1. A basic but important fact that you might not
Usually when people think of soundtracks, it is Hans Zimmer, John Williams, and other film composers, but TV shows have introduced the world to some really amazing music. From Coldplay premiering songs on The O.C. to Smash‘s musical-within-a-show Bombshell, read on for 16 TV shows that had chart-topping hit soundtracks.
The O.C. – The soundtrack for The O.C. was almost universally praised and featured music by many indie and lesser-known artists. Rooney, The Killers, and Modest Mouse were all featured on the show, and Coldplay premiered their song “Fix You” on the show in a pivotal scene. In total, The O.C. released six albums, titled Music from The O.C.: Mix 1-6. Nearly all of them peaked in the Billboard 200, and Mix 1, 2, and 5 all peaked in the top 3 on the Billboard Top Soundtracks.
Friends – Friends released four soundtracks during the show’s run, titled Friends Original TV Soundtrack, Friends Again, Friends The One With All the Party Music, and Friends: The Ultimate Soundtrack. Friends Again is the only soundtrack that does not include the show’s theme song “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts.
Glee – Three words: Don’t Stop Believing. Glee covered Journey’s classic rock anthem in their pilot episode, and it took the country by storm. The show’s soundtracks, a mix of pop, rock, and classic show tunes, topped the Billboard 200 and Top Soundtracks charts. Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers peaked at number 1, as well as the special The Power of Madonna and Journey to Regionals EPs.
Smash – Unlike Glee, Smash mostly featured original compositions by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman as well as Broadway writing team Pasek and Paul, Joe Iconis, Ryan Tedder, and Bonnie McKee. The show released four soundtracks including a soundtrack for the Marilyn Monroe musical within the show titled Bombshell, and the first album The Music of Smash peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Soundtracks chart.
Empire – Empire is the TV hit of 2015, breaking ratings records and beating out ratings giant The Big Bang Theory and it’s real geniuses with the highest viewership of 2014-2015. It is unsurprising that the soundtrack for Empire also debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, the first to do so since Glee back in 2010.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – A recording of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s musical episode “Once More, with Feeling” was released and peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Top Soundtracks and number 49 on the Billboard 200.
Hannah Montana – In the span of the show, Hannah Montana released five soundtracks, a live album of the Best of Both Worlds Concert, two dance remix albums, a compilation album, and thirty-one singles. The first three soundtracks, Hannah Montana, Hannah Montana 2, and Hannah Montana: The Movie all peaked at number 1. On top of all of this, she also made fifteen music videos from 2006 thru 2010.
Sex and the City – Sex and the City released three albums, Sex and the City: Music from the HBO Series as well as the soundtracks for Sex and the City and Sex and the City 2. Sex and the City: Music from the HBO Series included music from Bette Midler, Joan Osborne, and Aimee Mann in addition to the show’s theme song. The soundtrack for the Sex and the City soundtrack debuted at number 2 in the Billboard Top 200.
Grey’s Anatomy – To date, Grey’s Anatomy has released four soundtrack albums plus an additional special album for the show’s musical episode. Musicians featured on the soundtrack include Tegan and Sara, The Fray, Snow Patrol, and Brandi Carlile, whose song “The Story” has been prominently featured in several episodes including the musical episode.
The Sopranos – The Sopranos featured some really amazing music from Frank Sinatra to Bob Dylan to Van Morrison and New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen. It isn’t surprising that the two soundtrack compilations were popular, The Sopranos: Music from the HBO Original Series and The Sopranos – Peppers and Eggs.
Scrubs – Scrubs had great working relationships with singers like Joshua Radin and Colin Hay, the latter of whom appeared in an episode. The show released two soundtracks plus an additional special soundtrack for the musical episode which was written by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, the songwriting team behind Avenue Q.
Nashville – Nashville only has three seasons so far, but the show has released twelve albums, the first of which peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Soundtracks chart and number 3 on the Billboard Country chart, as well as over 40 singles for season 1 alone.
The Mickey Mouse Club – One of the breakout performers from the original iteration of The Mickey Mouse Club was Annette Funicello, and in a surprise to Funicello herself, it was thanks to her singing. Her music career was launched on The Mickey Mouse Club with a little song titled “How Will I Know My Love,” and the song was so successful that Disney had to give her a recording contract.
American Idol – Winners of American Idol have had mixed degrees of success after the show is over, but the first American Idol soundtrack American Idol: Greatest Moments was a success. It debuted at number four, and in its first week, 146,000 copies were sold.
The Simpsons – The Simpsons has been on the air for over 25 years, and in that time, they have released two studio albums, four soundtrack albums, a compilation album, and six singles. The Simpsons Sing the Blues peaked at number 3 and was certified gold and triple platinum.
Family Guy – Family Guy: Live in Vegas was more of a comedy album than a soundtrack per say, but it features all of the characters from the show and guest performers Jason Alexander, Patti LuPone, and Haylie Duff. The album peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Top Comedy Albums chart and number 105 on the Billboard 200 chart. Family Guy has also released several singles from the show including “Stewie’s ‘Sexy Party’” and “Christmastime Is Killing Us.”