We all discover music in different ways: via social media, friend recommendations, randomly seeing bands live or, yes, even TV shows. TV show soundtracks can be a great way of discovering music sometimes and you’ve probably caught yourself saying “Who sang that song?” while watching a show at least once in your life.
There’s no shame in admitting you discovered your new fave band from an episode of Gossip Girl or The O.C. because, well, you had to start somewhere! The origins of your discovery should never be shameful or even the focal point; all that matters is that you have something new to add to your playlist and you were able to expand your tastes in music in a way that browsing the CD or vinyl racks could have never done. No offense to record stores, you should go out and support all of your independent shops now.
So let’s take a moment and just leave all our shamefulness behind and embrace the fact that we ended up buying an Imogen Heap CD because you saw Marissa shoot Trey on The O.C. while Hide and Seek played in the background, or because you bawled your eyes out to that Grey’s Anatomy scene where Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars played in the background.
Here are 10 bands we shamelessly discovered on TV shows. We are forever grateful for these magical TV moments.
TV Show: The O.C.
Artist: Death Cab For Cutie
Look, we could make an entire list based on the bands that we discovered on The O.C. — The Walkmen, The Killers, Imogen Heap, Spoon and Rooney, just to name a few. Never forget Rooney. But the show had a particular soft spot for indie-rockers Death Cab For Cutie. Noted as one of Seth Cohen’s favourite bands ever, we grew to love Death Cab in an attempt to absorb all things O.C.-related (or Seth Cohen specific if he was your fave character). Whether you knew of this band prior to The O.C. or not, there’s no denying that this show helped catapult DCFC into the mainstream universe — much to the dismay of Summer Roberts (watch below).
TV Show: Grey’s Anatomy
Artist: Snow Patrol
Much like The O.C., early seasons of Grey’s Anatomy possessed the same pop cultural influence and their biggest success in the soundtrack department is when they launched Irish band Snow Patrol’s song Chasing Cars into the universe. Fans of the show will recognize the song from the end of season two where Izzie goes to Denny’s side as he dies. (Yes, we can wait for you to go grab a box of tissues. Go ahead.) In subsequent seasons, the show enlisted covers of this exact song such as The Wind and The Wave’s version in season 11.
TV Show: Friday Night Lights
Artist: Explosions In The Sky
A lot of things went into the emotional impact of Friday Night Lights and it is not lost on its fans that Texan band Explosions in the Sky’s gorgeous soundtrack was a huge part of that. The band provided most of the soundtrack to this show, but contrary to popular belief, the theme song was not by the band. You can thank W.G. Snuffy Walden for that moving piece of music.
TV Show: The Late Show With David Letterman
Artist: Future Islands
You may not be familiar with Baltimore indie-rockers Future Islands, but you’ve definitely seen the GIFs of lead single Samuel T. Herring busting a move (or eight) on The Late Show With David Letterman in the past year. Last March, the band went on the late night TV show to perform their single Seasons (Waiting On You) and not only did they blow Letterman away, but the host even went on to make fun of them the following night! Now that’s some high praise! This now-legendary performance has raked in over four million views on YouTube and undoubtedly gave the band a boost in popularity. Last month, Future Islands returned to The Late Show for an encore performance before Letterman finally signed off.
TV Show: Glee
You don’t even have to had watched this hit TV show to know that Glee‘s most successful hit was an acapella cover of Journey’s 1981 song, Don’t Stop Believing. This became the show’s mission statement in its early seasons (“Don’t stop believin’/Hold on to that feeeeeeeling!”) and still remains as one of the show’s best moments featuring stars Lea Michele and the late-Cory Monteith. Plus, they single-handedly revived this song and band, bringing it to a whole new generation of music lovers.
TV Show: Six Feet Under
Long before Sia began masking her face or met Maddie Ziegler, the Aussie songwriter got a major boost on the series finale of the hit show Six Feet Under. The powerful ending scene featured Sia’s 2004 song Breathe Me as Claire drove off to New York and a series of flash-forwards revealed the future deaths of the show’s main characters. It’s quite the morbid ending, but it was for the ultimately morbid show.
TV Show: Scrubs
Artist: Joshua Radin
Zach Braff has proven time and time again that he has a good ear for music, especially when it comes to soundtrack cues. He most famously boosted the popularity of The Shins when Natalie Portman told him that their song “will change your life” in Garden State, but he was also responsible for getting a Joshua Radin song featured on his hit TV show, Scrubs. After Braff introduced Radin’s song Winter to show creator Bill Lawrence, the song was featured in a very memorable (and sad) moment on the show where Dr. Cox realizes his brother-in-law and best friend Ben is dead.
TV Show: Orange Is The New Black
Artist: Regina Spektor
Even though some may have known about Regina Spektor prior to the release of the hit show Orange is the New Black, the singer-songwriter was given her biggest spotlight yet when she provided the show its theme song. Sure, some of you might get annoyed by the lengthy opening number when you’re binge-watching, but you’ve probably sat through it at least once and you must admit that Spektor’s thrilling opening number, paired with the close-ups of the female prisoners on the show, does make for one of the most powerful and memorable musical moments in recent TV history.
TV Show: Girls
While most would name Icona Pop and Charli XCX’s I Love It as one of Girls‘ best musical moments, we personally love this little moment featuring Robyn’s mega hit, Dancing On My Own (in which, yes, Lena Dunham’s Hannah is indeed dancing on her own at home). While that song was big long before this episode of Girls aired in 2012, many of the show’s audience now associate this song, as well as I Love It, to these special Girls moments. [True story: I danced to Dancing On My Own with my BFF in New York a few years ago and she screamed: “THIS IS JUST LIKE AN EPISODE OF GIRLS.”]
Bonus: This song was also prominently featured on Gossip Girl, though it’s not as effective as Dunham’s triumphant dance number.
TV Show: Flight of the Conchords
Artist: Flight of the Conchords
Face it, most of us didn’t really get into Flight of the Conchords until they got their own HBO show and became the most popular folk duo in America (but still fourth in New Zealand). Although their show only lasted two seasons, we’ve developed a lifetime of love for Bret and Jemaine and have followed everything they’ve done since, from Bret’s Oscar-winning song for The Muppets movie in 2011 to Jemaine’s most recent vampire mockumentary film, What We Do In The Shadows.