Long Live The Peach Pit: The TV Soundtrack Examined

Dan Gibson | March 5, 2008 1:00 am

First: Why does there need to be a soundtrack to the show Heroes? Second: Why does it need to be the venue for the first new Jesus and Mary Chain song in nearly a decade? (Fast forward to the soundtrack’s release date, and in the distance, you can hear my pained scream as I see the words “album only” on its page at the iTunes Store.) Certainly there are exceptions to the rule (and most of those exceptions involve the letters H, B, and O), but in 2008, when disillusionment with the album format is at an all-time high, doesn’t it take some gall to release a full-priced soundtrack to a TV show, even if it does contain “an eclectic mix of cutting-edge and classic musical artists”?

The Amazon chart for TV soundtracks, like most sales charts on the site, is convoluted with dubiously categorized items. Sure, Hannah Montana is a TV show, but are her releases really soundtracks? Probably not. It doesn’t take long to see how exploitative these releases can be–for example, Love Affair, a collection of love songs as performed by the casts of the ABC Daytime lineup. Even my wife, a rather devoted fan of All My Children, rolled her eyes when I showed it to her. David Canary might be a two-faced wonder in his portrayals of both Stuart and Adam Chandler, but does anyone need to hear his take on “Always On My Mind”?

Despite my borderline obsession with the sadly departed Gilmore Girls, my copy of Our Little Corner Of The World sits collecting dust somewhere, just like others’ copies of the seventeen or so volumes of The O.C. soundtracks. If you hear a song in the background that moves you during that tense conversation between Meredith and Derek on Thursday, wouldn’t it be little more responsible for the network to just provide a link to purchase the track on iTunes or Amazon or wherever? Does the world need to be subjected to the show-runner’s ultimate mixtape in the era of the single-track download?