10 TV Shows with Great Music

TV Lists

MTV might have dropped the word “music” from its name after all but giving up on videos, but you can still find great music on TV. I recently looked at the state of late-night music. But prime time can also be a great place to discover your new favorite tunes. At least you’ll hear more Alexi Murdoch, Grizzly Bear and Ida Maria than most any radio station I know of. Here are the 10 TV shows with the best music:

10. Music on Scrubs (ABC)
Music supervisor: Christa Miller
Recent artists: The Cardigans, Marvin Gaye, Alexi Murdoch, Bishop Allen, The Weepies, Ari Gold

Usually the job of the music supervisor is behind the scenes, but Christa Miller also starred as the ice-cold Jordan Sullivan. With Scrubs recently bowing off the air, she’s continued providing music (and acting chops) for her husband Bill Lawrence on his new show Cougar Town.

9. Music on House (Fox)
Music supervisors: Gary Calamar, Lynn Grossman
Recent artists: Billy Bragg with Natalie Merchant and Wilco, Elvis Costello, Norah Jones, Fiona Apple, Metric, Ray LaMontagne, Fanfarlo

The season premiere mixed epic compositions from Mozart, Schumann and Beethoven with Radiohead, Iron & Wine and The Frames, with a little Cole Porter thrown in for good measure.

8. Music on Weeds (Showtime)
Music supervisor: Gary Calamar
Recent artists: Michael Franti and Spearhead, A Camp, The Mountain Goats, Tuung, DeVotchKa, Toots & The Maytals

Gary Calamar oversees the musical selections of Weeds, True Blood, Dexter and House when he’s not hosting “The Open Road” on KCRW in L.A.

7. Music on Brothers & Sisters (ABC)
Music supervisors: Frankie Pine, Robin Urdang
Recent artists: Alexi Murdoch, Griffin House, The Avett Brothers, Angus and Julia Stone, Gregory Alan Isakov, Carla Bruni, The Damnwells, Hem, Katie Herzig, The Weepies, The Swell Season

Sally Field isn’t the only thing this prime-time soap opera has going for it. The music adds to the dramatic touch.

6. Music on True Blood (HBO)
Music supervisor: Gary Calamar
Recent artists: Dave Alvin, Buddy & Julie Miller, Bob Dylan, Wanda Jackson, Lyle Lovett, Beck, Rolling Stones, 13th Floor Elevators, Lucinda Williams

Jace Everett’s theme song perfectly fits the swampy vampire vibe of Alan Ball’s True Blood, and Calamar has chosen some fantastic tracks to go with it.

5. Friday Night Lights (NBC)
Music supervisor: Liza Richardson
Recent artists: Ida Maria, Steve Earle, Jay Reatard, Mastodon, Heartless Bastards, Explosions in the Sky, White Rabbits, Peter Case, A.A. Bondy

The former music supervisor for Melrose Place and Lie to Me and Life is keeping busy curating some of the best music on TV.

4. Music on Gossip Girl (CW)
Music supervisor: Alexandra Patsavas
Recent artists: The Jesus & Mary Chain, Thao, Crooked Fingers, Band of Horses, Beach House, Cold War Kids, Grizzly Bear, Holly Miranda, The Phenomenal Handclap Band, White Rabbits, The National, Vampire Weekend, Monsters of Folk, The XX, Jay-Z, M83, Imogen Heap, Passion Pit

Working on The O.C., Patsavas introduced indie rock to prime time and raised the profile of music supervisors. She’s now one of the busiest in Hollywood with a portfolio that includes Grey’s Anatomy, Numb3rs, Mad Men, Private Practice, and Supernatural, where she gets to exercise her classic rock muscles.

3. Music on Parenthood (NBC)
Music supervisor: Liza Richardson
Recent artists: Iron & Wine, Pearl Jam, José González, Wilco, Josh Rouse, Devendra Banhart, Raphael Saadiq, Spoon, Monsters of Folk, Alexi Murdoch, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Conor Oberst, Monsters of Folk

That list of artists above represents just the last three episodes of NBC’s rookie family dramedy.

2. Music on Chuck (NBC)
Music supervisor: Alexandra Patsavas
Recent artists: Vampire Weekend, Nina Simone, Frightened Rabbit, Dawes, Spoon, Imogen Heap, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Gaslight Anthem, The Antlers, The Clash

With theme music from Cake, each episode of Chuck plays like the Best of What’s Next. More TV shows and movies should use Frightened Rabbit.

1. Music on Treme (HBO)
Music supervisor: Blake Leyh
Recent artists: Rebirth Brass Band, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Kermit Ruffins, The Iguanas

Leyh originally worked with David Simon on The Wire and the Harlem-based musician has dug deep into New Orleans for a show where music is the star.

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