What follows are some excellent songs from TV episodes past, complete with artist and album information in case you want to add them to your permanent collection.
We chose tunes that stuck in our memories, but we know you’ve got favorites, too. So check out our TVLine Mixtape playlist — Throwback Edition — and then hit the comments with your favorite TV jams from the past!
SERIES AND EPISODE | House, “Lines in the Sand”
TITLE | “Waiting on an Angel”
ARTIST | Ben Harper
ALBUM | Welcome to the Cruel World (1994)
WHY IT ROCKED | House may not have Asperger’s, as Wilson posits in this Season 3 episode, but he does feel an affinity for an autistic boy who can’t connect with the ones who love him most. Harper’s delicate ballad really takes off after their touching exchange.
LINER NOTES | The song also can be found on the House, M.D. Original Television Soundtrack (2007).
SERIES AND EPISODE | Chuck, “Chuck Vs. the Other Guy”
TITLE | “Kettering”
ARTIST | The Antlers
ALBUM | Hospice (2009)
WHY IT ROCKED | We’re well aware that the high point of this Season 3 episode is “Shut up and kiss me,” but we also kinda dig the song that plays as Chuck rescues a drugged Sarah and watches Shaw fall to his “death.” When a nerd can take down Superman, it’s something to sing about, indeed.
SERIES AND EPISODE | My So-Called Life, “Betrayal”
TITLE | “Blister in the Sun”
ARTIST | Violent Femmes
ALBUM | Violent Femmes (1982)
WHY IT ROCKED | As Angela’s voice-over explains, she’d spent most of the show’s only season obsessing over Jordan Catalano, “until one day… I got over him.” Cue the Femmes’ famous drumbeat and some incredibly uninhibited dancing from the future TVLine Performer of the Week. Sure, Rayanne’s going to rip your heart out within the hour, Ange, but until then, rock out!
LINER NOTES | The video below was released to coincide with the song’s appearance on the Gross Pointe Blank soundtrack years after My So-Called Life went off the air.
SERIES AND EPISODE | Bones, “The Killer in the Concrete”
TITLE | “Keep on Tryin'”
ARTIST | Poco
ALBUM | Head Over Heels (1975)
WHY IT ROCKED | Brennan’s wondering what she should do if/when her fugitive dad shows up again, and by-the-book Booth simply suggests asking Max about her mother – because he knows it’s exactly what she wants to do. Then — no joke — they break into song. It shouldn’t work but it totally does, making the Season 2 episode a little hint at the pair’s if-at-first-you-don’t-succeed romance.
SERIES AND EPISODE | Scrubs, “My Best Friend’s Mistake”
TITLE | “A Little Respect”
ARTIST | Erasure
ALBUM | The Innocents (1988)
WHY IT ROCKED | The song fills the Season 1 episode’s opening scene – in which Dr. Wen makes the crucial call, “Nurse? Erasure!” during surgery – and then is woven through the entire episode as Turk, The Todd, The Janitor, Ted and Carla all bop along to it at one point or another. Literally well-played, Scrubs.
LINER NOTES | If you click on the video below, a warning: The super-catchy tune is, as Turk comments, “like a damn virus.” You’ll be humming it all week.
SERIES AND EPISODE | Veronica Mars, “Look Who’s Stalking”
TITLE | “I Hear the Bells”
ARTIST | Mike Doughty
ALBUM | Haughty Melodic (2005)
WHY IT ROCKED | Just like Veronica, we really like this song – mainly because we can’t hear it without thinking about Logan drunkenly confessing his continuing love for Ms. Mars at Season 2’s replacement prom. “I thought our story was epic, you know? You and me,” he says, drawing closer. “Spanning years and continents, lives ruined, bloodshed. Epic.” She can’t handle the truth and runs away, but have faith, Echolls. After all, no one writes songs about the ones that come easy.
LINER NOTES | The song also appears on show’s soundtrack, also released in 2005.
SERIES AND EPISODE | The X-Files, “Ascension”
TITLE | “Red Right Hand”
ARTIST | Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
ALBUM | Let Love In (1994)
WHY IT ROCKED | As if Special Agent Dana Scully isn’t already freaked when creepy alien abductee Duane Barry kidnaps her in Season 2 and throws her in his car, she’s got to listen to him blast this incredibly eerie song all the way up to Skyland Mountain. Mulder, stop playing around with the cable cars and hurry up!
LINER NOTES | You also can find the song – as well as a hidden track by Cave – on Songs In the Key of X: Music From and Inspired By The X-Files (1996).
SERIES AND EPISODE | Dawson’s Creek, “A Perfect Wedding”
TITLE | “Feels Like Home”
ARTIST | Chantal Kreviazuk
ALBUM | Songs From Dawson’s Creek (1999)
WHY IT ROCKED | After a long night of cater-waitering in Season 2, Dawson and Joey dance and kiss and exchange “I love yous.” (And Abby falls to her watery death, but let’s not think about that just now, ‘kay?)
LINER NOTES | The version of “Feels Like Home” used in this scene is a cover of a Randy Newman tune; Kreviazuk’s recording also appears in the film How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.
SERIES AND EPISODE | The Cosby Show, “Happy Anniversary”
TITLE | “(Night Time Is) The Right Time”
ARTIST | Ray Charles
ALBUM | The single was released in 1959; you can find it on The Genius Sings the Blues (1961).
WHY IT ROCKED | One word, two syllables: Baaaaa-by! Rudy killed it in this Season 2 celebration of Russell and Anna Huxtable’s anniversary.
SERIES AND EPISODE | Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Becoming (Part 2)”
TITLE | “Full of Grace”
ARTIST | Sarah McLachlan
ALBUM | Surfacing (1997)
WHY IT ROCKED | Willow re-ensouls Angel (“I feel like I haven’t seen you in months,” he whispers to a flummoxed Buffy) moments before The Chosen One has to stick a sword in her first love and send him to a hell dimension in order to save the world. Again. How is it possible that this Season 2 scene was shot 14 years ago and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s delivery of “Close your eyes” still brings us to tears?