The year is 1984, and Carrie Bradshaw is just beginning her love affair with New York. There's no Big; no brownstone; and no Charlotte, Samantha, or Miranda -- but there is funky fashion and a 1980s soundtrack that's worthy of even the most discriminating Walkman.
The premiere episode of the "Sex and the City" prequel, "The Carrie Diaries," sported the predictable pop ("Footloose" and "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"), but the back-to-school scene gave us New Order's "Blue Monday," and by the end of the episode, there was a playlist that included The Violent Femmes, Modern English, and Depeche Mode. By the time fans got through Episode 2, we were downright smitten with this TV soundtrack. (And P.S. Duran Duran's "Girls on Film" makes us really want our MTV back!)
Meanwhile, "The Carrie Diaries" isn't the only TV show rockin' our world. Check out these five TV soundtracks that are music to our ears.
"Miami Vice"Speaking of the year 1984, "Miami Vice" may have broken the ice when it comes to TV soundtracks. Known for its groundbreaking use of synthesized pop music, this cool cop show debuted in MTV's early heyday and featured heavy rotation hits like Phil Collins's "In the Air Tonight" and Tina Turner's "Better Be Good To Me." In 1985, director Lee Katzin told Time, "The show is written for an MTV audience, which is more interested in images, emotions, and energy than plot and character and words." The neon-colored Italian sports coats didn't hurt, either.
"Grey's Anatomy"Featuring a smorgasbord of Indie rock, the "Grey's Anatomy" soundtrack is so popular that it warrants its own Music Lounge on the show's website. The medical drama is heavy on the musical montage moments, paving the way for lots of Snow Patrol (remember Denny's death scene?), and artists like Maria Taylor, Gomez, and the Bird and the Bee. In fact, this show is so heavily influenced by music that in Season 7, there was an entire music-themed episode. Dr. Owen Hunt singing "How We Operate"? Only at Seattle Grace.
"My So-Called Life"This short-lived cult hit about teen angst talked music a lot (a Grateful Dead concert was at the center of one of the episodes), and Juliana Hatfield even guest-starred as a so-called angel. But with a soundtrack that boasted Sonic Youth, The Lemonheads, and Madder Rose, "My So-Called Life's" music was a refreshing reprieve from the era's Seattle scene. The Buffalo Tom song "Late at Night" was the background noise for a major turning point in the series, such as when the noncommittal Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) finally held Angela's hand in the school hallway.
"Mad Men"Music is big business on the period drama "Mad Men" (just ask exec producer Matthew Weiner, who paid a quarter of a million bucks for the use of the Beatles song "Tomorrow Never Knows" for one episode), and it shows with a groovy retro soundtrack that includes everyone from Doris Day to Sonny and Cher. A favorite? Last season's finale closer, Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice," a song that had been burning a hole in the producers' pocket. Weiner is meticulous about the timeline of his show's soundtrack, even changing the original ending song in the Season 5 premiere (Dusty Springfield's "The Look of Love") after preview critics noted that the song had been released six months after the time period depicted in the episode.
"The O.C."In four short seasons, this Fox teen drama packed a plethora of music into its scripts, ultimately releasing six soundtrack albums filled with Indie music. The show's fictional night club, the Bait Shop, provided a way for bands like The Killers and Modest Mouse to make cameos. Show creator Josh Schwartz told Interview magazine that at the time of "The O.C.'s" reign (2003 to 2007), the music that was used on the show was music that you couldn't find anywhere else.
"It was the kind of end of MTV playing music, and [it] predated the explosion of Internet radio or satellite radio," he said. "It was really the only place that you could get turned on to new music that wasn't just top 40."
These days Schwartz is back to making music television -- with "The Carrie Diaries."
More from this contributor:10 things to know about 'Mad Men'
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