There have been a number of fantastic moments on TV when a song marries the scene perfectly. For instance, “Hallelujah” in both The West Wing and The O.C. or Sia’s “Breathe Me” at the end of Six Feet Under. But those shows and others have provided us with so many great moments that there are tons that are overlooked. Do you remember how fresh “Take Five” sounded during a rare bright moment in season six of The West Wing? Or how hilariously bitchy Thanksgiving was in Gossip Girl season three? These are the best overlooked musical moments in the past ten years of television.
In alphabetical order by show name:
1. Show: American Horror Story
Song: Jessica Lange, “The Name Game”
While Jessica Pare made a big splash on Mad Men with her performance of “Zou Bisou Bisou,” nothing tops the creepy fun of Jessica Lange leading a sing-along to “The Name Game” in season two of AHS. The performance was unexpected, fun and perfectly horrifying in the context of the show. Hats off to Lange for commenting to the performance, only Pare and Colbie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) showed the same commitment and zeal on their shows.
2. Show: Gossip Girl
Song: Jason Derulo, “Watcha Say”
From beginning to end, Gossip Girl was known for its music. Like The O.C. before it, it capitalized on the ethos provided by a singer-songwriter or indie rock band playing in the background. However, very few songs actually played on the dialogue like the Thanksgiving scene in season three. With “Watcha Say” practically playing beginning to end, the entire cast gathered around the dining room table for a exchange of jabs, secrets and bland sweet potatoes. The scene is hilarious in its bitchiness but also perfectly paced to Derulo’s metallic crooning.
3. Show: Grey’s Anatomy
Song: Los Chicros, “Back In The Wild (Greenskeepers Remix)”
For what it’s worth, there are tons of a great musical moments on Grey’s. And most of those moments were usually dripping in pain and sorrow, such as the use of Anna Nalick’s “Breathe (2 AM)” in a scene later in the same episode we’re highlighting. In the two-part Super Bowl event, everything was very heavy, very dramatic. In the first part, it felt like some of the sexiness and fun had all but disappeared. That’s why this moment shared between Meredith and Cristina is so great. Despite the fact that Meredith has her hand on a bomb inside a man’s chest, she and Cristina are able to talk about the ’real problems’ in their lives: love, boyfriends and sex.
4. Show: Lost
Song: Mama Cass, “Make Your Own Kind Of Music”
Most of television’s most memorable musical moments are remembered for the gut-wrenching impact on viewers. In that department, Lost had things covered with a chilling score by Michael Giacchino. The show rarely used pop songs and when it did on the season two premiere, it came as a shocker. From the moment fans realized they were seeing life inside the hatch, Mama Cass became synonymous with the Island. It was probably one of the best reveals on TV in a long time and the song only added to its impact and delivery.
5. Show: Mad Men
Song: Nancy Sinatra, “You Only Live Twice”
After a season of Don playing a faithful, doting husband, the show ended with the question about Jon Hamm’s character remaining faithful or not. Set to one of James Bond’s arguably best theme songs, the scene served as a rebirth for Draper and several other characters on the show. Fans were greeted with a rare montage that showed us Peggy finding her own footing, Roger’s ass high on LSD, and Don wondering what’s next now that his wife is out of the house. From then on, you knew things were going to be different (as if they weren’t already).
6. Show: The O.C.
Song: Nada Surf, “If You Leave”
In teen world, Pittsburgh is Paris but instead of running off to an exotic city to live your dreams, you are running away to a steel town to escape your problems. That’s what Anna did at the end of season one when it became evident that she was never going to win Seth Cohen. In typical Pretty In Pink fashion, Cohen realizes his true feelings and rushes to the airport in a last ditch effort to win her back. Only, she doesn’t give him the satisfaction. And with Nada Surf playing in the background, Anna gets one of the shows best last lines: “Confidence, Cohen…”
7. Show: The Office
Song: Chris Brown, “Forever”
After six seasons of building up Jim and Pam’s relationship, it was hard to imagine how they would pull of the wedding episode. The episode built up to the big moment with calamity after calamity, pushing Pam to her breaking point. When the big moment finally happened, Michael Scott did exactly what you’d expect him to do: organize a YouTube dance to “Forever.” While fun and silly, it was paired with Jim and Pam’s secret wedding that made the whole moment feel sweet. It was also at the point that we started seeing Scott’s softer side more often, which made the moment feel genuine.
8. Show: Six Feet Under
Song: Death Cab For Cutie, “Transatlanticism”
It’s safe to say that most memorable scene from this show was Claire driving to New York and witnessing the future flash before her (and our) eyes. Sia’s “Breathe Me” yanked the tears out of anyone watching. But in season four, something special happened. After taking drugs with her friends (cue the Can’t Hardly Wait reunion with Peter Facinelli), Claire paints on her wall as Death Cab For A Cutie’s “Transatlanticim” plays on the stereo. The friends unexpectedly turn the moment into a drug-induced sing-along. Sadly, the moment is cut short by editing. 🙁
9. Show: Skins
Song: Crystal Castles, “Alice Practice”
The first class of Skins was easily the best cast. Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class) played the cocky Tony, who was sidelined by a car accident in the previous season. Suffering from amnesia, his character became a shadow of his former self. Meanwhile, Sid found his father dead in the kitchen. After spending the entire episode of aloof, he opened up to Tony at the Crystal Castles concert. It was a jarring if not powerful moment set to “Alice Practice,” a song full of angst and energy.
10. Show: The West Wing
Song: David Brubeck, “Take Five”
Late in season six, well after the Aaron Sorkin days, The West Wing orchestrated a surprisingly brilliant scene to the music of David Brubeck. It kicks off with Jimmy Smits making a reference to The Jerk. From there, the scene plays out to the rhythm of “Take Five” as the camera spins around sets of characters discussing all things but politics. It’s one of those scenes focused on sharp dialogue that was missed after Sorkin left the show.