votes for Solomon Burke's "Fast Train" at the end of "The Wire," season three. Sublime.

The use of Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper" over the season-one finale of "The Sopranos" was great, just Tony and the family seeking shelter from the storm in the restaurant.

Many have cited Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms" from "The West Wing," but my favorite use of that song is from the "Miami Vice" episode where Crockett and Tubbs find the guy buried in the drywall of an abandoned building.

Nice to see mentions of Tom Waits' "Cold Cold Ground" from "Homicide" I was going to cite that one.

I realize promos don't count, but that use of Nick Lowe's "Lay Me Low" in the current "Sopranos" death montage is unbelievable.

And the first 45 seconds of Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" cut to some incredible scenes from "The Shield" would make the world's best season-finale promo for that show, imho.

bill said...

Thanks! This topic caused me to finally look up my favorite example. The final montage of Cicely Alaska as Northern Exposure ends is Our Town by Iris Dement (You can listen to it in her jukebox). For me, this was a perfect way to end the series. No big grande finale or pyrotechnical statement, just letting us know that while we the viewers won't be around, the Northern Exposure characters will go on quietly living their lives.

bill said...

Luther's ZZ Top dream sequence in St. Elsewhere is pretty good.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Ooda, thanks for bringing up Nip/Tuck's use of "All I Know," a classic example of the right song making a sequence (or even a series) seem better than it probably is. I had gotten pretty bored with the show by this point, but the Garfunkel montage made me sit up and ponder whether I was being too harsh. And then the show came back for the next season, doing the same old tricks, only minus Art's voice, and I quickly got bored again.

erosia said...

I always liked the ending of the black and white "The X-Files" episode called "The Post-Modern Prometheus" (which featured J. Peterman from Seinfeld & Jerry Springer, who oddly have both been on "Dancing with the Stars"). The monster character is a big Cher fan, so the whole town caravans to a Cher concert as a cover of her singing "Walking in Memphis" plays. Then Mulder and Scully get up and dance. It was a very surreal and sweet ending to an unusual episode.

Anonymous said...

I'm second Buffalo Tom on My So-Called Life. That song/scene had a huge emotional impact on me and I can't hear the song without getting kind of choked up with nostalgia.

I agree with all the West Wing Examples.

Does anyone else like Sex and the City?

I loved the use of Sade's "By Your Side" at the end of the episode where Samantha is trying not to fall in love with Richard and they go swimming on the roof. He tries to move their relationship beyond just physical by putting on that song and dancing with her. It was really touching to watch the character of Samantha change into something real and vulnerable to that music.

Then the song keeps playing and Carrie goes home to Aiden. They've been fighting a lot because they just moved in together. But like Sade in the song, Aiden is so loving and understanding.

Anonymous said...

I loved Cibo Matto singing "Sugar Water" in the background of the scene where Buffy does her sexy dance for Xander in the season 2 premiere.

Also, Alias used U2's "Walk On" at the end of an episode when Sydney, Jack, and Irina took out a bunch of bad guys together. It was pretty great. So was their use of Sinead O'Connor's "No Man's Woman" in the pilot.

U2's Walk On was also used in the pilot for the unaired show Still Life. The montage to that song was the best thing about the show.

Taleena said...

In season two of Millenium in the epidsode "Room With No View" the song "Love Is Blue" is inextricably wound with Lucy Butler the show's ultimate baddie. To this day "Love is Blue" gives me the willies.

Dan Jardine said...

Lotta posts here, so I dunno if anyone else has mentioned Julee Cruise singing "Rockin' Back into My Heart" at the Roadhouse, while Leland murders Maddy in season 2 of Twin Peaks, but that scene creeped the hell outta me back in the day. The giant appearing, "It's happening again" and Donna inexplicably breaking down in tears...brrrrr....still gets to me.

Anonymous said...

One that's stuck with me is The Kinks' "Livin' on a Thin Line" from the Sopranos episode where Ralphie kills the stripper. Somehow, it perfectly embodies the juxtoposition between that stripper and Meadow at college, which is what makes the episode one of Chase's best.

theblankscreen said...

so many good choices lready spoken for... I'd like to add Horses by Patti Smith in Millenium...season 2 finale...an amazing song and an amazing end to the season

Terry

hilary said...

Oh, bill totally wins! "Our Town" by Iris Dement on the Northern Exposure finale was absolutely perfect. The song was a tribute to real heart of the show, Cicely itself.

Dark Tyler said...

Oooh, Sex & the City! Totally forgotten about it, but I love whatever song is playing during season two's final sequence, while Carrie goes all "The Way We Were" on Big's ass.

Also, since someone mentioned Buffy+dancing, I cry every single time "Wild Horses" is playing during the dance in the Prom.

bill said...

Our Town lyrics:

And you know the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
Goodnight.

Up the street beside that red neon light,
That's where I met my baby on one hot summer night.
He was the tender and I ordered a beer,
It's been forty years and I'm still sitting here.

But you know the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
Goodnight.

It's here I had my babies and I had my first kiss.
I've walked down Main Street in the cold morning mist.
Over there is where I bought my first car.
It turned over once but then it never went far.

And I can see the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
Goodnight.

I buried my Mama and I buried my Pa.
They sleep up the street beside that pretty brick wall.
I bring them flowers about every day,
but I just gotta cry when I think what they'd say.

If they could see how the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
Goodnight.

Now I sit on the porch and watch the lightning-bugs fly.
But I can't see too good, I got tears in my eyes.
I'm leaving tomorrow but I don't wanna go.
I love you, my town, you'll always live in my soul.

But I can see the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on, I gotta kiss you goodbye,
But I'll hold to my lover,
'Cause my heart's 'bout to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to my town, to my town.
I can see the sun has gone down on my town, on my town,
Goodnight.
Goodnight.

dcdame said...

"Boom, Boom, Boom" in HLOTS "Documentary" ep first came to mind, second was in the second part of the Grey's Anatomy 2-parter "It's the End of the World . . . As We Know It" - fortunately there was no predictable use of R.E.M., but in the scene where Meredith is in the OR alone, with her hand inside the patient holding the (then) unexploded shell, the long instrumental opening of an Ambulance LTD song plays & the music ends before the lyrics begin. The song is "Stay Where You Are" -- a cutesy choice, I guess, but a nice wink to people who know the song just from the music.

Anonymous said...

don't know the name of the song, but it is sort of a bit of a rap that was used in both the opening (when Tony is getting the Star Ledger) and the ending (when Christopher puts the dollar he stole from the guy he shot) in the Sopranos episode where Christopher kills the cop who supposedly killed his father. Very strong base and percussion sound really accented both scenes. Alan, can you help the with the name of the song (it had a line about Nostradamus in it...that is why I remember it because it was unusual).

Alan Sepinwall said...

Anonymous, the song is "World Destruction" by Time Zone, from the season four premiere.

Kevin O'Rourke said...

I would have to add, SnowPatrol's "Open Your Eyes" from climatic scene of the The Black Donnelly's pilot. That sequence made me a fan of the both the band and the show. Although, the show has fallen from the height it started at.

Pamela Jaye said...

The Posse Comitatus thing is driving me nuts. After hearing the song on House, I asked everyone where I heard it before - there wer too many answers, but PC is the one I was looking for. I dug out the proper tape, but of course that ep's not there and despite a persistent search on the DVR for a year and a half it apparently never aired.

Back to other shows, since I haven't listened to the radio since 1986, I hear songs on TV and while I can't count 100 Years on that montage when the Red Sox won the World Series, I'll say that Gery's and Scrubs and Veronica Mars seem to use the same songs, so how about

Edge of the Ocean when Logan is watching the sex tape of his dad and girlfriend Lily

I also liked finding that version of Over the Rainbow on Scrubs (I didn't cry as hard as with ER but I still cried)

I've been using tunefind.com lately when I get a bad caase of "where have I heard that before"

and speaking of Things Removed (from DVD) - the In memory of John Ritter was removed from the ep - probably My Cake - of Scrubs, and there was one other non-musical thing removed, which i noticed last week or so, but forget what it was. And now it's bugging me that I've forgotten.

Hallelujah's overused but I still love it.

And Keep Me in Your Heart for a While, which was probly Judy (?) on Joan of Arcadia (though I really didn't like the character at all)

Pam

aimee said...

Northern Exposure used a lot of great music effectively. The "Our Town" moment previously mentioned is certainly one of my favorites, but what about Etta James' "At Last" over Maggie and Joel's slow dance, or "Whiter Shade of Pale" when Chris flings his old friend Tooley's body into the lake?

Danielle said...

Most recently, I adored the use of Queensr├┐che's "Silent Lucidity" in the most recently episode of Supernatural ("Heart"). The show has a phenomenal soundtrack to begin with, but that final scene matched with those lyrics was just perfect.

Charlotte said...

Everyone's already mentioned "All I Know" (Nip/Tuck Season 2 finale) but the use of "Wild Horses" earlier in the same episode, during Ava's reunion with her ex, is the one that always gets me.

Also, I can't believe no one's mentioned this one, but: the acoustic piano version of Sarah McLachlan's "Possession" in the due South episode "Victoria's Secret." (Cheesy? Slightly. Heartbreaking? OHJESUSYES.)

And am I allowed to talk about the BSG season finale yet?

Aileen said...

I'm going to add to the Supernatural love and ditto the recap of season 1 set to Kansas, but I'm also going to add "Renegade" by Styx at the end of Nightshifter in season 2 when they've just escaped from the SWAT team, and "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult in season one when the girl's running away from the grim reaper. The show uses classic rock just about every week, and it's awesome.

Martha said...

Most of mine were covered already (so many from West Wing and Sports Night, Buffalo Tom on My So-Called Life); the other Scrubs one I'd add is Journey's Don't Stop Believin'

DramaPrincess87 said...

Someone mentioned "Open Your Eyes" at the climax of the Black Donnellys pilot, but I prefer Arcade Fire's "Rebellion (Lies)" which was used in the original pilot that was on the screener DVD.

That song combined with the action made my heart jump into my throat

And I will also agree with the person who said Colin Hay's "Waiting For My Real Life To Begin" in Scrubs. Fantastic moment.

But for me, one of the best (and a recent one) was when Supernatural used Styx's "Renegade" at the finale of the episode Night Shifter. Once Dean said, "We're so screwed" and the song kicked into high gear, I was blown away.

Anonymous said...

I have to give some love to my favorite gone-too-soon ratings bomb, "American Dreams." It thrilled me every week to hear so much great music, but I specifically remember the use of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bleeker Street" as JJ, the eldest son, was saying goodbye to his girlfriend before leaving for college. And one of their funnier montages featured Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man;" record shop employee Luke had been trying to get bubblegum pop fan Meg to listen to something with more substantial music. She's sitting there listening to it, and you think it's getting through to her, and then she makes a face, pulls the record off, and puts on something by a frothy girl band. I still crack up thinking about it. There was a great moment with a contemporary cover of the Beatles' "All My Loving" -- slow, sad, beautiful, done by a female singer. They played it when Henry's wife Angela died. I've never been able to find it, unfortunately.

The Buffy mentions are great. Another WB/CW favorite of mine is Johnny Cash's version of "Hurt" -- one of the best covers ever -- at the end of the "Smallville" episode where Lex gets put in a mental institution.

And it's a bit off-topic, but "Saturday Night Live" totally ruined "Don't Fear the Reaper" for me, in the best way possible. It's funny how you can barely hear the cowbell in the original...

Anonymous said...

Bones
"A Pain that I'm Used To" by Depeche mode playing while Brennan's being held hostage by Kenton (aka Jayne *g*) and the SWAT team goes in to rescue her.

"A Light on a Hill" by Margot and the Nuclear So and So's in the "buried alive" episode, when everyone's at the site and Brennan and Hodgins are about to set off their makeshift bomb.

ER: "Battleflag" by the Lo-Fidelity Allstars playing when Carter and Lucy get stabbed by Paul Sobriki while everyone else is at the office party.

The O.C.: "Speeding Cars" by Imogen Heap playing at the graduation.

Buffy: "Full of Grace." Enough said.

One Tree Hill: "Dare you to move" by Switchfoot playing over Nathan and Haley's first kiss. The timing was perfect.

Anonymous said...

From a couple of shows that have already been mentioned...
-West Wing: I have to choose the Tori Amos cover of "I Don't Like Mondays" that was featured in an episode (maybe season 3 or 4?) following a school bombing. I still get chills.
-Once & Again: speaking of Tori, the use of her song 'Winter' (already mentioned) in this show was a fabulously evocative choice for the chilly sadness of the episode - as was Ricki Lee Jones "On Saturday Afternoons in 1963" in the same series - its "years may go by" refrain beautifully summarizing Karen's loss of control over Jesse's life.

And from a favorite show not yet mentioned - Everwood - that occasionally did a bang up job of matching music to mood, two perfect soundtracks for somber moments: "Cathedrals" by Jump Little Children at the end of season 1 (Colin/hospital) and "When It Don't Come Easy" by Patty Griffin toward the end of the final season (Irv/hospital).

On the lighter, cheesier side, Dido's "Here With Me" fit the show's tone so well that it could have been specifically written for Roswell.

Dionne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dionne said...

I agree with all of "The West Wing" examples. To those, I would like to add their use of "The Little Drummer Boy" in the Season 1 Christmas episode, "In Excelcis Deo", and "The Carol of the Bells" in the 2nd season Christmas episode, "Noel".

I loved the use of "Dogs" by Pink Floyd in the WKRP episode where Carlson drops the turkeys.

On Roswell, they played Carlos Santana's "Keep Your Lights On" when Michael and Maria first made out. It totally made the scene.

And in Veronica Mars in the first season when we first find out just what kind of guy Logan's dad is, they're playing "Ventura Highway" by America and the contrast between the carefree, laid-back song and the violence is very powerful.

Jeanne said...

I'll third the nom for All I am in Nip/Tuck Season 2 finale: I even found a youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOWMeEFZmIk

Another musical moment I love in the same episode is the use of Cars (Gary Numan) in Sean's argument with the Escobar in his head - unfortunately youtube failed me on this one.

On Buffy: too many to count, but I must admit to a weakness for Aimee Mann's perfomance in the Bronze (S7 Sleeper)of This is How it Goes with accompanying seemingly choreographed fight between Spike and Vamp; complete with ashing of said vamp interrupting the song, which then continues after a few seconds!

No love for South Park?! I must admit I love the use of cheesy 80s power ballads, especially Heat of the Moment (I think in 'Kenny Dies') and All out of love (Raisins). Oh oh before I forget, You're the Best (around!) never failed to crack me up in The Losing Edge!

Supernatural! As soon as I heard the strains of Bad Moon Rising as the Winchesters drove off in Devil's Trap I started biting my nails - perfect accompaniment.
Others have mentioned Renegade, which I loved too - all the musical choices here have been awesome, thanks to Kripke's well known love of rock.

Must stop now otherwise I'll be here all day! Music is very important to me on tv shows: like they say on South Park, sometimes you need a montage (montaage!)!

Emily said...

So many great moments. I always loved Michelle Branch's "Goodbye to You" used in Buffy-Tabula Rasa while Tara's moving out. Heartrending. Also, Homicide's use of Tori Amos's "Crucify" in the episode "Law and Disorder".

Anonymous said...

Half the songs on my iPod are ones off the tv that stuck. Seconded "Devil Town" on Friday Night Lights and Tori Amos' cover of "I Don't Like Monday".

Also, Bellylove's "Back to Freedom" from Buffy 3.1 and "Samson" by Regina Spektor from CSI NY's All Access.

James said...

I don't know whether anyone's said it yet, as I don't have time to read all the comments, but I thought that Prez cleaning his classroom to 'Ring Of Fire' in season four was pretty excellent.

Anonymous said...

James:
Good call on RofF, although they've used Johnny Cash before. I like that 'The Wire' tries not to have music exactly match the mood.

While I liked nearly all the H:LOTS music, John Lee Hooker's "I Cover the Waterfront" as they fish Crosetti out of the harbor is one of the top moments of the show. I'm not sure what song they play at the end of the episode (Meldrick finds the NO jazz funeral a bit over the top), but it is one of my top 3 episodes of the show.

Of course "Full Court Press", featuring both the hilarious Bernard Weeks subplot and the incomparable, irreplaceable James Brown and his "Good Foot" is a good episode as well.

owen said...

Three months later, I figured out how to do video capture. So here's the youtube for one of my picks: Peggy Lee's "Fever" in a last-season episode of China Beach.

Heather said...

Ingrid Michaelsons "Keep Breathing" at the end of the Greys Anatomy episode where Christina is in her apartment having a breakdown after Burke didn't show at the wedding....

Also, "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol on Greys Anatomy when Denny dies and Izzy is crying.

jlindquist said...

Late to the party, I know...

The first occasion *I* ever noticed someone use contemporary music to thread together the events of an episode, Magnum P.I. used Genesis' "The Brazilian" as Magnum prepares and stalks Quang Ki throughout Season 8's "Unfinished Business". It disappeared off syndicated repeats for years, but it returned later.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't suggest Joe Cocker's "I'm So Glad I'm Standing Here Today" from "Infinity and Jelly Doughnuts".