The Dirty South of True Blood, a sweaty world of carnage and lust in which humans and vampires coexist, is notably colored by its smart and gritty soundtrack. Even the HBO show’s theme is regarded as one of the best opening credits ever made—not bad, considering music supervisor Gary Calamar found Jace Everett’s “Bad Things” on iTunes. Calamar, along with creator Alan Ball and composer Nathan Barr, color their Southern gothic drama with trip-hop, country rock and blues—a nice change from the typical industrial punk/rock/techno we typically think modern celluloid vamps love.
Finally, the much-anticipated fourth season premieres tonight. To celebrate the end of our, ahem, V-juice withdrawal, here’s a list of 12 musical moments that made us pulsate with fear and joy.
12. “Soccer Practice” by Jonny McGovern
Season One, Episode Three: “Mine”
Jason Stackhouse proves he’ll do anything for V (vampire blood), including dancing half-naked for LaFayette’s webcam site. “Ooh lover, you’re gonna make me clutch my pearls,” says LaFayette. Cue pathetic Stackhouse shaking his ass to McGovern’s infamous dance-club fave.
11. “That Smell” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Season One, Episode Four: “Escape From Dragon House”
The song about the intoxicating, fatal “smell” of heroin accompanies Sam Merlotte’s smelling of a different kind of death: He sneaks into the house of Dawn, Merlotte’s just-murdered waitress, leaps onto the bed she died on then maniacally sniffs and rolls around in the sheets like a dog in heat in probably True Blood’s most bizarre WTF moment.
10. “Jesus Asked Me Out Today” by Amanda Jane and the God Rockets
Season Two, Episode Two: “Keep This Party Going”
Days of Our Lives’ Molly Burnett plays Amanda Jane, a Christian singer with a virgin/whore complex. She sings this parody of a religious pop tune to a crowd of dorky-dancing Holy Rollers. It’s pretty ridiculous but man, is it catchy.
9. “Louisiana Hot Sauce” by Sammy Kershaw
Season Two, Episode Four: “Never Let Me Go”
In one of True Blood’s campiest moments, Fellowship of the Sun leader’s wife Sarah Newlin grills ribs while Jason slow-mo fantasizes her tonguing a beer bottle and licking barbecue sauce off her finger. But like a good Southern boy, he controls his urges. “Do you like country music?” asks Rev. Steve Newlin. Well, we do now.
8. “Sex and Candy” by Marcy Playground
Season Two, Episode Three: “Scratches”
As Marcy Playground singer John Wozniak sings, “There she was like double cherry pie,” newly vamped Jessica struts in and turns heads at Merlotte’s, searching for her own disco lemonade. She catches the eye of shy guy Hoyt, and so begins TV’s sweetest human-vampire relationship.
7. “Paradise Circus” by Massive Attack
Season Three, Episode Four: “9 Crimes”
When Hope Sandoval vacantly sings, you can feel the rejection and emptiness of the strip club where Bill searches for something “exotic” to procure. He finds unloved dancer Destiny who becomes grub for three ravenous vamps.
6. “Head” by Otep
Season 3, Episode Eight: “Night On the Sun”
In a forest, Vampire Jessica ravages a werewolf. At Stackhouse quarters, blood-stained Sookie proves to Bill that sex with a human can be as savage too. Yes, children, heavy metal unleashes our animal instincts, in the best possible way.
5. “9 Crimes (Demo)” By Damien Rice
Season Three, Episode 4 “9 Crimes”
Vampires Bill, Russell and Lorena literally devour the life out of a stripper in the backseat of a limo. This lo-fi version is beautifully creepy while juxtaposed with screams of pain and blood oozing out of the limo down to the cold ground.
4. “Bonehead” by Onepointsix
Season Three, Episode Four: “9 Crimes”
This isn’t really a song; Onepointsix is a production company that creates music for TV shows, but the snippet is so memorable that fans have Googled long and hard to find it. It’s equal parts awesome and porn-y, but it also feels strangely off. The music plays as Eric and Sookie share an ardent kiss, but when things get heavy – poof! – it was just a daydream. We’re sorry, Eric, but we have faith you’ll taste that faerie very soon.
3. “I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues” by Billie Holiday
Season Three, Episode Six “I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues”
“I do miss the 1930s,” laments Vampire Lorena. She softly plays Billie’s cover of the classic jazz standard, which helps her get in the mood to torture Bill for love. She slices open his chest, then cuts her own finger and pierces it in his gash. But leave it to Billie Holiday to turn a gruesome spectacle into an elegant moment.
2. “New World in My View” by King Britt
Season Two, Episode 10: “New World In My View”
Seventies preacher Sister Gertrude Morgan’s vocals over King Britt’s trippy, blues beat capture the eerie spirit of New Orleans. The haunting titular song materializes as the scene changes from the Vampire Queen of Louisiana’s sprawling palace to a close-up of a bare foot dangling from a throne, ruby red blood running down to its toes.
1. “(Evil) is Going On” by Jace Everett and CC Adcock
Season Three, Episode 12: “Evil is Going On”
It seems ungodly to cover a Chicago blues standard that legend Howlin’ Wolf so flawlessly recorded, but Everett and Adcock’s rendition is a sinister fit. Sookie Stackhouse is whisked away by her faerie godmother to what we assume is a lovely faerie land where rainbows paint the sky and lithe creatures wear Grecian chiffon dresses. But right when the credits roll, the lyrics portend that “something just ain’t right.” In Bon Temps, that sounds about right.