Bit alright, wasn’t it?
The past week, I’ve been rewatching The O.C, the finest show to have ever come on TV (or in a non-joking matter, one of the best teenage dramas in recent years) and in the midst of rewatching, I’ve remembered how well picked its music was (even more so this morning, having just watched the start of Season 4). The closest any show has come to being as great on its soundtrack since The O.C. went off the air is Skins (disclosure: I didn’t watch Seasons 5 & 6, this is going off the first four seasons plus the recent character-driven stories of Cassie in Pure and Effy in Fire).
The show sets itself with the right music in the most perfect of scenes. For example:
+ Marissa finally kissing Ryan on the feris wheel with South’s Paint the Silence.
+ Finley Quaye’s DICE just as Ryan runs in to Oliver’s penthouse to ring in the New Year with Marissa.
+ Nada Surf’s If You Leave just as Seth runs into the airport to see Anna off.
+ The finale of Season 1 with so much happening to Jeff Buckley’s cover of Hallelujah, long before the days of the X Factor would give it even more prominence.
+ What of Alex and Marissa on the beach to Bell X1’s Eve, The Apple of My Eye or Matt Pond’s cover of Oasis’s Champagne Supernova whilst Seth and Summer unintentionally reenact that scene from Spider-Man in the rain.
+ The usage of Imogen Heap’s Hide & Seek right at the end of Season 2 (it’s used earlier in the episode during Caleb’s funeral, but its impact is felt more here).
+ Sticking with Heap for the second subsequent year and harking back to the Season 1 finale, her cover of Hallelujah over Marissa’s death, which is then followed up in one of the most darkest scenes the show ever had (if not the darkest) in the Season 4 premiere with Placebo’s cover of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill.
The show was built on the show-changing scenes specified above. It knew how to do it and it did them well. But outside of those, the show just promoted great music at the time: The Killers during the Hot Fuss era, Death Cab for Cutie (which came post-Transatlanticism), Rachel Yamagata, The Thrills and thensome all appeared on the program as part of Bait Shop live appearances within the show’s second season. The O.C. also exploited its music expertise to commercial gain, releasing six ‘mixtapes’, if you will, featuring music taken from the show throughout its four season run on TV.
Personally speaking, it’d be fair to say that the soundtrack of The O.C. has mainly defined my life’s soundtrack, one way or another. For example, it got me into Imogen Heap. Based off that inclusion of Hide & Seek, I got into her stuff more and more to the point that I seen her live in October 2010 in Belfast. It was amazing. Indirectly, it also got me into Frou Frou, all before seeing the movie that would bring them into prominence within their only album: Garden State. The same could be said for Death Cab (and as of a result indirectly, The Postal Service), Interpol and Rachel Yamagata.
Basically, The O.C. knew how to pick music. And it knew how to pick it right most of the time. Plus, compared to how stupidly overly philosophical its Warner stablemate One Tree Hill was at times (like, have you heard some of the stuff Lucas said on that show?), The O.C. was, for the most part, grounded in reality. And I say that as someone who was rather fond of One Tree Hill too.
And the other little caveat: The O.C. was actually a bloody good TV show, music aside. It celebrates its tenth anniversary next week in the US: the pilot aired on August 5, 2003. So salute to The O.C. for its musical influence, still felt – even if it’s personal at least – after ten years.