4 Iconic Uses of Music in TV

We are currently in the wake of the resurgence of “Running Up That Hill” and “Master of Puppets” thanks to Stranger Things. The use of these tracks in the show sparked a great deal of conversation about the best use of music in television. Many say that “Running Up That Hill” takes the cake, especially as the scene, “Dear Billy,” which features the song, is up for an Outstanding Music Supervision Emmy right now.

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But, we are here to remind you of some other scenes that are pretty dang good and give Stranger Things a run for its money. Let’s dive into the world of TV and check out some tunes that accompany shows pretty well.

“Whatcha Say” in the Gossip Girl Thanksgiving Episode

One of the most iconic episodes of 2000s history. If you know anything about the show Gossip Girl you know it’s filled with drama. This scene is no exception. In the words of “Whatcha Say,” the truth came out. The use of “Whatcha Say” in Gossip Girl also made its way to TikTok as a trend. Many users began making videos with their family members at the dinner table. Like the scene, family members would leave the table when their shortcomings were announced.

“Heaven Is A Place On Earth” in Black Mirror

The weird and dystopian show Black Mirror took it back to the ’80s—well sort of—in the episode “San Junipero.” Music played a large role in the episode as characters would hop between decades. It’s revealed that they are able to change decades because they’re living in a virtual reality while in their actual reality, they are old or in a hospital on the brink of death. “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” backs the soundtrack to the ’80s decade, but also describes how heaven is actually a place on earth when characters decide to permanently stay in the virtual reality.

The Who’s “I’m One” in Freaks and Geeks

This scene is extremely touching and well made from music to camera angles. The episode that the scene appears in is “Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers.” Bill Haverchuck, played by Martin Starr, struggles at school because he appears as a geek. At home, he struggles because his mom is dating his gym teacher, who he hates. In the scene, Bill goes through his after-school routine of making a grilled cheese and watching TV. While we watch Bill going through his extremely average routine of making a grilled cheese with white bread and Kraft singles, The Who’s lyricism echos Every year is the same /
And I feel it again / I’m a loser
. Bill, then, sits down to eat his meal and watches a comedy show. The camera switches from this big star laughing to Bill laughing, and from the big star drinking water to Bill drinking his milk all while the chorus rings I am One.

The scene portrays how Bill seeks comfort in the television show and perhaps sees the star in himself. It’s extremely relatable as people find comfort in entertainment like movies, TV shows, or music.

“Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap in the “Dear Sister” SNL Sketch

Yes, this isn’t where “Hide and Seek” got popular, but it’s a hilarious take on the original and one of SNL‘s most iconic sketches. After the season 2 finale of The O.C., SNL made light of it with this parody. And, you can see exactly where the cast got the idea. In The O.C., the finale scene is supposed to be intense, where Marissa shoots Trey to save Ryan, and all of the sudden, ooo whatcha say in its autotuned voice comes on. The SNL cast capitalized on the song in the “Dear Sister” sketch, where every time someone shoots someone the lyrics ooo whatcha say plays—it happens a lot.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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