4 TV Shows That Shamelessly Try To Use Indie Music To Be “Hip”

TV is a pretty brutal business.  You could be the best comedy of our generation and still get canceled by Fox.  And sure, Judd Apatow can become a juggernaut of Hollywood comedies, yet he had not one, but two critically acclaimed comedies with cult followings that didn’t make it past one season.  But, According to Jim is still going strong after eight goddamned seasons.

“Hey TV Land, we’re married on a show!  That seems believable and watchable, right?”

Yup, it’s really a dog-eat-dog industry.  Or sometimes a squirrel-attacks-human-driving-a-car industry.

Sometimes, shows have to find a way to distinguish themselves from the dozens of new shows created every year.  In the past, it was easy- you’d just hire some washed-up former movie star, and have them appear on a few episodes, and boom, you’ve got yourself a hit.  But since 30 Rock is stealing every single cool actor for guest appearances, more and more TV shows are trying to reach younger audiences by being hip.  And what’s the hippest thing you can think of?

This was a close second

This came in a close second

That’s right, pseudo-popular Indie and Indie-friendly songs in every damn episode.  Below, we have some of the shows with the most hipster-pandering soundtracks on Television.


Currently in its second season, Chuck follows a bumbling computer nerd (See?  His tie is loose, and his shirt has short sleeves!  LOL!) who, as is the case of most bumbling computer nerds, is sent an email that turns his brain into a giant spy super-computer.  As a result, he has to be taken under the protection of two C.I.A. agents as he tries to solve crimes or stop terrorism or whatever the fuck it is spies are supposed to do.

So it’s only fitting that the instrumentals of Cake’s “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” would be the show’s theme song.

As zany, and often dangerous, hijinks ensue, the show’s producers no doubt asked themselves, “How can we best transition from one scene to the next, using music the kids like nowadays?”

The answer is episodes that use songs by The National, Band of Horses, Spoon, Beck, and The New Pornographers, to name just a few.

The most absurd moment of this, however, appeared in the second season.  In introducing the hot female love interest/spy in her new cover job, Chuck uses “Foux Do Fa Fa” by Flight of the Conchords.  Let’s just take a moment to really let that sink in.  The Flight of the Conchords are a comedy due that calls themselves, “Formerly New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo.”  Their songs are extremely tongue and cheek, and are generally used on their own TV show, in a humorous fashion.  Meanwhile, Chuck decides to use this song, completely straight faced, to show a hot chick serving soft-serve ice cream.

“Oh, come now, using Flight of the Conchords?  They clearly are just joking around, its not like they take the music they select too seriously,” I hear you cry.

Oh really, now?

2.  THE O.C.

No show is more responsible for this phenomenon of musical pandering than The O.C., a show so absurd in its belief of musical cultural importance that it’s practically responsible for an entire substandard genre of Indie Rock.

There is not one, not two, not three, well, you get the point, there are SIX fucking mixes of “Music from the O.C.”  The most recent of these features the hit song “Float On.”  Oh, wait, what’s that?  You think I’m talking about the Modest Mouse song?  Ha, how foolish, no, this mix has the Goldspot COVER of the 2003 hit song.  And…hey…are you even listening?  You’re NOT, You’re thinking about Misha Barton, aren’t you?  Stop that!

Mm, whatchya sayyy?

On the plus side, the absurdity of the soundtrack for the California teen prime time soap opera at least spawned a fucking hilarious SNL Digital short, so that’s something.



One of these actors is gay.   One of these actors is a homophobe.  Does anyone want to hear a Tegan & Sara song?

Let’s get real for a second here.  Have you not ever seen more than one episode of this show?  Good, you’re me.  Did you used to watch it regularly, but now are embarrassed by that fact?  Good, you were in college in 2006.  Did you hear about the song “Such Great Heights” because of it’s use in this show?  Awesome, you’re a tool, but managed to not see Garden State.


“Here, Zach Braff, listen to this song.  It’ll change your life (because hipsters will think you’re lame for liking the Shins now).”

Now, there are shows that are legitimately awesome that use indie songs.  And it often works, and improves the quality of the episodes you see.  But here’s a hint.  Much like the OC, if you are a show with an indie soundtrack, and you release multiple soundtrack CDs to highlight your Indiedom?  You’re trying too hard to be cool.

“Nothing is more hipster than sunglasses and bikes.  Nothing.  If you like the sun, or traveling in non-hipster fashion, you’re not Indie at ALL.  Have you heard of this band ‘Feist’?”

Three volumes of “music old people might like” were released by Scrubs minus the comedy Grey’s Anatomy.  Peter, Bjorn & John, Snow Patrol, The Postal Service, Tegan & Sara, and the Ditty Bops all appear on these albums.  And, if anything, the show manages to prove that, no matter what song you have playing, it sounds lame when backed up by a lame voice over.

“Addiction is bad.  Because at some point, the good parts of the addiction becomes bad.  And badness is bad and junk.  Cliches are really really easy to write.”

4.  Gossip Girl


Light tries to avoid attractive people, and instead just forms blurry lines of words instead

What do you believe the definition of Indie is?  What, recorded by an Independant label?  Nice try, retard, you suck.

Yeah, apparently Indie is “privileged, attractive kids boning all the time.”  That’s why I got into the game.  Just mention Wilco casually in conversation, and next thing you know, you’re a British Lord getting laid seven ways till Sunday.


Boom.  Research.

At least Teen Primetime Soaps in the 90’s kept their soundtracks focused on popular alternative music.  We could assume that Luke Perry actually WAS listening to the latest Goo Goo Dolls track.  But preppy kids in school at New York (boom, research) are going to be walking around having their life soundtracked by The Kills, Oppenheimer, Crystal Castles, and the guitarist of The Strokes?  I call bullshit.

I get it.  Indie tracks are cheaper to buy the rights to.  They’re easier to get on TV.   But let’s be honest here.  The musical choices of these particular Upper East Side students probably ranges from Soulja Boy to, at best, 70% of the songs written by Kanye West.


I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold digger… But she ain’t actually listening to “The Teenagers”.

I’m not jumping to any conclusions here, but let’s just pose a hypothetical here.  How much sooner would Kurt Cobain have been murdered by Courtney Love offed himself if he had to appear on the teen fodder of the 90’s?  It’s no wonder the lead singer of Modest Mouse cuts himself on stage

About Jeff GoodSmith

I write on occasion. Sometimes it ends up here.
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