It didn’t happen often, and when it did happen it was sometime just a cover, but there are, in fact, enough instances of licensed music on X-Files for me to make a list about it. Thank God, otherwise I’d have to write actual transitions and content.
10. “The Hokey Pokey” by Ray Anthony
Episode: Chinga (season 5)
Why did they let Stephen King call his episode Chinga? Was there not one Spanish-speaker in all of Vancouver who could have averted this? In any case, in spoooooky Stephen King fashion, this episode features an accursèd doll who telekinetically inflicts justice on grown-ups who disrespect the little girl who owns her. “The Hokey Pokey” plays on the little girl’s toy record player as the doll forces people to stab their own faces and take hammers to their heads, in a less-effective use of the contrasting soundtrack technique in “Home” (see entry #1).
9. “Bad Boys” by Inner Circle
Episode: X-COPS (season 7)
It’s an episode of Cops starring Mulder and Scully (side note, season 7 was terrible). In keeping with this, the film quality is different, there’s bleeped out swearing, and the aforementioned Cops theme plays at the beginning. Supposedly this was a fitting way to celebrate the 150th episode of this groundbreaking sci-fi program.
Side note: I had to rewatch pieces of this episode just now to get the screen grab and found them playful and enjoyable. Is this age speaking? Is it wine? The world may never know.
8. “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night
Episode: Detour (season 5)
Mulder and Scully get lost in the woods while searching for a camouflage monster that may or may not kill people. That night, Scully offers to keep watch because Mulder is weak from an encounter with the monster. He asks her to sing something so he knows she’s awake, and she gives an off-pitch rendition of this song while holding him in her lap. Such squee, very romance.
7. “The Sky is Broken” by Moby
Episode: all things (season 7)
Gillian Anderson decides Scully needs to be more like her, and so she directs this episode in which Mulder traipses off to Stonehenge while Scully discovers the spiritual connection among all things with the help of local hippie lesbians and a Buddhist temple. On occasion, to mark the points where the universe is giving Scully signals that she pauses to notice, we are treated to this song. My personal favorite is the slow-mo at the end of Mulder pushing Scully’s hair behind her ear after she falls asleep on his couch… but that’s just me.
6. “Bei mir bist du schön” by the Andrews Sisters (maybe?)
Episode: Triangle (season 6)
Mulder is looking for a boat that reappeared after disappearing into the Bermuda triangle 50 years earlier, and in the process he falls into the Bermuda Triangle. He finds himself on the same boat but during WWII, and the characters on board are all reimaginings of his present-day companions (a la Mrs. Gulch –> Witch of the West). Scully and the Lone Gunmen find the ghost ship in present day, and this song plays as they run around the boat looking for Mulder, while Mulder and alt-Scully (an American spy) run away from Germans in 1939.
I put a big ol’ question mark next to the Andrews Sisters because, while this is the most likely recording one would use to set the stage, I’ve been burned before by sound-alike covers used on X-Files soundtracks (see entry #1 again).
5. “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin
Episode: Beyond the Sea (season 1)
Kind of hard to miss the usage of this song as the send-off at Scully’s father’s funeral. Even harder to miss the vision she has of his ghost singing it in the middle of an interrogation of a serial killer on death row.
4. “Come and Go with Me to that Land” by Bernice Johnson Reagon
Episode: The Unnatural (season 6)
The least self-aware of David Duchovny’s three directorial outings, The Unnatural explores the trials and tribulations of an alien in a black man’s body playing baseball in the segregated leagues of 1940s New Mexico. At the end <spoiler alert> our alien friend is assassinated by the Alien Bounty Hunter… but he bleeds red! Guess he became human or something! This song plays. He still dies.
3. “The Things We Do for Love” by 10cc
Episode: Rain King (season 6)
This episode also featured “Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters — because let’s be literal — but the 10cc song greets us at the class reunion prom at the end of the episode, where a man whose unrequited love for his former classmate (Victoria Jackson) was so passionate that his heartbreak brought the rain finally gets the girl. As a bonus tease, we get a cutaway from Mulder and Scully dancing, to a little more plot progression, and back to a shot of a red-head and a tall brown-haired man kissing. HA HA, ‘shippers, IT’S NOT THEM.
2. “Walking in Memphis” by Cher
Episode: Post-Modern Prometheus (season 5)
This episode may or may not actually have been a comic book (the ending is ambiguous), but throughout, we’re in a town that’s being threatened by a monster, who turns out to be the kind-hearted but misunderstood result of a genetic experiment by his scientist father… gone awry! The monster (Mutato) is really into Cher, and the episode ends with Mulder and Scully taking him to a Cher concert, where she (a.k.a. the back of her head) sings this song.
1. “Wonderful, Wonderful” by Johnny Mathis but not really
Episode: Home (season 4)
This lovely song is played every time the murderous inbred protagonists get into their antique car. Therefore we get to hear it during such gems as the time they beat a man and his wife to death with a baseball bat, or when the quadruple-amputee mother gets into the trunk of said car with her lover/son to have sex.
Wikipedia tells me that Johnny Mathis read the script and wouldn’t allow his song to be used in the episode, so they had a sound-alike record it. What is it about this wonderful, wonderful episode that he could have found offensive?