By Lanford Beard
Updated November 11, 2011 at 12:00 PM EST
NBC

Beastie Boys

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It was a week of dynamic duos for music on TV. There was a couple just getting started (Bored To Death), one reviving a relationship (Up All Night), and another for whom “’til death do us part” looks likely to come sooner than expected (Sons of Anarchy). Enemies forged unlikely bonds (The Vampire Diaries, Community), and lovers played with fire (How To Make It in America). For sheer spectacle, though, the most dazzling duo of all was a pair of Michael Jackson hits that provided a bit of closure and a chance to look back fondly amid a sad week for fans of the King of Pop. Read on to see which show honored Jackson and where our other favorite “show tunes” fit in this week!

UP ALL NIGHT (NBC)

The song: Beastie Boys, “Sabotage”

The episode: “First Night Away” (108)

The hook: New parents Reagan and Chris Brinkley took their first night out as a couple on Wednesday’s episode. Hoping to spice things up before heading to their hotel room for some long-delayed, post-baby love-makin’, they crashed a high school dance. As you do. Backed by romantic music, they had a sweet, genuine moment away from baby Amy — whom they love very much but, frankly, is a real cockblock. As they swayed, Chris asked, “Should I request our song?” Instead of a heart-melting ballad like “Kiss from a Rose” (which also appears in this week’s Jukebox), the distorted throb of “Sabotage” crashed out of the PA system. Who better to bring the foreplay than the Beasties, really?

Watch it! Set it straight, this Watergate at 14:29 on Up All Night‘s Hulu.

Craig Sjodin

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES (The CW)

The song: Cary Brothers, “Free Like You Make Me”

The episode: “Homecoming” (309)

The hook: Brothers’ tune was appropriately gentle to underscore a rare glimpse of vulnerability in arch villainess Rebekah as the original vampiress got ready for a school dance — her first in 1,000 years on earth. Elena came to visit her, and, as they discussed the plan to kill Klaus (the brother Rebekah both loves and fears), Rebekah teared up from competing relief and sadness. Brothers’ words, “Tonight is far too perfect for your pain… I’ll break us out of this jail and get you high, ‘Cause when it all ends, I want you to be free” were a lovely lyrical complement as Elena returned the necklace, Rebekah’s mother’s, for which Rebekah has been searching all season. Despite the fact that Elena staked Rebekah to make sure she didn’t compromise the plan, those moments before showed a moment of connection that is unlikely to be repeated again.

Watch it! The CW hasn’t posted the full episode online yet, but you can listen to “Free Like You Make Me” on YouTube and see what Mandi Bierly thought of Thursday’s episode in her recap.

SONS OF ANARCHY (FX)

The song: Battleme & The Forest Rangers, “Time”

The episode: “Hands” (410)

The hook: Both perennial Sons‘ favorites, Battleme and The Forest Rangers (who perform Sons‘ theme song) teamed up on a track that was given pivotal placement in the series’ most brutal, shocking episode yet. Insulted and violently beaten by her husband Clay, Gemma had a choice to make. As the contemplative song played, Gemma — face discolored and swollen by Clay’s hands — proved she was not just an “old lady.” The words “it’s better to lose than see you again” floated in the air as Gemma coldly proclaimed that Clay could not “be saved” and must die. Lesson learned: Do not mess with Gemma.

Watch it! FX hasn’t posted the latest episode of Sons online, but you can listen to a clip of “Time” on YouTube as you read why our critic Ken Tucker considered Wednesday’s installment “the best episode of a very strong season.”

Craig Sjodin

HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA (HBO)

The song: Jaime Woon, “Night Air”

The episode: “I’m Sorry, Who’s Yosi?” (206)

The hook: “I’ve acquired a kind of madness,” sang Woon as Ben sailed around New York Harbor on a private yacht. This posh cruise couldn’t have been farther from the lifestyle he was trying to move up from not long ago, and he told Nancy, the wife of his prospective business partner, “I used to think [the New York skyline] represented everything I couldn’t have. Tonight I feel like I’ve got a shot.” The only catch? Ben has also been sleeping with Nancy and, thus, jeopardizing his future. Woon’s sensual song portrayed their physical attraction while its lyrics about the madness of nighttime conveyed the risk they’re taking. When The Damned’s hard-edged rocker “New Rose” began playing moments later — as Ben and Nancy had sex in the yacht’s galley — it was an excellently jarring contrast and a foreshadowing of the trouble to come.

Watch it! America is only available to HBO Go subscribers, but everyone else can check out “Night Air” on YouTube.

NEXT: Cirque du Soleil takes on the King of Pop, Joel McHale butchers Seal, and more

Craig Sjodin

DANCING WITH THE STARS (ABC)

The song: Michael Jackson, “Smooth Criminal/Billie Jean”

The episode: “Week 8 Results” (1316)

The hook: There was a lot of ugliness surrounding Michael Jackson’s death this week, so it was a nice change of pace when DWTS invited Cirque du Soleil to show off some moves from their Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour. Politics and personal demons aside, Jackson was a stunning dancer who made game-changing music videos and will influence artists for generations to come. Cirque took the best of Jackson’s signature moves and mixed in their own inventive staging, including acrobats swinging around Dancing‘s massive disco ball, plus some fantastically shiny, LED-pimped tracksuits (take that, Step Up 3D!). It was eye candy at its best.

Watch it! The tribute begins at 26:48 on Dancing‘s Hulu, and you can see what hidden gems lurked in this week’s episode by reading Annie Barrett’s recap.

THE SECRET CIRCLE (The CW)

The song: Widowspeak, “Hard Times”

The episode: “Balcoin” (109)

The hook: Chairlift’s “Guilty As Charged” (which won’t be released until January) set the pace for a night of sparks flying between teen wiccan Cassie and her love interest Jake. As they got deeper into the evening, Widowspeak’s tune gave a party they both attended a dreamy throwback vibe, and its repetitive “over and over and over” refrain gave voice to the teens’ back-and-forth dynamic. The buzzy Brooklyn band’s ballad also “personified the longing and connection growing between Jake and Cassie,” said music supervisor Liza Richardson. Add to the mix that Jake, the would-be boyfriend, is also a witch hunter whose mission is to kill Cassie. “Hard Times” indeed.

Watch it! The CW won’t post the full episode until next week, but you can hard “Hard Times” on YouTube.

NBC

COMMUNITY (NBC)

The song: “Kiss from a Rose,” originally by Seal

The episode: “Studies in Modern Movement” (307)

The hook: Close your eyes and imagine the twilight sun setting in the distance as waves gently lap the beach and Seal’s velvety 1995 ballad wafts through the air. Is your next thought, “Oh yes, of course this must be a blackmail karaoke date at the mall?” If so, you are a Community fan to the core. And also a sicko. Dean Pelton was behind Jeff’s karaoke on Thursday. They ran into each other at The Gap, and it all went downhill from there. Forcing Jeff into a karaoke booth, the Dean assured his uncomfortable companion, “It’s going to be fun… or else.” Seeing Jeff’s sourpuss, he added, “We’ve sung it a thousand times together… in my mind.” Now overlay their awkward singing over Britta and Shirley giving a ride to a Jesus freak, pothead hitchhiker, Troy and Abed putting on a shadow puppet theater for Annie, and Pierce getting high on paint fumes, and you’ve got Community comedy gold. Even Jeff had to admit it was “a little fun” by the end. Pelton: “And you e-mailed your therapist that you wanted to be alone this weekend!” Ohhhh, so close!

Watch it! Join in Jeff’s power, Jeff’s pleasure, Jeff’s pain beginning at 12:32 on Community‘s Hulu, and find out where the paint fumes came into play with Christian Blauvelt’s recap.

BORED TO DEATH (HBO)

The song: Arling & Cameron, “Voulez-Vous”

The episode: “I Keep Taking Baths Like Lady Macbeth” (305)

The hook: While Ray’s elderlove for Belinda (Olympia Dukakis) provided some of the show’s standout lines this week, it was George hooking up with his ganja-loving voice teacher Josephine (played by Ted Danson’s real-life wife Mary Steenburgen) that made for a truly hilarious and bizarre musical moment. To the beats of the lounge-y, next-gen Brazilian Girls electropop outfit, Josephine put on a flapper dress and feather headdress, then undulated in front of lava lamp projections as George drank her in with glassy eyes and an open heart. Weird? Yes. Memorable? Hell yes.

Watch it! Bored To Death is only available to HBO Go subscribers, but everyone else can listen “Voulez-Vouz” on YouTube.

Read more:

TV Jukebox: ‘Parks and Recreation,’ ‘Grimm,’ ‘Parenthood’ feature our favorite songs on TV this week

TV Jukebox: ‘Once Upon A Time,’ ‘The Good Wife’ feature our favorite songs on TV this week

TV Jukebox: ‘Revenge,’ ‘Gossip Girl,’ ‘American Horror Story’ feature our favorite songs on TV this week

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