Gossip Girl: Alexandra Patsavas

Music supervisor soundtracked my life and yours too

Alexandra Patsavas
Alexandra Patsavas

What do Gossip Girl, The O.C., Mad Men, and Grey’s Anatomy have in common? Aside from sucking away weeks from the lives of their cult-like followers, they’ve all been guided by music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas.

When I was growing up, The O.C. soundtrack, which went on sale after each season ended, was the easiest way to discover new music in a town where the only radio station you could tune in clearly was Top 40 country.

It introduced the Eels, Matt Pond PA, Pinback – bands that scripted many troubled teenage years just as they had for the Californian lushes on FOX each week. With inescapable mega-hits like Phantom Planet’s “California,” Patsavas soundtracked my life, and yours, too.

The music supervisor wrapped up the sixth and final season of CW’s Gossip Girl on Dec. 17. Like The O.C., its Upper East Side chronicles had a subsequent soundtrack released alongside the season finale. The show had begun directing attention to the music, providing a comprehensive list of each episode’s songs on the network website and pushing iTunes sales.

Patsavas became so successful in her supervision that Chop Shop Records was born from her company of the same name. Chop Shop’s small roster comes handpicked by Patsavas, bred for projects she takes on. She’s released soundtracks for each movie in the Twilight series, which she also supervised for her label.

Patsavas’ mark on the music industry goes beyond 25-minute episodes. For shows with such loyal fan bases, the music becomes instrumental to the storyline. They recall season climaxes and poignant resolutions – something that fans will listen to beyond the shows. Snow Patrol owes much of the success of single “Chasing Cars” to the tune’s appearance on Grey’s Anatomy.

What makes her playlists standout is their accessibility. HBO has long been known for impeccable and epic music scripting for original programming, but only to people with cable. (And okay, DVD players.) Patsavas has mostly supervised music for basic cable channels, but success breeds mainstream exposure.

The prequel to HBO’s third-wave feminism behemoth Sex in the City, The Carrie Diaries, premieres on the CW Monday, Jan. 14, with Patsavas on board. While skeptics are unsure that an Eighties Carrie Bradshaw will make for great television, its music will undoubtedly make it worth a shot.

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Alexandra Patsavas, The O.C., Grey’s Anatomy, Sex in the City, The Carrie Chronicles, Gossip Girl, Eels, Matt Pond PA, Pinback, Phantom Planet, Chop Shop Records, HBO

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