Not many shows can say they’re responsible for the popularity of certain musicians, but Grey’s Anatomy is among those programs that have featured songs on a Thursday night that instantly blow up on the charts on a Friday. Alex Patsavas, the show’s longtime music supervisor, is also responsible for the tunes on shows like The O.C., and her keen ear has created many a Grey’s Anatomy musical moment.
The music on Grey’s Anatomy is almost like another character. In a post on Shondaland, Patsavas wrote of her songs, “Shonda wanted the songs to tie scenes together, and to act as a score. She didn't just want short bursts of sound: She wanted music with purpose. This directive gave me an opportunity to look under every musical rock and stretch my choices into both the emotional and the sassy.”
15 seasons songs, there are myriad songs from Grey’s Anatomy worth listening to again. Some are meh (the Grey’s musical episode comes to mind), and some are still amazing. Grey’s Anatomy created the soundtrack for many mix tapes from 2005 to today (do people still make mixes for their friends? I’m old), so let’s revisit some of the most memorable musical moments of Grey’s Anatomy.
1. “Chasing Cars” By Snow Patrol for Denny's Death
After all that fuss and LVAD-cutting, Denny dies of a probable stroke, and no one is around to see it — especially not Izzy. She lays in bed with his body, and Alex has to carry her out. And this song plays. It’s basically the unofficial theme song of Grey’s Anatomy, and anyone who is a longtime fan of the show will remember the first time they heard it, because they use it for major emotional moments all the time, like for Derek's death scene.
2. "Chasing Cars" By Snow Patrol For Derek's Death
I mean, they use this song all the time for major heartbreaking moments. But Derek's death might have been the roughest, aside from that tearjerking scene with Izzy.
23. “Grace” By Kate Havenik For *That* Sex Scene
Derek and Meredith have a good thing going in Season 1 until he, oh, forgot to tell her he was married. In Season 2, Meredith starts dating Finn the veterinarian, and Derek is back with Addison. It’s the prom (long story), and Derek and Meredith sneak away to fight and have sex in an exam room. Later, Callie will walk in on them and it’s a whole thing. Grey’s could have chosen a more bow-chicka-wow tune to highlight Der and Mer’s momentary carnal reunion, but this dreamy, breathy song makes the moment so much more important and intimate.
4. "The Story" By Brandi Carlile During The Musical
No Grey's Anatomy music moment would be complete with Sara Ramirez's beautiful cover of "The Story" in the musical episode.
5. “In My Veins” By Andrew Bell For Bailey's Toughest Moment
Oh, Grey’s. How you destroy. This song was featured in the gunman episode in Season 6, when Dr. Charles Percy, who has been shot, asks Bailey if he’s going to die. She has to tell him yes, and I can’t even get through writing about the scene without crying. Poor Percy.
6. “How We Operate” By Gomez & The Whole Cast
You can tell me otherwise, but it’s clear the Grey’s Anatomy musical episode was formulated only so Tony-winner Sara Ramirez could have a place to show off her pipes. She is spectacular in this episode. But the group songs, including this one, are terrible. It’s brave that all of the cast members got in on this, but maybe next time we just have the people who can sing do so. This song was used before on Grey’s, but this is the version that sticks out.
7. “How To Save A Life” By The Fray For The Interns
It’s surprising that this song didn’t appear in Grey’s Anatomy until the end of the second season in the episode where the interns are convinced more people will die (the threes and sevens rule), since it feels so engrained with the show. It goes right along with Derek’s “It’s a beautiful day to save lives” refrain.
8. “Where Does The Good Go” By Tegan And Sara For That Goodbye
Meredith and Cristina had some ups and downs, but at their core, they were each other’s people. That’s why a scene of the two of them dancing it out just as Cristina was about to leave for Switzerland was so effective — it boiled down to this relationship between the two women. Double points for Cristina’s poignant reminder that she is “the sun," or to stop letting Derek overshadow her because she's a brilliant surgeon. This is a bittersweet moment.
9. “Off I Go” By Greg Laswell For George's Farewell
Another goodbye song, but this time, we didn’t know that we were really saying goodbye. In Season 5, George went off to join the Army but ended up getting hit by a truck and dying (his writing “007” in Meredith’s hand to tell her it was him? Kill me). George’s fate was uncertain at the beginning of the episode, but once we saw him in a uniform and in that elevator with Izzy and the song is playing... oh man. Get the tissues.
Admit it — after reading through these songs, you're ready for a rewatch. Or to make your own Grey's Anatomy playlist.