Okay, admit it. You love Gossip Girl. You adore Privileged, and you hate to admit you own every episode of The OC on dvd. With the drama, the amazing costumes and the screenplay that you can quote. Not just because you think it’s good – you think it’s so good, it’s bad. You’re not the only person out there with that guilty conscience of this fascination with the type of well-off teenagers, living their lives in opulence, sin and well… good taste of indulgent items in general.
However, when was the last time you sat down and noticed how prevalent pop and rock bands were being interjected into the show? Not only just as the soundtrack to the lives of snotty kids, but also as guest appearances and references interjected throughout the show. Popular TV shows these days are more often employing the use of pop music to encourage new viewers to their show, as well as keep old fans happy, and ultimately, sell other products.
It’s obviously not the first time that this has happened. Pop stars endorse and sell products on a daily basis, and why not – if you’re as famous as the Kings of Leon are right now, you’d be stupid to pass up the opportunity of having your music interwoven through the latest episode of Gossip Girl.
When does it get too much though? When does the plan to create emotion through the addition of music to film go that little bit too far that it becomes blatant?
On an episode of Gossip Girl that premiered in the States a few weeks back, every single track was off of Kings of Leon’s latest chart topping effort, Only by the Night. While in one instance, the song was well suited to what we were watching, after awhile it became dull and obvious that they were trying to plug the album. As well as the fans noticing the obvious prevalence of the music, it also allowed tv stations to play the promotional footage for the show as well as a clippet proclaiming Kings of Leon and their work throughout the show.
As much as it pains me to say it, Modest Mouse did the same for The O.C. In one episode, Modest Mouse (of course, everyone in Orange County’s favourite band ever) played the local haunt for teenagers, plugging their music and making a guest appearance that was quite blatantly a plug for their latest album. While Modest Mouse were never chart-topping and remain true to their roots, it still seems an obvious ploy to sell albums.
Gossip Girl and The O.C are the two biggest perpetrators when it comes to using the latest craze in music throughout their shows. While The O.C focused mainly on indie and stoner rock songs, due to the music preference of characters in the show, the music permeated through the episodes and quickly became more interesting than the show itself towards the end. Gossip Girl seems more directed to a ‘classy’ pop genre, mostly the high-class pop stuff, and the songs that are yet to make it high on the charts, but mysteriously seem to do so after their inclusion in the latest episode of the show.
Pop music references are everywhere throughout tv shows too – and just like product placement, they get you thinking about the reference straight after it’s mentioned. Gilmore Girls couldn’t go one episode without making a music reference, if you could keep up with the quick dialogue of the characters.
Naturally, there’s going to be inclusion of music into tv shows, as it definitely helps to portray the emotion of the scene a lot better. However, when it becomes as blatant as a marketing tool as it has been lately, I feel as though it’s time to reassess how we market music and its prevalence in pop culture throughout this digital age.