While a good show should leave you with memories of great characters and storylines, sometimes the stars align perfectly and it leaves you with an incredibly memorable soundtrack to add to your playlist.
A good soundtrack can make or break a TV series, and that’s a fact. Whether it’s an original track composed specifically for the show or an existing track from an artist that fits perfectly with the show’s theme, music can add so much to the narrative. Oftentimes, a show’s soundtrack becomes equally popular as the show.
Take, for instance, Netflix’s Stranger Things. The show follows a group of kids in the ’80s as they take on scary monsters and uses the soundtrack to transport you to the era. The album features tracks by artists like Bon Jovi, The Police, The Bangles, Duran Duran and more. The recently released season featured a 37-year-old track by Kate Bush that entered the charts again, even ranking eighth in the United Kingdom. Bush expressed her surprise and joy at the news, saying that the show has given the song a “whole new lease of life.”
Just like this, there have been many shows that have iconic soundtracks. Here are some of our favourites…
British musician Labrinth, who is responsible for the show’s memorable and award-winning soundtrack, said that he wanted the score to be “semi-magical, semi-crazy, and semi-psychotic”. It’s evident that he succeeded in doing all that and more. The soundtrack was enough to transport us into the world of these characters and give us a glimpse into what’s going on with their twisted psyches. Aside from original tracks by Labrinth, the soundtrack also features songs by artists like Billie Eilish, Lana Del Ray, INXS, and Laura Less.
Along with swoon-worthy main leads and rich costumes, the show is known for taking modern-day hits and converting them into musical pieces fit for the ballrooms of the royalty in the most brilliant way. The first season of the show featured string quartet covers of songs like ‘Bad Guy’ by Billie Eilish, ‘Thank U, Next’ by Ariana Grande, and ‘Wildest Dreams’ by Taylor Swift. The second season upped the ante by covering ‘Diamonds’ by Rihana, ‘Material Girl’ by Madonna, ‘Wrecking Ball’ by Miley Cyrus, and ‘Stay Away’ by Nirvana. It even featured the iconic theme from Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham in it.
Game of Thrones
The show might have lost several points for the terrible last season (with a bizarre finale), but the iconic soundtrack still never fails to raise goosebumps on any fan’s body. Composed by Iranian-German composer Ramin Djawadi, the soundtrack is headed by the show’s main theme tune which is instantly recognisable to even the non-GoT fans out there. Musicians Ed Sheeran, Of Mice and Men, and Sigur Ros have appeared in the show, while Florence Welch, of Florence + The Machine covered the season eight song ‘Jenny of Oldstone’ in the end credits of the episode.
One of the early Netflix India originals, the show set the tone for the OTT revolution that has followed. With a thrilling storyline and powerful performances, the show became an instant hit. The viral theme song, composed by Alaknanda Dasgupta, got music maestro A.R. Rahman’s approval. According to Dasgupta, her brief was to create a track with vague religious undertones so she decided to sing gibberish lines set to an ominous chant and a cello background tune. The show also featured a special track by rapper Divine.
Aside from giving the world a show that features some of the most healthy on-screen portrayals of sex and relationships, Sex Education breathed new life into some of the most iconic indie bangers from the past and present. Most of the featured tracks fit the show’s theme, like Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Push It’, Rod Stewart’s ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sex’, and the Rubinoos’ ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’. The other artists include Fleetwood Mac, T.Rex, The Velvet Underground, Todrick Hall, The Beach Boys, and Britney Spears.
Based on a webtoon of the same name, this K-drama quickly became a hit and not just because of the presence of Park Sae-joon in the lead! The award-winning drama’s soundtrack featured several notable tracks by Korean artists like Gaho, Yoon Mi-rae, and Kim Feel. Not only this, but Park Seo-joon called upon his fellow Wooga Squad member and former co-star, who also happened to be one of the seven members of the most popular band in the world right now. Kim Taehyung, or BTS’ V, composed a track specially for the show, called ‘Sweet Night’ and to noone’s surprise, the song became the fastest Korean track to reach 100 million streams on Spotify, as of January 2021, and topped iTunes charts in 119 countries across the world!
This one is perhaps one of the rare shows where one of the tracks from the OST became even more popular and internationally recognisable than the show itself. The Spanish Netflix original took the world by storm because of its thrilling premise and several twists and turns. But it was the recreation of an old Italian anti-fascist anthem that became one of the most iconic aspects of the show, preceding the deep red jumpsuits and Dali masks. The original title track, performed by Spanish singer Cecille Krull, also became a fan favourite. Other artists that featured on the soundtrack include Damien Rice, Arcade Fire, The Prodigy, and Van Morrison.
It’s only fair that a show about musicians and music label battles makes its way on this list! The show follows the fictional Lyon family and their internal squabbles on who will get to be in charge at their company Empire Entertainment. The show features original songs by the cast members and some special cameos by artists like Mariah Carey, Pitbull, Alicia Keys, Estelle,Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, Courtney Love, and Patti LaBelle. The show’s OST for the first two seasons was produced by Timbaland and the first season’s album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Big Little Lies
This show somehow managed to get some of the most brilliant actresses in Hollywood, including Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Zoë Kravitz, and Shailene Woodley, together to create a hard-hitting show about interpersonal relationships between women and the repercussions of suppressed trauma. Amongst the many prestigious awards the show has won is a Primetime Emmy for ‘Outstanding Music Supervision’. The soundtrack includes tracks by artists such as Leon Bridges, Sade, Charles Bradley, Frank Ocean, Elvis Presley, Fleetwood Mac, Sufjan Stevens, Diana Ross, and Michael Kiwanuka.
This Ryan Murphy series is about New York City’s ballroom scene, an LGBTQ+ subculture in the African-American and Latino communities of the ’80s and ’90s. Naturally, the soundtrack reflects the best of the era and will instantly put you in the mood to dance. The artists featured on the soundtrack include Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Aretha Franklin, Janet Jackson, and Chaka Khan.
Crash Landing On You
This K-drama is at the top of the list of reasons of the world’s renewed interest in Korean dramas, mostly because of that one scene where Captain Ri Jeong-hyuk rides a motorcycle angrily. The beautiful love story is complemented by an equally emotional soundtrack, packed with artists like IU, Yoon Mi-rae, Baek Ye-rin, Song Ga-in, and Crush.