Many shows came and went this week, and the music featured in them proved a rich testament to just how good the fall season is shaping up to be for those new shows that have earned their place and the returning shows that continue to impress. From the silly (Jersey Shore, Community) to the serious (Sons of Anarchy, The Vampire Diaries), and even reality shows (Dancing With the Stars, The X Factor), our favorite shows offered a treasure trove of musical gems. See our picks after the jump!
DANCING WITH THE STARS (ABC)
The song: “Prelude” from Pyscho
The episode: “Round Four” (1304)
The hook: Ricki Lake seemed thisclose a breaking point during rehearsals for Tuesday’s “Movie Night” show, but when she took the stage, she proved her star quality — and redeemed herself for Mrs. Winterbourne — over the next 90 seconds. Let’s overlook Derek Hough’s flesh goatee and focus on the musicality in his choreography and his evocative silhouette staging. Did Lake stumble a few times? Yes. Were her scores (the first two 10s of the season courtesy of Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli) overly generous? Perhaps. But when Dancing‘s choreographers forego half-baked pop covers, the results are often magical (see: “Hedwig’s Theme” from season 12). Say it with me now… “Go Ricki! Go Ricki!”
SONS OF ANARCHY (FX)
The song: Noah Gundersen, “Family”
The episode: “With an X” (406)
The hook: Sons‘ sixth episode of the season kept up its trademark mind-boggling intensity. “Kurt Sutter and I are pretty voracious when it comes to finding new music,” said Music Supervisor Bob Thiele in an EW exclusive. “Because our characters live outside the margins of convention, we look for artists who are like-minded.” Washington state singer-songwriter Gundersen’s Damien Rice-esque acoustic meditation provided a pitch-perfect backdrop for the closing montage of this jam-packed episode, especially as Gundersen sings about “the men who watch them like hungry black eels” while Unser places a threatening note in Tara’s car.
Watch it! FX doesn’t stream full episodes of Sons, but you can hear the song on Noah Gundersen’s official site.
HAPPY ENDINGS (ABC)
The song: “Torn,” made famous by Natalie Imbruglia
The episode: “Yesandwich” (203)
The hook: Sure, it’s not “Love to the Power of Love,” but it was a Happy coincidence that Megan Mullally is a certifiable triple threat. Playing mom to Penny (Casey Wilson), she put her singing, dancing, and acting chops to the test after a week of bickering found the mother and daughter patching things up over — what else? — 1990s pop. Whether it was the sparkly-lapelled unitard-y goodness, the duo’s hilarious interpretative dance, or the fact that it all took place at a boat show, one thing was for sure: We heart Two Hartz Beat as One.
The song: The Police, “Roxanne”
The episode: “Remedial Chaos Theory” (304)
The hook: In a Sliding Doors-on-crack episode featuring seven different realities, Community came through yet again with an awesome ’80s motif. The song played throughout the episode, which was set during a dinner party hosted by Troy and Abed. Viewers were asked, What would happen if [fill in the blank] answered the door? Though the other characters’ actions shifted with each iteration of the evening, Britta had only one objective: Karaoke the bejeezus out of “Roxanne.” In six of the seven realities, she was harshly shut down but in the final installment she got her chance to yowl and whine with Gordon Sumner himself. The gang broke out into a stellar dance party, and all was right with the world.
Watch it! “Roxanne” song plays throughout the episode, but the happy ending kicks off around 16:50 on Community‘s Hulu page.
THE X FACTOR (Fox)
The song: “It Must Have Been Love,” originally by Roxette
The episode: Judges House #1 (107)
The hook: Last night’s X Factor began with the upbeat dancer “What A Feeling” from Alex Gaudino Feat. Kelly Rowland, but it was an understated rendition of Swedish duo Roxette’s 1990 power ballad that stole the show. Mind you, 14-year-old Drew Ryniewicz wasn’t even born when the song from the Pretty Woman soundtrack topped the charts, but her performance showed a maturity beyond her years that left Simon Cowell practically speechless. When thorny tongued Cowell can only follow up a performance with a stunned, “Amazing,” you know you’ve succeeded.
Watch it! See Ryniewicz’s stirring performance on The X Factor‘s official site.
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES (The CW)
The song: Shady Bard, “Torch Song”
The episode: “The Reckoning” (305)
The hook: After several near-death scrapes, last night’s title said it all. Between Damon (Ian Somerhalder) rescuing Elena (Nina Dobrev), Tyler (Michael Trevino) and Caroline (Candice Accola), and unlikely hero Matt (Zach Roerig) finally gaining closure with the spirit of his murdered sister Vicki (Kayla Ewell), all the major players were looking for salvation and healing in their own ways. Enter the Brit group’s evocative tune. The repeated call “Save me,” underlaid by the opening verse (“What a time to pick a fight/ The world is full of those tonight”) seemed a particularly fitting way to drive home the resolution of several story arcs.
JERSEY SHORE (MTV)
The song: Wallpaper., “#STUPiDFACEDD”
The episode: “Situation Problems” (411)
The hook: Jersey‘s resident “Blast in a Glass” Deena Nicole Cortese was on fire with desire last night. Desperate to “do sex” with DJ Pauly D, she took to da club and got crazy-wasted in hopes that her inhibitions would rub off on Pauly. Wallpaper.’s electro-pop club thumper hilariously underscored Deena’s epic fail at sobriety and love, and lyrics like “Super Soaker filled with Four Loker, plus SoCo, real gross, yo” matched Deena’s own verbal poetry as she lobbed one come-on after another at her uninterested housemate.
Watch it! Deena barrels toward her “white girl wasted” nadir at 6:11 on Jersey‘s MTV page.
PAN AM (ABC)
The song: “Danke Schoen,” made famous by Wayne Newton
The episode: “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” (103)
The hook: With the espionage and drama in Sunday’s Pan Am, the show finally kicked into high gear. But a lighthearted kicker made it the series’ most well-rounded yet as Maggie (Christina Ricci) succeeded in a quest to get a box of Cuban cigars to President John F. Kennedy. “I just want to thank him for making me realize that each of us can make a difference,” she told a Secret Service officer on the tarmac of West Berlin Airport after Kennedy’s famous 1963 speech. The Cubans made their way into the President’s hands, and Maggie even got a wave from the Pres for her troubles. Newton’s blithe rendition of the 1962 song plays not only on Maggie’s desire to thank a hero but also on the hope of a time long before Kennedy’s nation-shaking assassination.
The song: Regina Spektor, “Human of the Year”
The episode: “Pilot” (101)
The hook: If you learn anything from Enlightened‘s pilot, it’s that Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern) is a mess. Starting with a near-psychotic break at her office that was one automatic weapon away from a Lifetime movie, we got a glimpse into her world of meltdown, letdowns, and emotional dysfunction. After a court-ordered therapeutic retreat to Hawaii, where she swam with the turtles and read books with titles like Flow Through the Rage, Amy returned to her imploded life hoping for a fresh start. By the final beats of the episode, Amy had a cathartic moment upon seeing her withholding mother reading a letter meant to heal their relationship. Buoyed by that hope, Amy returned to her job in her sunniest yellow dress as Spektor’s ethereal chorus of “Hallelujahs” rose over the din of everyday life. Riding up to her old office, Amy envisioned the shimmering light and the shadow of her Hawaiian turtles above. In this moment, we knew Amy’s inner tranquility would not be thwarted.
The song: Manfred Mann, “Mighty Quinn”
The episode: “Alone in the World” (403)
The hook: Bob Dylan first wrote this song (originally called “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)”) in 1967, but it was made famous by British band Manfred Mann the next year. Given Fringe‘s ongoing alternate universe story arc, the use of a song that’s been slightly altered and reinterpreted into infinite realities over the years seemed particularly on-point metaphor for the cult show’s current season.