There’s a reason Grey’s Anatomy is the number one television show in the number one television producing country in the world; they bombard the public on all fronts. There is not one aspect of the viewing experience that Grey’s Anatomy hasn’t keyed in on. They succeed in bringing a wide array of viewers a wide array of factors to enjoy. As I’ve discussed earlier, the Hotness Factor of Grey’s Anatomy is an integral part of the show’s success; there is at least one character on Grey’s Anatomy that you will be attracted to, no matter who you are. And, as I’ve also talked about in regards to Dancing with the Stars, the highest rated TV shows don’t go after a majority of a niche audience, they go for a portion of all audiences.
How does a show accomplish such things? Grey’s Anatomy has everything, really. Medical drama, relationship drama, sexual intrigue, light humor, dark humor, and lots of good looking people. However, one overlooked aspect to Grey’s Anatomy that undoubtedly helps its popularity is the music. Grey’s Anatomy incorporates great, underground music seamlessly into its episodes. Whether you realize it or not, this is important. Creator Shonda Rhimes is not only, obviously, great at choosing music, she’s completely obsessed. Every Grey’s Anatomy episode is titled after a famous pop song. Every Grey’s Anatomy episode is peppered with highly appropriate, usually unheralded music. Why this is so important, and not just egotism, is that music informs how we personally digest episodes of television. They are key emotional cues. Try watching an episode of television drama without sound; it doesn’t make sense. Mood is almost one hundred percent contingent on the music that’s being played. In the past, shows that have become synonymous with hip, undiscovered music talent have gotten a large boost in popularity because of the music. Conversely, the music industry will begin to vie for an all-important spot on said show. This gives the producers a huge reservoir of up and coming musical talent to choose from, as well as enough clout to use selected titles from established artists. The OC, even during it’s streaks of poor quality, has been a perfect example of how TV can become a showcase for musicians. It debuted a single from Coldplay’s “X/Y” album before it was released. One episode featured only tracks from Beck’s “Guero” album before that album came out, also. Again, this is mutually beneficial for a show that becomes known as a musical showcase because, whereas shows normally will pay for the rights to use songs, they become free of charge because of the promotional value of appearing on a program like The OC or Grey’s Anatomy. For instance, having a song on Grey’s Anatomy can propel an artist to instant success. After Grey’s used Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” and The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” in episodes, both songs quickly became top 5 hits. It wasn’t coincidental. Grey’s Anatomy has released two soundtracks, one after each of its first two seasons, featuring a selection of songs used on the show. For a list of the songs in every episode, Wikipedia has a comprehensive guide. Next time you watch Grey’s Anatomy, pay close attention to the songs and how they are incorporated into the show. You’ll be surprised at how effective and important the music is. For fun, I’ve created an exclusive iMix at Apple’s iTunes music store from my personal favorite songs that have been used in Grey’s Anatomy episodes. You can access the iMix here. (*note: You must have iTunes on your computer to access the iMix.) -Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer