Thanks to Les for letting me steal his idea (not the first time). But the other day he talked about songs which were made famous by movies. And yes my friends, the same can happen with TV shows.
Now to be clear I am not talking about theme songs, or songs made for a series which became popular after, but pop songs that are heard in a scene and blend so perfectly the song almost becomes synonymous with that scene (and series). Drama’s are pretty well known for this sort of thing, in fact I have seen drama’s outright plug the album or song the episode had. But yes even a silly sitcom can break through with a very memorable combination of song and scene (or character).
Now unlike Les’s great list, most of these songs were famous before they were featured in the episode (except one or two). But sometimes a TV show, or movie, can bring you back to a song that has already been popular in a special way, especially if you were a kid and may not have been aware of the classic. Whether the song is just on in the background or the artist him or herself is there to sing it, you remember that moment. That is what this article is all about.
The only rule is the song has to be from the original artist, either a recording over the scene or done by the actual artist on the show. Characters singing pop songs is another list entirely my friends (though lip synching to the original is OK as you’ll see). Here now are
12 great songs which you can’t hear without thinking of the sitcom episode they happened to be featured in (well, at least I CAN’T!)
I’m not sure how many remember this one, but I sure do. This under appreciated Howard Hesseman sitcom had an episode which involved the class putting together a time capsule. They end up making a music video lip synching to this song. At the top because I am not sure how many besides me always remember this when they hear the song. Want a blast of 80’s goofiness? Here it is my friends.
Davy Jones was a pretty big name in the late 60’s, especially when he joined The Monkees. He was talented and had lots of hits…but “Girl” was not of them. That is until he performed the song on a now iconic episode of The Brady Bunch. The rest, as they say, is history. The single became his best remembered hit because of this episode.
I know what you’re thinking, Seinfeld?? Well, yeah. Why not? This song was used twice in the show, once for Kramer and another time with George, and both of these uses helped to make people keep Seinfeld in mind when they heard Morning Train.
Sometimes a song will just meld so well with a series, if you didn’t know better you would think that the song was written for that series. Of course this isn’t the case. The song appeared in the “Snow Day” episode and was such a natural fit that it became a second theme song.
Yeah I’m cheating a bit here. I’ve talked before about how Murphy Brown had a big Motown connection. Many episodes featured Motown songs over the credits, and the Temptations appeared once. But this song goes above those because the song sums up Murphy perfectly. So perfectly it appears a few times and it’s always memorable. Murphy sings it in the pilot, her mother sings it also, Murphy sings it to her newborn baby, and with Aretha Franklin herself in one of the series more memorable scenes. The two just belong together.
Another one that may not be as popular. Check the link above to see what I mean. The scene really has nothing to do with the episode (not even sure why it’s there to be honest). It’s basically Tony and Angela dancing to this song. What else do you need?
I can’t hear this and not think of Friends. That guitar riff and somber tune, it fit that scene perfectly. So well that the I can’t separate the two. I hear the song, I think of that scene. Oh, if you don’t know this song plays the first time Ross and Rachel…well, you know.
It’s quite possible this one hasn’t stood the test of time like the others, but for me it has. When Michael J. Fox left Spin City it was a very sad episode. And in the background, and the commercials, this little song was playing. It became a part of the episode, fitting the mood perfectly. Now to be fair, this song would have been a hit regardless of the sitcom. But I have to feel that episode helped.
I’m sorry but how in the world could this not be on here? Hear this song and not think of The Cosby Show, I dare you! Even if you were never a fan of the show I’ll bet hearing this song will make you say “Oh yeah, I remember that”. I am not sure if it was a hit when released, I imagine it was, but that scene made the blend of this song and that sitcom forever.
Oh come on, you know you can’t hear this without thinking of Carlton doing that silly dance on Fresh Prince. It was no secret Carlton was a Jones fan, and this song popped up a few times. In fact Tom Jones himself appeared in one episode.
Ok this one is a little more rare, but the series finale of Mad About You featured a great series of clips rolling by to this really lovely song. There really isn’t much else to say, the fantastic song got some exposure in that episode and is probably all the better for it today. I have bad mouthed the series final few years, but the final episode was really very good.
I think you all know what #1 is, so let’s just get to it……
No better example than this one. This is the one I am sure became a major hit after it was featured in the episode. When it was first released in 1981 it went nowhere. Then this little episode came alone, and all of a sudden this was a monster hit. It’s been thirty years and this song is still inextricably linked to that series! In case you don’t know, this song was playing through the two episodes when Alex and Ellen met and fell in love. And it may be the finest marriage of pop song and sitcom episode EVER!!
I know there were more, let’s just say this was not the easiest list. Comment and let me know fi I missed your favorite.