Behind every great lady there’s a great man singing behind her — at least that was the case for most of this week’s Jukebox. In one instance, there was even a man singing as a lady (welcome back, Glee!). This week saw one particularly untrustworthy B—- in Apartment 23, a new slew of Girls, a masseuse with a heart of gold (The Client List), and a Scandal-ous Beltway fixer with brass… well, you get where I’m going. To paraphrase the great Aretha Franklin, sisters were doing it for themselves — with the help of artists as diverse as The Clash, Sleigh Bells, Paddy Casey, and Otis Redding, of course. Check out our picks below, and make sure to click through to the last page to listen to all the songs in our customized Spotify playlist. (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS ahead!)
DON’T TRUST THE B—- IN APARTMENT 23 (ABC)
The song: Sleigh Bells, “Infinity Guitars”
The episode: “Pilot” (100)
The hook: It’s become nearly impossible to flip through primetime without hearing a song from Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells — not that I’m complaining. To set the tone in the first moments of the roommate-from-hell sitcom’s April 11 premiere, music advisers chose an appropriately rowdy track to play alongside the titular B—- Chloe (Krysten Ritter) crashing around her apartment in a furious make-out session with her new roommate’s fiancé, finally careening spectacularly into the cuckquean’s cake. “We were looking for a piece of music that would not only match the driving intensity of that opening scene, but amplify it,” explains executive producer Nahnatchka Khan. “The song felt fresh and gritty and raw and powerful — all adjectives we’d like to continue associate with the series.” In a nice bit of contrast, Nouvelle Vague’s mellowed-out cover of “I Melt With You” rounded out the ep, signaling a tonal shift when wronged roomie June (Dreama Walker) came to terms with Chloe’s aforementioned cake wrecking — and with the fact that her fiancé was a grade-A sleaze.
MAGIC CITY (Starz)
The song: Frankie Avalon, “Venus”
The episode: “Feeding Frenzy” (102)
The hook: There’s a reason our own Ken Tucker called Magic City star Danny Huston “so satanic he practically grows horns,” and this moment must have been at least part of it. The April 13 episode closed Avalon’s 1959 hit overlaying two very different scenes. First, the song provided an on-the-nose soundtrack to a princess-y presentation for Lauren (Taylor Blackwell), the tween daughter of Magic‘s main character Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Moments later, it transformed into a skin-crawling accompaniment as mob boss Ben Diamond (Huston) spoke to his cheating wife Lily (Jessica Marais) in sexually frank and threatening metaphors. With a simple change of scenery, the “Venus” marked the terrifying contrast between Lauren’s innocence and Lily’s ruin.
Watch it! Huston chews the scenery in the (NSFW) scene, starting at 46:45 on Magic City‘s official site.
The song: Harper Simon, “Wishes and Stars”
The episode: “Pilot” (101)
The hook: Sometimes all you have is $40 in your pocket, a dream in your heart, and a good song keeping you going. And so it was for Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) on Sunday’s series debut of Girls. After her parents abruptly refused to continue supporting her financially, 24-year-old Hannah was on her own. The wistful lyrics (“Everyone seems so certain. Everyone knows who they are. Everyone’s got a mother and a father. They all seem so sure they’re going far”) sung by Simon — the son and vocal doppelganger of his dad Paul — perfectly encapsulated Hannah’s state of mind and, as Hannah headed out into the streets of New York City, the tinkling tune expressed her not-yet-broken spirit, showing that the world was truly and completely open to her for probably the first time in her life.
Watch it! Hannah walks it off at 29:42 on HBO.com (free preview available only through May 14), and the stage is set for that show that Ken Tucker deemed “one of the most original thingamajigs to come along in a while.”
THE CLIENT LIST (Lifetime)
The song: The XX, “Stars”
The episode: “The Rub of Sugarland” (101)
The hook: In its debut episode on April 8, Jennifer Love Hewitt’s TV-movie-turned-dramedy The Client List expertly used music to trace the evolution of masseuse “with extras” Riley Parks. After her husband left her, she hit rock bottom to the tune of Angus & Julia Stone’s “Hold On.” Next, “Made For You” by OneRepublic played out her desperation to make ends meet. Then came the turning point as “Stars” bass line throbbed seductively while Riley worked her way up her first client’s leg. (It didn’t hurt that Riley’s first client was charming, generous — and soap-opera studly.) A few scenes later, Riley had gotten into her groove, and Brandon & Leah’s bumping “Show Stopper” conveyed that this new daily grind wasn’t necessarily as bad as Riley had imagined.
NEXT: A Glee debut, a broken heart in Dixie, a Criminal Minds reunion, and the love of the Irish on Cougar Town