It’s a Sin and More: The Power of TV Show Soundtracks
By Daisy Hill
The recent success of Russel T Davies’ drama ‘It’s a Sin’ and its incredible soundtrack has highlighted the significance of well-thought-out soundtracks in TV Shows. The use of music can work magic for setting a time period, vibe or elevating tense moments. Below are some examples of the shows that have mastered the use of a non-original soundtrack to underscore what were already masterpieces in their own right.
1. It’s a Sin
It’s a Sin is intense in the best way. As a viewer, you find yourself feeling torn to shreds while still crying with laughter. Borrowing its name from the Pet Shop Boys song, the Russel T Davies series excellently tells the story of the emergence of the devastating AIDS crisis in the 1980s. The stigma and horrendous treatment of gay men is explored in-depth, whilst touching on important themes of unity, racial injustice and friendship. The music serves to elevate the messages of the plot – with vibrant 80s anthems such as ‘Freedom’ by Wham! and Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ transporting you straight back to that time period. The chosen tunes are often of cultural significance, representing the gay community through sound, using songs from Culture Club and Bronski Beat. As a viewer, you feel like a member of the Pink Palace, forced to confront the disturbing realities gay men faced as though you were watching your own friends.
2. Gossip Girl
Any fan of Gossip Girl would absolutely agree that this list would not be honest without a nod to its musical choices. Watching the show feels like you are flipping through a magazine from the late 2000s, and the soundtrack reflects this. One moment a kiss between Serena and Nate is amplified by Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi, the next Jason Derulo’s Whatcha Say plays while the destruction of numerous relationships unfolds over Thanksgiving Dinner in true Van der Woodsen style. Music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas thoughtfully selected tracks across all genres to build tension, from Death Cab for Cutie to The Pretty Reckless, featuring GG’s own Taylor Momsen. A moment that springs to mind is the use of Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’ to intensify the moment Chuck and Blair break their sexual tension and share a
passionate hate-kiss. The moment is insanely cringe, but so were the late 2000s, and it fitsperfectly.
Gossip Girl – Dancing On My Own
Elite follows the lives of a group of students at a privileged high school, struggling to balance their everyday teenage problems with the stress of a murder case. The series is fantastically played out, with plot twists and turns, causing tension between your responsibilities and the play next button. The soundtrack is bursting with youthful tunes from all over the globe, getting British and American audiences to lend their ears to the talents of many European artists. Music is used to emphasise the youth and naivety of the characters, and the tracks selected set the scene perfectly for a high school of privileged students making big mistakes out of pure immaturity. One particular moment that stands out is the use of Forever by CHVRCHES in the third season, used to underscore scenes of both conflict and forgiveness amongst the divided group of students.
Elite – Forever (Spoilers)
4 – Dynasty
The CW remake of 80s soap Dynasty has a jam-packed soundtrack, filled with nods to the 80s original to a carefully curated selection of electronic hits. The latter tracks carry an air of sophistication with them, matching the manner of main character Fallon, the ruthless but classy heiress to the Carrington fortune. Unlike with Elite, the songs tend to be more mature and bring a sense of empowerment to underlie the dramatic scenes, particularly where a character is seeking revenge. There is even a musical episode in season three, which is either embarrassing or amazing - depending on your stance. Regardless, the insanely talented cast do a great job of renditions of “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Against All Odds”.
Dynasty – Fallon’s Song for Liam
Image credit (It's a Sin): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9140342/
Image credit (ELITE): https://morningpicker.com/entertainment/elite-gets-renewed-for-season-3-all-the-information-regarding-cast-release-and-much-more-in-here-50844/
Image credit (Gossip Girl): https://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/gossip-girl/cast/1030375838/
Image credit (Dynasty): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6128300/