Recently, I heard a Bank of America commercial that used Three Dog Night’s “Shambala.”
Sorry, BofA, that song belongs now and forever to Lost, since the show – not known for its happy moments – used it in one of the most joyous scenes to grace the series.
That goes for the following songs as well.
If you’ve seen these episodes, you likely can’t hear these tunes without thinking of these iconic moments every time. In some cases, it was the first time I heard these songs but for most, even if I already knew the song, these episodes made the song completely their own.
Your own list is probably quite different, but here’s mine:
1. Three Dog Night: “Shambala” – Lost,
“Tricia Tanaka Is Dead” 2007
When Hurley and Charlie attempt to jumpstart the old Dharma van by driving it down an incredibly steep hill, it could have easily ended in both their deaths, but instead the motor sputters to life and so does the 8-track of this happy hippy song. The euphoria of the moment is catching as Jin, Hurley, and Vincent the dog run after the van and jump inside, smiling wider than we’ve ever believed possible.
It’s even better than finding the Dharma beer!
This episode was actually the first time I heard this song.
Scully’s Naval officer father unexpectedly dies and her mother has the song played at his funeral. A still grieving Scully returns to work where she and Mulder meet with serial killer Luther Lee Boggs (a terrific Brad Dourif), who claims to have psychic knowledge about a couples’ abduction.
When he starts singing “Beyond the Sea,” slurring as is he’s channeling someone from by grave, the hair on the back of our necks stands up, as it clearly does for Scully. She has to decide whether to trust Boggs to connect with the other side, or to dismiss him as a fake and embrace her usual skepticism.
One of the very best X-Files episodes.
3. The Flamingos: “I Only Have Eyes For You,” Buffy The Vampire Slayer,
“I Only Have Eyes For You” 1998
In this Season 2 episode, Sunnydale High School is haunted by the ghost of a young male student who shot his teacher and then himself after she broke off their ill-advised affair.
Now their ghosts are possessing people, with tragic consequences. It happens to come as Buffy is dealing with her devastating breakup with Angel, which also turned him evil again.
The nostalgic ’50s song and the spell are a great way to get them interact again and for Buffy to forgive herself for what happened.
4. The Doors: “The Crystal Ship,” Supernatural,
“Born Under a Bad Sign” 2007
This was always a very haunting, eerie song with the opening line, “Before you slip into unconsciousness, I’d like to have another kiss…” and it’s used perfectly in this scene where Sam attacks Jo, knocks her out and ties her to a post. She comes to to hear this song playing on the jukebox and Sam wielding a knife.
He tells her how her father really died at the hands of another monster, then tells her she’s bait, just like her dad was.
5. “Twilight Time,” The X-Files,
“Kill Switch” 1998
In this episode, co-written by sci-fi author William Gibson, a computer genius has created an artificial intelligence run amok that traps Mulder in an endless virtual reality loop. The omniscient surveillance the AI has access to is impressively scary since it can even order a missile strike.
The 1958 Platters song is on the CD that contains the AI’s kill switch, lending a new and very creepy tone to song lyrics, “Heavenly shades of night are falling/It’s twilight time.”
This behind-the-scenes featurette includes several scenes that aren’t from “Kill Switch,” but the one where Mulder breaks into a goofy smile upon hearing the song on the “evidence” CD is the first time we hear it in the episode.