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The Americans is currently in the middle of the best opening to an FX drama to date (apologies to Justified, SoA, et. al). Only four episodes have aired so there’s plenty of time to catch-up. And all the evidence you need truly lies in the smart people off-camera and a slew of engaging critics hungry to indulge in narrative, thematic discussions.

Rather than echo what’s already being said, here’s another strength of the series worth tuning in for: its soundtrack. Set in 1980s Cold War DC, The Americans thus far utilizes a killer mix of offbeat, (mostly) on-era tunes to perfectly score it all. After the pilot, “Tusk” was on all day in this neck of the woods, that episode’s marriage of sound and action even sparked this blog to be honest. Sample this recap of music from The Americans through its first third of the season, via a Spotify embed below. You’ll be tuning in next Wednesday, also ready to revisit this playlist in no time.

 

The Who—”Eminence Front” scores the end of the awesome season-long trailer.

Episode One—”Pilot”

Quarterflash—”Harden My Heart,” particularly its epic sax solo, plays us into the first moments of the season where Elizabeth is seducing a government employee.

Fleetwood Mac—”Tusk” probably received the most attention for its use, underlying the chase sequence where Phillip apprehends Timoshev.

Juice Newton—”Queen of Hearts” answered the question: Just how American are The Americans? The man can sport boots and two-step, y’all.

Phil Collins—”In The Air Tonight”—you’ve just killed a traitor-turned-US-informant and it’s time to dispose of the body. Without saying a single word, you and your “spouse” drive to some dock, cover the body in acid and dump it into a body of water. Adrenaline runs high, very high. High enough… that it’s love making time. Only Phil Collins vocals can accurately convey the emotions in this scene.

April Wine—”Roller” is the only choice for misogynistic 80s bros as they grill hotdogs alone in the backyard. Also works well when piercing someone with a grilling fork.

Episode Two—”The Clock”

[Am I crazy or were there no significant soundtrack moments?]

Episode Three—”Gregory”

Nicholas Payton—”Nick@Nite” is the perfect mood setter when you, an anarchist Black Panther turned KGB loyalist, want to seduce your longtime KGB cohort/affair buddy. Accurate era details (this version of the song released: 1999) be damned.

Roxy Music—”Sunset” helps you ease into a state of complete tranquility. The dulcet tones of Brian Eno help immerse you in the beauty of surrounding nature—or numb you to the inevitable killing of a poor Hispanic woman who got caught up with some secret agent unbeknownst to her.

Episode Four—”In Control”

Echo And The Bunnymen—”Pictures On My Wall” for those moments when you need intel on an assassination attempt and only a secret basement switchboard will do.

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