SPOILER ALERT: This piece contains spoilers for the first three episodes of Season 1 of “Pam and Tommy” which premiered February 2 on Hulu.
If you think the needle is falling in Hulu’s original series ‘Pam & Tommy’ – based on the steamy real-life story of ‘Baywatch’ daughter Pamela Anderson and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy’s sex tape Lee-gone-viral-bootlegged-VHS-tape – gonna be all Mötley Crüe songs, you’re gonna get a surprise. There’s not a single note of the iconic group’s heavy discography, which at the time of the 1997 sex tape scandal had seven albums that featured their most memorable songs, many of which would have been a good match for Lily. James and Sebastian Stan- star series.
While reps for the band and Hulu didn’t immediately respond to requests for an official reason why no Crüe music is appearing on the show (which usually means the rights holder has refused to give permission). , for a number of possible reasons), the series’ many needle-drops underline or cover nearly every scene veer toward classic soul and jazz, with occasional forays into the ’90s. These nose-snap picks are predictable in their lyrics, practically recounting the scenes of which they are the soundtrack. Of course, Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” plays while driving on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu; Inez and Charlie Foxx’s “You Are the Man” is the obvious choice when Pam sends Tommy a drink in the club. And what better song than “Right Kind of Girl” by Lloyd Price when you invite the girl of your dreams to dinner?
What’s interesting about these selections are their varied styles and the unexpected eras they hail from, as well as how the obscure choices outweigh the obvious ones. Pro Tip: Have Shazam ready to capture when watching the series. Here are the best needle drops from each of the first three episodes of “Pam & Tommy,” which premiered on February 2.
Episode 1: “Drilling and Hammering”
The 60s queen of pop, the upbeat and sassy 1967 version of Dusty Springfield’s “Sunny” plays during a childhood flashback for Rand, contractor Lee refused to pay, and who later returned home. Lee to steal his safe – which, unbeknownst to Rand, was also holding the sex tape. In this traumatic scene, a young Rand is snatched from his electric car by his abusive father, stuffed with Bubble Up soda and generic potato chips, and thrown in front of the television while dad entertains the ladies. The bright lyrics of “Sunny” stand in stark contrast to the darkness of these moments, though Dusty’s rendition is laced with sadness.
Nine inch nails
As Rand plots his revenge on Lee, “Closer,” the 1994 hit from Nine Inch Nails (hmmm….) tells of his intentions. The song’s eerie beats play over Rand’s trip to the hardware store to get supplies to spray paint his van to write notes in his ‘karma’ notebook to inspect Tommy’s property as Trent Reznor rumbles, ” You let me rape you / You let me profane you / You let me penetrate you / You let me complicate you. And then, “I broke my insides / I got no soul to sell / Help me get away from myself.” And finally, the real intention…
“Movin’ On Up”
As soon as Rand is able to open the safe with a giant power saw and the door falls down, this timeless number from Primal Scream’s 1991 masterpiece “Screamadelica” kicks in. It picks up the scenes in slow motion from transporting Rand, buying him tons of booze at the liquor store, to dumping the loot in a pawnshop. “My light is on,” The Scream’s Bobby Gillespie keeps repeating until Rand’s foot accidentally hits the fateful High-8 tape next to his couch.
Episode 2: “I Love You, Tommy”
“The Hurdy-Gurdy Man”
This episode is all about Pam and Tommy’s first meeting and their whirlwind four-day “dating”, which took place mostly in clubs with heavy booze and hotel suites, with occasional drugs. Donovan’s 1968 “Hurdy Gurdy Man” is an unlikely choice as Pam and Tommy are in the tub “exploring” each other, a television in the wall to one side, a miniature replica of the David of Michelangelo on the other. Representative of Tommy, perhaps? Donovan tweets, “That was the Hurdy Gurdy Man/Cam singing love songs then,” while viewers get way too close shots of Pam and Tommy touching faces.
“It’s my style”
Peggy Lee’s big band jazz and 1964 swing “That’s My Style” is the perfect high-energy song for Pam and Tommy’s wedding night, playing like soft porn throughout the hotel suite : naked pillow fights, sex in the aforementioned tub against the TV, on the sofa with strawberries and cream, on the bar with champagne – which pops up when they do.
“True Wild Child (Wild One)”
Iggy Pop’s guttural voice welcomes Pam and Tommy back to Los Angeles International Airport with 1986’s “Real Wild Child (Wild One)” where paparazzi and press crews await. Their last moments of marital bliss are on the descending escalator before Iggy begins to narrate “Well I just got out of school / Like I’m really, really cool / Gotta dance like a fool /I got the message that I gotta be /A savage,” and Tommy starts pushing cameras and turning everyone around before he and Pam drive off in their getaway car.
Episode 3: “Jane Fonda”
This episode is mostly Rand trying to find a way to distribute Pam and Tommy’s sex tape. The big belt of James Bond theme songs, Dame Shirley follows Rand and “Uncle Miltie” (a sleazy Nick Offerman) as they make their rounds of video companies, who turn them down one after another when they realize that these two yahoos don’t have the star releases of their sex tape. “What goes up must come down,” she says as these two literally spin their wheels trying to get caught by someone with their stolen tape.
“What’s It Gonna Be”
Dusty returns once funding is secured from Butchie (played by a priceless Andrew Dice Clay), the mobster who funded “Deep Throat”, and the tape’s online business is underway with Rand cutting out photos of Anderson in magazines and using them for the cover image and setting up, essentially, a porn site for selling tapes. “What’s it gonna be?” her flawless voice sings from 1967, “Tell me please / Is it really me?” Her feelings match Rand’s, who pinches himself because this is actually happening.
“Create your own style of music”
Mama Cass duplicates 1969’s ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music’ – which was used to very different effects in the 2020 Cate Blanchett with ‘Mrs. America” on the Equal Rights Amendment – as her powerful voice sings across two stages. Rand and Uncle Miltie check out the secret wall of VCRs in the back of a dry cleaner that will dub their sex tape. At the same time, Pam is waiting for a home pregnancy test to tell her if she is pregnant. Just as Pam shares the good news with a Tommy so happy he cries, the numbers on the VCRs count the milliseconds and Cass shouts, “But you gotta make your own kind of music / Sing your own special song / Even if no one else sings.