The bond between Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) isn’t the only strong marriage in FX’s The Americans. The show’s sacred matrimony of sound and screen has also been quite enviable, and that’s due to the exceptional work of P.J. Bloom. For five straight seasons, the veteran music supervisor of past hits like The Shield and Nip/Tuck has layered Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields’ outstanding and underrated cold war drama with some of the greatest pop music of all time.
“The thing about The Americans and what Joe and Joel have managed to create is that it’s this incredible time capsule,” Bloom told The A.V. Club in 2016. “All aspects of the show are so completely rooted in our early 1980s time period. It’s in the music and the sets. It’s in the wardrobe and the props. You could really be watching a television show in 1982 or 1983, or be walking down the street during that time, and be seeing and experiencing the same thing our audience is experiencing.”
Much like Michael Mann’s iconic ’80s cop drama Miami Vice, which this show subtly pays homage to with the inclusion of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” at the end of its stellar pilot, music adds an essential depth to the scenes and embellishes so many of the characters’ motives, conflicts, and feelings. Over the years, this has led to some incredibly vivid and elaborate sequences, many of which are memorable solely for its musical inclusions, from the likes of Fleetwood Mac to Peter Gabriel to Yazoo.
Now that the fifth season has come and gone, opening the door for next year’s sixth and final go-around, we’ve decided to reminisce on the show’s greatest musical moments. Because there were so many to choose from, and since there are only 10 slots available, we opted to only include one song per artist, which may (rightfully) drum up some controversy amongst you fans. And since not every scene is on YouTube, you’ll have to use your imagination for some entries, or seek out the scenes yourself via Amazon.
Oh, it also goes without saying: There will be spoilers.