Does a Good Soundtrack Make or Break a TV Show?

Gavin Casalegno (Jeremiah), Lola Tung (Belly)

This is hard — perhaps even scary — for me to admit, but I’m currently embarking on a rite of passage most people my age underwent over a decade ago. I’m watching The OC for the first time. Yes, I knew all about Marisa and the Imogen Heap of it all, but have never dived into the series. And, frankly, I’m having thoughts.

While the acting is certainly something, and while I have been repeating “Welcome to the OC, bitch!” incessantly as if it’s not a 20-year-old pop culture reference, one thing that is really getting me about this show is the soundtrack. It is iconic — there is no other word for it.

That got me thinking: we know needle drops can help a show’s performance in the streaming age. I mean, who wasn’t running up that hill last year when Stranger Things dropped? But can an entire soundtrack actually determine whether we think a show is good, or whether it’s bad? Well, that’s what is being discussed on the very first episode of POPSUGAR Rush, POPSUGAR Australia‘s brand new pop culture podcast.

What is POPSUGAR Rush?

Each week, I, Jackson Langford (editor/perpetual doom-scroller/internet tragic), and Starr McG, TikTok superstar and deeply #relatable content queen, will be breaking down the best and worst of the week’s pop culture news in a bite-sized package. You’re busy, I get it, but you still want that fix of everything celebrity, streaming and reality TV. Trust me — POPSUGAR Rush is the place to get it.

In this first episode, Starr brought up The Summer I Turned Pretty, and how the brains behind have spared no expense in making sure its soundtrack is precise and perfect. We’re talking multiple Taylor Swift songs, including an unreleased re-recording of “Delicate.” My first question is how much money is being forked out for that absolute treasure, but I also need to know how important Taylor Swift is to the audience of the show specifically.

Why Do Some Soundtracks Work So Well?

Letting The Summer I Turned Pretty use yet-to-be-released Taylor Swift songs guarantees the show has gotten her coveted seal of approval, which means Swifties are going to flock to it like me to a hot choccy, or like Lana Del Rey to another shift at a rural Waffle House.

And now it’s a huge talking point of the show. But the songs fit the moments so unbelievably well that you just can’t imagine anything else there. Sure, it’d be incredible if “Sandstorm” was dropped every five seconds in a show, but then the show would a) be unwatchable and b) only be remembered for that fact. A good soundtrack elevates what we’re already watching, it doesn’t overpower it.

Elsewhere in the pod, we discuss what in Ariana Grande’s green earth is going on with Scooter Braun, why everyone is absolutely frothing Red, White & Royal Blue and our shared, unashamed stanning of Miley Cyrus.

Listen to the first episode of POPSUGAR Rush in full above, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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