In “the biz” (ugh, I hate me too) we call this “synergy.” Basically, what it boils down to is a scene between the studio head, the executive producer of a TV show and the guy at the record label. They all talk and laugh and order shrimp and then they discuss ways where the people who watch TV can also buy the single for a popular song or “pop song” as we say in the, erm, world.
Sometimes, it’s not for commercial reasons. Sometimes, it’s purely because the auteur behind the scene (hating myself even more, didn’t think it was possible) just feels like this is the song that needs to be played. Like that Don Henley song “New York Minute” that plays at the end of the West Wing episode “Somebody’s Going to Emergency…” as Sam Seaborn calls his philandering dad. Surely, Aaron Sorkin wasn’t trying to squeeze a few extra bucks out of us for Don Henley. He just felt like that song was appropriate, we would assume, since a lyric from the song sparked the episode title.
Anyway, sometimes it works and sometimes it’s just a hilarious, BRILLIANT example of how studio heads will do anything for a few extra bucks. LET’S CELEBRATE THEM ALL. Because it’s Friday and it’s time for TV.
5. Grey’s Anatomy featuring Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”
And sometimes, the show makes the band. A friend of mine, we’ll call her Bic as she likes pens and for no other reason, told me a story once about Snow Patrol, about how they were milling about backstage after or before one of their shows and TR Knight wandered in to say hello. The band was polite and TR left and one of the Snow Patrol guys asked the room who that was. When the answer, “The guy from ‘Grey’s Anatomy'” came, Snow Patrol guy’s eyes widened. “Oh. That show made us quite famous here, didn’t it?” Yes, British guy. Yes, it did.
Snow Patrol’s songs are famously theatrical. It’s part of the reasons why some people hate them but mostly why I like them, because when I listen to them I can pretend like I’m in a movie trailer about a plucky blogger who watches TV all day and sometimes forgets to wash the conditioner out of her hair. Or I listen to them and remember when Denny died and the many moons ago when I still liked Katherine Heigl and this show.
4. The Wonder Years featuring Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight”
Welcome to the song/TV moment that genuinely makes me cry. I remember vividly watching this unfold, watching poor Kevin Arnold climb onto the roof, peering into Winnie Cooper’s bedroom as she lay recovering from that bad car accident, and listening to this song play softly in the background. I remember thinking, “This is the prettiest song I’ve ever heard in my life.” I was 23 years old. Ok, no, I was like ten.
On a somewhat-related note, why can’t I buy this song on iTunes? Seriously, what is the deal? Every once in a while, I go to the store, look for the song and come up empty. Is it so WRONG to want “We’ve Got Tonight” and “Hollywood Nights” in my life? I’m not looking for an anthology or anything here.
3. Beverly Hills 90210 featuring Color Me Badd
Welcome to the song/TV moment that I actually CANNOT WATCH THE WHOLE WAY THROUGH. If cringing were an Olympic sport, I’d have four Gold medals and Michael Phelps’ bong in my hands right now.
That being said, what a fantastic episode. Every fan of the 90210 canon (that’s right, I called it a fucking canon) knows the Color Me Badd episode, and for good reason as this is the episode where we discover that Donna Martin’s uber-stuck-up mom is having an affair at the very same hotel where Donna’s favorite “band” is staying. “Group”? “Collection of soul-wrenching awful, complete with soul-patch?” “Possessors of THE MOST AMAZING PHOTO EVER TAKEN?”
For the uninitiated, if you’ve been wondering where the inspiration for “Dick in a Box” comes from, meet the Granddaddies. Oh, and try to watch this video without wanting to slap Kelly in the face.
2. Golden Girls featuring Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe”
What happens when one gay icon impersonates another? Does the world just start caving in on itself? If so, fine. I’ll be sucked into the center of the earth with this number playing on my iPhone and I will be cackling all the way.
It’s Bea Arthur’s deadpan that just destroys me and her movements are down. Ugh, I miss her. If anyone needs me, I’ll be over here sending chocolates and vitamins to Betty and Rue.
1. Dawson’s Creek featuring Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Wanna Wait”
Dawson’s Creek, the first major show for the fledgling WB network, was also the first show I could remember that played a LOT of pop music in place of an instrumental score. It also went one step further, revealing at the end of the episode the name and artist for the featured songs in the episode (now copied by a lot of CW shows, including Glee). And while most of them are ’90s pop relics and one-hit wonders that no one ever heard of again, there is no greater ’90s pop relic than this one. As soon as you hear Paula Cole’s wail about waiting and what-not, you are immediately sent back to this- a J. Crew commercial disguised as opening credits.