Whenever I do a rewatch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one thing that always strikes me is the music. From the Emmy winning score to “Hush” to the Bronze’s continual litany of grunge rock, there’s always something to fit the tone of the show. Some songs have given me chills, others have migrated onto my iPod where they live to bring back memories of my favorite episodes.
This Friday, I thought I would share a few of these with you!
Apart from being one of my favourite episodes of the entire show, this song is the perfect vehicle for the nuance of an episode where each character experiences the surreality of death and encounters with people who share unwanted news with them — news that may or may not be true.
In this episode, Buffy runs into a vampire who is a former Sunnydale High classmate, and she has to dredge up the memory of someone who didn’t feature largely in her life as the Slayer. In addition to him being a former student, he’s also a psychology student who helps her work through some issues before the inevitable conclusion of their meeting. Dawn is alone at home and goes through a traumatic paranormal experience, and Willow sees one of Dawn’s dead classmates who pretends to have a message from Tara. It’s one of the creepier episodes of the show that highlights the loneliness that the main characters feel after the losses of the previous two years.
Rasputina, Transylvanian Concubine
Season 2, Episode 13: Surprise
It’s no small bit of irony that this song plays in the episode following Buffy’s first sexual experience with Angel — a night that leaves him without a soul and sparks the major plot arc of the second season. The song plays while Drusilla and Spike organise a party to reconstruct The Judge, a demon who can literally burn the humanity out of humans and vampires alike. It ties in with Drusilla’s madness and underlies her relationship with Spike as well.
Heather Nova, It’s Only Love
Season 7, Episode 20: Touched
This is the calm before the storm episode, the moment of gathering strength for the protagonists of the show before the final showdown with the First Evil. Buffy has been booted from her home by the Potential Slayers (and her own family, no less), and the others are dealing with the resulting conflicts back at the house.
This song plays as Willow and Kennedy make love for the first time and as Faith and Robin take solace in one another. It also gives voice to one of the biggest developments in Buffy’s relationship with Spike — probably the first real moment of true, unfettered intimacy between them. I can’t hear the song without seeing them looking at one another. Say what you will about them as a couple, but there is real love in that scene.
Sarah McLachlan, Full of Grace
Season 2, Episode 22: Becoming Part 2
Where do I start with this one? By the time this song plays, everything in Buffy’s life has been stripped away. Kicked out of school, rejected by her mother, and having just sent her lover to hell after finally restoring his soul, I don’t know how much lower it could get for her.
Buffy has many dark moments throughout the show, but I think this tops my list.
Imagine you go to your prom stag, knowing your boyfriend is leaving not just you but leaving town, knowing the mayor is trying to eat the entire city, and having just killed a trio of hellhounds. That’s what happened to Buffy — except she got two beautiful surprises. The first was that her classmates presented her with the Class Protector Award, and the second is that said boyfriend showed up in a tux just to dance with her as a goodbye.
Also in that episode is one of my favorite Giles lines ever when he responds to Wesley’s fretting about asking Cordelia to dance with the following: “For God’s sake man. She’s eighteen, and you have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone.”
Cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Walk Through The Fire
Season 6, Episode 7: Once More With Feeling
No discussion of the music of Buffy would be complete without a song from the musical episode. This episode is a turning point in Buffy’s return from the grave where she makes a conscious realisation of her emotional state and acts upon it. Not only that, but the mythology of the episode also makes her revelation known to her friends: that they didn’t pull her out of hell. They pulled her out of heaven. It’s a reflection of life, how sometimes we don’t know where we’re supposed to go next. Any traumatic life event can inspire a sense of listlessness and numbness, and this song is a perfect depiction of that.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Suite from Hush
Season 4, Episode 10: Hush
Talk about a feat. In this episode, Joss created a silent world where the citizens of Sunnydale have lost their ability to speak or even make a noise. He backed up that development with a stunning score that underlines the creep factor of the Gentlemen and the urgency of the episode. With searing strings and cymbals, this score is bound to leave you speechless.
There are so many deliciously amazing songs within this seven year show that I can’t hope to share them all — but I do hope that you’ve enjoyed this little foray into the musical world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Which songs stood out to you when you watched the show? What moments were accentuated by the music behind them?
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