One thing that can completely change the way we consume visual media – television, movies, even a commercial – is music. Whether it’s a composed film score or an indie band soundtrack, music alters the way we interpret a scene. It sets the tone and mood.
If you’re like me, you can probably name notable film scores (Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean) just from hearing them. I can sometimes hear a song and remember a specific scene from a movie or show it was played in. I personally love watching movies and television for their soundtracks. That’s one of the ways I’ve discovered new bands that I now love! Even commercials these days have great songs. I find that television series’ have some of the best soundtracks because they’re long-form entertainment.
So below is a list of television series’, either current or from the 2000’s that had really great soundtracks. I mean soundtracks that you wish you could have shazaamed back in the day. Most of them are or were shows for young adults or teens. (Just remember I’m 26 and I was a teenager at the height of indie rock and emo band popularity in the 2000’s.)
6 TV Shows with Awesome Soundtracks:
Teen Wolf – MTV (2011-Current)
The show itself suffers ups and downs of supernatural teen angst. The soundtrack is a mix of indie rock, ambient, or electronic music. While it’s definitely not mainstream there is an array of bands and sounds that truly make the show what it is. It might not be everyone’s taste but if you’re into that kind of thing, it’s a great show to watch for new music.
Notable Songs: Like Real People Do by Hozier, Jungle by X Ambassadors, Wild Ones by Bahari, War of Hearts by Ruelle, Illuminate by The Kite String Tangle, Running With the Wolves by Aurora
Girlboss – Netflix Original (2017)
Girlboss recently came out but it begins in 2006. Therefore, all the songs and themes are reminiscent of that time as well as early 90’s rock. It was like a flashback to my own teens for some of this music.
Notable Songs: The Wild One by Suzi Quarto, Gold Lion by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lake Michigan by Rogue Wave, Nasty Gal by Betty Davis, Float On by Modest Mouse
Supernatural WB/CW (2005-Current)
If this list is in any order at all, Supernatural is number one. This show is all about two brothers road tripping the country to the sounds of classic rock while fighting supernatural villains. The entire tone of the show is set by the music. It’s practically infused into the storylines. This is a show where I can hear one of these songs anywhere and can picture a scene from Supernatural.
Notable Songs: Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas, House of the Rising Sun by The Animals, Back in Black by AC/DC, Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi, The Weight by The Band, Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival, (Don’t Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult, Renegade by Styx
Reign – CW (2013-Current)
Reign is a period drama, which makes it an interesting show to have a great and current soundtrack. But it is on the CW. I have found so many wonderful indie bands through this show. I stopped watching after the 2nd season but continued following the soundtrack.
Notable Songs: Back to You by Twin Forks, Love Like This by Kodaline, Riptide by Vance Joy, My Lair by Bear’s Den, Crystals by Of Monsters and Men, Charlie Boy by The Lumineers
House, M.D. – Fox (2004-2012)
House was such a popular show in the late 2000’s but I didn’t watch it until recently on Netflix. The soundtrack provides a very eclectic mix of popular current songs (for the time) and oldies but goodies.
Notable Songs: You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones, Feelin’ Alright by Joe Cocker, Gravity by John Mayer, Highway to Hell by AC/DC, Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum
The O.C. – WB (2003-2007)
This show was the epitome of rich kid drama in the early 2000’s. It took place in Southern California (hence the name) and the age of indie beach rock was born. I can’t help but associate these songs with seagulls and sandy beaches. Music was a big part of this show too, featuring emerging artists at the time to play at their faux club. (I’m getting serious flashbacks creating this list.)
Notable Songs: California by Phantom Planet, Just a Ride by Jem, Blueside by Rooney, Girl by Beck, Forever Young by Youth Group, A Lack of Color by Death Cab for Cutie, Smile Like You Mean It by The Killers
Riverdale CW (2017)
Gossip Girl WB/CW (2007-2012)
13 Reasons Why Netflix Original (2017)
Related: 13 Songs for 13 Reasons Why
Just creating these lists takes me back to the time I first watched these shows. That’s what I love about music associated with stories and entertainment. I’ll never again listen to Phantom Planet’s California without thinking of The OC. Or listen to Carry On Wayward Son without thinking of Supernatural. Music has the ability to leave an imprint. And if you can’t tell already, I am a big music lover. Cultivating and finding new music to listen to is a hobby of mine; watching TV shows and listening to music helps me do that.
Let me know in the comments below what you thought of my list. Have you seen any of these shows? Did their soundtracks have the same effect on you? What are some other shows with great soundtracks?
Christina is a twenty-something living with her beagle, Mash, and husband, Nate in the Tampa Bay Area. She loves traveling, shopping, art, and photography. She’s also a vegetarian, pop-culture enthusiast, book-lover, and Dave Matthews Band fanatic.