We are lucky to be living during what many call, “the golden age of television.” Our options have come an incredibly long way. Shows like Mad Men, The Wire, Breaking Bad and The Sopranos are just some of the recent programs that have propelled our viewing landscape into an art form. As independent television slowly overtakes the throne from mainstream cable channels, the story telling chops from filmmakers and writers have never been more original and creatively charming.
Along with this great shift in the television world comes the original soundtracks that accompany them, composed by people who ensure the story and integrity of the show is preserved.
This is not an easy task to take on. Some shows do it better than others. For some, a soundtrack is given little value. For others, it’s one of the more prevalent things to the program. I’ve taken time out of my weekend, time that I would have spent watching TV, to capture our pick for the top 5 TV show soundtracks.
10. Peaky Blinders
Peaky Blinders is an underrated show on Netflix about the Irish mafia in the 1920s. The soundtrack to this show, which is accompanied by Nick Cave’s Red Right Hand, gives the show a feel that is more western cowboy than pompous turn of the century U.K. The soundtrack gives the show a feeling of danger that helps culminate the overall tone of the show.
9. Orphan Black
A scifi thriller about a group of clones that are all trying to find exactly who they are. The show’s soundtrack, composed by Trevor Yuile, captures a relevant dystopian sound for the show. The scifi elements are highlighted in this soundtrack, and sounds like some of the more enigmatic Radiohead songs.
Narcos’ soundtrack is one that I personally grew to love. It is one that is familiar to me as a Latino who understand the inherent vibes and the subtle South American instruments that are used in combination by Pedro Bromfman to make the sounds of Narcos a deadly 90s mix of latin salsa and imminent danger.
I am a yuge dork for Marvel’s Daredevil, but this is not the reason that I am putting on this soundtrack. The soundtrack stands to make the list on the merits alone. It is the most rock-sounding one out of my list. It is the most action packed. It utilizes the heroic aspects of the show, but also the hopelessness of the fictitious Hell’s Kitchen. The music by Joe Paesano does really well in capturing the fear that is present, not in the character, but in us as the viewers every single time the devil of Hell’s Kitchen goes on a mission.
The Amazon TV show, categorized as a comedy but could just as easily been a drama, has a beautiful soundtrack. Its melancholy tones in the theme by Dustin O’Halloran has a way of making you feel like you’re at home. The pianos and the flashing pictures of 70s home movies are just part of the immense soundtrack which includes music from the late 20th century. It’s music that helps Transparent show us the sadness that goes along with the subject matter.
Game of Thrones has been on for over 6 years now and the phenomena is ridiculous. Hearing about Game of Thrones before watching it was reeeeally annoying so of course I was skeptical at first about this overly hyped show. Once I started watching of course, I sang a different tune. It didn’t help that the soundtrack is so masterfully done in a way that the immersion into the fantastical world of game of thrones becomes so effortless.
Jeff Russo composed the music for the latest season of the bloody brilliant Fargo. The soundtrack captures a sense of mundane and danger of the suburban life that our heroes find themselves in. This juxtaposition is executed so flawlessly that it really goes to show just why actors of a caliber so high, come off from movies to do TV shows like this.
A new Netflix original, Stranger Things takes place in an 80s suburban town, borrowing a lot from the decade in which it is taking place, just as the soundtrack does. Riddled with synth music and other 80s giveaways, the soundtrack is intriguing and is able to help keep the mystery of the show alive, as well as Wynona Ryder’s career.
I cannot say enough good things about the leftovers. It is one of the best shows that I have seen in a long time. It is so sad and so good and it is able to be this good because of Max Richter, who’s soundtrack is a secondary character on this show. “The Departure” song plays every other episode and just like the guilty remnant, it won’t let us forget that we are not spared. That the fact that our protagonists are alive is not cause for celebration, because nothing good ever happens on the leftovers. I leave every episode sadder than I was going in, and I love the show for it.
1. Mr. Robot
If you’re sick of hearing about Mr. Robot then you are shit out of luck because this is the number one. The show’s tech centered mind fuck drama has been an instant hit, just as the soundtrack, which came out last month. The music, full of synths, is dystopian in nature but in a more subtle way. It’s a bit creepy and does that to help keep the listener on their toes, ’cause fuck society. The music, by Mac Quayle, does highlight its techy sounds in a chaotic way, reflecting the mindset of our hero Elliot.