Scandal/Elizaveta/Meant in NY Post

Why the soundtrack on ‘Scandal’ is more like a character

  • Last Updated: 10:47 AM, March 12, 2013
  • Posted: 11:01 PM, March 11, 2013

Sorry, Simon Cowell. Shonda Rhimes is TV’s new hitmaker.

The creator of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” jump-started the careers of bands like Snow Patrol (“Chasing Cars”) and the Fray (“How To Save a Life”), by using their songs in pivotal scenes.

Rhimes, 43, doesn’t just use songs as backdrops. She has a way of making music come forward — almost like an character in the drama itself.

And it is not lost on her fans. When someone gets played on one of her shows, that someone sells a lot of downloads the next day.

“It is a priceless opportunity because it provides massive exposure,” says singer Elizaveta, whose sultry single “Meant” was used in a popular Oscar-night promo for “Scandal,” Shonda’s pistol-hot political soap.

TUNE UP: Music on Shonda Rhimes’ “Scandal” is more like a character.


TUNE UP: Music on Shonda Rhimes’ “Scandal” is more like a character.

LUCK: Singer Elizaveta on fire.


LUCK: Singer Elizaveta on fire.

Elizaveta — who was born in New York and raised in Russia — says her song was never actually heard on the show — only on the promo. But it was enough to get the indie singer’s music video played 80,000 times in the few days that followed.

“Scandal” relies heavily on old-school, often lesser-known, R&B music.

“There is something, you know, a little funky about the show,” Rhimes tells The Post.

“It feels like a very different take on Washington. So we’ve used a lot of Stevie Wonder and 1970s Staples [Singers].”

The show’s pilot was originally produced using all contemporary songs, Rhimes says.

Song selection is a collaboration between Rhimes and music supervisor Alex Patsavas, who also worked on all nine seasons of “Grey’s.”

“Sometimes I have the songs in my head when I am writing the scenes,” Rhimes says. “Sometimes they pop into my head when I am watching the cut. I always joke that Alex gives me [good] taste.”

Previous episodes of “Scandal” have included Kool & the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie,” James Brown’s “Get on the Good Foot” and the Isley Brother’s “Livin’ in the Life.” But the song’s title or lyrics often have little to do with what is happening onscreen.

“If you need your song to literally tell your story then I would suggest there is something wrong with your story,” Rhimes says.

“I am not just looking for artists I like. I have never bothered to think of that. It is really just about, ‘Is this song right for this scene?’ or ‘What is going to make this scene the most magical?’ ”

In some cases, Rhimes says, the appropriate soundtrack is simply silence.

“The nature of the world we are in requires that there is no music,” she says. “There is no place for there to be music in that world.”