Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Tuesday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best show currently on TV?” can be found at the end of this post.)
This week’s question: What is the best use of a song on a TV show?**
**Non-theme songs preferred. “Best” is loosely defined: Most memorable? Most moving? Cleverest? Most unexpected? etc.
Daniel Fienberg (@TheFienPrint), The Hollywood Reporter
I’m glad that last week I gave a short, simple and singular answer, because there’s absolutely no way to do this one without moving into a laundry list, starting with “The OC” and “Hide & Seek,” a sequence so seminal in its moment that it earned an “SNL” parody. Then you have to pick something from “The Americans,” a show that has mastered the art of building scenes around iconic ’80s hits, with the “Tusk” chase standing out as first and best among equals. Along the same lines, “Freaks and Geeks” probably had 15 perfect needle-drops and if I went with the “Americans” moment from the pilot, I’ll go with the “F&G” finale use of Grateful Dead’s “Box of Rain,” with Lindsay’s pure moment of discovery and self-discovery.
I know we were asked to stick to non-theme songs, but that last use of “Suicide is Painless” as the helicopter ascends in “M*A*S*H*” still has to be eligible. Speaking of finales, the use of “Don’t Stop Believing” in the finale of “The Sopranos” has basically overtaken any other use of a song that was pretty much ubiquitous anyway. The question didn’t specify that the song couldn’t be original, so I want to mention “Planet of the Apes: The Musical,” as my favorite musical moment from “The Simpsons.” Keeping in mind that recognition does no equal endorsement, Roger Sterling’s blackface performance of “My Old Kentucky Home,” was mortifying, magnetic and a magnificent character-driven moment. I feel like I need to mention one moment from “The Leftovers,” so I’ll go with trampolining to “Protect Ya Neck.”
Having gotten an assortment of worthy contenders out of the way, I think my actual and final answer will be some song from ‘The Singing Detective,’” which is a cheat, but you could probably pick 20 musical moments from what is possibly TV’s pinnacle. So once I’ve gotten there, my choice is the easy one for anybody who has seen the miniseries, specifically the …read more