Get out your one time pad, because The Cue Sheet Podcast is broadcasting its coded signal from The Center. Since the very genesis of this podcast, back in the doldrums of mid-pandemic binge watching, we’ve had The Americans at the top of our list of shows we absolutely had to discuss, because there are few TV shows in recent memory that have had quite as strong a soundtrack. Now, mind you, we’ve covered our fair share of shows whose soundtrack draws heavily from the ’80s, including Stranger Things and Miami Vice—the latter of which becomes a significant point of discussion here as well.
The Americans aired on FX between 2013 and 2018, though onscreen, the timeframe spans from 1981 to 1987. And the soundtrack, likewise, is era appropriate, drawing its needle drops primarily from the ’80s (and a few key choices from the ’70s), including songs by Fleetwood Mac, Peter Gabriel, Yaz, Talking Heads, The Cure and U2. A handful of artists become recurring soundtrack fixtures on the show, and certain moments even serve a bit as callbacks to pioneering TV shows in the merging of music and TV drama.
Listen to our episode on the best musical moments of The Americans below, and check out our playlist of songs in our favorite moments from the show.
Share some of your favorite The Americans music moments in the comments, and let us know if there’s a show you’d like us to cover on a future episode!
Our theme music is by Bit Maps. Listen to and download their music via Bandcamp.
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Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.