Breaking Bad has broken good for Macca’s favourites
Can ‘Baby Blue’ do for rock veterans Badfinger what ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ did for Journey?
Aaron Paul and Brian Cranston in Breaking Bad
Remember that small-town girl living in a lonely world? She took the midnight train and was joined by the city boy. Their story, as we know, goes on and on and on and on. When our city boy and small-town girl cropped up in a New Jersey diner during the last scene of The Sopranos, they became so famous that they next appeared with those half-human/half-dolls who make up the cast of Glee!.
Having Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ feature at such a critical juncture established a new TV drama convention. When a big show has a big moment, you reach for a song. From Snow Patrol doing their maudlin strumming while someone is on life-support in ER to Paul Weller on The Wire to the spy drama Americans using Peter Gabriel’s Games Without Frontiers very brilliantly indeed, you just can’t have the TV watercooler moment without a song attached.
Get it right and you’ve accomplished the perfect sound and vision moment. The trick here is to make the connection so potent that the next time you hear the song, you’ll only be thinking of the TV show.
Not that the song is a runner-up. Don’t Stop Believin’ became the top selling download in iTunes history after its use on The Sopranos and made the hair rockers richer than Europe. Ba da bing, ba da boom.
So all ears were on the final episode of Breaking Bad to see if they would follow the convention laid down by Don’t Stop Believin’ – and if so, which of the hundreds of thousands of song possibilities out there they would go for.
Happily, they got it just right. The very first line of the song they used is “Guess I got what I deserved”, which boiled down five seasons of action to just six words. And the title Baby Blue neatly sums up Walter White’s love of blue crystal meth.
Within hours of the Breaking Bad finale premiering in the US last Sunday night, streaming of Baby Blue was up a phenomenal 9,000 per cent and the song was rapidly climbing the iTunes chart. Whether it goes on to equal or beat the sales of Don’t Stop Believin’ remains to be seen.
Ironically, the band who wrote and performed the song witnessed the same sort of psychic drama that was portrayed over 62 episodes of Breaking Bad. The Welsh power pop band Badfinger would be ideal candidates for their HBO drama. Badfinger were talented beyond belief – they also wrote the massive global hit Without You, made famous by Harry Nilsson and which Paul McCartney once described as “the most perfect song of all time”.
Badfinger could have and should have been up there with The Kinks and The Who but if they weren’t doing everything wrong off their own back they were having everything wrong done to them. Signed by The Beatles to Apple (run a bunch of middle-class dope-smoking hippies; what could go wrong?), Badfinger had amazing songs. But the farcical mess the Apple label soon descended into – coupled with a crippling business management contract that is still talked about today because it was so one-sided – meant they never got due recognition. But there’s still time.