Radio is dead. MTV, as you have no doubt heard by now, doesn't play music videos anymore.
The best bet for bands these days is to get their song played on a TV show or commercial, as crass as that might sound—just ask Sia, whose “Breathe Me” became a hit after appearing in the series finale of “Six Feet Under,” or any number of artists (Caesars, Feist, The Ting Tings) anointed with the career bump that comes from appearing in an iPod commercial. Doug Wallen recently wrote in the Weekly about The 88, who owe much of their success to appearing on TV shows.
And the shows that break music most often are teen dramas: from bands playing at The Bronze on “Buffy,” to a certain Fox series that added a definite article to the initials of our fair county, to fabulous current CW hits “Gossip Girl” and “90210.” To that end, let's take a look at what was on those two shows this week.
“Gossip Girl” – Nov. 17, 2008:
“My Only Offer,” Mates of State
Heard during: Pre-requisite Gossip Girl opening narration.
Our take: Mates of State, who played Anaheim recently opening up for Santogold, make the kind of pleasant, non-invasive music that seems perfect to be played in the background of TV shows. That sounds like an insult, but it isn't. Really! This is their second single off of their latest, Re-Arrange Us.
“Bad Man's World,” Jenny Lewis
Heard during: Discovery of further Bart Bass machinations.
Our take: It's no secret that I'm a Jenny Lewis fan, but this fit the scene not only in an obvious lyrical sense, but also mood-wise.
“Reasons to Sing,” The Crash
Heard during: Ending montage with Thanksgiving at the Humphrey household.
Our take: Vanessa, you scamp! I wasn't familiar with The Crash before this, and the two top results on YouTube for “Reasons to Sing” are “Gossip Girl”-themed videos from the last 24 hours, including one of those goofy fanmade comps. Way to be efficient, “GG” fans. (The fact that it depicts the budding romance between characters played by IRL 23-year-old Chace Crawford and IRL 15-year-old Taylor Momsen makes it only kind of creepy.)
“The Fame,” Lady GaGa
Heard during: Opening scene with long-lost half-brother dude meeting his long-lost half-sisters Naomi and Annie.
Our take: This was the only song in the episode to get the “music featured on tonight's '90210'” tag at the end. Weird. Her album just came out last month, and it's hard to say what this song had to do with the scene—some might say nothing—other than the record promoter wanted to get a plug into the show.
“Man Up,” The Blue Van
Heard during: During the super-exciting lacrosse scenes.
Our take: The Blue Van are a Danish band that have been toiling around for a while. They're really pretty good, kind of with a surprisingly bluesy sound. As far as music scoring a lacrosse scene, there are worse choices.
“I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” Death Cab for Cutie
Heard during: Ending sequence climaxing in long-lost half-brother dude making a MYSTERIOUS PHONE CALL.
Our take: It's entertaining, sure, but “90210” in general is a lot more toothless than “GG,” and that extends to the music choices—on the same week, they both used Santogold songs, but while “90210” played it safe and went with single “L.E.S. Artistes,” “GG” dug deeper and used album track “Shove It.” And here we're going with a three-year-old Death Cab for Cutie song, when they're released a whole new album in the interim? I thought people in Beverly Hills were supposed to be trendsetters.