The music of ‘Halt And Catch Fire’

Photo: AMC / Vox Media

I spent the entire week watching all the seasons of AMC’s ‘Halt And Catch Fire’, leading up to its series finale. Inspired by the fact its killer soundtrack “almost entirely comes from The 120 Minutes Archive”, as a friend put it, I’ve compiled the official Spotify playlists from the show here—it’s time for a trip.

Over the years

In just four seasons, ‘Halt And Catch Fire’ spans over a decade of time, from the personal computer revolution of the early 1980s to the rise of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s. The show’s timeline has made it feel like a kindred spirit to my own ‘120 Minutes’ project. Its first two seasons are representative of the initial foray into the underground by the MTV generation:

The third season of the show bridges the gap between the decades of the ’80s and ’90s, jumping from 1986 to 1990 by the season’s end, taking with it some of the most memorable bands of the college rock era:

By the fourth and final season, we’ve hit prime time. An emotional scene set to “Doll Parts” by Hole makes it clear that the show has settled firmly in the crucial and unforgettable “alternative” era of 1993 and 1994:

There’s more: AMC has several other ‘Halt And Catch Fire’ playlists on Spotify.

Halt and catch up

If you haven’t watched ‘Halt And Catch Fire’, I can’t recommend it enough, even though you might want to take it in at a slower pace than my admittedly frantic campaign to catch up prior to the series finale.

Aside from being an impressively well-written and executed period drama that succeeded in the impossible challenge for AMC to follow ‘Mad Men’, the series managed to fire on all cylinders for me by integrating an uncompromising, deep passion for and high-level knowledge of music and tech. It’s rare for a show to get either of these things right, but ‘Halt And Catch Fire’ did both.

It’s no surprise that I care a lot about the music on the fringes that shaped an entire generation and the technology that was ahead of its time in connecting the world. My only surprise is that I didn’t watch this show sooner—but I’m glad I was able to experience it in time to see it off.

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