The TV shows that got us into music | gigwise

We’re still buzzing off the enormous resurgence of Kate Bush mega cult hit ‘Running Up That Hill’. Its inclusion on Stranger Things this summer even brought the famously elusive star into the public eye again thanks to its ascension to number thirty-seven years after it first dropped.

Yesterday, we shared how people of different ages discovered music when they were kids — when neither Netflix nor TikTok were the leaviathans they are now. Today, we’re sharing the TV shows that turned our writers onto certain bands, certain songs, and music in general.

Bojack Horseman

Believe it or not, The War on Drugs were a band it took me ages to get into. Since Lost in the Dream broke them into the mainstream in 2014, I wilfully avoided any and all recommendations, narrowly avoiding the hype — that is until 2018, when my veil of ignorance was torn apart by, of all things, a cartoon horse. BoJack Horseman’s season 5 finale ‘The Stopped Show’ is best described as a succession of emotional suckerpunches, culminating in a scene where Diane takes BoJack to rehab. Without giving too much of the context away, both characters go through A LOT in season 5, with their relationship nearly breaking down as a result.

BoJack’s spiraling drug addiction leads him to a breaking point, with Diane getting him to accept the help he needs to make positive changes. The bittersweet mix of emotions shown on her face — frustration, anger and warmth — are assisted beautifully by the shimmering intro to ‘Under the Pressure’. The hazy melodies and driving drumbeat is such a perfect soundtrack for this moment, and she drives off into the sunset as Adam Granduciel’s distinctive vocal kicks in. It’s a beautiful moment from a beautiful show, and that finale was the perfect gateway drug (pun very much intended) into finally appreciating the band. (Cameron Sinclair Harris)

How To Get Away With Murder

Naughty Boy and Bastille’s collaboration ‘No One’s Here to Sleep’ largely flew under the radar except for a showing in one of 2014’s most iconic TV moments: “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?”

Before going a little off the rails, How To Get Away With Murder was one of the best shows on television, led by Viola Davis always giving it 250% and killing it. One of the earliest episodes ended with an emotive scene seeing Annalize Keating, played by Davis, removing her make-up (and her strong persona along with it) to confront her husband on his infidelity with a dead woman. All of it soundtracked by this slow burn tune: an iconic moment in television! (David Roskin)


The medical comedy Scrubs was a surprising hotbed for new music, and with its unique ability to combine side-splitting dream sequences with tear-jerking dramatic moments, there are a number of moments that stand out and tracks that will forver be ‘from Scrubs’ . Arguably the most famous of them is the use of The Fray’s ‘How To Save A Life’, which soundtracked Dr. Cox’s slide into depression following his decision to rush a number of transplants with organs that, unbeknownst to him, were from a rabbies-infected patient, causing three fatalities in quick succession. His spiral, including a desperate attempt and later destruction of a defibrillator, set the scene for a season-spanning climb to recovery; and one of the most haunting TV moments of the series’ nine-year runtime. (Cailean Coffee)

The Young Ones

‘The Young Ones’ in the early ’80s always had a band on in the middle of the show, with people like Jools Holland, Amazulu and Madness doing one track, usually playing in the grotty student hovel that the characters lived in. I was a fully paid up metal fan at the time, so was obviously delighted when Motorhead appeared in series two to play ‘Ace of Spades’. But most importantly for my musical development was The Damned playing ‘Nasty’: I joined the dots and realized that punk wasn’t that different from what Motorhead were doing, and from The Damned I got into Sex Pistols, Ramones and The Clash. All down to some fictitious, smelly students in Bristol!” (Ben Willmott)

Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls is a treasure trove of hidden music references and gems. There was Slint, The Shins then an appearance from Sonic Youth; and one of the most memorable being The Bangles’ appearance in the Concert Interruptus episode during the first season. Hearing the band play both ‘Hero Takes A Fall’ and ‘Eternal Flame’ performed during the episode got me into the band…but ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ was the deal breaker. (Emma Way)

The OC

When I was 18, I was secretly obsessed with The OC, thinking myself in tune with the sarcastic, indie rock-loving outcast Seth Cohen. The show poked fun at the self-absorbed privilege of those living in the Orange County, California. Oh, and it had a fantastic soundtrack too! At the end of the first season, just as Seth had finally begun to feel a sense of belonging, his adopted brother and best friend Ryan makes the decision to return back to his hometown.

This leaves Seth absolutely distraught. He packs his bags, jumps on his boat (he’s a rich kid after all!) and sails away from home. As he does so, Jeff Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah’ soundtracks, increasing the emotions of the moment tenfold. I remember frantically scribbling down the lyrics at the time and rushing off to the family computer to Google the tune (the depressing days before Shazam…). Before long, I’d bought the singer’s 1994 classic album Grace, being equally blown away and ashamed that I was only then discovering his music. (Matthew McLister)

Gossip Girl

Another form of music discovery that is anathema to the snobs out there is the cover. Is there anything that will have a gatekeeper spitting more than telling them you loved a reinterpretation before an original? There are many instances in which I discovered tunes this way, but one that stands out is the sultry Anya Marina version of TI’s ‘Whatever You Like’, which played during the (traumatic) threesome scene between Dan, Vanessa and Hilary Duff character Olivia in season three of gossip girl.

It wasn’t the only song I discovered from the series. Like many people’s The Show from when they were teens, Gossip Girl literally shaped my taste in so many things, not least of them music. The show’s very own Taylor Momsen got her music with The Pretty Reckless played on the show, with ‘Make Me Wanna Die’ soundtracking a poignant moment. Baby Jessie was immediately obsessed. (Jessie Atkinson)


I’m sure that I would say ‘Dear Love of Mine’ by Daniel Spaleniak and you’d think: “what song by who?”, but if you’ve seen hugely popular Netflix crime drama Ozark, chances are you’ll recognize this song instantly upon pressing play.

The Polish composer’s track from his brilliant 2016 album Back Home is a wonderfully dark and bluesy slice of Americana that exquisitely soundtracks the ending to Ozark’s second ever episode. Helping to establish the tone of the show early doors, it’s the perfect audio companion to the Byrde family’s exploits. Well done the music supervisors of Ozark for bringing this lesser-known moody and heartfelt track to the attention of a much bigger audience. (Karl Blakesley)

Ashes To Ashes

If, like me, your parents didn’t spend too much time listening to music, you might have had to discover the sounds of the 1980’s elsewhere. Life on Mars follow-up Ashes to Ashes was the place for me, and thank the television gods that the soundtrack was a good one. From New Order and Frankie Goes to Hollywood to Yazoo and ABC, it was the perfect primer for the best and most popular from the decade in pop music. (Jessie Atkinson)

Mad Men

With a strong variety of 1960’s classics from the likes of The Monkees, The Kinks and The Zombies woven into the narrative of Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men, the show helped turn me onto a large supply of quality 60s rock that I hadn’t explored before. These sorts of tracks were largely the foundation and inspirations of my current interests of psych rock, garage rock and indie so I immediately was enthralled by it. The show’s soundtrack as a whole does an incredible job of really making it feel like you’re in the time it’s set and who doesn’t love feeling born in the wrong era every now and again? (Ross Carley)


The use of Roxy Music’s album-concluding ‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’ during the cold open of series two, in which BTK killer Dennis Rader auto-erotic-asphyxiates, is one of the most effective uses of non-diegetic sound I have ever seen. While the For Your Pleasure cut creepily speaks from the point of view of a man in love with a blow-up doll, the parallels between its themes and the dark degeneracy of the ’70s and ’80s serial killer are stark, the guitar breakdown both releasing and reaffirming a profound sense of wrongness.

Yes, this was the first time I’d ever heard the song. Yes, it played on repeat for weeks afterwards. And yes: in our flat, we still regularly sing random verses from the creepiest rock song of all time. (Jessie Atkinson)


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