Way Back 2020

August 26, 2020 - "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" But Keep Feeling "Glad All Over"

"Summer Under the Stars," TCM's August tradition of presenting 31 actors or actresses (this year 15 of the former and 16 of the latter were chosen), each with a 24-hour selection of films in which they've starred, is, as usual, brilliantly executed, endearingly quirky and a good way to revisit random favorites and discover great decades-old films. This year's signature theme, playing between every feature, is a delightfully unusual choice: "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes," originally a country smash by the song's composer, Slim Willet, spontaneous competitor Skeets McDonald and others, as well as a chart-topping pop hit for Perry Como, all in 1952. The version viewers have heard all month, though, is a catchy 1959 recording by "Hillbilly Heartthrob" Faron Young. It'll get stuck in your head! Or maybe it already has.

As America's summer 2020 drive-in diversion winds down and the reopening of walk-in theaters and cineplexes becomes a possibility, a look at film releases and new television series appear somewhat bereft of quality offerings. Thus, the shortage of interesting music soundtracks goes hand-in-hand with the lack of fresh product. One new show, Ted Lasso, an Apple TV+ comedy series starring Jason Sudekis as an "out of his league" football-turned-soccer coach, worked The Dave Clark Five's 1964 hit "Glad All Over" into its second episode.


August 9, 2020 - New and Established Streaming Networks Feature Delightfully Diverse Tracks Spanning '50 Through '70

The Umbrella Academy, a Netflix show based on Dark Horse Comics' super heroes group, incorporated an impressive variety of song selections in its first season last year. Now it's gone even deeper with season two, choosing curious, compelling fare from the last seven-plus decades. Earliest selections include pop standards "Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darin, "My Way" by Frank Sinatra, "Comin' Home Baby" by Mel Torme and Disney's seven-decades-old Cinderella standard "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (The Magic Song)," a hit single for Perry Como and the Fontane Sisters. Rhythm and blues tunes bounce off several corners: "Who's That Knocking" by The Genies, "Won't Be Long," an early Aretha Franklin hit, Sam and Dave's 1966 breakthrough "Hold On! I'm a Comin'" and a dose of heartfelt assurance from Joe Tex, "I'll Never Do You Wrong." Rock songs of the dance, British and cajun variety are represented by Sam Cooke ("Twistin' the Night Away"), The Spencer Davis Group ("I'm a Man") and Tony Joe White ("Polk Salad Annie").

Apple TV+'s Little Voice made room for the 1968 Jimi Hendrix hit "All Along the Watchtower," while other series have gotten a bit more esoteric. Hanna, a second-season action-thriller on Prime Video plopped Buzz Clifford's rockin' "Pididdle (The Car With One Light)" into its mix along with Thelonious Monk's 88-key take on "Everything Happens to Me" from Solo Monk, a '65 Grammy nominee for Best Album Cover (Graphic Arts). Finally, NBC's new streaming channel Peacock offers a dramatization of Aldous Huxley's infamous 1932 novel Brave New World; song selections include an obscure, schmaltzy '63 single, "The In-Between Years" by Dick Stewart, Jo Stafford's 1950 hit "No Other Love" and electronic act I Monster's bizarre "Daydream in Blue," which samples heavily from the 50-year-old light-pop single "Daydream" by German group The Gunter Kallman Choir.


July 18, 2020 - Netflix Digs Divas (Bassey, Longet, Streisand, Simone), Doom Patrol and Twilight Zone Value Seasoned Musical Coolness

As the search continues for more binge-worthy television offerings with vintage music song-spikes, Netflix comes up again and again. The Politician, despite its modern setting, is all over the musical map yet seems to favor vintage divas; three '60s tunes by Welsh belter Shirley Bassey ("With These Hands," "If You Go Away," "This is My Life") are featured in the first season in addition to Claudine Longet's 1968 chart single "Love is Blue" and Barbra Streisand's On a Clear Day You You Can See Forever number "Love With All the Trimmings." Jackie Wilson adds a little machismo to the menu with his 1960 hit "A Lover, a Woman, a Friend." Season two is airing now with hints of bonus Bassey. Animated series F is For Family leans in the direction of sentimental pop tunes with "Try to Remember" by The Brothers Four and Eddie Fisher's number one hit from 1954, "Oh! My Pa-Pa."

The latest incarnation of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone, on CBS All Access, includes a sequence with two well-known versions of Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin," the 1965 recording by Mel Torme and the '66 hit single by The 4 Seasons. Another TZ episode gets intensely bluesy as only Howlin' Wolf can with one of his best, "Evil." Elsewhere, "I Put a Spell on You" by Nina Simone is on season three of Showtime's The Chi and "Something in the Air" by U.K. band Thunderclap Newman plays on HBO Max's Doom Patrol. One commercial cuts through all the entertainment fare: The Moonglows' 1956 hit "We Go Together" is featured on an ad for Apple TV.


July 11, 2020 - Netflix, TNT, Starz, Epix, Amazon and the CW Offer a Pastiche of Vintage Listen-While-Watching Hits

It makes sense with walk-in theaters shut down and a handful of horror films dominating a very modest, drive-in-driven box office now in its fifth month, that all those giant high-definition TV sets we bought awhile back are delivering the home theater experience more frequently than ever. So for oldies music fans, it makes sense that streaming leader Netflix is delivering the goods. White Lines has featured "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers, "Welcome to My World" by Jim Reeves and Henry Mancini's "Lujon" from the 1960 Mr. Lucky series' second-in-a-row soundtrack album Mr. Lucky Goes Latin. Crime meets magic in The Unremarkable Juanquini, a Netflix drama with some unexpected selections including "Who's Sorry Now" by Connie Francis, "Don't Worry Baby" by The Beach Boys and NOLA soul queem Irma Thomas's 21st century crowd-pleaser "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Undrerstand)." Meanwhile, Steve Carell cruises the 'Flix-produced cosmos while '60s hits like Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son," The Monkees' "Daydream Believer" and "Bread and Butter" by The Newbeats play...and Bobby Womack ties it all together '68-style with his funky 45 "Fly Me to the Moon."

TNT's Snowpiercer went to great lengths to render its concept in song with a late-'50s recording by Patsy Cline, "Life's Railway to Heaven"...unfortunately, that location probably isn't where the show's title train is transporting its last-surviving-earthling passengers. It appears the Starz series Hightown dug deep to find "With You I Stand," a cool song by Betty Everett from her 1964 album You're No Good/It's in His Kiss. Epix series Laurel Canyon seems to favor mid-'60s L.A. bands; "Happy Together" by The Turtles and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by The Byrds have been heard on its soundtrack. Amazon's second season of Homecoming opted to license a long and intricate piece of music: "Concierto de Aranjuez: Adagio" by Miles Davis, a 16-minute masterwork from his 1960 Sketches of Spain album. Finally, those fun-loving teen-caterers at the CW have decided to serve up some vintage rock and roll for DC's Stargirl viewers; the late, great Little Richard is already rocking on the road to immortality with his 1956 hit "The Girl Can't Help It," while Barry Mann keeps the nagging question that can never be completely answered fresh in our minds: "Who Put the Bomp (In the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)"...???




WAY BACK

Who's That Knocking Won't Be Long Polk Salad Annie I've Got You Under My Skin I Put a Spell on You Don't Worry Baby Daydream Believer Bread and Butter