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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jossaholics Anonymous

A weensy disclaimer: I'm a huge fan of Joss Whedon. Honestly, if they managed to reproduce his essence of cool in, say, whiskey form, I'd have to start attending AA. Thus, if my drool starts oozing out of your computer screen, really--it's not my fault.

Okay then! Let's talk about Joss and his many excellent creations. Rather, let's talk about what the Big Three of Cult TV have in common (besides a mutual creator and general awesomeness). I would like to postulate that it is music. Not that the soundtracks of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel: the Series, and Firefly are that similar; they're not. However, Joss's opinion of the importance of music is evident in all three series. Serieses?

First, we have the Buffy theme. AH, the Buffy theme. That creepy organ chord--that wolf howl--and then, Nerf Herder! Doing their darndest to shred your eardrums! I love it; I never get sick of it. Furthermore, the Buffy theme illustrates, within the 40 seconds of its existence, the delightful pastiche of teen culture and classic horror which came to signify the series itself. Which brings me to the rest of Buffy's music; from Dingoes Ate My Baby to Cibo Matto to Aimee Mann to Michelle Branch, the Scooby gang had a frippin' awesome soundtrack to their lives. Slayage to the beats of "Chinese Burn" never looked or sounded so fun.

For my money, the Angel theme is equally rad, if in a totally different way. It's darker, slower, and more classical--cello-rock, if you will--and fitting for a show on the whole more gritty than its parent series. As Buffy's theme illustrated the Buffy credo, so does Angel's theme show Angel's journey of redemption. Angel also gets its share of pop: the karaoke bar to end all karaoke bars, Caritas, is the scene of many a grand rendition, including Barry Manilow's "Mandy", Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", and "Crazy" by Patsy Cline.

(Worth noting...an actual Buffyverse discography exists, including the movie soundtrack, the original songs written for "Once More, With Feeling", a compilation entitled "Radio Sunnydale", The Velvet Chain's The Buffy EP, and Live Fast, Die Never, an Angel soundtrack compilation. Groovy!)

And, at last, the boot-tappin' tunes of Firefly. Ah, was there ever a zanier television series? Space cowboys! What's more fun than zipping around outer space in duds straight out of Bonanza? The sadly shortlived show's theme, "The Ballad of Serenity", was composed by Joss himself, and performed by Sonny Rhodes. The soundtrack itself is a sometimes-bizarro blend of campfire fiddling and Asian white noise, reflecting the retro-futuristic nature of the show.

And there you have it: the secret to Joss Whedon's success. Good music, duh.

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