Maybe this was inevitable. The Americans wrapped up its fantastic S3 and received news that a S4 is on the way. Talk in the days after covers everything from the height of the show’s drama (the secret’s out!) to its peak wig moment thus far, but things remain awfully quiet on one signature front… soundtrack.
The first two seasons of The Americans each pushed 20 tracks when it came to building an ongoing Spotify list for the show’s great musicality. Season three reduced that by more than half. While there were individual moments that would feel at home among the show’s more renowned audio work—”The Chain” features perhaps the greatest action sequence outro in music; who can hate on “All Out of Love” for a cheesy emotional moment for a throwaway character?—the quantity necessary to keep up the show’s impeccable soundtrack taste simply wasn’t there.
But again, maybe this was inevitable. As things get more serious, as more focus must go towards plot and character development, as the show pushes towards the latter bits of its overall narrative… there’s less room for worrying about recognizable musical cues and perhaps even fewer light moments for which to use them. Nathan Barr’s composition (even played backwards) fittingly laid beneath the show’s most vital scene so far, and as The Americans explore less of the culture at large and more of the Jennings’ family, things may have to sound more custom-fit than era-appropriate radio dial.
Episode Three—”Open House”
Air Supply—”All Out of Love,” because if you’re a sadsack federal with a crumbling marriage, what else would you listen to?
Yaz—”Only You,” “Don’t Go” If you need to seduce an alt-teen from the ’80s, here’s the record that’ll do it. (“You wanna make a Yaz record,” as James Murphy once crooned.)
Episode Five—”Salang Pass”
Flock of Seagull—”Ran” Bros hanging out on a beach when you go to retrieve your significantly younger asset? Of course they’re bumping the biggest new wave hits of the day.
Episode Seven—”Walter Taffet”
Fleetwood Mac—”The Chain” No car chase, take-a-hostage sequence can ever be bad when scored to the outro of this song (Rolling Stones’ “Slave” was a runner-up according to the Slate Podcast).
Episode Twelve—”I am Abassin Zadran”
Ultravox—”Vienna” Just as Phillip used Yaz, Elizabeth needed a soundtrack for her two favorite kids—new to the secret Paige and adopted spykid Hans (it’s on his radio too).
Miss anything? Send in a tip or leave a comment below.