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Musical choices in The Vampire Diaries

Warning: Spoilers.

I’ve been consistently impressed with the musical choices made in CW’s The Vampire Diaries.

S1.E10: The Turning Point
S1.E10: The Turning Point

Plumb’s “Cut” underscores a very tender “first time” between Elena and Stefan. As recklessly emo as that song is, it’s the perfect pairing for a scene where so much is being risked for acceptance:

I’m not a stranger / No, I am yours. (…) Relief exists, I find it when I am cut.*

Contrast that with Blue Foundation’s “Eyes on Fire”—to the tune of which Elena and Damon finally kick open the release valve for all of us:

I’ll seek you out, Flay you alive / One more word and you won’t survive / And I’m not scared of your stolen power.

This after whole seasons of conflicted push-pull between the two of them. That tension found its own musical expression in The Civil Wars’ “Poison and Wine”:

I don’t love you but I always will.

Birdy’s “Skinny Love” was another fine choice as Elena embarks on an unusually harrowing transition:

Come on, skinny love, just last the year.

All these musical allocations were brilliant. But most brilliant of all is the application of music so familiar we’re almost deaf to it. The juxtaposition of vanilla holiday music and the violence of a maligned Klaus wrap up the latest episode immaculately.

S4.E9 O Come, All Ye Faithful
S4.E9 O Come, All Ye Faithful

Klaus, dripping the blood of the felled hybrids he created, drowns Tyler’s mother in a fountain in the town square. We see her face from under the water’s surface. As her expression melts from panic to lifelessness, we hear the penultimate refrain of the Christmas music that has been playing throughout the scene:

Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow.**

*”Cut” ends up fitting more than the mood of this single scene. While we aren’t aware of it at this point in the series, Stefan’s history and near future reflect the extremes and the self-injury expressed in this song. If he weren’t already a vampire, Stefan would totally be a cutter.

** These are the original lyrics. They were later replaced with “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough” upon request from Frank Sinatra to “jolly it up.”