Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ahh, the soundtrack of our lives...

Do you which song is playing as Sydney sits, alone at a table for two, after her father has stood her up? Do you the song playing as Sydney walks down the street in Rome as Julia Thorne? From Danny’s funeral (“Here Comes the Flood”) to Vaughn’s funeral (“Dirty Little Secret”), the music of Alias is as important to the show as the storylines and the characters it supports. "Background" music is added to shows and movies after filming has been completed, and is used to create moods, fill spaces, provide rhythm and link the scene or the show to other cultural texts.

On the DVD audio commentary for season 2 and 3, JJ mentions that he often writes scenes for certain pieces of music. For instance, the parking garage scene in episode 3.15 “Facade,” JJ chose the song “All My Life” by Rosie Thomas. The song begins small, as Sydney enters the parking garage and walks to her car. Vaughn’s car pulls up beside her and she turns, calling to him and then they embrace as the music swells. JJ said he didn’t want the scene to be cheesy, he didn’t want the music to take away from the moment that Sydney and Vaughn were having.

JJ also mentions he has help picking music. Greg Grunberg (Weiss) states he picked the music for the opening season of the Super Bowl episode in which Sydney is clad in lingerie, seducing a man. The song playing is AC/DC “Back in Black.” The song sets the tone for not only the risqué attire, but for the fight that would ensue.

As an avid fan of music myself, I have been impressed by JJ’s ability to piece music to his scenes. It is a “Good Day” (by Luce) for Michael Vaughn when Sydney gives him her middle drawer and “Righteously” by Lucinda Williams has perfect lyrics when Sydney catches Vaughn buying information from an ex-KGB officer in a bar. We can hear these songs on the radio and remember the exact scene, the lines, the actors and the feelings in that moment. With as many poignant and explosive scenes as Alias has, it would be easy for the audience to disregard the music, to focus solely on the words and the actors. But JJ and his crew have done an amazing job of giving these scenes more emotion and maybe even double meaning by pairing it with the right piece of music.

What are you favorite Alias songs? How have the songs changed from season to season? Season 4 didn’t house as much music has the 3 seasons before it, aside from Michael Giacchino’s instrumental pieces, why do you think that is? JJ has carried his love of music over to his series Lost, several songs have been similar. Is it a nod to Alias? I think so!

Some of my favs:
Fade Into You-Mazzy Star (4.04 "Ice" Vaughn as a priest in the bar.)
World on Fire-Sarah McLachlan (4.01 Syd at home, Vaughn shows up to say "That I miss you.")
So Are You To Me- Eastmountainsouth (2.18 "Truth Takes Time" Syd deciphers a code from her mother's earrings.)
Bleed to Love Her- Fleetwood Mac (2.22 "The Telling" Syd and Vaughn play hockey.)
The Wind-Cat Stevens (4.01-2 "APO" Syd cries in the hall, Vaughn comforts her.)
Lay Lady Lay- Bob Dylan (4.22 "Before the Flood" Before the car crash.)
I Shall Believe- Sheryl Crow (2.07 "Counteragent" Vaughn hugs Sydney after she saves him from the bloody finger disease.) I HEART THIS SONG and the look on Vaughn's face at the end of the episode!!
A Place Called Home- Kim Richey (2.06 "Salvation" Vaughn watches Sydney sleep in quarantine.)
Slumber My Darling- Allison Krauss (2.07 "Counteragent" Syd visits Vaughn in the hospital.)
My Sundown-Jimmie eat World (2.15 "Free Agent" The morning after, Syd and Vaughn in bed.) Freedom-David Gray (2.16 "Firebomb" Vaughn sits with Syd who's in the bathtub.)
This Woman's Work-Kate Bush (1.02 Sydney races home from a mission to put Danny's ring back on and then she gets in the tub. Sad Sad Sad! JJ added the tub scene in order to get more of the song on the show. He loves tunes!)

Okay, I have to stop or I will list every song ever on the show!

22 comments:

slingshot said...

First and foremost, one of the best all time songs on Alias was Rickie Lee Jones "On Saturday Afternoons In 1963" in epie 3.1, where she lets vaughn have it. "are you kidding..." Good god i just about die each time i see that.

Walking down the street as Julia Thorne it is No Doubt, "It's my life" (thats my ring tone.)

When shes stood up by her dad at the restaurant it is Sarah McLachlan, "Angel" (I cried.)

Epie 3.1 is filled with some hits, how about when she's pulling out in the hot red dress in the red ferrari with Limp Bizkit "Rollin". Classic.

Having downloaded each song from each epie of each season so far; making my own soundtracks, it's hard to even explain how good each one fits that specific epie. The songs have become the soundtrack to my own life. Sad, one might think, but really its true. I have the slow mix when I want to relax, or the up-beat mix when I need to cheer up. There is always a song that fits my mood.

They pick their music very well....I could talk for days about the music...

srg-alias said...

NICE topic GS! I agree the music is an essential part to Alias, I mean what would that opening scene to "Phase One" be w/o Back in Black?!? It's funny how if I hear a song on Alias I immediately like the song more, or think I'm cool for already liking that song, hehe. Everytime I hear No Doubt's "It's My Life" or "Hella Good" I immediately think of the scenes from Alias. My other favs are "Song 2" by Blur from the s3 "Blowback" episode from the car garage chase, Deftones "Change" from s3 "Hourglass", "I like the way" from s5 "Solo", and so many more! The music from the pilot was awesome too, I downloaded "Under the Gun" from iTunes just because of that. Also, you can't beat "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" from s2 "Doublt Agent", that song is so freakin sexy from that scene! I could list many more but I won't, fun fun topic though. :)

Kiki said...

Wow, Slingshot wrote a novel. Are you going to finish the sound tracks for me?

I also love, love, love Ray Lamontagne "Shelter You" in 4.16 when Vaughn is rogue and Sydney is scrubbing the sink.

jenn256 said...

gotta say one of my all time favorites is "You're All I Need To Get By", Aretha Franklin S2- The Countdown. When Syd and Vaughn are sitting in the park and she admits to him that she lied about Dixon. It's there that she finally admits that her parents were "absent" when she was growing up and that she never had anyone to disappoint. I think the title of the song itself explains their relationships very well.

I also agree about "All my Life" from S3. At that point we know Syd loves Vaughn and he still loves her, even though he is married to Lauren. That scene was great, acted wonderfully of course, but the music just perfected the scene!!!

Kiki said...

Jenn, I so agree with "All I need to Get By." I go back and watch that scene just for the music. it's perfect and it's so typical Vaughn and Syd. That scene I think also shows how close they were in real life. I feel like that is something Vartan and Jen would have done. It's very easy going and the music just adds to it.

jenn256 said...

yes, I loved that song so much I tried to download it, but was never able to find the Aretha Franklin version of it. The song is a great lighthearted song that showed that they could be fun and playful away from work, but the words were perfect for the situation then. They were all each other had...he had no one but Weiss as a friend, and she didn't really have anyone to count on anyone but Vaughn.

GS- thanks for taking the suggestion for this blog. I wondered if anyone else was as impressed and blown away by the music selection and the impact it has on every show, in every scene. I'm glad to hear I'm not alone.

Kiki said...

Jenn- I love taking suggestions and this was a good one! I have been meaning to write about the music but there is so much to say about it that it's hard to do it justice. I think Alias is one of the first shows, aside from X-files, that really used music to tell a story. Shows like Cold Case and Reunion use music now, more for time period than anything. I love how Lost uses music too. The Mama's and The Papa's "Make Your Own Kind of Music" was playing in the hatch. I love that song!

Paul said...

I've noticed how great the music fits as well!

I have 3 personal favorites.

1) Season 1 : Pilot : Sinead O'Connor - "No Man's Woman"

Not only did the music perfectly fit the mood of what was happening, the lyrics also fit what Sydney is doing. She saw what needed to be done, and she did what needed to be done all by herself without any help. Strange this song is not listed on the ABC website for the pilot?

2) Season 1 : Ep 12 : Rob Zombie - "Dragula"

I am not a huge fan of Rob Zombie, as I find his music a little dark and shall we say, evil? However, this song fit perfectly McKenas Cole and his gang rushing through the back door of SD-6. Adrenaline powered, with a foregleam of the evil and dark deeds about to take place.

And of course, my absolute personal favorite!!!

3) Season 3 : Ep 19 : Deftones - "Change"

I had never heard this song before, and loved it instantly! But this song works on so many levels for what is happening. Sydney is stealing an artifact with guns going off everywhere, and Sloane is getting his "lethal" injection. The action on screen is perfectly timed with the slow and powerful rhythms of this song. I don't think it could have been done any better!

Kiki said...

Hello Pauly. I agree! No Man's Woman, I totally forgot about that one! Jennifer Garner mentions on the commentary that it's her favorite song from Alias. I think she even posed for a pic with Annie Lennox once. I love that song!

Robetron said...

I can't believe this hasn't been mentioned yet.
Let us never forget Charlie's rendition of "Have a Little Faith in Me". This is a rare case of the show providing the sound track as a part of the story.

Another case of that is when Syd sang for Sark and Kassenau... but I am forgetting the song title.

-R.

Kiki said...

Oh I have JG singing on my copy of the soundtrack my sister made for me, it's called..."Since I Fell for You." Such a good song, and JG doesn't have such a bad voice either! I hear she loves to sing and dance. Good thing!

Kiki said...

Damn, no one said "Be Still My Soul" the song playing at the funeral where Vaughn has to represent the CIA after Dixon accidently kills those agents. Vaughn hugs the little boy!!

queenmab75 said...

I also liked "Change" during Sloane's execution, it was PERFECT for that scene, and to this day I can't hear it and not think of that scene.

I also liked " "What Do I Have To Do To Prove My Love To You?"" by Marva Whitney during episode 3.8 Breaking Point, where Jack is posing as a technician to help free Sydney from NSC custody. The lyrics are just perfect for that scene!

phoenix_shotgun said...

A lot of the songs you mention girlscout are some of my favorites too. One the other hand, I absolutely love the song at the end of "Facade", by Rosie Thomas. It is so perfect for the way Sydney is feeling about Vaughn, and I personally can relate to that song myself on so many levels. Every time I watch that episode, I watch that scene over and over to hear the song and see the embrace between Vaughn and Syd, which fits so perfectly. I also love the song "At Last" by Etta James, at the very beginning of Season 4. I have always liked that song and it's the song I want played at my wedding. It always fits perfect with having to wait 8 months for Season 4 to start that "At Last", it had returned, so I thought that was a cute touch.

srg-alias said...

GS - yes "Be Still My Soul" is so touching in that scene. Honestly we sung that one Sunday at church and I couldn't stop from getting tears in my eyes because all I could think about was that scene!! Queenmab I was also going to mention the "What Do I Have To Do" scene because that's such a fun song to go along with their cool spy tactics. :) That's awesome you guys agree w/ me on "Change", when I hear that on the radio I immediately feel like I'm walking in slo-mo and look supacool, hehe.

amy said...

i want to LIST every song!!! my FAVORITE is 3.15 "all my life"

i mentioned before that my husband made me Alias CDs for each season with all the songs....i listened to them incessantly while training for a marathon and it totally kept me occupied thinking about the show while running and even during the marathon - i pictured syd training and running and just remembered all the key moments where these songs were playing...i LOVE ALIAS MUSIC!!!!!

amy said...

my ring tone is the alias theme song by the way - i LOVE it!

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alexia said...

i want to ask if anybody knows the song that is played in season 4 episode 2 when nadia is going to save sydney fron kazu tamazaki and she walks into the slaughter house and she puts on her lipstick in order to kiss some guy and leave him unconsious . i really need to find it ....

Rara Avis said...

Everywhere I find lists Kate Bush- A womens work as the song from S1 Ep2 where Syd rushes home and puts on her engagement ring then is in the bathtub, I don't know if somehow it ended up different on the DVD, but that is not the song playing at that part. I have been searching for the actual song and have tried googling the lyrics "Where do I go when it's all over, where do I start when it all goes to the dogs, I'm not bitter, I'm just trying to recover, from my island of lonliness" but no luck :( and it's such a beautiful song

PiedPiper1211 said...

One of the reasons I loved the show was the music in the pilot. Here Comes the Flood by Peter Gabriel and Give You Back by Vertical Horizon. I just watched the episode on Amazon Instant Video and they had changed those two songs! Does anyone know why?

dirrtydavid said...

Have to say completely surprised that no one mentioned My Skin by Natalie Merchant from season 1 finale Almost Thirty Years. It plays during the scene where Sloane tells Emily the truth. Amy Irvine was stunning during this scene......