Breaking Bad, Daria, Atlanta & More: Top 5 TV Show Soundtracks (Cable)

There are loads of television shows with killer soundtracks – it's hard to narrow it down to five, so this list does not include anime and is limited to basic cable shows – premium show soundtrack rankings are here. In no particular order, here are the top five basic cable TV shows with the best soundtracks- from Daria to Mad Men & more!

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MTV Studios

"Daria": This show is a trick to find with original music intact due to streaming music rights and the show's use of indie and alternative rock tracks, but that's what helps make this such a perfect time capsule of late-90s teen angst. If you're lucky enough to have original versions of the show or old enough to remember the original music, you know how awesome the soundtrack still is decades later.

"Mad Men": A TV show set in the past is an easy mark for a great soundtrack, but Mad Men merges the story with the music so it underscores not only the story but the emotion of a scene perfectly. In addition to being a vintage mid-century nostalgia fest, the music extends this vibe both practically via in-scene music sources like the radio or The Beatles concert, but also in a traditional television sense.

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The Gilmore ladies enjoy one of their many Thanksgiving meals. Source: Warner Bros.

"Gilmore Girls": For a show that makes pop culture references its bread and butter, it's no surprise that the soundtrack is filled with familiar favorites, iconic music moments, and smash songs that perfectly underscore the story. With everything from The Ramones to David Bowie to more current artists like Gwen Stefani. And who could possibly forget Sam Phillips' perfectly fitting soundtrack for the show?

"Breaking Bad": The original score written by Dave Porter is phenomenal, as is the soundtrack proper. The use of a wide variety of musical genres from classical to R&B as well as the infusion of Latin music to fit the New Mexico location ranks this high on the list of best TV soundtracks of all time. Besides, the ending musical sequence is one of the absolute best moments of TV history, full stop.

"Atlanta": Expectations for a show starring Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) to have a killer soundtrack are high, and Atlanta does not disappoint, especially not for a show about up-and-coming rappers in Atlanta. It features Usher, Young Thug, Migos (beyond Stir-Fry) and so many more amazing artists. It's like the television soundtrack equivalent of Hustle and Flow – which is still one of the best film soundtracks of all time.

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About Eden Arnold

Eden enjoys watching baking shows with her cat, and they have lots of opinions about television (as well as movies and everything else). She puts this to good use along with her journalism degree and writing experience with by-lines over the years in newspapers, magazines, books, and online media outlets. You can find her on Twitter and IG at @Edenhasopinions.
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