TV Jukebox is back, music fans! What better way to emerge from last week’s tryptophan coma and kick off December than with a roster of rousing numbers? This week’s stand-out “show tunes” got our blood pumping during a shoot-’em-up sequence from Sons of Anarchy, a Ringer revelation, and a delightfully kooky Rocky IV reference on New Girl — and that’s just the start. See our picks below! (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS follow!)
SONS OF ANARCHY (FX)
The song: AWOLNATION, “Burn It Down”
The episode: “To Be, Part 1” (413)
The hook: Though Ryan Horne’s “Terrible Tommy” made an elegant appearance at the end of the first half of Sons‘ season finale (when once-powerful Clay was relegated to a hospital bed), it was a hard-driving action sequence as the guys of SAMCRO rode to Tig’s rescue that stood out as a true moment in the spirit of Sons. Bent on avenging Clay’s shooting, Tig found himself in the sights of rival gang the One-Niners. L.A. rockers AWOLNATION’s screeching ode to destruction — with lyrics about “looking down the barrel of today” — was the perfect choice to play while Jax and Co. roared down a gridlocked highway. For a club threatened by division throughout season 4, it was also a kick-ass moment of unity that was literally forged under the gun.
NEW GIRL (Fox)
The song: “Eye of the Tiger,” originally by Survivor
The episode: “Bells” (107)
The hook: Yet another 1980s hit that New Girl has repurposed for its own fantastically twisted means, Survivor’s ’82 guitar rock anthem was perhaps the most unexpected of all. It all began when replacement roommate Winston hijacked the high school bell choir Jess had volunteered to mentor. His commitment to the group knew no bounds, including fabricating a DIY hand bell set-up with a sky-high matching hat entirely from office supplies (see above). He may have been fired from his temp job, but he has officially been hired by the Center for Excellence in DIY Millinery (™ 2011 by me).
Watch it! New Girl will be posted online Dec. 8. Until then, watch the cheesetastic original video (recently given the dubious distinction of the No. 31 worst of all time — score!) on Survivor’s YouTube while you catch up on the episode with our recap.
The song: Ingrid Michaelson, “All Love”
The episode: “Lonely Ghosts” (107)
The hook: Michaelson’s tune of relationship dysfunction wonderfully expressed the dynamic between Amy and her ex-husband Levi. After Amy realized her feelings for him haven’t been entirely resolved, she was disheartened to learn that Levi wanted to keep his options open. The song played after Levi told Amy he was expecting another girl at his apartment, sending Amy home to sleep alone. The words “When I’ve had the greatest day/ You add more gray, it’s just your way” and “I’ve had enough but I keep asking you to give me more… It’s all love, my stupid love” provided a lyrical point of reference for Amy’s mixed feelings, and the song’s sonic build-up from a soft, plucking ballad to an angry rocker expressed them musically.
THE X FACTOR (Fox)
The song: “Dirty Diana,” originally by Michael Jackson
The episode: “Top 8 Perform” (119)
The hook: Josh Krajcik was admittedly terrified going into Wednesday’s performance, considering his style didn’t seem a natural fit with that of the man who gave us “Black or White,” “P.Y.T.,” and “Human Nature.” Krajcik wisely stayed away from the pop and opted for a deeper cut from Bad. He emulated the aesthetic of Jackson’s 1988 video, but that was where the similarities ended. Krajcik infused the song with his trademark blues yowl and shifted the chord structures to truly make it his own. There’s no telling why mentor Nicole Scherzinger crowded the stage with those dancing ladies; Krajcik easily could have filled the whole room with just his guttural growl and larger than life presence.
HELL ON WHEELS (AMC)
The song: Gillian Welch, “Scarlet Town”
The episode: “Jamais je ne t’oublierai” (104)
The hook: The show’s theme song (The Straight Shot’s “Can’t Make Tears”) caught our attention on Wheels‘ Nov. 6 premiere, but this week’s inclusion of bluegrass maven Welch was a great combination of soundtrack and character. Playing as Lily Bell walked through the rail camp on her way to repay her rescuer Joseph Black Moon, Welch twanged, “the things I’ve seen in Scarlet town did mortify my soul.” With those words, Welch voiced Lily’s internal monologue as she schlepped through mud and was accosted by ornery Wild West prostitutes. Lily may be a survivor, but she’s also a lady, and there are some things a lady doesn’t need to face. Like women with face tattoos. Yikes!
Watch it! AMC doesn’t post full episodes of its shows online, but you can hear the song on Welch’s official site.
RINGER (The CW)
The song: Adele, “Rumour Has It”
The episode: “That’s What You Get for Trying to Kill Me” (110)
The hook: Though Adele’s unofficial second single from 21 made an appearance on Glee a few weeks back, it found new life on Ringer‘s twinsane midseason finale. Good(ish) twin Bridget and evil(ish) twin Siobhan have been looming in each other’s lives all season, and the twain finally (almost) met in a split-screen sequence set to the chanteuse’s sultry stomper. The sisters both skulked around New York in search of clues to their shared mystery, but you had to wonder if it will do either of them any good to reunite? Considering Siobhan’s a murderer, and Bridget’s an identity-thieving ex-junkie, I think Adele sang for all of us when she asked, “Baby is that really what you want?”