Way Back 2022

January 18, 2023 - Oldies A-Plenty in Award-Nominated TV Miniseries and Movies

As we find ourselves in the thick of Hollywood's "awards season" ritual, it's hard not to sample at least one episode from many of 2022's top television nominees, which can lead to participation in the couch-bound sport widely referred to as bingeing. Doing so reveals, for fans of decades-old music, a wealth of vintage hits set in a variety of different contexts while discovering some excellent films and limited series. So before you start streaming, let's play catch-up on some of the music found in the past year's critically-acclaimed TV fare.

Recent contenders first: FX's marriage/divorce drama Fleishman is in Trouble features Neil Diamond's 1966 hit "Cherry, Cherry." Hulu's big winner The Bear (Golden Globe and Critics Choice Best Actor awards for star Jeremy Allen White) has mostly '90s rock songs on its soundtrack but also features the '60s hits "Help Me, Rhonda" by The Beach Boys and "Da Doo Ron Ron" by The Crystals (as well as the hit '70s version by Shaun Cassidy). A trio of crime-centric miniseries have included some classic rock and pop songs: chart-toppers "Sunshine Superman" by Donovan and "Green Tambourine" by The Lemon Pipers are in Netflix's chilling Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story starring Evan Peters. "When I Was Young" by Eric Burdon and the Animals plays in an episode of the Apple TV+ series Black Bird. HBO murder mystery The Staircase (Colin Firth the accused, Toni Collette the victim) has some unusual choices: two mid-'60s Mills Brothers recordings ("I Can't Stop Loving You" and "You Always Hurt the One You Love") and "little" Jerry Williams' hidden gem "Baby, Bunny (Sugar, Honey)" from 1965, alongside a pair of big 1969 hits: "I Started a Joke" by The Bee Gees and too-obvious choice "More Today Than Yesterday" by The Spiral Starecase.

The Offer, a drama/bio set behind-the-scenes during the making of the 1972 film classic The Godfather includes some big ones by British bands ("All Day and All of the Night" by The Kinks, "White Room" by Cream, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum), plus heavyweight Hendrix rocker "All Along the Watchtower," in addition to The Five Satins' '56 vocal group benchmark "In the Still of the Nite," Dion's '62 smash "The Wanderer" and ahead-of-its-time pop culture soul shot "Different Strokes" by Syl Johnson. The Starz drama Gaslit, with Julia Roberts, has The Lovin' Spoonful's "Daydream" and Lesley Gore's still-powerful feminist anthem "You Don't Own Me."

But wait, there's more: HBO's World War II concentration camp drama The Survivor starring Ben Foster, partly set in 1963, contains three contrasting hits from that year: The Jaynetts' "Sally, Go Round the Roses," Allan Sherman's summer camp parody "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" and Bill Pursell's exquisite instrumental "Our Winter Love." BBC medical miniseries This is Going to Hurt rocks with the '68 Human Beinz hit "Nobody But Me," then goes much softer with a 1965 Zombies album cut, "The Way I Feel Inside," and Lee Hazlewood's downbeat "My Autumn's Done Come" from '66.

Here are a few more famous songs featured in nominated crime dramas: Nat "King" Cole's chart-topping "Mona Lisa" is heard in Apple's The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey starring Samuel L. Jackson in the title role. Three more from Hulu: Under the Banner of Heaven has The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's 1959 hit "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and Harry Simeone's holiday season smash from the previous year, "The Little Drummer Boy." The Girl From Plainville (as portrayed by Elle Fanning) makes room for "Sweet Pea" by Tommy Roe and award winner The Dropout, starring Amanda Seyfried, did it the same way as Frank Sinatra: "My Way." In closing, sincere thanks go to the many television creators helping to keep the music of the '50s and '60s going strong nearly a quarter of the way into the 21st century.

Help Me, Rhonda Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home) Sunshine Superman Green Tambourine In the Still of the Nite Sally, Go 'Round the Roses Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A letter From Camp) Our Winter Love