Growing up, I collected a lot of movie soundtracks. Songs always seemed to mean more to me when paired with a poignant moment from a movie I loved. I was the same with songs from television shows. But alas, I did not grow up in the era of iTunes or Spotify. I was, however, the child of cassette tapes and would sometimes go so far as to record my favorite songs on my cassette player. Let’s just say the quality was not good.
Nowadays, whenever a song from a television show sticks with me, you can bet that I will be downloading it the next day to relive that moment again and again. So here it is: My list of songs that really stuck with me from television shows. This isn’t to say that these are the best musical moments from a television series hands down. But these are the songs that will always have a special place in my heart.
6. Freaks and Geeks: “Come Sail Away” by Styx
I was late to the game with this show, having only watched it for the first time at the start of this year, but I had always heard how great it was. I mean, you can’t go wrong with that cast (James Franco has never looked so good). But it was this scene from the pilot that assured me I was going to enjoy this short-lived series. As Sam awkwardly takes his crush, Cindy, on to the dance floor for a slow dance, things only get more awkward when the music transitions from slow to upbeat. But eventually, the awkwardness breaks and everyone just has fun. I love how joyous this moment is. Plus, you get your first sneak peek at how awesome Busy Phillip’s character secretly is.
5. How I Met Your Mother: “Hey” by Pixies
Before Robin became insufferable…before the on-again-off-again relationship between her and Barney was exhausted…and even before Craig Thomas and Carter Bays completely ruined this entire show with an awful series finale…before all that, there was this wonderful scene from the all-around disappointing season 7 in an episode titled “Disaster Averted.” Robin and Barney find themselves alone in a taxi cab and suddenly can no longer keep their hands to themselves. They kissed; I rejoiced. And then I immediately tracked down the name of this song by the Pixies to play on repeat.
4. The Wonder Years: “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge
This show had a lot out of outstanding music moments, which is primarily the reason why it’s taken so long to get this timeless series out on DVD! But this classic moment from the pilot will stand the test of time. It’s here that viewers took notice and realized they were about to witness the start of something magical. The main character, Kevin, follows the girl next door, Winnie, into the woods as she mourns the death of her veteran brother. He shoulders her tears and reassures her that everything is going to be okay. Then they share their first kiss, and the wonderful golden oldie by Percy Sledge plays in the background. “There were moments that made us cry with laughter. And there were moments, like that one, of sorrow and wonder.”
3. Chuck: “Creature Fear” by Bon Iver
If you’ve never watched “Chuck,” then you are missing out. This show is amazing and has loads of magical music moments. (Honorable mention: “Mr. Roboto” by Jeffster) My favorite one is from the season 2 episode “Chuck Versus the Colonel.” Chuck and Sarah, a couple everyone rooted for until the very end, wake up in each other’s arms while on another spy mission. (“I was full by your count. I was lost but your fool. Was a long visit wrong? Say you are the only.”) Then suddenly, as the music swells, their lips locked and fans everywhere screamed for joy.
2. Grey’s Anatomy: “Off I Go” by Greg Laswell
“Grey’s Anatomy” has had its ups and downs, and season 5 was the beginning of this series’ descent (hello there, Ghost Denny). But there was one saving grace throughout the course of this tumultuous season, and that was the finale. If the stunning revelation that George O’Malley was John Doe this entire time wasn’t enough to bring you to tears, then that entire final sequence will. As Izzie readies herself her soul for death, we see her ride the elevator while wearing her prom dress from the day that Denny died. However, as the elevator doors open, and the song’s hook breaks, she is greeted by an unexpected guest: George O’Malley, in full army uniform. The looks they exchange utterly break my heart. I can’t listen to this song without tearing up a little. “It might all be gone tomorrow.”
1. The O.C.: “Dice” by Finley Quaye
Another series that had MANY outstanding music moments—too many to count! While Imogen Heap’s “Hide & Seek” or Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” may be more memorable, it’s this moment that makes me smile, topping the list as my favorite television moment. I love watching Ryan run up those stairs—in slow motion, mind you—desperate to reach Marissa in time for that New Year’s kiss. And as messed up as Marissa was, she really did love that boy. To see them kiss amidst the confetti and this romantic song, and to hear Ryan finally declare his feelings for Marissa, was mesmerizing. Plus, I will always enjoy watching Oliver suffer defeat. Ugh! Oliver! You’re the worst!
There were a lot of kisses to romantic songs on this list. Maybe I should have called this list “Favorite Kisses from Television.” Regardless, what are some of your favorite music moments from television?