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EMI PM: Currently Playing with Charley Dunlop

The Influencers 134 Add to collection

From 'Tiger King' to 'Normal People', the music executive draws inspiration from 2020's best TV shows

EMI PM: Currently Playing with Charley Dunlop

2020 was not a great year for parties, clubbing, pubbing, festive holidays, well, it wasn’t a great year for much - let’s be honest. However, it was a great year for TV. With the majority of us cutting our commute time from an hour to 30 seconds, we all had plenty of time to sink our teeth into some great shows.  

Lockdown 1.0 started off strong with Netflix original 'Tiger King': a show about a somewhat eccentric zoo keeper, Joe Exotic, and his long-term beef with a flower-haired ‘sanctuary’ owner, Carol Baskin. The soundtrack boasts of some big time Americana tracks from Goodnight Texas, The Black Keys and of course, the shows very own Joe Exotic. Lest we forget the banger that was ‘I Saw A Tiger’.  

BBC released Irish drama, 'Normal People', based on the novel by Sally Rooney. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I had to watch this series over a number of months as every episode made me cry. A beautiful, yet complicated, love story of two young people who struggled to communicate. The show was beautifully soundtracked with some powerful and emotional music from artists such as Orla Gartland, Elliott Smith, CHVRCHES, London Grammar and Imogen Heap.  

Another amazing BBC release in 2020 was British comedy-drama, 'I May Destroy You' - created, written, co-directed, and executive produced by Michaela Coel. Following the life of a young Arabella, the show explores the ever-blurring lines of ‘consent’ and sexual assault. Kudos to the amazing Air-Edel who supervised the show, bringing us some amazing old school UK garage from the likes of Wookie, B15 Project, DJ Luck & MC Neat. We also hear tracks from the queen that is Janelle Monae, Arlo Parks, The Prodigy and one of my all-time favourite tracks by The Joubert Singers with ‘Stand On The Word’. 

From 'American Horror Story'’s Ryan Murphy, we saw 'Ratched' debut on Netflix in September. This incredible psychological thriller is based on a character (Nurse Mildred Ratched) from Ken Kesey’s novel, 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest' and serves as a prequel to the novel. I don’t want to give anything away, because if you haven’t watched it, you must, and I’m not one for spoilers! However, I do want to take a moment to appreciate the incredible costume, hair and make-up in this series - something Ryan Murphy always excels at. The show takes inspiration for its soundtrack from the 'Cape Fear' score by composer Bernard Herrmann and there are also commercial tracks from Kate Bush, The Police and Elvis Costello making for a classic, yet alternative feel to the show.  

'The Queens Gambit', a period drama set in the mid '50s moving into the late '60s, follows the life of an orphaned chess genius, Beth Harmon. It took some convincing to get me on board with this one, but I’m so glad I did! It’s not just TV series about chess, but relationships, loneliness, exclusion and struggles with addiction. The series was declared Netflix’s most viewed show ever with 62 million global views in the first four weeks. We saw timeless commercial tracks from the '60s such as ‘Fever’ by Peggy Lee, ‘Comin’ Home Baby’ by Quincy Jones and ‘How Glad I Am’ by Aretha Franklin. There was also great use of production library music in the show, including our very own KPM track ‘Mexican Highway’ by Syd Dale.  

So all-in-all it's been a vintage year for TV and loads to get stuck into as we move into 2021. I hope you can find as much joy (or despair... 'Normal People') in these shows as I did! In tribute, I've created a playlist inspired by 2020’s best TV. 


- Charley Dunlop, music executive, EMI Production Music


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Genres: Music & Sound Design

Categories: Media and Entertainment, TV and Radio

EMI Production Music, Mon, 18 Jan 2021 17:10:21 GMT