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It doesn’t take a lot of dot-connecting genius to figure why music was a crucial component of “Portlandia,” which recently wrapped its eighth and final season. The host city is a rock town, but more than that, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein came of age in the punk scene, although that was her initial claim to fame and his secret identity. They incorporated so many original songs into the IFC series that you could just about make a claim that it beat “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” through the gate as a major weekly musical-comedy series.
In honor of eight seasons, Variety asked Brownstein (also of Sleater-Kinney fame) and Armisen to weigh in with four highlights each from their show’s substantial library of original tuneage. Some of the duo’s choices involved famous guest stars from the music world (Henry Rollins, k.d. lang) or fellow cast members (famously, Kyle McLachlan), and in some cases, Armisen chose tunes primarily written by the other partner. Their picks:
BROWNSTEIN - Beat - Sketch - Mayor - Love
BROWNSTEIN: The final beat of that wrap-around sketch was that the mayor would sing a love song to the city. We had the music. We didn’t really have the lyrics. And a lot of things we do on the show, especially early on — and that was in the second season — are improvised. Kyle listened to the song before we shot, and wrote down some very silly lyrics that sort of evoked like a Tom Jones kind of character. It was very strange and surreal. He was nervous. He took it seriously, which I love. Kyle always relishes the opportunity to demonstrate I think his breadth as an improviser, and also has eccentricities that I think obviously were mined early on and fomented by David Lynch, but it really is part of who he is. He’s so sophisticated, and then...
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