Friday, December 28, 2007

TV's Top Music Moments of 2007

After a popular series finale fades -- or cuts -- to black, nowadays there's a mad dash to find the song that ushered out the show. Download stats the next day go through the roof, and sometimes that recording will make a mark on Billboard charts. This year, that scenario happened time and time again, even bringing a group long since out of favor back into the limelight. Not all the moments I have below followed this path, but they all stuck with me, long after the credits rolled.

10. Total Eclipse of Meth Lab Matt [video]
Nip/Tuck - Ep 5.07, Song: "Total Eclipse of the Heart" - Bonnie Tyler
Miserable Matt pulls a Richard Pryor, setting himself on fire trying to cook up some drugs (meth in this case) in his apartment. After catching on fire, he manages to do a swan dive from the second floor into his complex's pool. The usual histrionics of Matt's scenes are amusingly sent over the top by using this Bonnie Tyler classic. Songwriter Jim Steinman -- the writer behind Meatloaf -- has a gift for over the top.

9. Mad Men Don't Think Twice
Mad Men Ep1.13, Song: "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" - Bob Dylan
A fitting end to a nearly perfect first season of television. Dylan wrote the song as "a statement that maybe you can say to make yourself feel better," a consolation for your lover leaving you. As Don sits on the steps, we can imagine him having this argument in his head thinking about Betty and kids having left him -- this after finally realizing just how much he needs them.

8. Say Goodbye to the O.C., Bitch [video]
The O.C. Ep4.16, Song: "Life Is A Song" - Patrick Park
Credit Josh Schwartz for not playing the end of the series for tears, instead using the music for for a more simple montage of events that lead up to the series coming full circle. A grown and successful Ryan pays it forward by taking in a trouble youth. Cue whistling.

7. Life is Good [video] / [video] / [video]
Life Ep1.11, Songs: "Who By Fire" - Leonard Cohen, "Down Boy" - Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Finally" - The Frames
The freshman NBC series was on a serious roll to end the year. Not only did it get picked up, but the final few episodes were it's strongest, especially musically. It seemed like someone beefed up the budget when it became apparent that the show had legs, and the work that was done with music in the final episode was some of the most inspired placement I've seen all year.

6. The End to a 'Series of Dreams' [video]
John From Cincinnati Ep1.10, Song: "Series of Dreams" - Bob Dylan
JFC proved to be a frustrating series -- moments of brilliance were followed by unexplained madness. David Milch's brilliant use of language couldn't save the series from being known as 'the show that killed Deadwood.' I still get a bit emotional watching the beauty of the opening credits, and the opening to the final episode, where John and Shaunie surf in from God knows where to this Bob Dylan song. With the series already dead, it felt like a wasted moment of brilliance... a beautiful bridge to nowhere.

5. Prince in Purple (and freezing) Rain [video]
Super Bowl XLI Half-Time Show - Playlist: Prince's Super Bowl Set List
After several disappointing half-time shows in a row, Prince steps in and tears the place apart. His royal badness owned the stage wearing heels in freezing rain, and in need of hip-replacement surgery! His cover of Foo Fighter's "The Best of You" was amazing -- I still don't understand why it's a single.

4. Morning Breaks for The Darling Mermaids [video]
Pushing Daisies - Ep 1.07, Song: "Morning Has Broken" - Cat Stevens (sung by Ellen Greene)
Ok, if you haven't seen this one, then it probably won't seem that special. But when Aunt Vivian breaks into the Cat Stevens classic, all the perfectly orchestrated silliness that preceded in the episode helped set this up to feel more then just a tug at the heart strings. The Aunts finally break from their depression and The Darling Mermaids are back in the pool, synchronized beautifully to the music. For me, this is the point where the series went from good to positively great.

3. David Bowie is Having a Laugh[video]
Extras Ep2.02, Song: "Little Fat Man" - David Bowie
Ricky Gervais supplied the lyrics for David Bowie, reportedly suggesting that he try and do something musically in the vein of "Life on Mars" and the result is pure magic. Everyone sing along, 'see his pot-nosed face...'

2. Bob Dylan is a Cylon [video]
Battlestar Galactica Ep3.20, Song: "All Along the Watchtower" - Bear McCreary w/ Bt4
A Bob Dylan song acts as a catalyst that triggers beloved characters on the Galactica ship to realize that they are in fact cylons. BSG composer Bear McCreary says about the use of the song in BSG's universe: "Perhaps this unknown performer and Dylan pulled inspiration from a common, ethereal source." I guess that's related to the infinite monkey theorem, but Dylan still might think about retaining the services of Romo Lampkin to sue said unknown performer over trans-universe copyright infringement.

1. The Sopranos Resurrects Journey's Career [video]
The Sopranos Ep6.21, Song: "Don't Stop Believin'" - Journey
Possibly the cultural event of the year, it also sent Journey back up the charts for the first time in twenty years. The moment when creator David Chase cuts off the song with singer Steve Perry singing "Don't Stop..." and the screen went black still has folks talking about it. The choice of the song was partly for the opportunity to sync up 'Don't Stop' with the cut, but it's also simply a song from Tony and Carmela's past, telling nothing about his future. He's alive, though, ok? So is Journey, for that matter, with a new album coming out in 2008 (sans Steve Perry).

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