Television is a great way to find new music and rediscover old songs. When artists are featured on TV show soundtracks, they are able to dive into a different medium. This grants them access to a whole new audience.
With shows ranging from flirty rom-coms to haunting thrillers and everything in between, there are many places for alternative songs to fit into the world of TV.
Read more: 11 alternative albums that prove good things come to those who wait
Here are 15 times alternative songs were featured on the soundtrack of a TV show. You can check them out below.
“Green Light” by Lorde – New Girl
For New Girl fans, the season 6 finale finally gave them closure about the on-again, off-again relationship between sarcastic bartender Nick and quirky teacher Jess. The iconic scene shows them both trying to confess their love to the other. However, they miss each other by mere moments… Until they wind up in an elevator together. Better yet, Lorde’s “Green Light” soundtracked the whole event, making it all the more meaningful when they finally get together.
“how will i rest in peace if i’m buried by a highway?//” by KennyHoopla – Paradise City
The Amazon Prime supernatural thriller Paradise City stars Andy Biersack, Ryan Hurst and Bella Thorne, among others. It has a fairly stacked soundtrack, including songs from Sleeping With Sirens, Bad Omens and Palaye Royale. However, one standout is rising pop-punk singer KennyHoopla’s 2020 track “how will i rest in peace if i’m buried by a highway?//”
“Left Hand Free” by alt-J – Outer Banks
When the thrilling Netflix original Outer Banks was released on the streaming platform in 2020, it quickly drew in many fans. The show follows a group of teenagers who must navigate the social class structures of a coastal town. They must deal with this hierarchy while also searching for a long-lost treasure. “Left Hand Free” was used to promote the show and can be heard in the first episode. With gritty guitar riffs and Southern-rock influences, the song perfectly describes the summer setting Outer Banks hoped to achieve.
“bad guy” by Billie Eilish – Bridgerton
Bridgerton drew praise for its classical renditions of popular songs across many genres. The show is set in England in the year 1813. Therefore, modern tracks are perfectly restyled to fit into the period. Billie Eilish’s “bad guy” is just one of the songs converted into an orchestral piece by the Vitamin String Quartet. Other tracks they contributed to the series include Maroon 5‘s “Girls Like You” and Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next.”
“King Charles” by YUNGBLUD – Marvel’s Runaways
The live-action show Marvel’s Runaways is a welcome break from the long movies Marvel usually puts out. It follows a group of teenagers as they discover they possess superpowers and that their parents could possibly be evil. While it did sadly get canceled after three seasons, the show’s soundtrack featured songs from Billie Eilish, Bleachers and more. YUNGBLUD’s track “King Charles” can be found on the list, sharing a similar vibe to the teenagers’ emotions throughout the show.
“Crimson Wave” by Tacocat – Big Mouth
Big Mouth is best known for its focus on topics related to puberty and adolescence. This makes it all the more fitting that “Crimson Wave” by riot grrrl group Tacocat is featured in the show. A playful commentary on menstruation, the song is perfect for the period-focused episode in which Jessi literally surfs a red wave.
“Boys Don’t Cry” by the Cure – Sex Education
Netflix original show Sex Education sees high school student Otis struggle with life as a teenager with a sex therapist mother. And the Cure’s 1979 track “Boys Don’t Cry” is a fitting commentary on the show’s plot. This is because Otis comes to terms with his emotions as a young man throughout the entire season.
“Kids” by MGMT – Gossip Girl
Gossip Girl is known for its focus on the lives of the extremely wealthy teenagers of the Upper East Side in New York City. In season 2, MGMT’s “Kids” soundtracks a football game a few of the characters play in the field of a gigantic mansion. The synth-infused, indie-rock track combined with the fashion of the early 2000s makes for a nostalgic scene.
“Daydream” by the Aces – The Bold Type
The Aces‘ silky-smooth song “Daydream” is the perfect addition to The Bold Type’s soundtrack, as the show follows three young women with idealistic views on love and work. However, they quickly realize life isn’t as easy as they think. Besides “Daydream,” two other songs from the group appear on the show’s soundtrack: “Stuck” and “Lovin’ Is Bible.”
“This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads – Grey’s Anatomy
Long-running medical drama Grey’s Anatomy has seen its fair share of characters, plotlines and musical features in its double-digit seasons. In season 15, Dr. Thomas can be seen singing along to “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” while in the middle of performing surgery. While he seems super focused, Jackson Avery isn’t happy and thinks it’s not the place for singing.
“Thursday Girl” by Mitski – Supergirl
It was a delight when Mitski’s 2016 track “Thursday Girl” appeared on the soundtrack for CW’s Supergirl. The show follows Kara, also known as Supergirl, who must protect her city from evil in all forms. Mitski’s mellow song plays in season 3 as the scene switches between the different places all the main characters are that night.
“Zombie” by the Cranberries – Cruel Summer
Cruel Summer quickly drew in fans after its initial release in April. The series follows two high schoolers: a popular girl who goes missing and an outcast who takes over her life. The show further adds to its harrowing undertones by using the Cranberries‘ “Zombie” in a flashback scene with the missing girl.
“Good Vibrations” by Gym Class Heroes – One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill was a popular television show in the mid-2000s, centering on the lives and relationships of select teenagers as they attend high school. Like many other drama series, the characters face complications and must deal with interpersonal conflicts. However, for one scene, the problems fade away. The main characters crash prom and enjoy simply being teenagers for a brief moment as Gym Class Heroes plays.
“Space Cadet” by beabadoobee – The Baker And The Beauty
beabadoobee’s 2019 track “Space Cadet” can be heard while watching the rom-com television show The Baker And The Beauty. The show’s plot centers around the relationship between a baker and an international superstar (the beauty). Similarly, the dreamy atmosphere “Space Cadet” creates also mirrors the show’s emphasis on romance.
“Jumpsuit” by twenty one pilots – Riverdale
Riverdale has had its fair share of plots and scenes become pop culture references but arguably none more so than the famous grandmother scene. As Archie attempts to band his fellow prison inmates together, one of them confesses that he dropped out of school in the fourth grade to run drugs. Archie then gives a speech about the “triumphs and defeats, the epic highs and lows of high school football.” Soundtracked by twenty one pilots’ “Jumpsuit,” the scene quickly became an iconic meme.