We’ve pulled together a collection of songs from summer TV episodes, complete with artist and album information in case you want to add them to your permanent collection. Spoilers abound, and we chose songs we liked – but we always want to hear your thoughts and suggestions.
So peruse our playlist, and then hit the comments with your favorite TV jams! And remember: You can always submit questions or suggestions about TV music on Twitter @mishasolomontv.
SERIES AND EPISODE | True Blood, “At Last”
TITLE | “Adorn”
ARTIST | Miguel
ALBUM | Kaleidoscope Dream (2012)
WHY IT ROCKED | What better song to accompany Jason’s V-fueled dream than Miguel’s sexy R&B smash? As Jason and Ben sensually adorn each other’s faces with shaving cream, Miguel begs his lady to let his love adorn her. Le-le-le-let Ben shave you down, Jason.
SERIES AND EPISODE | Dexter, “Make Your Own Kind of Music”
TITLE | “Make Your Own Kind of Music”
ARTIST | “Mama” Cass Elliot
ALBUM | Bubblegum, Lemonade and… Something for Mama (1969)
WHY IT ROCKED | Although we kept expecting Desmond to pop out of a hatch somewhere, Mama Cass’s bubblegum hit — used throughout the drama’s final season — set the right creepy tone for Dexter’s thwarted encounter with the Brain Surgeon, revealed to be Dr. Vogel’s son. Our murderous protagonist certainly has made his own kind of music for eight seasons — will his swan song be as pleasant as this tune, or will Dexter’s own special song play him straight to the morgue?
SERIES AND EPISODE | Orange Is the New Black, “I Wasn’t Ready”
TITLE | “You’ve Got Time”
ARTIST | Regina Spektor
ALBUM | ”You’ve Got Time (Single)” (2013)
WHY IT ROCKED | Even after a 13-episode binge-watch, Spektor’s beautiful and melancholic melody never gets old. The song sets the perfect tone for this summer smash in its very first episode. As a stunning series of women’s visages flash on the screen, Spektor asks the audience to “remember all their faces.” After a stellar first season and a perfect title sequence, we certainly will.
SERIES AND EPISODE | Ray Donovan, “New Birthday”
TITLE | “Ain’t No Sunshine”
ARTIST | Bill Withers
ALBUM | Just As I Am (1971)
WHY IT ROCKED | Bridget and Marvin’s rocky romance comes to a disturbing head in this episode, but before Marvin goes too far, the adolescent lovers perform an inventive cover of Bill Withers’ classic hit. The talented young actors (Kerris Dorsey and Octavius J. Johnson) really shine in this scene, making the events that follow all the more heartbreaking.
LINER NOTES | Dorsey’s beautiful voice is also showcased in the 2011 film Moneyball.
SERIES AND EPISODE | Mad Men, “In Care Of”
TITLE | “Both Sides Now”
ARTIST | Judy Collins
ALBUM | Wildflowers (1968)
WHY IT ROCKED | As Don Draper finally reveals his other side to his three children, Judy Collins’ version of Joni Mitchell’s famous song begins to play. Don’s always been a man with two sides — Don Draper and Dick Whitman — and here he seems to embrace them both. Although Don lost a lot this season – his job, his sobriety, possibly his wife – he still has his children… who may be all he has left in this world.
SERIES AND EPISODE | Breaking Bad, “To’hajiilee”
TITLE | “She Blinded Me with Science”
ARTIST | Thomas Dolby
ALBUM | The Golden Age of Wireless (1982)
WHY IT ROCKED | This ’80s New Wave hit is creepy Todd’s ringtone, which we hear after his conversation with/come-on to Lydia. The lyrics are an amusing nod both to Todd’s burgeoning infatuation with Lydia (“she turned her tender eyes on me”) and one of the series’ central conceits: the power of chemistry.
SERIES AND EPISODE | Family Tree, “Cowboys”
TITLE | “I’m Alone But That’s Okay”
ARTIST | Ron Sexsmith
ALBUM | Unreleased
WHY IT ROCKED | Series creator Christopher Guest co-wrote this song for the show’s closing credits. It’s never more powerful than at the end of the finale, when protagonist Tom may finally not be alone. The song speaks beautifully to the pain and ephemeral nature of first, lost love. Here’s hoping HBO renews this little gem of a show, if only so we can hear the tune on a weekly basis once more.
SERIES AND EPISODE | Covert Affairs, “Crackity Jones”
TITLE | “Smother”
ARTIST | Daughter
ALBUM | If You Leave (2013)
WHY IT ROCKED | Annie and Auggie – nooooooo! As if this heartbreaking split weren’t enough for our poor souls to bear, the moment was accompanied by this deeply emotional, tragic melody. As an audience we never felt smothered by this romance, but we’ve always known that spy love is fleeting. Thank goodness it seems like the lovebirds might be headed for a reconciliation soon.