Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Best of Music on TV for the 2000s

Since everyone has different taste in music, television and film, it seems safe to say that a number of people might not always relate to my posts. So Greg Gallant, Copy Chief of ACRN, is writing here today as a guest blogger. He'll be listing his top 10 music/film/television moments from the 2000s. Without further ado...

Songs usually serve to enhance an episode of television, but, many times, the drama on the screen can serve to enhance the song, creating a more fitting visual counterpart than any music video could drum up with just a few minutes of story.

1. Must be pre-existing songs used in a scripted sitcom or drama.
2. Characters singing the song is OK.
3. No theme songs or title sequences.
4. God Bless Flight of the Conchords, but they don't count.

10: Bob Dylan - Don't Think Twice, It's Alright. "Mad Men" - The Wheel - 2007.
As the first season of "Mad Men" came to a close, viewers got their first glimpse of the cracks in Don Draper's armor. After declining to go on a family vacation in order to work, Don decided to hurry home and join in on the fun. He made it in time, and there was much rejoicing -- except that it was only a fantasy (a rare gambit from the AMC show). His actual arrival was too late, and he wound up sitting alone in his empty mansion. Cue Bob.

9. Starland Vocal Band - Afternoon Delight. "Arrested Development" - Afternoon Delight - 2004.
"Arrested Development" had so much comedic success with their own music and song rip-offs (eg, "Yellow Boat" for "Yellow Submarine"), that they rarely used popular songs. In this episode though, Michael and his niece, Maeby, decide to sing a little karaoke. Michael suggests, "let's do the first song on the list!" The song proves to be more sexual than the title indicates, and their mistake is soon repeated by Michael's sister and son.

8. Delta Spirit - People, Turn Around. "Sons of Anarchy" - Potlach - 2009.
The amazing second season of FX's "Sons of Anarchy" featured an almost non-stop escalation of the feud between the two main characters, Jax and Clay. Their animosity reached one of its several boiling points as Gemma (Clay's wife/Jax's mom) was serving dinner to the club. Gemma smashing a serving tray is a good wake-up call for the Sons, but only temporarily.

7. Wheatus - Teenage Dirtbag. "Generation Kill" - Combat Jack - 2004.
Words can not express how saddened I am that this clip is not available online. It probably could have cracked the top 3, but it's hard to explain how amazing the scene is without showing it. After a series of intensely dramatic events, the soldiers are once again driving through the desert in their humvee, and they bust out an amazing (and apt) a Capella version of the song.

6. Seal - Kiss From a Rose. "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" - The Gang Wrestles for the Troops - 2009.

With IASIP, as the quality of the show has waned over the past couple seasons, the budget has gone up. In short, more money = less funny. However, in this scene, surely one of the most bizarre pieces to ever air on basic cable, Dee abandons the soldier she had been writing to upon seeing him in a wheelchair. Frank is stuck there with his gift of jean shorts and a Seal-filled boombox. His salute for the soldier lasts absurdly long and is only made funnier by the song and the fact that Danny DeVito is barely taller than a handicapped man. (Skip to about the 1:30 mark if you just want to hear the song.)

5. Solomon Burke - Fast Train. "The Wire" - Mission Accomplished - 2004.

Season 3 of "The Wire" was perhaps the greatest season of television ever, and Burke's rendition of the Van Morrison classic was the perfect choice for the season-ending montage. SPOILER ALERT: The images show the ends of many of the brilliant stories told over 37 episodes, while also evoking the theme of business as usual, returning to the streets of Baltimore.

4. The Polyphonic Spree - Light and Day/Reach for the Sun. "Scrubs" - My Choosiest Choice of All - 2004.

"Scrubs" has used a billion great songs over the years, many of them employed excellently within the show. It was a challenge to pick one, but when all (or most, or some, maybe) of The Polyphonic Spree showed up in a patient's room to perform for the montage, that took the cake.

3. TV on the Radio - DLZ. "Breaking Bad" - Over - 2009.

SPOILER ALERT: "Breaking Bad" is the story of a chemistry teacher who essentially uses his cancer diagnosis as an excuse to descend into the world of crime. Sure, he is providing for his family, but as the show goes on, he keeps losing reasons to cook meth... and yet doesn't stop. In "Over," he vows to quit the drug game, but the monotony of his everyday life drives him back into its arms.

2. ASIA - Heat of the Moment. "South Park" - Kenny Dies - 2001.
Again, it is a tragedy that this clip is not available on YouTube, but if you haven't seen it, trust me, hilarious. When Kenny is on his death bed (for real), Cartman must plead to Congress for stem cell research. When his speech isn't quite working, he launches into this 80s staple. One representative joins in with the stomp-stomp-clap, and pretty soon the entire legislative body is rocking out to ASIA.

1. Johnny Cash - When the Man Comes Around. "Generation Kill" - Bomb in the Garden - 2008.

I defy you to show me five minutes of footage that says more about modern warfare than the final moments of the HBO miniseries "Generation Kill." As the soldiers gather around to watch the movie created by one of the grunts, they have mixed feeling about what they're watching, and begin to leave one by one. Cash is the perfect soundtrack for this powerhouse scene.

-Greg Gallant, Copy Chief


  1. Thanks for sharing this interesting post on Best of Music on TV for the 2000.

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  2. Nice post. I just read HELLA NATION, a book Evan Wright published recently. There is some military stuff in it–about 101st Airborne troops in Afghanistan– but mostly it’s writing he did for Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair about Americans, from Anarchists to Ultimate Fighters to some pretty insane stuff about Hollywood. A lot of the writing in HELLA NATION has the same darkness and humor and oddball characters as Generation Kill. Wright also goes into his background writing at Hustler, which he mentions in Generation Kill, but here it’s much more personal. His essay about the porn industry is definitely creepy and fascinating. HELLA is very much the same writing as Generation Kill, but the subjects are very different.

  3. 5, 6, and 10 (my favorite shows and songs from this list) I can remember the whole episodes, plus when those songs came in. Great list!