Breaking Bad, people. The series that converted Malcolm in the Middle’s pater from dorky dad to seriously slick operator. So what are the themes there in Breaking Bad if you’ve not been following it (shame on you!)?
Breaking Bad is the American television drama series set and produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico… about as unfashionable place as you can think of- no LA glamour or NY A-listers here. Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer at the beginning of the series. Bummer. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), with the aim of securing his family’s financial future before he dies. How on earth did someone take up a plot like that? Well thank heaven they did!
Bryan Cranston (pic here) said he wanted to turn Walter White from Mr Chips into Scarface. He succeeded. And in case you didn’t know, “breaking bad” means like raising hell. Here are some songs to listen to remind you of this excellent series:
1.Teddy Bear- Elvis Presley
A recurring motif within the second season is the image of a damaged teddy bear and its missing eye. A pink partially sighted Teddy? You know it’s wrong, wrong, wrong! Elvis is the man to tune in to this!
2.You and Your Crystal Meth- Drive By Truckers
Looks like ice-cubes. Just say no. Reminds me of Alex’s favourite books on crystals in the novel “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess (then a film by Stanley Kubrick)- The Miracle of the Snowflake, Elementary Crystallography, and the Rhombohedral System. Think crystal my droogs!
3.Faith Healer- Alex Harvey Band
Poor Walter White has terminal cancer. No cure. Well, no conventional cure- but there is someone who can help. If you let him lay his hands on you. Yep, it’s the faith healer. Believe people, believe. Here Glaswegian Alex Harvey tells you how he can cure Walter White in the song with the best guitar riff ever (plus chorus pedal/phaser). Is your body feeling ill? With the Cryst Meth pill? Come and visit the best doctor- the Faith Healer!
4.That Night – Atmosphere
“That Night” by Atmosphere contains the lyrics “That night, Lord have mercy, the music died that night in Albuquerque”. What music? When? We may never know!
5.Boss of Me- They Might Be Giants
Here we have the band doing the song on TOTP… seems strange without the video we normally see when watching the serial-
6.Split- The Groundhogs
Walter Whites’ son has Cerebral Palsy as does the actor who plays him. A really nasty disease that makes me a confirmed atheist… but how many tunes are there about this illness? Only a handful of happy-clappy Christian ditties that say the affected will have great wisdom in heaven. Yeah. But mental illness is a theme in the series and is real in the world today. For me, I began to relate to it when I heard of the lead guitarist Tony McPhee’s battle with Schizophrenia. Here is him and his band giving it large in Split Part 2.
7. Black Feather- Etienne de silhouette
Not only is Breaking Bad bursting with some of US TV’s best acting, it is accompanied by a top-notch soundtrack that stitches the whole show together. With an array of songs spanning from rock and electronic to hip hop and blues, the show covers nearly all areas of the music spectrum. Here is a couple of them, 7 and 8 in the list.
8. Working For A Nuclear Free City – Dead Fingers Talking
9.Alabama Three- Woke up this Morning
There have been a lot of comparisons between Mr White and Mr Soprano. Personally I think they are miles apart, morally-wise at least. But I have to admit that I liked the Sopranos and the bada-bing that crosses over to Breaking Bad. So here’s a tune we’ll all recognise from the series that sort of launched the US series into doing good stuff as opposed to trailer-trash fodder. Tony Soprano, like Walter, is not a black and white villain. And the bloke who played drums in this outfit and left just before the song was taken up by Sopranos’ producers, now plays in my local pub band. Ah… the twists of fate!
10.Stellios Kazanthisis- Efyges
The best accolade that you can bestow upon any series is that it is up there with the mighty The Wire. Fiver series of pure brilliance. Just to remind you. Here is a song from a man I have met who’s song featured in series two of The Wire and who the producers of B-B say they admire. They may be going through some Euro-shit at the moment, but the cradle of democracy is safe in the hands of the master. Forget Nana Maskouri. This is the best song from The Wire. And what we need more of in Breaking Bad. Maybe.
Watch the Playlist: