While most of you were listening to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” exclusively during this week’s World Series, we were keeping our ears perked for the best of the rest. With Halloween around the corner, it’s only right that it was a spooky time for “show tunes” indeed. But how did the music fit in with the vampires, ghosts, killers, sociopaths wicked witches… and their hunters? Find out below. (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS follow!)
ONCE UPON A TIME (ABC)
The song: The Black Keys, “Howlin’ for You”
The episode: “Pilot” (101)
The hook: Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, The Evil Queen and Co. may run the show in Storybrooke, Maine, but in her first scene of Once Upon a Time, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) showed that she calls the shots in Boston. She was decked out in a sexy red minidress for a blind date – or at least that’s what the guy sharing a table with her thought. In fact, she was there to nab the unlucky lowlife in her official capacity as a bailbonds(wo)man. Of course her date ran, and of course she took him down – in killer heels, no less. The Black Keys’ growling, bass-driven rocker was a spot-on musical expression of her bad-ass, all-business persona.
Watch it! The takedown commences at 6:35 on Once’s Hulu page. See what happened after that with Shaunna Murphy’s recap, then check out Ken Tucker’s review of the pilot and see if you agree! (The Keys’ original video for the song is also worth noting. Does it feature Todd Bridges in a priest outfit talking about choking out a chupacabra? Why yes, yes it does.)
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES (The CW)
The song: Greg Laswell, “This Woman’s Work”
The episode: “Ghost World” (307)
The hook: Kate Bush’s late-’80s song has been covered by everyone from Maxwell to Gwyneth Paltrow, but Laswell’s 2009 version was especially well deployed in the climactic battle of Thursday’s Vampire Diaries. As ghosts with unfinished business laid Siege to Mystic Falls, it was up to good witches Bonnie and her grandmother (a ghost herself) to expel the spirits. Laswell squeezed every drop of emotion from the line “make it go, make it go away” while the witches let loose their incantation, Elena took the reins in restoring Stephan’s soul, and vampiress Caroline dispatched of dozens of vampire ghosts, save for Anna, who was touchingly reunited with her mother for their return journey to the other side. In a rare instance where women saved the days instead of men, this slow burn song about facing crisis couldn’t have been more stirring.
Watch it! The CW has not posted the full episode online yet, but you can listen to Laswell’s cover on YouTube as you read along to Mandi Bierly’s recap.
THE GOOD WIFE (CBS)
The song: Sleigh Bells, “Riot Rhythm”
The episode: “Marthas and Caitlins” (305)
The hook: At first this track from Brooklyn-based duo Sleigh Bells might have seemed an odd choice to underscore Alicia Florrick’s structured, color-inside-the-lines life. But that’s exactly why the Bells’ yowling noise pop worked so well. In the song’s first appearance, it seemed like obvious sonic mise en place when Alicia met with her daughter’s tutor (real-life “street dancer” Anne Marsen) to discuss the dangers of filming YouTube videos in midday traffic. But then the song played again as Alicia visited charismatic wife killer Colin Sweeney (Dylan Walsh) to negotiate a trade-off for his testimony. Unable to keep these fringe figures out of her life, the tune drove home Alicia’s need to push her boundaries in dealing with people who function on the periphery of civilized society. Add to that the lyrics, “Straight A kids like a treat/ She stands up and takes the heat.” Sound like anyone we know?
Watch it! The song first occurs at 11:57, then at 27:06, on CBS’s official Good Wife page. Read along with Melissa Maerz’s recap.
THE SECRET CIRCLE (The CW)
The song: Wolfgang Gartner Feat. Eve, “Get ‘Em”
The episode: “Masked” (107)
The hook: Witch hunters were afoot in Chance Harbor, Wash., this week, and they used masks as their tools to capture members of The Circle at a party. Gartner’s bass bumper was not only a believable party song but a forceful way to introduce one pivotal mask, which was first worn by Adam as he walked through the party checking out the fierce, spooky costumes all around him to Eve’s aggressive rap. Later, a witch hunter donned the same mask to trap Circle’s heroine Cassie (Britt Robertson). Music supervisor Liza Richardson chose “Get ‘Em” because it was “very cool, fun, current and also felt kind of Halloween-esque to me, a little dark and dirty.”
Watch it! The CW has not posted the full episode online yet, but you can listen to the track on YouTube.
HART OF DIXIE (The CW)
The song: Jason Jones, “Crazy for Now”
The episode: “Faith and Infidelity” (105)
The hook: If you’re looking for country in primetime, Dixie is the best place to start. Up-and-coming Nashville star Jones’s strumming ditty belied a seemingly flirty conversation between Lemon Breeland (Jaime King) and her fiancé George Tucker (Scott Porter). It proved an unexpected set-up for the growing fracture in Lemon and George’s relationship. While the melody resonated with the overly sweet attitude Lemon was putting on to compensate for difficulties they’ve been having of late, the lyrics – in which Jones bemoans all of society’s rules and hopes to keep things “crazy” – accentuated their differences even more because “crazy for now” is exactly what by-the-book socialites Lemon does not want to be.
Watch it! The guitar-plucking goodness begins at 3:23 on The CW’s Hart of Dixie page.
The song: Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers, “Monster Mash”
The episode: “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps” (305)
The hook: Because no Halloween weekend is complete without this 1962 novelty number! It played at the beginning of the episode during one of Britta’s notoriously lame (pre-)parties. Over the Crypt-Kickers’ organ accompaniment, Britta told Jeff that the results of a psych test she administered to the whole group revealed that one of the gang was a homicidal psychopath. Cut to a shot of the others dancing like maniacs to… you guessed it! I won’t ruin how Britta’s subsequent investigation turned out, but let’s just say, “It was a graveyard smash!”
Watch it! Check out the ghoulish dance party on Community’s Hulu page, and make sure to read Christian Blauvelt’s recap.
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