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by Jason Gubbels

July 6, 2014

Music From 'Orange Is the New Black'

by Jason Gubbels  |  July 6, 2014

Season Two of Netflix's Orange Is the New Black has been available for streaming since early June 2014, which means many of the more enthusiastic followers of the hit series have already marathon-watched all 13 episodes, perhaps more than once. For those who haven't yet made it all the way to the final credits ("We Have Manners. We're Polite"), don't worry, we won't be spoiling any major plot points. Our purpose in this playlist is to showcase the consistently creative use of music that has helped enliven Jenji Kohan's pop culture sensation.

Musically, Orange Is the New Black differs from, say, Mad Men -- the point isn't to fill the television screen with wall-to-wall period verisimilitude. Nor are the musical choices always meant to be obvious emotional cues or plot-device hints, although there is a bit of that: In Episode 9 of Season Two, lead character Piper Chapman drains a 40 while on furlough to the rueful faux-gospel strains of Tom Waits' 1999 "Come On Up to the House."

What the series excels at is employing tunes to coax sloppy grins from committed viewers: Season Two finds the Lilith Fair-loving Brook Soso belting out the chorus to Meredith Brooks' 1997 hit "Bitch," while another episode finds lovelorn Lorna Morello emotionally singing along with 1984 schlock classic "Almost Paradise (Love Theme from Footloose)." And the show seems to delight in tracking down obscurities and quirky one-offs to accompany each episode's end credits: bands like Little Foot Long Foot, Club 8 and Plain White T's have all received the honor.

Some of those end credit choices have been so difficult to identify, in fact, that forums have sprung up online with the express purpose of putting names to numbers (watch for subject lines opening with queries like "What's the song at the end of 'Tall Men with Feelings' that goes …."). We can't claim to have tracked down every song used in both seasons. But any serious fan of the show will recognize most of the songs in our playlist, from Andrew Bird's "Pulaski at Night" (Season Two opener, as a confused Piper sees the Chicago skyline from her airplane seat) to Regina Spektor's "You've Got Time," which kicks off every single episode with style.

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