Television and Music

Television has entered its Golden Age and music is playing an essential role. Jim and Greg examine the evolving use of music in commercials and TV shows from Mad Men to Empire to The Voice.

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Music News

The annual Lollapalooza music festival brought over 300,000 fans to Chicago's Grant Park last weekend. Festivals like Lolla have become huge sources of revenue for music corporations, primarily attracting“millennials”interested in hearing newer pop and electronic acts. Jim thinks the nature of the festival is the reason for the primarily young audience – it provides younger listeners with the chance to party with their friends while enjoying their favorite music. But Jim notes that the hundreds of hospitalizations and dozens of arrests make the festival unnecessarily dangerous. Despite the younger audience, Friday headliner Paul McCartney attracted a large number of fans to his performance, but Greg says he's an exception to the rule. While older acts can sometimes be out of place at these sort of festivals, Greg and Jim are both doubtful that any current pop act – save Taylor Swift – could attract the same number of fans as a McCartney. Both hosts think the concept of the music festival needs to be redesigned to suit the needs of the modern audience.


Gabe McDonough

Music And Strategy (MAS) executive producer Gabe McDonough joins Jim and Greg for a conversation about the role of music in TV commercials. Nowadays more and more musicians are selling their work to advertisers in order to increase their popularity and make some extra cash. But what does this mean for the integrity of musicians and the emotional value of their work? Gabe offers his perspective on the issue and discusses famous commercials such as the Royal Carribean "Lust for Life" ad and HP's "Do You Realize?" spot, in addition to commenting on the role of the music supervisor and the artistic nature of the modern advertisement.


Mo Ryan and Matt Zoller Seitz

As television viewers, Jim and Greg have noticed that TV seems to be better than ever in terms of quality and sophistication. One element that plays a vital role in the success of a show is the music. From The Americans to Empire to Transparent, music is capable of indicating a mood, era and even at times replacing dialogue in storytelling. Acclaimed television critics Mo Ryan of The Huffington Post and Matt Zoller Seitz of New York Magazine, and join Jim and Greg for a discussion about music's role in television past and present.



“Rockin' in the Free World”Neil Young

In the early days of Saturday Night Live, it was a must see program not only because of the legendary talent like John Belushi, Gilda Radnor and Dan Aykroyd, but also because of the great musical acts. Unfortunately, that dissipated somewhat over the years as musicians were at times limited by restrictions. However Neil Young surpassed excellence with his explosive 1989 performance of "Rockin' in the Free World." Greg tells the story of when he first saw Neil on the show and how excited and drawn in he was. This performance became iconic in the history of television and ended up reinvigorating Neil Young's career.

Featured Songs

  1. Paul McCartney, Get Back (Live at Lollapalooza), Get Back (Single), Apple, 1969
  2. Van Halen, Right Now, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, Warner Bros., 1991
  3. Feist, 1234, The Reminder, Interscope, 2007
  4. Iggy Pop, Lust for Life, Lust for Life, RCA, 1977
  5. Nick Drake, Pink Moon, Pink Moon, Island Records, 1972
  6. Moby, That's When I Reach For My Revolver, Animal Rights, Elektra, 1996
  7. Black Flag, TV Party, Damaged, SST, 1981
  8. Glen Frey, Smuggler's Blues, The Allnighter, MCA, 1984
  9. Chubby Checker, Let's Twist Again, Let's Twist Again (Single), Parkway Records, 1961
  10. The Handsome Family, Far From Any Road, Singing Bones, Carrot Top Records, 2003
  11. Yaz, Situation, Upstairs At Eric's, Mute, 1982
  12. Jeff Buckley, Hallelujah, Grace, Columbia, 1994
  13. Phil Collins, In the Air Tonight, Face Value, Atlantic, 1981
  14. Glitterish, Operator, Transparent (Music from the Amazon Original Series), Amazon, 2014
  15. Empire Cast, Keep Your Money (Feat. Jussie Smollett), Empire (Original Soundtrack from Season 1), Columbia, 2015
  16. RJD2, A Beautiful Mine, Magnificent City Instrumentals, Decon, 2006
  17. The Beatles, Tomorrow Never Knows, Revolver, Parlophone, 1966
  18. Fantasia Barrino, Summertime, (Live on American Idol), Free Yourself, J Records, 2004
  19. Beyoncé, Run the World (Girls), Run the World (Girls) (Single), Columbia, 2011
  20. Lana Del Rey, Video Games (Live on Saturday Night Live), Video Games (Single), Interscope, 2011
  21. David Byrne, In the Future, Music for"The Knee Plays, " ECM, 1985
  22. Colleen Green, TV, I Want to Grow Up, Hardly Art, 2015
  23. A-ha, The Sun Always Shines on TV, Hunting High and Low, Warner Bros., 1985 (0:07)
  24. Neil Young, Rockin' In the Free World, Freedom, Reprise, 1989
  25. Jamie XX, Sleep Sound, In Colour, Young Turks, 2015
  26. Frank Zappa, You Didn't Try to Call Me, Safe Muffinz, TAKRL, 1971
  27. Grateful Dead, Ramble on Rose, Europe '72, Warner Bros., 1972
  28. Grateful Dead, Loose Lucy, From the Mars Hotels, Grateful Dead, 1974
  29. Grateful Dead, Box of Rain, American Beauty, Warner Bros., 1970
  30. Grateful Dead,“Touch of Grey (Live),”Live at Alpine Valley Music Theatre (07/18/89), 1989

Footnotes Lollapalooza Gabe McDonough Royal Carribean“Lust for Life”Ad HP“Do You Realize?”Ad Matt Zoller Seitz Mo Ryan Lana Del Rey SNL Fantasia Barrino on American Idol Gore Vidal vs. Norman Mailer on Dick Cavett Future Islands on Letterman Neil Young on SNL in 1989