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The Music of Mad Men, True Blood and Sons of Anarchy

by Jane Boursaw, posted Sep 28th 2009 2:01PM
Mad Men, season twoSome shows are really creative with their use of music, and one that stands out for me is Mad Men. In last night's episode (read Bob's review here), the song that played over the end credits was "Sixteen Tons," and they couldn't have picked a better song. After signing that contract, Don Draper did indeed owe his soul not only "to the company store," but also to Betty and to a life he doesn't seem all that happy about leading.

Another show with great use of music is Sons of Anarchy. In his review of "Tears," Danny noted, "Letting Katey Sagal sing a solemn cover of the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" was really a great move on whomever made that call." I couldn't agree more. The song just washed all of the sadness and weight of her rape over us in a big way.

And, of course, I can't talk about TV show music without mentioning True Blood. Not only is the theme song perfect -- "Bad Things" by Jace Everett -- but specific scenes and the end credits always feature the exact right songs, as well.

Some examples include "Scratches" by Debbie Davies (at the end of the "Scratches" episodes); "Deeper Into You" by Johnny Hazzard (Lafayette begging to be turned, not killed); and "Walking the Dog" by Rufus Thomas (Sookie waking up to find Sam in dog form at the end of her bed). That's just a tiny sample; great music is used in every episode, and Nathan Barr (follow him on Twitter) does a truly awesome job with the True Blood score.

Clearly, a lot of thought goes into the song choices for these shows. What other shows make great use of music?

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What SOA needs needs needs is the song "Anarchy" by Nobody Can Dance.

Download it for free:

October 02 2009 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Chuck has some fantastic music (and if you watch Gossip Girl it's the same music team as Chuck).

I always thought The OC had some pretty good music too.

And yeah, ever since I started watching Supernatural I've gotten really into classic rock. They pick out some great songs.

September 29 2009 at 6:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Terri Lorah

Great review. I added you to my squidoo lens. Terri

September 29 2009 at 1:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

SoA definitely has some great music, my favorites so far were the remake of Young in the penultimate episode and John the Revelator in the finally. Kurt Sutter and Co definitely have a handle on how the music selection reinforces the themes of the show.

Royal Pains usually begins each episode with some good music too.

September 28 2009 at 7:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yep, Sons of Anarchy is amazing! The storylines...but when I heard Katey Segal sing Ruby Tuesday...chills.

and Supernatural consistently plays amazingly spot on music. And yes, they are on the CW

September 28 2009 at 5:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hate shows that use cool hip indie rock music just because its cool hip indie rock music. Usually the CW shows do this. And a lot of shows geared towards high school and college age viewers (The O.C., Melrose Place, One Tree Hill). I like when shows use songs that are representive of what the show is. For a show like "Sons of Anarchy" your going to use gritty, generally classic rock type songs. And "True Blood" uses great songs, half of those blues, rockabilly songs I've never even heard before but always enjoy the minute or two that they play for. "Lost" season premires tend to use good songs as well, but not so much throughout the season.

September 28 2009 at 4:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Scrubs always used great, usually lesser known indie music. And then Grey's Anatomy uses the same songs and stories the next season.

Chuck is also great.

September 28 2009 at 3:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've always been amazed by the musical choices in Friday Night Lights. It's always just blended so naturalistically with the show, it's pretty damn remarkable.

September 28 2009 at 3:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As my daugther tells me everyweek, Supernatural has a great soundtrack. The season finale always plays "Carry on My Wayward Son." A perfect ending to a season of this show concidering just how many times it looks like the boys just cant go on.

Love the music on TruBlood and I am so glad that more and more shows are putting in real music. Saw this trend start with shows back on the old WB and it jsut keeps getting better!

September 28 2009 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nip/Tuck always uses great music in both their episodes and they're promos! I also like the music the new 90210 uses.

September 28 2009 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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