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The best shows on TV also have excellent playlists for your summer listening

the leftovers hbo
Homeward Bound.
  • Adam Epstein
By Adam Epstein

Entertainment reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Summer is the season of playlists. Every occasion calls for one—beach days, barbecues, parties, quiet nights at home, long afternoons in a hot office. While Spotify’s Discovery Weekly is a go-to for exploring new songs, television is also an increasingly great way to broaden your musical horizons. Some of the best shows on TV also have some of the best music selections; in fact, one of the reasons we love these shows is because of the music they feature.

So if you’re in the market for some new tunes, check out the music from these TV hits. Who knows, you might discover your new favorite band.

Mr. Robot

USA Network’s breakout, Emmy-nominated hacker drama may have given us TV’s best music moment this year, a cheesy Phil Collins pop ballad playing as a corporate executive is blackmailed into burning $6 million in the middle of Manhattan’s Battery Park. Mr. Robot‘s music is carefully curated and includes artists as diverse as Neil Diamond, Mozart, Alabama Shakes, and Mos Def.

(Notably missing from this playlist is a piece composed by Philip Glass used for the ending of The Truman Show, which Mr. Robot then appropriated for a grotesque but nonetheless climactic scene in last week’s episode.)

The Leftovers

While The Leftovers has one of the most beautiful and haunting original scores on TV—the theme song was composed by Max Richter, repeatedly and egregiously snubbed by the Emmys—the HBO series has also assembled an excellent soundtrack for its first two seasons.

Interestingly, both The Leftovers and Mr. Robot featured Maxence Cyrin’s piano cover of the Pixies’s “Where Is My Mind?” (The Leftovers also used the original.)

Some of Richter’s original work for the show is mixed into this playlist, like “A Blessing,” a tragic and weirdly sanguine string piece that might make you feel terrible about your life, but could also give you the strength to persevere. Also, here’s how The Leftovers‘ music supervisor picks songs.

Stranger Things

Netflix’s new sci-fi monster romp is filled with 1980s nostalgia, especially in its musical choices. But the show also taps into songs from other decades, including Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” (1967) and Moby’s “When It’s Cold I’d Like to Die” (1995).

An underrated part of Stranger Things‘s spectral soundboard is the moody music in its opening credits, which you can listen to on a 10-minute loop here.

Of course, new TV doesn’t have a lock on great music. Some shows long since off the air also boast proficient musical stylings. Lost, for instance, had arguably the greatest original score for a TV show ever (composed by Michael Giacchino), and Breaking Bad was perhaps the best at picking interesting songs to underscore every dramatic moment.


Breaking Bad


Friday Night Lights

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