The best new TV show has wrapped up its first season (sorry House of Cards). The Americans remained great until the very end, and they left enough clear points of intrigue for S2 to still have room to explore (sorry Homeland).
Better still, a second season means more of the best music soundtracking on television. It was clear enough from the start that a playlist was merited, but upon reflection everyone can see the brilliance of sound selections on The Americans. A pair of major TV critics did their season post-mortems with showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg today, with music as a distinct topic in each. The first question Grantland’s Andy Greenwald asks is if season one is a secret love note to Genesis:
“Huge Peter Gabriel fan, I will admit to that. And joking aide, a great part of the fun for us this season has been exploring the music choices and listening to those songs that take us back to the days of high school.”
And Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall had to know where it all came from too:
[Joel Fields:] “Before I answer that, I want to say we’re so thrilled by our composer Nathan Barr, who does all of this phenomenal acoustic stuff and somehow manages to capture for us, anyway, both a deep American soul and a deep Russian soul, and there are times when we find ourselves crying in the editing room. We also have a fantastic music supervisor, P.J. Bloom, who provides us with great selections to choose from. He has such a depth of knowledge. We did say to him, “We don’t want to do the top 40 hits of the period.” Both Joe and I grew up during that time, and we want those things we remember, but that pull us back — that feel like nostalgia in the right way. And there were also times where we sat down and listened to a dozen songs, and different people pitched until we found the one that felt right. Sometimes, it was the first one and you just knew, and other times, you listened and listened and then we had to come in tomorrow and listen some more.
Season two will theoretically crop up in 2014, so there’s plenty of time to catch up on it all. FX has been using immediate VOD options for those who want to find the episodes, but you can listen to the highlights immediately below.
Episode Nine—”Safe House”
[If you’re an FBI agent dying a slow death, there is no song for you apparently]
Episode Ten—”Only You”
Roberta Flack—”To Love Somebody” is the only way for your Black Panther/separatist mistress to say his goodbyes to love and the world.
Episode Eleven—”Covert War”
Squeeze—”Slap and Tickle” for those times when you and your neighbor need to get out and dance to forget about your never there husbands.
Pete Townshend—”Rough Boys” is an alternative answer to the crossword clue: “Four letters, ‘Do you want to,” F-U-blank-blank.”
Elizabeth also mentions a slew of other bands she thought about playing on the jukebox (or she’d guess Baker would choose): Pat Benatar, Air Supply, Leo Sayer, Christopher Cross. None actually played so they didn’t quite make the playlist…
Episode Twelve—”The Oath”
Mountain—”Mississippi Queen” …until Paige gets to see Matthew Beeman’s kick-ass band in person. They’re laying down some tight southern rock until a female guitarist comes in to shred. “She sounds like Pat Benatar,” Paige tells her mom. Looks like there’s some competition for the younger Beeman’s heart (and an addition to the Spotify).
This episode definitely has an additional song. Check out the FX VOD options (free for now) and it happens in the very first scene where Elizabeth meets with her asset (who goes on to describe the high level scientist who wants to provide information). Some song plays on the radio in this bar but Shazam can’t identify it. It’s possible that this is an original composition for the series, but does anyone have intel on this one?
Episode Thirteen—”The Colonel”
Peter Gabriel—”Games Without Frontiers” brings season one full circle, as Elizabeth is wounded, Paige is curious, and Claudia potentially on her way out. The Americans have failed for now, but The Americans went out with a band… scored by the other member of Genesis to give the season some circular closure. [Correct version of the song isn’t available on Spotify, but it is on YouTube]