Sounds of Summer: The Best TV Soundtracks

Kim Leonard | Jul 16, 2013

Best TV Soundtracks

In the fictional worlds of our favorite TV shows, nothing says “relevance” like a cool soundtrack. Whether you’re watching Nashville, Girls, or Glee, the best TV soundtracks amplify what we already love about the series and are just one more reason for us to tune in and turn it up. Here are some of our fave TV show soundtracks.

Girls

Whether it’s the thoughtful introspection of Michael Penn in “On Your Way”, the catchy, driving beat of Santigold’s “Girls” or Fun.’s “Sight of the Sun” (a track contributed exclusively for the series soundtrack, thanks to Girls creator Lena Dunham’s real-life boyfriend and Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff), Girls has a variety of musical moods and genres that make it a great playlist for any road trip.

Glee

Even if you aren’t a fan of the show, one of the best TV soundtracks features this group of incredibly talented young performers who get the added benefit of singing some fantastic original arrangements of pop music from every era. Any of the series soundtracks are great, but season two may be the frontrunner, if for no other reason than Chris Colfer’s amazing performance on “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.” This young star, a rare genuine countertenor, is a passionate artist who makes his costars that much better.

Da Vinci’s Demons

Bear McCreary’s eclectic influences and multi-layered construction make him perhaps the most sought after composer for the sci-fi/fantasy genre. He’s done Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles and, of course, Battlestar Galactica. Here, his traditional orchestral scoring gives the sometimes anachronistic Starz series a level of gravitas it doesn’t always have through script alone. From the haunting melodies floating on the strings of cello and viola that convey the rich historical influences of the main character, to the synthesized beats and accents that clarify a modern interpretation (and are perhaps symbolic of how relevant Da Vinci still is in today’s world), McCreary sends us into a dream world full of mystery and reverence; frivolity and hope.

Defiance

If you don’t have Starz, here is a splendid example of the breadth of McCreary’s creativity. In addition to his traditional scoring, McCreary also gives us original songs (in an extraterrestrial language, no less). “The Ritual of Perpetual Motion” is a venture into chaotic, musical arrhythmia; a combination of something like early ’90s industrial with the lyric soprano of Elizabeth Fraser. “Terraform My Heart,” though sung in English, is given a decidedly “other worldly” quality. “Castithan Wedding Song” is another beautiful and haunting, unmelodic lyric set to the fluid undercurrent of the cello.

Nashville

If you’re a country music fan, you’re probably already regularly watching the show. But even if you aren’t, this soundtrack, performed by the stars, is a great way to kick your boots off and enjoy a nice cool cocktail after a hard day’s ride.

What are your favorite TV soundtracks? Did it make the short list? Let us know!

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