It’s The Final Countdown: 10 Songs That Will Forever Be Associated With A Single Show

Senior Pop Culture Editor
06.05.13 189 Comments

Later tonight, I’m seeing brood rockers the National at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. I’m not saying this to strengthen the stereotype that OF COURSE everyone in Brooklyn loves the National (although), but to mention: they’re one of my favorite bands, but I hate them. That’s because from now, every time I listen to Boxer or High Violet or the more-recent Trouble Will Find Me, I’m going to think of “The Rains of Castamere” and then…this.

I’ll forever associate that single moment with the National (well, that and “Kill the Turkey”), until Game of Thrones asks them to record an even more depressing song for an even more depressing moment later on in the show’s run. That feeling got me thinking about other existing (non-theme) songs that I’ll always relate to a single TV show.

Song: “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe
Show: Scrubs

Just getting this out of the way now, before anyone wonders where this glorious 90 seconds of TV is.

Song: “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins
Show: Archer

TIL: real-life Lord of the Rings character Giorgio Moroder, who has recently seen a rise in popularity thanks to his Warner Herzog-esque monologue on Daft Punk’s “Giorgio by Moroder,” composed the music for “Danger Zone,” Kenny Loggins’ mega-hit from the Top Gun soundtrack. It was written by Moroder’s former-mechanic Tom Whitlock, so every time Sterling screams “DANNGGGERRR ZONE,” please realizes he’s talking about a song that was birthed by a guy who fixed cars for an Italian disco legend. That actually sounds like a good Archer character.

Song: “The Final Countdown” by Europe
Show: Arrested Development

For an entire year, 2006, I had VH1’s 66th best hard rock song of all-time “The Final Countdown,” as performed by a band named after a continent that finished fourth in VH1’s best continents rankings, as my ringtone. It was also my alarm clock, so I can’t hear the song without wanting to throw something against a dorm wall because I was just woken up from a dream about Jessica Simpson (she was all the rage then). Anyway: what TV show songs have you guys used as your ringtone? I know plenty of y’all picked “Mulatto Butts,” but I’m hoping at least one person says “Snakes (It’s Not OK).”

Song: “Who Are You” by the Who
Show: Louie

Louie sings ‘Who are you?’ from Judah Ari Gross on Vimeo.

Louie’s come along way since “Country Drive” aired in 2011. What made the scene where he jams out to “Who Are You” while driving with his daughters — outside of a) FX could afford the rights to the song, and b) they played nearly the WHOLE DAMN THING — is how happy he seems. The roles are reversed: the adult acts like the kids, and the kids recall a bored adult, and that’s something we hadn’t seen yet on Louie. Then again, most middle-aged white men are never happier than when they’re pretending to be Keith Moon, minus the horse tranqs.

Song: “Summer Wind” by Frank Sinatra
Show: The Simpsons

Christ, where to begin with The Simpsons? In season five alone, there’s Groundskeeper Willie mangling “Downtown,” Homer and Chief Wiggum’s happy duet of “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows,” a particularly melty “Sugar, Sugar,” James Taylor soothing a trio of astronauts with “You’ve Got a Friend,” and, of course, Homer’s seductive parody of “Mandy,” now called “Margie” and about a turkey. But I went with Martin Prince’s solemn “Summer Wind” from season six’s “Bart of Darkness,” because I can really relate to listening to Sinatra in the nude.

Song: “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey
Show: The Sopranos

In all fairness, “Don’t Stop Believin'” is associated with two series — The Sopranos and Glee (three, if you want to count a 2003 episode of Scrubs) — but unless it’s Shows That Make You Want to Wrap a Mic Cord Around Your Neck and Pull, anyone who thinks of the latter before the former is a doofus. Tens of thousands of words have been spent on the song’s use in “Made in America,” with just as many theories as to what it ALL MEANS, even though the answer is obviously.

Song: “The Body of an American” by Pogues
Show: The Wire

The best thing about Pogues’ songs: people trying to transcribe the lyrics.

Fare thee well
Accept to say adieu
To your eyes as blue
As the water in the bay
I’m a free born man of the USA (Via)

The Pogues are the best.

Song: “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead
Show: Freaks and Geeks

I couldn’t include another Who song, even though Freaks and Geeks‘ most well-known non-“Superfunk” musical moment is Bill watching Garry Shandling and eating a sandwich while “I’m One” plays, so I looked elsewhere in the show. (I also left off “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from the deadly CSI: Miami. It was a…grave mistake YEAHHHHHH) Luckily, there are dozens of options to choose from, including Nick’s drumming to “Tom Sawyer” and Daniel’s intense listening of “Rise Above,” but the pick had to be “Ripple,” which plays over the show’s touching final scene.

Song: “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James and the Shondells
Show: Breaking Bad

It’s amazing it took FIVE SEASONS for Breaking Bad to use this song. If I was showrunner, I would have blown my load in the first episode, and the second and the third and the fourth…That’s why I’m not Vince Gilligan.

Song: “Breathe Me” by Sia
Show: Six Feet Under

*weeps uncontrollably*

I wonder what the second song on that mix is…?

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