So why is Mad Men (Music from the Original TV Series) on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
As you might have already surmised, I’m a huge fan of Mad Men… to say the least.
I recently named Mad Men as the #2 show on The Best 100 TV Shows Ever, and wound up being pretty happy with how its accompanying entry turned out.
The greatest character-driven TV show of all time. On one level, Mad Men is about Don Draper (Jon Hamm): who is this guy is a question the audience first asks and, over time, one that the character (sometimes known as Dick Whitman) must also wrangle with. On another level it’s the story of Peggy and Joan and Betty, three women who evolve much over the course of the series. And on still another level, it’s about the advertising industry, New York City, and a rapidly changing nation and culture over the course of the 1960s.
It’s also possible that, once upon a time, I wrote an entire book about the show’s first season. I also used some of that material to figure out the format for this here best 1,000 albums ever project and to help launch Pop Thruster (the website you’re on right now). There’s a lot of really good Mad Men stuff here, if you’re interested.
Anyway, the music is one of the elements that makes Mad Men so special. The show’s composer, David Carbonara, is incredibly talented, and the Music from the Original TV Series album includes several great pieces that he composed. My favorite of these is the lounge-y, playful, and slightly mysterious, “Lipstick.”
“Lipstick” plays on the intro screen on at least one season of Mad Men’s DVD sets, so I feel I’ve heard it a thousand times. And I never mind hearing it again – it’s just that good. Carbonara also wrote the achingly beautiful “Babylon,” which is featured at the end of the first season episode of the same name.
It’s not included on this album, but I must also include the delightful track, “The Twenty Third Floor.” It’s used in the pilot episode, where we’re introduced to the doings at Sterling Cooper for the first time.
Mad Men’s brilliant theme music is taken from the song, “A Beautiful Mine,” by RJD2. As I note on the entry for RJD2’s Magnificent City Instrumentals (#820 of best 1,000 albums ever):
It’s a gorgeous song that stands on its own, and after watching Mad Men… let’s say a lot and getting really used to the first 30 seconds or so, it’s fascinating to see how the opening string section arrangement and hip hop beat evolve from there.
There’s also a bunch of period-specific music on the album that will zoom you directly back to the early 1960s, including “Volare” by The McGuire Sisters and “Manhattan,” by Ella Fitzgerald. And Mad Men superfans will have fun picking up where songs were used in the show, such as “Caravan” by Gordon Jenkins used as Don Draper heads home after work (plus other adventures) during the show’s pilot episode.
Some stats & info about Mad Men (Music from the Original TV Series)
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Compilations, TV Soundtracks, Jazz, Martini Lounge
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
- When was Mad Men (Music from the Original TV Series) released? 2007
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #590 out of 1,000
Mad Men (Music from the Original TV Series) on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.