Top Billions Songs: The Tail That Wags The Dog’s Playlist

Being a (somewhat) musician, I am always on alert for the effect of music on a show. I work in musical theater when not teaching, so the music there is often integral to the plot. But for regular movies and TV shows, the music still can add an element of drama and emotion that would hard to obtain otherwise.  Think of movies like Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET (sensing a John Williams theme here??) and the impact the music played there in the emotional moments of those shows.

Brian  Koppelman gets this. He has been around music all his life, and if you follow him on Twitter you know he has very strong opinions about music. (Don’t ever ask him about the Sammy Hagar era of Van Halen – trust me, just don’t.)  He and I both grew up in the 80’s alternative music scene. We are both REM fans, although where he prefers “Automatic for the People” I go with “Life’s Rich Pageant”, which leads me to my first musical choice for my playlist, and the one that early on got me paying attention to the song choices.

Begin the Begin” by REM – Season 2, Episode 3 Optimal Play

The moment Bobby closes with “Well then it’s a good thing I’m a rich fucking man” followed by the Peter Buck guitar riff – I just about leapt out of my seat. This is my favorite song on my favorite REM album – and at that point I knew this show got me.

“Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who – Season 4 Episode 12 Extreme Sandbox

My favorite Who song to play. Townsend’s harmonies on the second verse give me the chills. And I checked – and yes Damian has blue eyes. Perfect choice.

A double entry for my next choice – With Or Without You was the better fit within the storyline, but these are both excellent songs. I’m just a little surprised there have been two U2 songs but only one REM song through 4 seasons.

“New Year’s Day” by U2 – Season 4 Episode 10 New Year’s Day

“With or Without You” by U2 – Season 2 Episode 10 With or Without You


“Handle with Care” by The Traveling Wilburys – Season 3 Episode 8 All the Wilburys

Everybody loves this song – how can you not? And this episode also launched the bromance between Dollar Bill and Spyros which has provided us with moment after moment of squeamish joy.

“The Killing Moon” by Echo and the Bunnymen – Season 3, Episode 5 Flaw in the Death Star
EATB’s best song is “Lips Like Sugar”, at least IMHO. But this song is next, and one of those obscure alternative songs from the late 80’s/early 90’s that I expect someone like BK to know, but not too many others. Again – he hit me in my soft spot.  And the perfect song for the moment between Taylor and Oscar.

“What’s So Funny? (About Peace, Love and Understanding)” by Elvis Costello and the Attractions Season 4, Episode 12 – Extreme Sandbox

Again, just one of the great alternative songs of my generation, and so fitting to close out last season. Another one I love to play.

Tie – “Chicken Bill” by Daniel Romano and “Atlantic City” by Bruce Springsteen Season 4, Episode 3 – Chickentown

I have these both here because I am stunned that BK found two songs that fit so well with such an outrageous theme as was done in this episode.  Although, when the episode got started, I thought for sure they would use “Chickenman” by The Indigo Girls, seeing as how they are a fellow Athens. GA band – along with REM. Still, no denying these two songs fit in perfectly.

“Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty Season 4, Episode 3 – Chickentown

Hard to believe this is from the same episode.  Gerry Rafferty was a very underrated songwriter IMHO.

“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor Season 4, Episode 8 – Fight Night

What can I say? I’m a product of the 80’s. If you want background music for a boxing scene, this is your song. Of course, one could hardly call that fight a boxing scene, but the song still rocks.

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