In Part 2 of this feature, we ask more of film and TV’s leading music supervisors to pick their favourite TV syncs of 2018 so far. Here’s what they came up with: (Missed Part 1? Check it out here.)
Lucy Bright, Music Sales (McMafia, Assassin’s Creed, This is England ‘90)
Show: GLOW – Music Supervised by Bruce Gilbert
Season 2, Episode 5
Song: Bronski Beat – “Smalltown Boy”
Every production Bruce Gilbert works on I end up looking up a tonne of songs that he’s used, always amazing choices and GLOW is no exception, every episode has something special. I loved the use of Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy”, it’s a song which is at once very nostalgic for a specific era yet still sounds really fresh. It is in the scene where Bash goes looking for his missing friend Florian at a gay bar with Carmen and Britannica, has the perfect energy for the dancing while the lyrics work so well for Bash’s internal thoughts and the absent Florian. The storyline comes back in a later episode in a really tragic way and I found myself thinking about the song again in that context.
Show: Collateral – Music Supervised by Catherine Grieves
Season 1, Episode 1 (Song: “Stefflon Don – “16 Shots”), Season 1, Episode 2 (Song: Joni Mitchell – “Big Yellow Taxi”), Season 1, Episode 3 (Song: Queen – “Killer Queen”), Season 1, Episode 4 (Song: Van Morrison – “Bright Side of the Road”)
I have to mention this one because I loved the way each episode started straight in with a track playing on the radio, dipping in and out of the action. Plus I can never get enough Van Morrison.
Zach Cowie (Forever, Master of None)
Show: Atlanta – Music Supervised by Jen Malone and Fam Rothstein
Season 2, Episode 9
Song: “Laffy Taffy” – D4L
Truth be told, most of my free time is spent listening to records/studying music or watching movies (usually older ones or documentaries). I barely watch any tv…but i NEVER missed an episode of Atlanta. The ultimate goal for me as a music supervisor is to combine sound and image to create a third thing that’s never been felt before— the more transcendent and/or brain scrambling, the better. I can’t think of a stronger example in recent times than D4L’s “Laffy Taffy” in Season 2, Episode 9 of Atlanta.
An army of naked white dudes with hoods on their heads doing a snap dance moments after their ‘leader’ tells two brilliantly acted (and totally silent!) black dudes that Pimp C was ‘one of the last real profits’ – all while being framed by a giant confederate flag in the background!? This masterfully bold combination of clashing elements creates about a million layers of depth in an instant. Tt’s so completely insane (but totally REAL!) – one of the many, many, reasons why Hiro Murai is my favorite director and Atlanta is my favorite show.
Thomas Patterson (Lodge 49)
Show: In The Long Run – Music Supervised by Idris Elba and the Sky Team
Season 1, Episode 1
Song: Tina Turner – “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” (performed by Deno Driz)
Yet to be released in the US, and little seen in the UK, Idris Elba’s nostalgic comedy In The Long Run has nonetheless been one of this year’s low-key delights. Loosely based around Elba’s memories of growing up in ‘80s London, the soundtrack is an effervescent blend of big British hits from the era (The Cure, The Jam, Madness etc.), irresistible Afrobeat, reggae and Soca (Ali Ganda’s “Independence Calypso”, Kamazu’s “Ju Ju Lady” and Manu Dibango’s “The Panther” – since used in Snowfall – are particular standouts in episode one), and a few well-placed outliers (the use of Esther Phillips’ “Let Me In Your Life” in episode five is gorgeous, albeit heartbreakingly short).
It will be interesting to see how much of the music remains intact if and when In The Long Run finally crosses the Atlantic, especially the tracks performed by superstar-in-waiting Deno Driz, the true musical highlight of the show. A teenager from East London who has become a sensation on social media thanks to his fantastic a cappella covers of hit songs recorded in his school playground, Driz is a sort of Greek chorus in the show, popping up in each episode to belt out a hit song of the day from high atop the balcony of his council flat. Tracks like The Police’s “Roxanne” and Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” get the Driz treatment, but it’s his rendition of Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome that really hits the target. Sung as Valentine, a recent émigré from Sierra Leone, surveys his new London surroundings and bonds with his young nephew Kobna, the song is transformed from a somewhat histrionic power ballad about feral scavengers in a post-apocalyptic hellscape into both a moving lament about the forgotten diaspora in Thatcher’s Britain and a subliminal warning that Kobna shouldn’t place his trust in the feckless Valentine. It’s a beautifully understated moment in a beautifully understated show.
Matt Kaleda, Felt Music (The Grand Tour, Luther)
Show: Peaky Blinders – Music Supervised by Amelia Hartley
Season 4, Episode 4
Song: Radiohead – “Pyramid Song”
The man character Tommy Shelby is having a bit of bad time! His life is falling apart and he’s going off the rails… the song soundtracks his demise perfectly.
Bonus non 2018 entry:
Show: The Sopranos – Music selected by series creator David Chase, producer Martin Bruestle and music editor Kathryn Dayak
Season 6, Episode 14
Song: John Cooper Clarke – “Evidently Chickentown”
I’ve been revisiting The Sopranos, watching it all over again. I saw this episode the other night and it just reminded me of what a truly amazing marriage of music and film this is. It’s pretty much my favourite sync ever. A hypnotic, industrial, cold electronic track with a ranting Northern English poet banging on about cold chips and flat lager and how shit everything is, fades in after a Italian American Mob boss vents his frustrations with a fellow gangster, it then continues over a montage of a Mafia christening…
WTF? How does it work? there’s such a juxtaposition, but it’s just absolutey perfect somehow?
Alexandra Patsavas, Chop Shop Music Supervision (Grey’s Anatomy, Riverdale, Mad Men, The O.C.)
Show: Better Call Saul – Music Supervised by Thomas Golubić
Season 4, Episode 7
Song: Burl Ives – “Big Rock Candy Mountain”
While I always admire Thomas’ music selections on this compelling, entertaining and well… just plain terrific project, I especially enjoyed his use of Burl Ives’ “Big Rock Candy Mountain” over the montage with Mike in the claustrophobic, crazy world of the excavation project.
It was wonderful, surprising and exactly right.
I remember shouting to my husband as we were viewing, “HOLY S**T, IT’S BURL IVES, HOW PERFECT!!!!”