There are shows that rely on a general plot development to gain the attention of the viewers, for example, Breaking Bad, and Dexter. But there are also TV shows which rely on nothing but character development as a tool to explore a particular reality. Mad Men is one such show. I’ve heard reviews such that Mad Men is too boring a show, and I might have to agree with it since for the first season or so, there isn’t much plot-line to follow. We see Don Draper stabilizing a lot of different facets of his life, and everything that happens in the show is to establish the characteristics of each of the varied characters that we see. For a show based in a time when women lacked a voice much more than currently, the show is very vocal and fair towards the female characters. In fact, my favourite character (and many others agree with me) is a female character. But the main agenda for this write-up is the music that has been featured in the show. Here are some of the songs that I particularly liked in the show:
1. David Carbonara – Lipstick
There is not much that I know about this composer, other than the fact that he has done very little work, and Mad Men is a major chunk of it. That said, the music has a certain 1960s feel to it, since it is pop-like and quite jazzy. This track particularly, since it is flamboyant as we see several women excited about being the first to try a new range of lipsticks, for work. We see them picking lipsticks, applying them religiously, and checking themselves out in the mirror while pressing their lips around a piece of tissue paper. It is a scene that fabricates very well with the hip music, and the track is a light-hearted listen.
2. David Carbonara – Carousel
This is probably the track that I had most difficulty in putting on a list such as this. The true meaning of the track can only be felt when you watch the scene that it features in. For the first time, we see the enigmatic Don Draper feel a twinge of pain for his dying marriage as he narrates his pitch for a particular product in his office. We see him lying, but we see him being truthful as well. It is a beautiful scene, one that is forever entwined with this masterful, yet simple, track.
3. David Carbonara – Beautiful girls
The episode in which this particular track featured in was quite female-centric, but one only realises this as we see the three main conflicted women step together into the elevator with the same expression of guilt and sadness on their faces. Whether it is a woman cheating on her husband, a woman who cannot seem to awaken feelings of parental chemistry from herself, or a woman who cannot express her complaints against the corporate world for the simple reason that she may be fired, the backdrop, a jazzy smooth track makes it quite evident the kind of turmoil they face in the seemingly quiet beeping of the elevator. This is definitely my favourite track independent of the scene it appeared in.
4. Nancy Sinatra – You Only Live Twice
Nancy Sinatra did revolutionise female music in some sense, and this particular track has some amount of frisson associated with, even before I heard it on the show. The lyrics and the music are both dark and dramatic, something that worked well for the Bond movie, and works amazingly well for this as well. It fits perfectly, because it seems that at this point in the show, we see Draper living in a crisis of living two separate lives.
5. The Cardigans – Great Divide
This is one of the few modern songs on the show, and it still has quite a different feel to it. The songs starts with the line, “There’s a monster growing in our heads…”, and it is the first line that we hear as the scene slowly fades away, and it has again ended at a point that no matter what, everything that happens on the show to whichever character, the show is essentially about Don Draper and his life, and how he is dealing with the monster inside of him, mainly his past and the influence it has on his present.
6. David Carbonara – A girl can dream
A major character on the how is a dissatisfied, day-dreaming, attractive young housewife who probably assumes that she was made for greater things and this particular track conveys that very potently. That said, however, independently, it is a track of interfering jazz, with a lot of breaks and ebb.
Overall speaking, a majority of the soundtrack sounds quite similar, but most songs have had a long-lasting effect on me, for the reason that it fixes itself quite well with the show in itself. For people who haven’t attempted to watch the show, it is definitely a watch. For the ones who have watched one season and found it boring, I am sure one more chance is deserved by the show.