Television and Music


Television has entered its Golden Age and music is playing an essential role. Jim and Greg examine the evolving use of music in commercials and TV shows from Mad Men to Empire to The Voice.

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The annual Lollapalooza music festival brought over 300,000 fans to Chicago’s  Grant Park last weekend. Festivals like Lolla have become huge sources of revenue for music corporations, primarily attracting "millennials" interested in hearing newer pop and electronic acts. Jim thinks the nature of the festival is the reason for the primarily young audience – it provides younger listeners with the chance to party with their friends while enjoying their favorite music. But Jim notes that the hundreds of hospitalizations and dozens of arrests make the festival unnecessarily dangerous. Despite the younger audience, Friday headliner Paul McCartney attracted a large number of fans to his performance, but Greg says he's an exception to the rule. While older acts can sometimes be out of place at these sort of festivals, Greg and Jim are both doubtful that any current pop act – save Taylor Swift – could attract the same number of fans as a McCartney. Both hosts think the concept of the music festival needs to be redesigned to suit the needs of the modern audience.

Gabe McDonough

Music And Strategy (MAS) executive producer Gabe McDonough joins Jim and Greg for a conversation about the role of music in TV commercials. Nowadays more and more musicians are selling their work to advertisers in order to increase their popularity and make some extra cash. But what does this mean for the integrity of musicians and the emotional value of their work? Gabe offers his perspective on the issue and discusses famous commercials such as the Royal Carribean  "Lust for Life" ad and HP’s  "Do You Realize?" spot, in addition to commenting on the role of the music supervisor and the artistic nature of the modern advertisement.

Mo Ryan and Matt Zoller Seitz

As television viewers, Jim and Greg have noticed that TV seems to be better than ever in terms of quality and sophistication. One element that plays a vital role in the success of a show is the music. From The Americans to Empire to Transparent, music is capable of indicating a mood, era and even at times replacing dialogue in storytelling. Acclaimed television critics Mo Ryan of The Huffington Post and Matt Zoller Seitz of New York Magazine, and join Jim and Greg for a discussion about music's role in television past and present.


In the early days of Saturday Night Live, it was a must see program not only because of the legendary talent like John Belushi, Gilda Radnor and Dan Aykroyd, but also because of the great musical acts. Unfortunately, that dissipated somewhat over the years as musicians were at times limited by restrictions. However Neil Young surpassed excellence with his explosive 1989 performance of "Rockin’ in the Free World." Greg tells the story of when he first saw Neil on the show and how excited and drawn in he was. This performance became iconic in the history of television and ended up reinvigorating Neil Young's career.

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