At least until the end of next week, I’m continuing the trend of telling you five things about the shows we’ve been watching here at chez Nix. As always, your comments are welcome!
We like TV… And though it was a little off-putting when it first happened, I love the trend that started a few years back of attaching a pre-existing song to a show as it’s theme.
(When did this start properly, by the way? My instinct says that the first CSI really kicked it off proper-style, but that just seems like it can’t be right, for some reason… enlighten me in the comments, wouldja?)
There are a whole bunch of lovely examples, but this is a small selection of tracks that I’ve been thinking about recently, so these are the ones that I’m posting:
Baba O Riley – The Who
Though I had no previous experience of this song before they used it on “CSI: New York”, and it took a while to grow on me at first because of it’s meandering opening, it has become my favourite of the trio of The Who songs that the CSI shows use as tradition. And no, I don’t know how I missed it, as it seems it’s well known – it’s in the original “Life On Mars”, too.
The initial version of the song that they used over the show’s opening credits was cut down pretty short – because this is a bit of an epic song – but it perfectly defines this branch of the franchise as being the on-the-street, shoulder-to-the-grindstone, heavy lifting team that you’d expect of New York cops. The musical scope of the tune belies the lyrics, which are working-man lyrics.
Around season three or four, they swapped out that more powerful version of the song for a musical stab heavy, lyric-light one, with punchier visuals to go along with them.
Girl One and I have not yet come to terms with this – singing along to the earlier version was a highlight of our TV watching experience. Still not sure why they did it, as the song seems redundant without the cool vocals.
We Used To Be Friends – The Dandy Warhols
“Veronica Mars” was one of the best shows that nobody ever saw. I’m still not sure how well known this song was before the show started, but it’s a perfect fit – punchy and youthful, and lyrically dealing with some of the high-school, fall-from-grace social-strata themes of the show.
There was even one of those awesome John Water’s “Yay!” moments during the first season, when Veronica spoke the main chorus lyric as part of the cold-open, just before the credits rolled.
They swapped the original theme out in the third season, for a woozier version of the same song, by the same band. But it didn’t feel as shrewd as the CSI decision in that case, as it was still a pretty – if abstract – version of the tune.
Once In A Lifetime – Talking Heads
This being used as the theme to “Numbers” is a lovely moment of closure for me. I’m a big Talking Heads fan, and the first time I heard them was when this song was used at the beginning of “Down And Out In Beverly Hills”.
There’s a questioning tone in the song, aimed at the listener’s expectations and understanding of their life so far, that worked well for that movie’s themes, and works equally well for the near-autistic attention to detail and use of maths and number theory to map human behaviour used in the show.
Plus, you know, David Byrne! The Talking Heads! Brilliant, brilliant stuff.
Little Boxes – Regina Spektor
One of many cover versions of the classic song used in the second season of “Weeds”. I’m including it here because it’s cute, but by definition it’s not really representative of the theme to the show – which was the same throughout the first season, and then was covered by disparate artists throughout the second one. And dropped altogether by the third.