Music highlights memorable television moments
Music has lent itself to some of the most classic television moments. With the power to evoke emotion, comes the responsibility for producers to execute and style scenes in dramatic fashion. At times, all it takes is minimal dialogue between characters layered with emotional melodies or appropriate lyrics.
1. How I Met Your Mother - Band of Horses, “The Funeral”
The last few seasons of How I Met Your Mother were especially relatable, demonstrating that friends - no matter the size of the circle - change and move on. Leaving for a new city, falling in love or starting a family are all life events that can move outlying relationships apart for better or for worse.
In retrospect, the pairing of this song to the scene in which we jump ahead to the moment just before Ted meets Tracy, The Mother, is hauntingly symbolic now that we know she dies in the finale.
A shock of lightening toys with the peaking melody at the moment Tracy walks on to the platform and forebodes the gut-wrenching scenario no one saw coming. The viewers are also treated to a montage of the show’s main characters coming to certain realizations of their own; Lily and Marshall gazing at their (exhausting) newborn, Barney seemingly distraught over keeping his relationship with Robin a secret from Quinn, Robin reminiscing over a photo of her with Barney during happier times.
The audience is also privy to the conversation held between Ted and Klaus in which Klaus explains that when you meet “The One”, you just know; a focal theme of the series overall. The song carries a mournful tone, tying nicely with the end of an era soon approaching.
2. The Mindy Project - M83, “Midnight City”
During what was surely a distraction for viewers at home, Mindy makes a grand romantic gesture to Casey by running to his apartment, complete with a chopped new hairdo, declaring that she will move to Haiti with him (for theatrical purposes, I understand Mindy has to tread her way through a sea of imperfect suitors before ending up with Danny, but Casey? Haiti? What a puzzling match, but I digress.)
In the background, M83’s “Midnight City” narrates. The synth-centric track melds the scene which places Mindy on the sidewalk outside Casey’s window with the song’s eager lyrics “Waiting in the car / waiting for the right time” driving the real point home: maybe there is no right time to create a grand gesture.
Sometimes, throughout our lives, we do what our heart tells us. Sometimes, that grand gesture whisks us away to Haiti because our heart desperately wants a relationship to work.
3. New Girl - Ellie Goulding, “Anything Could Happen”
The better half of the episode featuring Ellie Goulding’s hit focuses on the gang’s laughable tales of their First Time (wink!). Jess’ first, Teddy, is in town and asks Jess if she’d like to grab dinner, much to Nick’s internal anguish. “Well, you know, I just waited so long and Teddy took me by surprise, it was the heat of the moment,” Jess laments. “I didn’t have to think about it.”
Following a tense moment between Nick and Jess, she leaves the loft to meet Teddy. Just as Nick stops the elevator door from closing (his action a charming nod to stopping the proverbial door from closing on any future with Jess), the bubbly notes of the song begin. “Let’s not think about it,” Nick tells Jess as he sweeps her off her feet. Nick steals Jess from Teddy and wins. Anything could happen.
4. The Sopranos - Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing”
The series finale of The Sopranos included what is arguably the most intense scene in television history. Faithful watchers speculated the potential demise of hero/villain/basket case Tony Soprano. Would he get whacked in the end? Would he continue a paranoid life?
Beautifully written and directed, the diner scene illustrates the happier dynamic between Tony and his brood meeting for dinner. With each swing of the door, a bell rings. The passing of a customer or the peculiar way Meadow parks her car builds suspense. Camilla strolls in and Steve Perry begins to croon. Watching, it was hard not to assume one of the customers would kill Tony. A man with a Member’s Only jacket walks in with AJ, takes a seat at the counter and nervously taps his fingers while glancing at Tony.
As Member’s Only walks to the restroom, Tony makes eye contact. Do they know each other? It was all too much! Meadow, park the car! Just as she does, and trots into the restaurant, the bell rings and Tony looks up. The screen goes black. Personally, for 10 solid seconds, I truly believed the cable had gone out. Are you kidding me? Did Member’s Only come back and shoot Tony?
Fans theorized there was a link between Journey’s famous tune and the actions in the diner. One thing is certain: you’d be hard pressed to find someone who does not immediately have “Don’t’ Stop Believing” stuck in their head when recalling this undeniably epic scene.
At times, music is the missing link between visual art and the audience. It has the ability to move the scene along, adding emotion and engraving a memory that goes beyond just a television show.
Reach the columnist at Katie.Self@asu.edu or on Twitter @rallykate. You can also find her on Spotify at Katie Self.