Fox’s latest series, Empire is not only taking the Wednesday night TV-watchers by storm, but also the music industry. Contrary to expectations, program creators, Danny Strong and Lee Daniels, who served as a guest speaker at our campus on Tuesday March 3, have made sure to keep this series all about the music, peppering in the occasional catastrophe to keep viewers on their toes. Perhaps the greatest feat that this directing duo accomplished however would be the ability to capture a musical audience with less than thirty seconds of a hit song at least three times per episode.
The record sales that Empire has successfully recruited on iTunes make them a frontrunner in chart topping hits; rare occasions for a Fox show. The idea of genre-specific industry series started with the show Nashville, which premiered on ABC in 2012 and is in its third season. While Nashville’s music is popular on streaming services such as Spotify, even they have not been fortunate enough to reap the benefit of sales that Empire has yielded in the past few months they’ve been on air.
A song capable of taking your breath away is V Bozeman’s “What is Love.” We first hear this song in the pilot episode of the series and (spoiler alert), again when Bozeman’s reoccurring character of Veronika is auditioning for the Empire label’s major competitor. Bozeman is in a production deal with Timbaland who also serves as the music producer for the show. The young vocalist’s runs and riffs will take you on a journey and I guarantee you’ll forget you’re watching a show on Fox. The emotion that she conveys in this simplistic, vocally based track is sure to bring goose bumps to your arms and tears to your eyes.
Moving in a completely different direction, Yazz and Serayah McNeill are a perfect combination on “Drip Drop,” the show’s most popular track to date. The synth-influenced beat drives a powerful underscore for the kind of lyrics that make you want to dance and McNeill’s vocal purity serves as an element of purity that’s unexpected when the beat first drops.
My personal favorite track has been introduced throughout the entire series thus far, but the version that forced me to rewind the scene over and over again (shout out to my DVR) came from the last episode entitled “Unto the Breach.” Perhaps the most chaotic episode to date, this catchy songs serves as a beautiful resolution towards the end of an episode that seems to yield no optimistic outcomes. “You’re So Beautiful” starts out with Lucious Lyon (Terrance Howard) on the piano accompanied in the first chorus by Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett) and Delphine (Estelle). After Hakeem Lyons’ (Bryshere Y. Gray) verse, fellow Empire artists Tiana Brown (Serayah McNeill) and Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) join their fellow cast mate to create enviable harmonies. You will definitely wear out your repeat button after discovering this track. It is the epitome of the series itself, addictive and musically-driven.