The music industry has grown increasingly diverse and decentralized in recent years, but you’d hardly know it from watching television. From Grey’s Anatomy to Gossip Girl, the same bands seem to sound week after week, with the music supervisors’ mainstream indie rock picks serving as an (all too) easy emotional shorthand. Need a scene to say “sexy”? Just add The xx. Cathartic closure? The National. Perhaps hearing Sleigh Bells on yet another CW show lends a hint of the commonality that watching Elvis Presley perform on The Ed Sullivan Show had decades ago. Or maybe it’s just easier to conjure meaningful emotion with a zeitgeisty song than from a Botox-ed lip or a flighty teen starlet . Whatever it is, here are five bands you’ll hear on TV again and again — this year, at least.
Is it time for a moment of melancholy television pseudo-closure, ideally in a long-played out romantic relationship? Bring in Matt Berninger’s sweeping baritone just before the credits role. Cue “Runaway” playing on a recent episode of Friday Night Lights as Matt and Julie say their goodbyes. Julie drives off — she needs to find her own life, wherever that is — Matt runs after her, tells he loves her, then lets her go. Or how about the most recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy, in that last segment of the show where ends are tied up in a tidy, emotionally manipulative, near-montage fashion. “England” fades in: sick children, Mark telling Arizona why Callie left her, the new interns drinking beer, Cristina and Owen eating cereal, Derek and Meredith talking fertility issues, and then, in a final moment between Arizona and Callie, The National grows louder, Callie drops a bombshell: she’s preggers with Mark’s baby!!! Roll credits. And then there was that moment on Gossip Girl last fall (watch it here), when “Afraid of Everyone” plays in the background as Chuck confronts Blair for driving Eva away ask asks if it’s possibly she still loves him. “This means war Blair,” he says, and Berninger swoops in to close the show.