Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Zero 7 Song I Can't Get Out of My Head (Thanks, "Sex and the City"!)

Recently, I've made a few more belated Sex and the City discoveries.

The episodes between the one in which Berger broke up with Carrie on a Post-it ("Hop, Skip, and a Week") and the one called "One," in which she met the Russian artist (whom I hated) played by the Russian dancer (Mikhail Baryshnikov, whom I love), were the best of the entire series.

I'm convinced that the scene in "The Post-it Always Sticks Twice" in which she explained to Berger's friends why it's never a good idea, under any circumstance, to dump someone on a Post-it might be Sarah Jessica Parker's best bit of acting ever. I'm convinced this was the episode that finally won her the Emmy during the show's final season.

Then there was Charlotte's reaction to her miscarriage, Samantha's very realistic reaction to falling for Smith despite her worst intentions, and my reaction to Blair Underwood (ooh la la!). And finally, there was the music: Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now" playing during the gay prom at the end of "Boy, Interrupted," and best of all, Zero 7's "In the Waiting Line" at the end of "The Domino Effect," the one in which Big had heart surgery.

That particular episode certainly had enough great sequences to stand on its own, sans music -- Carrie's crying fits, the shift, imperceptible to anyone but her, that Big's heart had closed again once his health scare had passed -- but it was the song that was playing in the background when she knocked over the dominoes in the closing shot that made the most indelible impression when I saw it last week for the first time in ages.

I thought I'd remembered pretty much everything about this particular Sex and the City episode when it began, and I knew everything to expect, except, oddly enough, Zero 7 on the soundtrack. The 2001 single from the British duo featuring a rotating cast of guest vocalists (Sophie Barker, in the case of "In the Waiting Line," which hit No. 47 in the UK) wouldn't make a huge impression on me until 2004, the year after the SATC episode, when it was used in the film Garden State. After Jean Smart and Peter Sarsgaard's mother-son combo, it was the only thing I liked about that movie.

It's one of those gorgeous singles that should have been a huge hit, but somehow it went over and past the heads of mainstream music fans. The song has a distinctly melancholy air, but there's hope there, too. Every time I hear it, I feel a surge of optimism rising inside me, despite the sad, gauzy music.

I love that a show like Sex and the City dared to dig deeper than the hits for its soundtrack, if for no other reason than this: In the future, whenever I hear "In the Waiting Line," I'll no longer think about Kevin (the guy with whom I saw Garden State) and his dreadful taste in movies (he also dragged me to I Heart Huckabees, which he loved, too), but Carrie, Big and those falling dominoes. What an effect!



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