Scott Kara: Carrying a tune

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TV show The Finder. Photo / Supplied
TV show The Finder. Photo / Supplied

There is a rather brash musical interlude during new TV series The Finder which starts on TV3 tonight.

Veteran rocker and guest star John Fogerty is belting out Creedence Clearwater Revival's 1969 song Fortunate Son, and his famously husky voice is still as famously husky as hell. It's just that his musical cameo goes on for far too long and quickly becomes grating.

It is an example of how music should not be used in a TV show. Because though it is essential on telly, music needs to be in keeping with the mood of the action, appropriate to the vision, and often it is best when it is subtle (almost like it's not even there).

To give the Fogster his due, the theme song he wrote for The Finder - a moseying blues-rock instrumental called Swamp Water - is perfect for the off-beat crime show.

Much in the same way Woke Up This Morning by Alabama 3 - who play in Auckland tonight - was for all those years of The Sopranos.

Perhaps one of the finest examples of TV themes is the music for Game of Thrones (which returns in April). It's a beautifully regal, yet chest-beating piece of music by Iranian-German composer Ramin Djawadi, also the man behind the guitar-heavy score for Robert Downey jnr's Iron Man and most recently Person of Interest.

The Game of Thrones tune really gets the blood boiling. Or, if you're one of those Thrones fans in league with the Lannister clan, then it's likely to, er, lubricate your loins too. It epitomises everything that the show is about - it's mysterious and magical, brooding and powerful. And the harpsichord refrain at the end might sound sweet enough but it also conjures up the image of one of those creepy Wilding characters plotting something evil.

Then there is the theme tune of gritty political drama Boss, which finished its current run on SoHo last night. Even though it's set in Chicago it shies away from the romantic notion of a Chicago blues track, and instead uses Robert Plant's version of gospel tune Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down from his 2010 album Band of Joy.

The story goes that star Kelsey Grammer was at a Band of Joy concert (he's a good mate of Plant's apparently) when he realised the song was a perfect fit for the show.

His character Tom Kane is Satan who as mayor of Chicago has seen his kingdom (almost) fall, along with the tortuous deterioration of his life.

Surprisingly, Homeland (TV3, 8.30pm, Mondays) is a music-minded show too. It's surprising because, well, when do these CIA operatives have time to listen to music? Aren't they meant to be defending the free world, not shopping for signed Thelonious Monk albums online?

Last week the main soundtrack to the show was interrogation music courtesy of grindcore band Grid Link. Though I'd never heard of that motley lot it's a style of music dear to my heart, with genre pioneers Napalm Death a formative band for me.

This week jazz gets a nod, with intense upstart Carrie betting her signed Monk's Dream album on the fact they would finally nab Brody as a terrorist. To which her colleague Saul is dismissive, saying he prefers Coltrane.

The tone is lowered somewhat a little later when the lads from the Marines do a karaoke version of Eminem's Run Rabbit, and soon after, tensions flare and a fight breaks out.

But it's Saul's musical make-up on the show that offers the most intriguing insight into his character. Put it this way, if I had to sit down in a room for a chat with anyone it would be him.

He's obviously partial to and very knowledgeable about extreme death metal given his job as chief CIA interrogator, and he's into Coltrane over a scotch or two at home. It sums up this complex, yet well-balanced character perfectly.

Not sure if he'd be into Creedence though.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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