Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category

*SPOILERS AHEAD FOR TV SHOWS FROM THE EARLY 2000s*

TV series have a way of getting you emotionally invested in the lives of fictional characters, and music plays a huge role in this connection. I’m not talking about the theme song, or the score. I’m talking about those tracks that perfectly capture that monumental scene, such that they are forever associated. You can’t think of one without thinking of the other. Here are my top picks. (Note: these were the ones that most resonated with me, based only on TV shows I’ve watched over the years.)

Alias – S02E14, 2003

“God Put a Smile Upon Your Face” – by Coldplay

The premise: a thriller-drama about a female super spy turned double agent, Sydney Bristow (aka Jennifer Garner.) The story lines, characters, plot twists, and all the lies, were all so well woven together in this show.

The scene: Sydney and her CIA-handler beau Vaughn (played by the dashingly handsome Michael Vartan) are hanging out at her place, making dinner. But the food never makes it to the table, because they decide to get distracted by their physical attraction to each other.

Why it makes the list: a seemingly innocuous scene where nothing actually happens. Except they’ve had such a will-they-won’t-they relationship thus far, and in this scene, it seems everything is finally perfect. They’re so into each other, they can’t contain it; you can see it in their eyes, their body language, their faces. You can feel the heat between them. This track is a fantastic choice for this scene, because it has just the right amount of sexy and excitement, mirroring exactly what’s happening on screen.

 

Grey’s Anatomy – S02E17, 2006

“Breathe (2AM)” by Anna Nalick 

The premise: a medical drama. I have no idea how/why it’s still on the air 14 (!) seasons later. I cut ties after season 2, because I just couldn’t anymore. Meredith’s face never stopped pouting, George’s hair got obnoxiously curly, and don’t even get me started on the Izzie/Denny story line.

The scene: somehow, Meredith (aka Ellen Pompeo) got herself in a predicament where she was holding on to a bomb inside a patient’s chest cavity. If she let go, it would go off, so she had to slowly remove it, and hand it over to hunky, green-eyed bomb squad leader (ie Kyle Chandler, ie Coach Taylor.)

Why it makes this list: in spite of the show’s shortcomings, its earlier seasons were actually pretty good. Anything went. People died, bad stuff happened. This scene is incredibly intense. That bomb could go off any second. Yet this airy, light pop track is playing in the background, for a supposed calming effect. It’s a perfect distraction, making what happens next completely unexpected. I haven’t been able to trust this song since.

 

Scrubs – S08E19, 2009

“The Book of Love” – by Peter Gabriel 

The premise: a medical comedy that follows 4 friends, JD (Zach Braff), Turk (Donald Faison),  Elliott (Sarah Chalke) and Carla (Judy Espinosa) as they navigate through life, evolving from lost puppies, to strong women/men in charge, all while maintaining their friendships.

The scene: JD finishes his last day at the hospital, walks out and in front of him he sees glimpses of his possible future projected on a movie screen. A montage of yet-to-come events, to the backdrop of this beautiful song.

Why it makes this list: “Scrubs” was one those shows that was kind of like having a best friend around at all times. The characters felt real, their friendships felt real, the love felt real. JD is the sappy, cheesy type, so this finale fit him perfectly. I’d never heard this song prior to watching this episode; now whenever I hear it, this scene is all I see.

 

Six Feet Under – S05E12, 2005

“Breathe Me” by Sia 

The premise: the story of the Fisher family, who owned, lived and worked in their funeral home. Warning: this is a heavy show. It’s dark, raw, emotional, slow and also very well done (just don’t try and binge watch all 5 seasons – it’s too tough.)

The scene: the series finale. The series ended with youngest child Claire Fisher finally getting her life together and leaving her family’s (funeral) home to take on the world. As she drives away, flashes of how all the characters eventually die come through, soundtracked by this equally dark, raw, emotional, slow and very well done song. Easily one of the best finales I’ve ever seen.

Why it makes this list: it was a very character-driven show, so by the end you felt like Ruth, Nate, David and Claire Fisher were family, because you just knew them so well. Their good, their bad and their ugly (the episode where David gets attacked still haunts me.) Not to mention the acting chops on Michael C. Hall, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Krause and Frances Conroy. This entire video comes into view when I hear this song. It still gives me chills, and this scene alone made the entire series worth watching.

 

ER – S06E13, 2000

“Battleflag” – by Lo Fidelity All Stars 

The premise: another medical drama.

The scene: it’s Valentine’s Day and the ER staff are throwing a small party in the hospital. Dr. John Carter (aka Noah Wyle) stops by, and goes looking for a med student he’d asked to treat a patient.

Why it makes this list: it’s purely personal. I was obsessed with ER back in the day. I never missed an episode, watching it all in real time. No bingeing, no PVR. This was such a monumental episode because it changed the lives of so many characters. It’s an utterly benign scene, so you’d have no reason to expect anything major was going to happen. As things go awry, the music gets louder and louder, until it’s all you hear. To this day, I feel the pain of this scene all over again, any time I hear this track.

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We’ve all been there, it’s happened to each and everyone of us: the good old heartbreak. Whether from a significant other, a family member, even a friend, we’ve all been down the treacherous self-loathing path of why is this happening to me? I’m the misery-likes-company type of person, so when I’m down in the dumps, I need some friends to help me feel it all; here are some I’ve found along the way. (Note: in an attempt to broaden horizons, I’ve distanced this list from well-known artists, so don’t freak out.)

10. “I Hope Your Heart Runs Empty” by Neverending White Lights feat. Scott Anderson

Okay, so this track dates quite a few years back, but still has a way of getting under my skin. NWL is actually a one-man band of Daniel Victor who writes, performs and produces all his music, then gets quasi-known singers to provide vocals. In this case it’s Canadian punk band Finger Eleven’s lead singer. He has such a harrowing voice, it just crawls all over you.

Best line: “Stole a look away from your eyes, stole a look and finally paid your price”

9. “Cup of Coffee” by Garbage

Although it’s one of the lesser known tracks from this fantastic rock band, it’s also one of their most moving ones. It’s frustrating and angering, and so disheartening. Shirley Manson’s voice is heavy but tender; the music is both harsh and eerie. When someone ends things with you and you feel blindsided, this is probably how you’d feel.

Best line: “It took a cup of coffee, to prove that you don’t love me”

8. “Run” by Snow Patrol

From the initial guitar hook, to the aura of defeated in the vocals, this track had me instantly. This band has put out a lot of great tracks, but this one just has something special about it. It’s tragic, but it’s also heartfelt. It’s about two people who need to separate (geographically, it seems) and are having a tough time with it. Who can’t relate to what’s happening here?

Best line: “To think I might not see those eyes, it makes it so hard not to cry”

7. “Walk Away” by Ben Harper

The classic tale of knowing when to let go, even if you’re not ready to. If a relationship has ended due to circumstances or timing (and not because the love has faded), this is your jam. Harper has this insanely telling voice, full of so much expression and each and every intonation possible. His words cut deep, hit hard and make you want to cry all over. It’s a true lesson in doing the right thing, even though it hurts. A lot.

Best line: “But I would rather be locked to you, than live in this pain and misery”

6. “Personal” by Stars

One of the best ways to truly depict troubles in a relationship is to use both male and female vocals. You get to see/hear both sides of the story and feel even more immersed in the emotions. This track actually makes you feel like you got punched in the gut. Girl likes online version of boy, boy likes online version of girl. They decide to meet in person, but one of them decides they don’t like the real-version of the other. It shatters your heart in so many ways, addressing all our insecurities and how we think others see us.

Best line: “I was sure you saw me, but it wasn’t meant to be”

 

5. “Lost & Found” by Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas needs more credit: she’s phenomenal. She’s part R&B, part singer-songwriter and all soul. There’s a bit of a naiveté and innocence to her voice, which makes her sound even more relevant. It’s like she’s experiencing all these things for the first time. She’s exploring the world and finding out that sometimes it’s painful and it sucks and it’s confusing. This tune is part introspection, part crushing, and all therapy.

Best line: “You broke me and taught me to truly hate myself”

4. “Angels” by The xx

The xx are one of those bands that understand music and sounds so incredibly well, they know exactly how to bring all elements of a song – instruments, vocals, production – in perfect harmony, so that the track is felt from every direction. When Romy isn’t singing, the instruments and music do it for her, taking the listener on a continuous journey. This track is all about finding that elusive connection we all seek, and how overwhelming it can be we it’s found.

Best line: “You move through the room, like breathing was easy”

3. “9 Crimes” by Damien Rice

Damien Rice has such a delicately refined voice, able to hit all the lows and reach all the highs. What makes this track so engaging is it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on. It’s dramatic and heavy and ominous. There seems to be some sort of adulterous situation going on, there are guns involved, and the male and female vocals both talk about bad timing and being horrible people. I have yet to identify 9 actual crimes, but man, this is a good one.

Best line: “Leave me out with the waste, this is not what I do”

2. “About Today” by The National 

I’ve written/spoken about this track time and time again. It should be a staple go-to track in everyone’s life. It’s one of the most real and honest tracks about the dissolution of a relationship. It’s awkward and tense, and you feel the constant knot in your stomach growing and growing, until you find yourself audibly sighing, because you know where this is headed. It even sounds like the violins are crying. If you don’t find yourself crawled up in the a fetal position by the end of it, you have no soul.

Best line: “You just walked away, and I just watched you; what could I say?”

1. “Poison & Wine” by The Civil Wars

This song pulls at each and every heart string one by one, and letting every single one echo for what seems like eons. It’s so full of pain and hurt and despair. It’s melancholic but folky, and sung with so much precision and sadness, you can’t help but feel all the dread in the air. This couple is on 2 completely different pages, and take turns expressing their inner monologue. Every line is full of contradictions, just like so many relationships. Ugh.

Best line: “I don’t have a choice but I’d still choose you” 

I came across an article a while ago, stating this year’s supposed summer songs have fallen short, and I couldn’t agree more. The pop world has let us down once again, and given us lame, played out tracks that are so been there done that. How are we supposed to enjoy our summer now? In spite of this, I’ve decided compile a list – I just had to get more creative.

“Handclap” – Fitz and the Tantrums

This track comes off Fitz and the Tantrums’ self-titled third studio album. They blur the line between rock and pop here, giving them more reach. It’s catchy/infectious, involves synchronized claps (it’s even in the title!) It passes the ultimate summer song test too: you definitely want to blast it and sing along with your car windows down (and not be embarrassed about it.)

“Free” – Broods

This track from New Zealand brother-sister duo is not to be missed. It’s grungier than your typical summer dance track, but it’s anthemic and empowering. You just can’t help but hit repeat over and over once it ends, because that good a feeling is so addictive.

“Hasta Que Se Seque El Malecón” – Jacob Forever

No summer song list is complete without a little Latin flare. It’s your standard reggaeton track, and I mean that in the best way possible. Your hips  want to sway, you want to dance, and even if you can’t exactly sing along or understand the lyrics, it doesn’t matter. You hear this, and all you see is partying somewhere warm, beachy, drinks flowing; it’s irresistible.

“Wow” – Beck

Okay, so I have no idea where/how Beck came up with this track. He’s known to be rock/indie, and although his music has always been a little offbeat and eccentric, I’ve never heard anything like this from him” it’s borderline hip-hop. The music is perfectly produced and executed, and just keeps building and building – it’s a dope track even without lyrics. I never thought Beck would be on a summer jam list, but that just shows how talented he really is (right, Kanye?)

“The River” – Bishop Briggs

Briggs is a British musician who has taken the indie scene by storm with this track. Musically, you hear a bunch of different sounds coming together, and it’s impossible to ignore the hook. Vocally, she hits all kinds of ranges showing her versatility as well as how strongly she’s feeling the music. All you want to do is enjoy the crap out of this song.