Eric Carmen? Amy Grant? Which Ancient Songs Will Play During The Office’s Finale?

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May 15 2013 12:16 PM

(The Office Had) The Time of Its Life

Which outdated hits will make it into the series finale?

Still from The Office

Photo courtesy of NBC; illustration courtesy of Previously.TV

This article originally appeared on Previously.TV, a brand-new TV commentary and recap site created by Tara Ariano, Sarah D. Bunting, and David T. Cole, the original founders of Television Without Pity. Visit Previously.TV for more.

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While a series like Girls and or even Glee will establish its cred by breaking an act like Icona Pop and fun., The Office makes a point of never being cutting-edge—and I love it. Dunder Mifflinites jam out to Air Supply or Alanis Morissette or that Beyoncé song where the girls shake their hands. Oh, you know the one. Dana Wilcox’s girl used it for her cheerleading routine.

Perhaps counterintuitively, this gives the music on The Office an emotional wallop. That’s partly because the characters punctuate their lives with songs we all know. So when Jim (John Krasinski) asks the documentary crew to give Pam (Jenna Fischer) a video montage of the couple’s happiest moments, as he did last week, they score it with Snow Patrol. Even if we don’t know the particular song (“Open Your Eyes,” in this case), we can recognize the singer’s voice or the general timbre of 2007 adult-oriented rock. Because it’s so mainstream, the music feels universal.

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Plus, as the series creators explained to me for an article I once wrote, the music isn’t coming from some magical soundtrack. To honor the show’s documentary conceit, songs always play from computer speakers or car stereos or other places a person might naturally hear them. That deepens the suggestion that these songs are extensions of the characters themselves, not the post-production whims of a music supervisor. Because we can see the stereo in the background, it seems like Dunder Mifflin, not a faceless L.A. creative, decided “Boogie Wonderland” was the perfect soundtrack for a final dance with Darryl (Craig Robinson.)

This music policy feels honest, because the characters are not teenagers. They’re mostly middle-aged adults who have stopped thinking about new music—who no longer have the voracious appetite you need to sift through 40 shitty bands looking for that one hot song. Like so many people in the actual world, these characters just want a sturdy karaoke hit for Friday night, or maybe a midtempo ditty to get them through the afternoon slump.

On tomorrow night’s series finale, there will clearly be tons of musical moments, and now that I’ve looked into my crystal iPod of baseless predictions, I can tell you exactly what they’ll be. Go ahead and prepare your Kleenex and your funny bone, because once you read this list, you’ll be cry-laughing like a clown at an Adele concert.

• After he gets a part-time job handling finances for a local Dairy Queen, Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) learns he’ll get free Blizzards for life. On his drive home, Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes” comes on the radio, and Kevin weeps for joy, saying his eyes will never be hungry again.

• Andy (Ed Helms) rushes back to the office, making one last play for Erin (Ellie Kemper). He brings his a cappella buddies, and they serenade her with Amy Grant’s “Baby Baby.” Andy realizes too late that giving Erin a pacifier during this serenade was kind of demeaning.

• In an interview segment, Erin says she wishes Pete (Jake Lacy) would make the effort that Andy just made. Then Pete pops in to propose marriage, dropping to one knee while singing “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars. Erin freaks out and starts singing along. It takes her a full chorus to realize Pete is proposing. She was just happy he was being so cool.

• Cleaning out his desk after announcing his retirement, Creed (Creed Bratton) discovers an old GWAR cassette.

• Stanley (Leslie David Baker) comes back to get the Diet Coke he left in the fridge, and finds Meredith (Kate Flannery) covertly filming a raunchy video for her cover version of Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly,” which she recorded at a kiosk at Steamtown Mall.

• During their wedding, Angela (Angela Kinsey) and Dwight (Rainn Wilson) serenade each other with songs that symbolize their love. Angela chooses “Harper Valley P.T.A.” and Dwight hums the instrumental theme from Shogun.

• Weeks after they’ve moved to Philadelphia for an exciting new chapter of their lives, Jim and Pam come back to the Dundler Mifflin building for one last goodbye. They’re having a picnic on the roof when Jim hooks his iPod to tiny speakers. He means to play “I Will Always Love You,” but accidentally plays “Empire State of Mind.” “That’s OK,” Pam says. “Dunder Mifflin kind of is the concrete jungle where our dreams were made of.”

Mark Blankenship edits the theater magazine TDF Stages and helms Meet the Theatre, a series of documentary films about interesting artists.

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