'Mad Men': Watch the Show's 8 Best Musical Moments
Mad Men never lets a moment stay subtext-free.
Since its quiet debut in 2007, the Emmy-winning show has earned raves not only for the depth of the writing and acting, but everything related to the production -- and that includes on-the-nose musical selections to score both closing credits and big moments. (We all remember the look of recognition in his wife's eyes when fan favorite Sal belted "Bye Bye Birdie" in bed, right?)
"We really have a lot of enthusiasm from the music community about using these songs. And I think [creator] Matt Weiner -- the way he uses music, it is so thoughtful and says so much about the episodes," Mad Men music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas told Flavorwire last year. "...It's really a pleasure to be able to work with these older gems, and the research process is interesting and fun, to speculate on when exactly a song would have hit and how that plays into the Mad Men universe."
In honor of Sunday night's series finale, we're looking back at some of our favorite musical moments on the show. Rest assured there was always more going on with the lyrics and music than first met the eye.
8. "You Only Live Twice"
Nancy Sinatra's hit James Bond theme was the perfect backdrop to the final moments of season 5, with lyrics that seemed tailor-made to capture Don Draper's (Jon Hamm) emotional state. "You only live twice, or so it seems/ One life for yourself and one for your dreams/ You drift through the years and life seems tame/ Till one dream appears and love is its name." Which life Don will choose is the question left in viewers' mind after this ending montage. After watching his wife's career begin to flourish, Draper drowns his sorrows at a bar while he ponders the loaded question: "Are you alone?"
7. "My Way"
Perhaps the most powerful and central relationship on the show is the mutual respect and tension between Don and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss). The high points of the show (such as tour de force episode "The Suitcase") focus on the two of them, so it wasn't any surprise that it was hard to watch them be at odds for part of season 7. When the two are forced to work together on a Burger Chef pitch, they -- and the audience -- are able to see that their biggest similarity is a commitment to the work. The fact that the two friends are able to come to an understanding, and then cement said understanding by platonically dancing together to the Frank Sinatra classic, is one of the sweetest moments of the series.
6. "Both Sides Now"
Season 6 concludes with one of the many rock-bottom moments of Don Draper's life: Don has a breakdown in a pitch meeting and is placed on leave from Sterling Cooper & Partners. Sensing a chance to finally start over in some ways, Don takes his skeptical children to his childhood home, and, for one of the first times, is actually honest with them about an aspect of his dark past. "I've looked at clouds from both sides now/ From up and down, and still somehow/ It's cloud illusions I recall/ I really don't know clouds at all," Judy Collins sings.
5. "Early in the Morning"
Seven words: Colin Hanks singing Peter, Paul and Mary. Hanks guested as a preacher in season 2, in a role that centered on getting a struggling Peggy to confess her sin (in this case, that she had secretly gotten pregnant and had a baby). But this fairly out-of-nowhere moment of Father Gill loosening his tie and breaking out a guitar in the privacy of his home illustrated how music and popular culture were infiltrating all types of life in the '60s -- a change in culture that was only just getting started.
4. "My Old Kentucky Home"
In addition to the offensive expression of a blackface-wearing Roger (John Slattery) below, this episode is also responsible for two other iconic music moments of the show: A sad Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) playing accordion, and an ambitious Trudy (Allison Brie) and Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) performing a perfectly choreographed dinner party dance. Remember: Nobody puts Lady Macbeth in a corner (moment of silence that Trudy's appearances on the show have been limited recently).
3. "Tomorrow Never Knows"
Mad Men has always been particularly deft at pairing specific tunes from the era with a perfect lyric or emotional moment, but one of their all-time greats was the budget-breaking licensing of the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." The episode centers on the ad men trying to find a band that sounds like the Beatles, as well as Don coming to grips with feeling particularly out of touch with youth culture. Cue one of the Beatles' most experimental tracks, from 1966's Revolver.
2. "The Best Things in Life Are Free"
Any Mad Men fan of a certain age (or a certain amount of Broadway knowledge) knows that Robert Morse (who plays Bert Cooper on the show) got his start singing and dancing. So when the character sadly passed away in the finale of season 7, part one, it was a perfect opportunity to send him out in style, with a fantasy number that showed off all of Morse's skill. The episode centered on the iconic moon landing, which gave the 1927 tune "The Best Things in Life Are Free" a particular resonance.
1. "Zou Bisou Bisou"
Instantly making Jessica Paré a household name among fans -- and giving the actress her buzziest moment on the show -- Megan's birthday party song-and-dance routine was both wildly sexy and purposely miscalculated and uncomfortable. Expertly playing both aspects of that performance, Paré's version of the 1960 song was such a zeitgeist-y moment that the tune made an appearance on Billboard's World Digital chart following the episode's original airing.
What song do you think Matthew Weiner and Co. will choose as the ender to the show?