Think about the last song you heard on the radio and how it made you feel? Now think about it in the context of it you ever heard it in a TV show.
Would the scene be happy or sad? Would it be the climactic scene or an opening scene? Are the lyrics ironic for what you imagine? Musical scores and soundtracks are vital to setting the tone for what an audience should be feeling and even sometimes subverting it.
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Whether it's a montage or a pivotal choice in a television show's season, the right song makes all the difference, and there are so many tv shows right now doing spectacular things with music.
Often times, you'll find that slow ballads playing over dramatic scenes are the ones you might be drawn to, but there are also cases of upbeat music enhancing a show's atmosphere.
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We've compiled a list of 19 scenes where the use of a soundtrack boosted the emotional gravitas of the scene.
The Snow Ball (Stranger Things)
When you have a show set in a particular period of time, finding music that fits the era can make or break the aesthetic. Stranger Things has always been good at incorporating 80s music into their plot and working with a variety of big hits and lesser-known classics. The end of Stranger Things Season 2 hits the perfect note as all the characters enjoy the Snow Ball against the background music of "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper.
Victoria Boards the Plane (Revenge)
Florence + The Machine was the perfect choice to score the scene where Victoria Grayson boards her plane at the end of Revenge Season 1. The Queen of the Hamptons is a formidable character and the sultry tune is the perfect song to accompany her boarding the plane for a hearing in Washington D.C. where she intends to destroy her husband. The foreboding line "I'll be dead before the day is done" as she reaches the top steps hits just the right note as it cuts to Charlotte seeing a news report of the plane crash.
Lilith Returns to Hell (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
The end of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 1 Episode 20, "The Mephisto Waltz," was heartbreaking enough when Nicholas Scratch sacrificed himself as a vessel to hold The Dark Lord. When Lilith says she'll have to take him to hell to prevent him from escaping, things get a little sadder. Lilith walks through the gates carrying Nick while "The End" by the Doors plays in the background. While it's most definitely not the end of the series, the sentiment fits the heavy hearts of the characters in the moment.
Quentin's Sacrifice (The Magicians)
There's as lot about the scene from the penultimate act of The Magicians Season 4 Episode 13, "The Seam," that stirs our emotions. One of them is the decision to shoot it with a special slow-motion camera. The second is the addition of Active Child's "Cruel World" to score the emotionally impactful moment.
Return to Arkadia (The 100)
The 100 Season 2 Episode 16, "Blood Must Have Blood: Part II," gave Clarke a choice, and after killing everyone in Mt. Weather she no longer felt like she belonged with her people. The Sky People walked back to Arkadia with RAIGN's "Knocking on Heaven's Door" playing in the background as Clarke wrestles with her guilt and ultimately walks away saying, "I bear it so they don't have to."
The World Is Reset (Dollhouse)
Both Dollhouse season finales featured a dystopian future where the tech had gotten out of control. Fortunately, during Dollhouse Season 2 Episode 13, "Epitaph: Part II," the programmer Topher Brink had a way to fix it. He sacrifices himself to set off a pulse that would reset everyone's minds. In the final sequence, the emotional ballad "Everywhere I Go" by Lissie plays in the background as some characters wake up, and some accept their future living underground for the next couple years.
Delilah in the Abortion Clinic (A Million Little Things)
Few songs are as visceral as Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" and the scene where Delilah visits an abortion clinic during Season 1 of A Million Little Things is no exception. Her husband is dead, she's pregnant with her lover's child and making a hard choice.
George Gets Promoted (Dead Like Me)
There couldn't have been a better ending for Georgia Lass. The girl whose life got snuffed out by a toilet seat and became the most malcontent grim reaper we know received a promotion in the form of showering of Post-Its. Metisse's "Boom Boom Ba" appeared throughout the series, making it a fitting soundtrack to the final moments of the Dead Like Me movie "Life After Death," and open the next chapter in George's life.
The Riot Ends (Orange is the New Black)
All things come to an end, and the riot on Orange is the New Black Season 5 is no exception. The final sequence of Orange is the New Black Season 5 Episode 13, "Storm-y Weather," delivers the fallout of the riot and the consequences are intense. Martiza and Flaka are separated. Brooke is ripped from the memorial they built for Poussey. Piscatella is shot by a member of the SWAT team. The seven women in the pool are bracing for what comes next. All of this happens against the subtly stirring soundtrack of "To Build a Home" by The Cinematic Orchestras.
The Master Reigns (Doctor Who)
Not all scenes lead to tears. Some can be silly. When Harold Saxon, (aka the Master) takes over the Valient on Doctor Who Season 3 Episode 13, "The Last of the Time Lords," he dances around to "I Can't Decide" by Scissor Sisters. With lyrics like, "well I could throw you in the lake, feed you poisoned birthday cake" this tune perfectly fits the mercurial master as he reigns over his new kingdom.
The Train Ride (The Americans)
The Americans did some amazing things with music during their six seasons, but the climactic scene during The Americans Season 6 Episode 10, "START," is one of the best. Watching Phillip, Elizabeth, and Paige make their exit as the FBI closes in is a tense moment, and U2's "With or Without You" provides the perfect backdrop. And props to whoever decided to pause the music as the passports were checked and then kick it up again when Elizabeth realizes that Paige is no longer on the train.
The Chicken Dance (New Girl)
When we first met Jessica Day on New Girl, we knew she was a little odd. On New Girl Season 1 Episode 3, "Wedding" it went just a little bit further when she introduced the guys to her version of the chicken dance. Being too cool for that they attempted to shut her down, but after acting like a jerk, Nick drags her onto the dance floor and begins doing the iconic line dance to the beat of "Groovy Kind of Love" by Phil Collins. The odd juxtaposition makes this scene a little odd, but also very memorable.
The Waterford House Burns (The Handmaid's Tale)
This is one listing that's a blend of score and music. Serena Joy set the house on fire on The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 1, "Night," and the quiet, haunting scenes are beautifully accompanied by a score. Serena Joy, June, and the rest of the house's occupants exit, June's voiceover plays and then as the house crumbles "I Don't Like Mondays" by The Boomtown Rats blasts.
Villanelle Shoots Eve (Killing Eve)
The end of Killing Eve Season 2 Episode 8, "You're Mine," used a song that viewers have heard before. After Villanelle pulls the trigger and leaves Eve amongst the Roman ruins she exits to "Sigh" by Unloved. The haunting lyrics perfectly accentuate what just happened and strengthen the mood of the final scene of the finale.
The Final Supercut (Timeless)
At the end of the Timeless movie, there was one-time travel thread to close. In order for the timeline to be maintained, Lucy had to go to the bar in Sao Paulo, Brazil and give Flynn her journal. The meeting causes Flynn to go to Mason Industries and steal The Mothership, beginning the series. (I know, time travel right?) As clips of the series proper play, it's scored over a cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" by Joseph William Morgan providing the perfect ending to the time travel series.
The Returnees Venture Out Into the World (The 4400)
You'll have to do some digging to watch this one. When The 4400 premiered in 2004, the pilot featured a montage scene when the returnees reentered society set to Ivy's "Worry About You." The melancholic tone of the song and the sentiment of the lyrics were the perfect compliment to the returnees' experiences as they tried to explore a world that was now foreign to them.
The Walk to the Elevator (Grey's Anatomy)
Grey's Anatomy Season 15 Episode 19, "Silent All These Years," is an emotionally powerful episode, but there is one pivotal scene as they take a patient to surgery. The hallway lined with women as Jo and Teddy take their patient to the elevator is made that much more moving by the choice of "Lost Without You" by Freya as the accompanying music.
Racing to Stop Walter Sykes (Warehouse 13)
During Warehouse 13 Season 3 Episode 11, "Emily Lake," the team finds out that a new member who they thought betrayed them is actually undercover. While Track and Field's cover of "Running Up That Hill" plays they race to a hanger where Walter Sykes is getting ready to enter his endgame, but miss the plane and find Steve's body in the hanger instead. It's a tense moment that's heightened by the sublime tones of the song and the lyrics perfectly synced to different moments in the montage.
Starbuck Returns (Battlestar Galactica)
At the end of Battlestar Galactica Season 3 Episode 20, "Crossroads Part II" four of the final five Cylons were revealed singing Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower." The song also plays during the viper launch as well leading up to the return of Kara Thrace announcing that she's been to Earth, knows where it is and is going to take the Colonial fleet there.