Before social media platforms like TikTok began influencing record sales and deciding which artists were at the top of the charts, television channels like MTV boosted the music industry, benefiting everyone from the artists themselves to the composers who write for TV.
Most people assume TV shows, especially reality TV like The Bachelor and Keeping Up With The Kardashians, only play pop hits and club anthems. But, over the years, we have seen networks give lesser-known artists a chance to impress the world — and many have. In this article, we look at some musicians and bands who were thrust into the spotlight after featuring on TV soundtracks.
Phantom Planet (The O.C.)
Phantom Planet is an American rock band formed in 1994 in Los Angeles. Phantom Planet saw mild success in its early years, eventually capturing the attention of Charlotte Froom, the daughter of Mitchell Froom, who brought in Pearl Jam producer Tchad Blake to work with the band. However, Phantom Planet didn’t witness global commercial success until 2003, when the band’s song “California” was selected as the theme song for Fox Network’s hit series The O.C.
The O.C. ran from 2003 to 2007, and according to ScreenRant’s article on the show holding up 20 years later, The O.C. instantly became a pop culture phenomenon. The show has been broadcast in over 50 countries worldwide and catapulted not only its young stars to fame but also Phantom Planet. The band’s song ‘California’ was released on their second studio album ‘The Guest’ in 2002, and its inclusion on The O.C. led the band to reissue the record in 2003 with a new cover and bonus tracks. This reissue helped the band grow their fan base even more.
Hana Lili (Love Island)
Hana Lili is an up-and-coming singer-songwriter from South Wales. In August 2021, the hit ITV show Love Island featured her song ‘Stay’ in an episode. This is significant because Love Island reaches around two million viewers every night in the UK. Not only this, but according to ExpressVPN’s article on the hit reality TV show, spin-offs in the United States, Italy, Australia, and Canada are equally as popular with international audiences. Evidently, the show has gained footing globally. Love Island began a new season on June 6th, 2022, in the UK, and unlike The O.C., it is a reality competition show.
However, like Phantom Planet, Hana Lili has been busy at work since Love Island gave her a new round of exposure through the show. The Welsh singer-songwriter released her new single Burden in 2022 on top of her 2021 EP called Flowers Die In The Summer. In the past, Love Island has featured many budding artists on the show, giving them a bigger platform to reach new audiences, including Scottish singer Tom Walker. Walker rose to fame in 2018/2019 and he is now a household name in UK music.
M83 (Made in Chelsea)
Like Phantom Planet, the French electronic group M83 was formed in the 1990s. The band released five studio albums before they rose to even more fame in 2011 in the UK after the reality TV show Made in Chelsea selected their song ‘Midnight City’ as its theme song. The song peaked at number 34 on the UK Singles Chart and was later used during the BBC’s London 2012 Olympic Games coverage.
According to The Guardian’s article on how TV can launch music careers, Andrea Madden, the music supervisor for Made in Chelsea, believes the show was one of the first to do something different in reality TV. She said they wanted to use new bands and music people hadn’t heard before to achieve this goal.
When Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ soared back up the charts after Netflix’s Stranger Things featured the song in the show’s fourth season, we were reminded again of how much influence television can have on a musician’s career. We saw it in the early 2000s with Phantom Planet’s ‘California’ and again with Hana Lili’s ‘Stay’ in 2021. It’s a reminder that everything in entertainment is connected, which explains why social media platforms like TikTok are starting to have the same power and influence as TV.