TV Jukebox: 'Scandal,' 'SNL,' 'Criminal Minds,' and more of the week's best music-on-TV moments
Have you found yourself wondering “What’s that song?” while watching your favorite TV shows? If so, we’re here to tell you. Check out our Spotify playlist below and see why these music picks clicked. (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS ahead!)
The song: Bill Withers, “Ain’t No Sunshine”
The episode: “Vermont Is for Lovers, Too” (308)
The hook: Jukeboxers on Twitter dug Thursday’s closing montage to “Try a Little Tenderness,” but we just gave Otis Redding’s soul staple some love two weeks ago. You know who really needed some love on Thursday? And you know who got it (got it good)? Olivia Pope, y’all! Scandal‘s official love theme, The Album Leaf’s “The Light” — which got an OG Jukebox shout-out in May 2012 — played once more as Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) took Liv to a cabin in Vermont and revealed he’d intended to make it his home with her one day… but now he was selling it and wanted to make sure she saw it at least once. The revelation led to Liv admitting she still loved POTUS. More to the point, it led to a night of sensual lovemaking set to Withers’ 1971 R&B classic. Who needs sunshine when you’ve got body heat and the glow of a crackling fire?
SONS OF ANARCHY (FX)
The song: The Staple Singers, “I’m Coming Home”
The episode: “Aon Rud Persanta” (611)
The hook: Music Supervisor Bob Thiele told Rolling Stone that he hoped the “psychedelic” vibe of Battleme & The Forest Rangers’ “I See Through You (Free Your Mind)” would put a smile on John Teller’s face, but Tuesday wasn’t such a happy night for Jax’s (Charlie Hunnam) post-John father figure Clay (Ron Perlman). Mavis Staples’ soul-quaking yowl overlaid a montage ending with one last look at SAMCRO’s ruthless, complicated former President, whom Jax had gunned down to send the Sons in a new direction. There were many homecomings on SOA this week (some more temporary than others), but Clay’s would be his ultimate.
CRIMINAL MINDS (CBS)
The song: Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit”
The episode: “Strange Fruit” (909)
The hook: Skeletons in the backyard, skeletons in the closet. An especially disturbing episode Wednesday introduced the team to an UnSub whose horrific history with racism drove him to sociopathy. Hoping to provoke the guy to confess, Rossi (Joe Mantegna) revealed a painful secret from his own youth. As he told a story of racism, bullying, and degradation, the legendary chanteuse’s plaintive 1939 jazz classic conveyed how hatred takes us all as its victims.
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES (The CW)
The song: David Gray, “The Other Side”
The episode: “Dead Man on Campus” (508)
The hook: Before a sweet ending to Joshua Radin’s “My My Love” (which appeared in Jukebox back on Oct.12), Thursday’s TVD was very much fixated on “the other side,” whether that meant Bonnie’s (Kat Graham) new — and painful — role as an anchor to help the recently deceased cross over from this realm or whether it involved one vamp’s attempt to force her own transition. After taking the cure, and beaten down by her own mortality, Katherine (Nina Dobrev) tried to kill herself, only to be saved by Stefan (Paul Wesley). Gray’s 2002 meditation on death, failure, and relationships was a spot-on accompaniment to Katherine’s rock-bottom moment — particularly when a pitiless Stefan told Katherine to “suck it up.” Tough love has never been so hot.
THE WALKING DEAD (AMC)
The song: Ben Nichols, “The Last Pale Light in the West”
The episode: “Live Bait” (406)
The episode: He’s baaaaaaaack! The Governor (David Morrissey) returned Sunday night, practically a zombie himself. The first minutes of the ep caught up viewers with the former Big Baddie’s goings-on over the past several months after he set fire to Woodbury and began a self-imposed death march. The one-eyed wonder was more bedraggled than badass, and Nichols’ Kurt Cobaine-esque vocals (“In my hands, I hold the ashes. In my veins, black pitch runs…. Dark clouds gather round me”) conveyed Gov’s aching, broken-down spirit in the wake of Woodbury’s failure. “He’s just going to walk until he dies — that’s where he is emotionally. He’s just given up,” Morrissey told Chris Hardwick on Talking Dead. “He wants to get rid of his past, he wants his past completely annihilated. He doesn’t want anything to do with that. … I think [torching Woodbury was] a very immediate emotional act that he will destroy everything he’s built — all the hard work and the plans that he had for the future… he wants to just destroy all that.”
The song: The Lighthouse and the Whaler, “Pioneers”
The episode: “Spiderwebs” (1316)
The hook: “I was wishing we could go back to how it was,” begins the Cleveland indie-poppers’ song. It’s safe to say the kids of Degrassi must feel much the same after a seemingly unstoppable barrage of drama lately (deaths, cheating, break-ups — all in an average Thursday on the teen sudser!). But Drew (Luke Bilyk) delivered an uplifting speech at last night’s Family Feast, encouraging his peers that they were, in fact, the unstoppable ones, made all the stronger for sticking together and surviving. And so the increasingly ebullient song continued: “Hold on, hold on, we’ve got the lights dear. Just where you came from. Hold on, hold on, we’ve got the lights dear. Just like where you’re going to. Hold on, I feel like you could shine a little brighter, my love, just like you did when you were younger.”
HART OF DIXIE (The CW)
The song: The Oh Hello’s, “Second Child, Restless Child”
The episode: “I Run to You” (307)
The hook: The Texan folkies’ smokin’-fingers strummer about being born with “a spirit running wild” provided musical momentum for a relay race on Monday.
NCIS: LOS ANGELES (CBS)
The song: Rosi Golan, “Got What We Wanted”
The episode: “Recovery” (509)
The hook: Golan’s understated melody underscored a major moment for Densi shippers Tuesday. After Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) took on her on a date — without actually asking her, mind you — Kensi (Daniela Ruah) began to take him to task about his lack of communication. So he communicated, telling her, “I don’t want to be here with you right now. I want to be at my place right now, with you.” Kensi slipped out of her chair and started toward the exit, with Deeks close behind. And, well, the title of Golan’s song speaks for both of them… and for viewers. It was a fitting moment for the push-and-pull couple in the making that their watershed moment wasn’t a big, silver-screen ready kiss with a swelling score underneath. It was more real than that — and all the more satisfying for it.
REIGN (The CW)
The song: Emiliana Torrini, “Tookah”
The episode: “Chosen” (106)
The hook: Joe Banfi’s “Nomads” closed out the episode as Francis (Toby Regbo) gave his permission for Mary (Madeleine Kane) to indulge her wandering eye… ironically, with anyone except the one she truly wants — his own brother Bash (Torrance Coombs). But another couple owned the night, musically speaking. First, The Joy Formidable’s “Silent Treatment (William Orbit Mix)” played under a tiff between King Henry (Alan Van Sprang) and his mistress Kenna (Caitlin Stasey) when Henry’s previous mistress returned to the palace. Later, Torrini’s appropriately sultry undulated below a scene of Kenna regaling the other girls about how she and Henry had kissed and “made up”… or whatever the kids were calling it in those days.
VANDERPUMP RULES (Bravo)
The song: The Motels, “Only the Lonely”
The episode: “Only the Lonely” (203)
The hook: Martha Davis and the boys turned up in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., to sing their mournful 1982 hit. The performance underscored the seething tension between Kristen and Tom in the wake of his infidelity. The fighting couple physically clung to one another, but they were a world apart emotionally. Apparently two is the loneliest number?
THE GOOD WIFE (CBS)
The song: Lauren O’Connell, “All I Have to Do Is Dream”
The episode: “The Next Month” (508)
The hook: Alicia (Julianna Margulies) cued up O’Connell’s light and lovely cover of the Everly Brothers’ 1958 ditty just before Peter (Chris Noth) dropped by on Sunday with a gaggle of interns to help unpack his First Lady’s soon-to-be-sleek new office. “You’re going to take over the world from here,” he told her. Well, a girl can “Dream.”
The song: Josh Ritter, “Joy to You Baby”
The episode: “Election Night” (509)
The hook: Kristina (Monica Potter) didn’t win Berkeley’s Mayoral election on Thursday, but she won in many other ways. For starters, after giving a classy concession speech, she met a young deaf girl whose life she’d changed. But it went both ways: Kristina’s life had been changed, too — win or lose. Paired with this life-affirming scene, Ritter’s tranquilly “Joy”-full track underscored how Kristina has embraced life anew after her illness and recovery. The election wasn’t the end-all-be-all, just another step along the way.
HELLO LADIES (HBO)
The song: 10cc, “Marriage Bureau Rendezvous”
The episode: “The Drive” (108)
The hook: In the cringecom’s season finale, aspiring modelizer Stuart (Stephen Merchant) had the opportunity to make his dreams come true when willowy stunner Kimberly (Heather Hahn) invited him for a bit of naked night swimming. But the unlucky-in-love Brit had a crisis of conscience when he learned his actress friend Jessica (Christine Woods) had been fired from her big-break role. He went home to console her, and the 1977 soft rocker played as they settled in for a strictly platonic movie date. Or was it? Stuart’s sudden selflessness coupled with the song’s opening lines (“Well I’ve been lookin’ after No. 1 for too long, and it seemed the love was passing me by. So I thought I better do something about it, and that’s why I’m sittin’ here lookin’ cross the table at you”) intimated there may be more than just friendship in store for Stuart and Jessica if Ladies gets the greenlight for season 2.
THE CARRIE DIARIES (The CW)
The song: Talking Heads, “Road to Nowhere”
The episode: “Borderline” (204)
The hook: Carrie’s latest love interest gave both Sex and the City‘s Mr. Big and Carrie‘s Sebastian (Austin Butler) a run for their money on Nov. 15. He also happened to be the subject of her latest bid to become a working journalist. But the young Miss Bradshaw found a sadder-than-expected story in prodigy playwright Adam Weaver (Chris Wood) — right about the time she realized she’d found a new boyfriend in him, too. Carrie opted to keep his secrets in order to keep his heart, and the 1985 New Waver by David Byrne & Co. was a footloose and fancy-free proclamation that, sometimes, being directionless and dropping your boundaries can feel spectacular.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS)
The song: Beastie Boys, “Sabotage”
The episode: “Mom and Dad” (910)
The hook: Screwing over others wasn’t just a family affair on Monday — I’m referring, of course, to Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and James’s (Wayne Brady) duet about which of their dads their mom should be with — there was also plenty of Zabka-tage! The Beasties’ 1994 distortion-rocker played Monday as Ted (Josh Radnor) realized he was facing sabotage from ’80s teen supervillain William Zabka. Of course, he only got to Billy Z. after Lily (Alyson Hannigan) tackled the Karate Kid baddie — her second takedown of the weekend.
THE TOMORROW PEOPLE (The CW)
The song: Danny Brown, “Smokin & Drinkin”
The episode: “Limbo” (107)
The hook: Wednesday’s Tomorrow was all about Stephen (Robbie Amell) trying to be an average teen. And what do average teens do? They throw ragers! The Detroit MC’s rowdy rap was right-on as background music, even as Robbie’s plan backfired and landed in a power-squelching suppression cuff. Though he got the cuff off by the hour’s end, it was a harsh dose of truth that being “normal” might not be so great after all.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (NBC)
The song: Lady Gaga, “Born This Way”
The episode: “Lady Gaga” (3906)
The hook: On Nov. 16, Taran Killam parodied Counting Crows’ frontman Adam Duritz as if he were selling a series of awkward Top 40 hits covered by hilariously inappropriate artists. Kenan Thompson as Rick Ross doing Pitch Perfect‘s “Cups” was a highlight, but special props go to host and musical guest Gaga’s ability to lampoon herself by singing her own chart-topper (Killam-as-Duritz introduced it as “Lady Gaga does Madonna’s ‘Express Yourself'”), which pop pundits dismissed in 2011 as a ripoff of Her Madgesty.
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