Running up that Hill

I will admit – I owe a lot to Pandora for helping me to discover new artists.  The list of music in my iPod is incredible and diverse, with brilliant music from lesser known artists I would have never knew existed, if that clever witch didn’t “suggest” them to me. Of course once upon a time I could have looked to MTV for fresh new music, but we all know what happened there.

I love discovering new music – well, music that to me might be new, but to others might have been around for awhile. Artists who perhaps once packed small bars in Boulder  (i.e. Big Head Todd) or played at SXSW (i.e. The Boxer Rebellion) long before it became THE conference to attend.   But while yes, Pandora is part of my discovery engine, there is another engine that I must give credit to: the TV show preview.

So often we hear a song used to tease the arrival of a new show or season and there goes the band. Overnight success! This happened with The Fray, through the use of their song “How to Save a Life” in the trailer for Grey’s Anatomy, which is anything but the indie band it was once upon a time. But now they’re not just using music to lure us into the show via trailers, but keep us connected every episode. Episode playlists are filled with new or lesser known artists, becoming a launchpad of sorts for many.   The WB was one of the first networks to create the “as heard on tonight’s episode” wrap up after its shows. The CW has now mastered this. But they’re not alone, TV around the world has become a successful place to find great music – both those who might have been around, under the radar, and new.

Case in point #1: Portishead. Formed in 1991 in Bristol, England, they’ve been around a long time. I danced to them at the Ministry of Sound in London in 1995, but didn’t realize until “Machine Gun” was featured in the UK’s hit TV show Skins in season 3the only version of the show one should watch, not that tragic wannabe version on MTV — that I realized how unique a band they really were. Despite the hundreds of fan vids on YouTube that have been developed using the song as their soundtrack, I find their music pretty awesome. For the past few years they have become a group I frequently put on when I need to dive into my writing with full force.

Case in point #2: Placebo. Covered Kate Bush’s epic “Running up that Hill” in 2006, but I didn’t discover until it was included in episode 1, season 1 of the CW’s series, Vampire Diaries. Now it seems like it’s on replay on Pandora (and of course I have the soundtrack for the show) so I never stop hearing the song. It’s another writing muse for me and despite being wildly popular online, it maintains its great vibe. Not to mention incredibly cool official music video uses clips from fan vids, too.

A favorite right now, newly discovered via TV….”Bloodstream” from Stateless.