TV

11 TV shows with the best soundtracks of all time

Looking for something to listen to? These TV soundtracks are guaranteed to lift your spirits, including Bridgerton, I May Destroy You and It’s a Sin. 

You know that moment when you’re watching a show and suddenly think, wait, what’s that song? The soundtracks that accompany our favourite TV are important in guiding us through a narrative and, when excellently done, can be completely iconic – Bridgerton, we’re looking at you.

The Netflix costume drama has made history as the most-watched series ever, with 82 million people watching the show online since its release, propelling the books by Julia Quinn into the New York Times bestseller list for the first time ever.

And we can’t get enough of the music either: there’s been a 350% increase of the number of people streaming Vitamin String Quartet, the group that provided most of the classical versions of hits from the likes of Ariana Grande and Maroon 5. 

They also make for excellent listening while working from your kitchen table. So, we’ve compiled a list of the best TV soundtracks out there – from oldies like The OC to new favourites such as It’s A Sin. Thank us later.  

Anthony Bridgerton.

Bridgerton

Much of Bridgerton, which follows two affluent families, the Bridgertons and Featheringtons, in the 19th century English countryside, is set to dramatic, classical renditions of the hits of today. There’s everything from Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy to Thank U Next by Ariana Grande. What more could you ask for?

Best song moment: That sex montage set to Taylor Swift’s Wildest Dreams. 

The OC

Premiering in 2003, The OC was an It show, following the lives of teenagers living in Orange County, California. It also featured some of the best music of the moment, from Coldplay’s Fix You to Smile Like You Mean It by The Killers. Listen to this soundtrack for ultimate noughties nostalgia.

Best song moment: When Marissa shot Trey in season 2 as Imogen Heap’s Hide And Seek blasted. The scene was so dramatic it went on to inspire a comedy skit by The Lonely Island on SNL. 

Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

The Big Little Lies soundtrack is legendary, given how often emotions were revealed through the songs characters listened to. Madeline’s daughter Chloe would play This Feeling by The Alabama Shakes to calm her mum down. Renata blasted It’s My House by Diana Ross during her magazine cover shoot at her sprawling mansion. There’s also plenty of Frank Ocean, Sade and Elvis. Not to mention, the theme tune itself is Michael Kiwanuka’s Cold Little Heart.

Best song moment: Zoë Kravitz covering the 1958 Elvis song Don’t in the first season’s finale. 

Atlanta

In its two short seasons, Atlanta has already developed an impressive musical identity: rap, neo-soul, R&B classics, as well as spotlighting young artists. Expect Gucci Mane, 6Lack, Sonder featured alongside Erykah Badu and Funkadelic.

Best song moment: The show’s opening scene, where Migos’ One Time played as a car was vandalised - and the stage for its excellent soundscape. 

Dickinson

While Apple TV+’s original series Dickinson transports us back to the 19th century to follow a young Emily Dickinson’s coming of age, its soundtrack is unabashedly modern. Expect lots of upbeat Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Mitzi tracks.

Best song moment: A horse-riding scene set to A$AP Rocky and Skepta’s Praise The Lord (Da Shine) in episode 1. 

Gossip girl cast

Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl birthed a musical star when Taylor Momsen (Jenny Humphrey) formed the band The Pretty Reckless, and went on to feature some of her music as part of its eclectic, well-chosen soundtrack. Think The XX, Lana Del Rey, Robyn.

Best song moment: It doesn’t get better than Serena arriving back in town in episode one to the tune of Justin Timberlake’s What Goes Around Comes Around

I May Destroy You

Music supervisor Ciara Elwis worked on TV shows like The Trial of Christine Keeler and After Life before landing the job on I May Destroy You, and she didn’t disappoint. We got tracks from Tierra Whack, Rosalia, Little Simz and Janelle Monae to backdrop to some stellar acting.

Best song moment: Arabella’s karaoke rendition of Nicki Minaj’s Truffle Butter

Normal people

The BBC’s adaptation of Sally Rooney’s bestselling Normal People gave us the moody, atmospheric soundtrack it deserved. Frank Ocean’s Nikes plays at a party, while a tender moment is set to Ane Brun’s To Make You Feel My Love. Can you feel the angst?

Best song moment: An appearance from Imogen Heap’s Hide And Seek, surely a nod to the melodrama of The OC

Scandal

When Scandal began in 2012, creator Shonda Rhimes and music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas had been working together on Grey’s Anatomy for years - this time, though, the soundscape would be mainly old school soul, R&B and pop. The likes of Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick take centre stage to brilliant effect.

Best song moment: Aretha Franklin’s cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water in season 4 – she became a staple sound in the show afterwards. 

It’s A Sin

Channel’s 4’s new hit It’s A Sin is the show we cannot get enough of right now, and its soundtrack is just as good. Following a friendship group in the 1980s as they weather the aids pandemic, the music is a crucial part of setting the scene. Think Pet Shop Boys, Kate Bush and Blondie.

Best song moment: Ritchie and Jill doing karaoke to Barry Manilow’s One Voice at the local pub. Heartwarming!

Gilmore Girls - Lorelai and Rory

Gilmore Girls

Music was a big part of Lorelai and Rory’s lives of Gilmore Girls - they loved pop, rock, blues, just about anything really. And the soundtrack was just as varied. Carole King’s Where You Lead opens each episode, which could then give you anything from PJ Harvey to White Stripes to Patsy Cline. It’s a soundtrack to put on if you want to be surprised.

Best song moment: When Lorelai took Rory to a Bangles concert – they played Walk Like An Egyptian and it went off.