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TV dramas as musical tastemakers: A PopWatch survey

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Kate_l

Kate_lWith last week’s news that Alexandra Patsavas — the music supervisor for The O.C. and Grey’s Anatomy — was launching her own label, I got to wondering if there was any way to quantifiably quantify the effect of her shows’ soundtracks on an band’s success. But up to this point, the groups that have seen the greatest benefit — arguably Death Cab for Cutie, Snow Patrol, and the Fray — have been challenging test subjects, as their popularity had been at least somewhat confirmed prior to the TV appearance in question: Snow Patrol had already toured with U2, the Fray have been a band since approximately 1976, and Death Cab were no great secret to anyone who’d even marginally been paying attention.

So how happy is my inner scientist about yesterday’s release of Norwegian singer and Grey’s mainstay Kate Havnevik’s second album, Melankton? Very, very happy. And I hope you’ll join me after the jump to begin a new segment I’m calling “PopWatch’z Adventurz in Cultural Anthropop-logy.”

Havnevik (pictured) really does make the perfect case study, an ideal clean slate able to be examined with very few biases or tangential information to corrupt the data: She’s almost completely unknown on this side of the Atlantic, with a surname that’s decently hard to spell (always a fun game for Americans). Her music, while quite Björky, maintains a solid amount of challenging individuality, and has not yet, to my knowledge, been featured in a commercial (iTunes or otherwise). She’s a female vocalist lacking any sort of hoochie vibe, and does not seem to have a predilection for spelling; on the flip side of that, her name is not “Norah Jones.” Finally, and most significantly, Timbaland is in no way involved with her career.

But if you watch Grey’s, you’ve already heard four of the 12 songs on Melankton — five if you watched The O.C. — a phenomenon that lends an air of déjà vu to the album on first listen. It’s this phenomenon that can only fuel Havnevik’s success, for if there’s one thing people like better than exciting new music, it’s music they already know they like.

Will this familiarity lead Havnevik to the kind of success enjoyed by the boy bands listed above? I have absolutely no idea. Here’s where you come in! Please to take the following survey!

1) Have you ever heard of/listened to Kate Havnevik prior to this fascinating blog post? YES/NO

2) Please go to her MySpace page and listen to the track “Unlike Me.” Does this song sound familiar to you? YES/NO

3) Do you now or have you ever watched Grey’s Anatomy? YES/NO (If NO, seriously? Why are you reading this blog in the first place?)

4) If you hear a song you like while watching Grey’s, will you use the Internets (or other methods) to find out what it was? YES/NO

5) Have you ever bought music because you heard and liked it on a TV show? YES/NO (If YES, what?)

6) Do you think a band like the Fray would have broken out eventually, even had “How To Save a Life” not been shoved down our throats for months thanks to those damn Grey’s commercials? YES/NO

7) Have you finished listening to the Kate Havnevik song yet? YES/NO

8) Did you like it? YES/NO

9) Would you buy her album on the strength of the Grey’s Anatomy Seal of Approval? YES/NO

10) Did you buy The Secret because Oprah told you to? YES/NO (If YES, please spend the next 30 minutes focusing on getting me a pony, and then seek medical assistance.)

11) In your opinion, which band has best utilized television as a marketing opportunity?

Thank you! Your participation in PopWatch’z Adventurz in Cultural Anthropop-logy is valuable. We’ll announce Kate Havnevik’s first-week sales and the results of our survey next week!

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