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9 Songs that Would Make Better TV Shows than John Mayer's "Heart of Life"

The Heart of Life is good and all, but maybe just not for TV

ABC has announced a new TV show inspired by—and named after—the John Mayer song "The Heart of Life," from the 2006 album Continuum.

Written by Ben Queen (Cars 2 and 3) and unleashed upon us by executive producer Melvin Mar (a close friend of Mayer), the show is about two siblings from different worlds who discover they're related and have to reckon with their father's sordid legacy—so basically Parent Trap for adults.

Image via ABC News

It's not entirely clear how the song "The Heart of Life" is related to the show's plot. The track features some electric guitar ear candy and the admittedly poignant sentiment, "Pain throws your heart to the ground / love turns the whole thing around / no it won't all go the way it should / but I know the heart of life is good," but doesn't mention anything in particular about brothers, fathers, or daughters, unlike other Mayer tracks we know.

The Heart of Life - John Mayer www.youtube.com

As we wait with bated breath for more information on the pilot of "The Heart of Life," here are nine songs that would have made better TV shows than this thematically ambiguous track, seemingly plucked at random from the sides of a tween girl's Converse in the mid-2000s. The simulation broke a long time ago, and here we are.

  1. Mr. Tambourine Man — Bob Dylan

BOB DYLAN - Mr Tambourine Man www.youtube.com

Really, a John Mayer song is getting a TV series before Dylan? This song contains some of the greatest poetry ever written by everyone's favorite Nobel Prize-shunning folk virtuoso. Mr. Tambourine Man could be an incredible travel show about an enigmatic tour guide—known only as the eponymous Tambourine Man—who invites constituents onto his magic swirlin' ship to take physical but also spiritually illuminating trips throughout the smoke rings of their mind to some of the world's most epic and exclusive windy beaches, helping everyone forget about today until tomorrow.

2. Kendrick Lamar — DAMN.

Kendrick Lamar - DNA. www.youtube.com

The Pulitzer-Prize winning album should be a series, with episodes named after each song. The album tells a nuanced, time-bending story about chance, fame, love, and violence, and with its razor-sharp societal critiques layered over iconic hooks, it seems to be crying out for visual and narrative scope. The second season could play the first's story in reverse, revealing new aspects of the journey of the show's complicated protagonist Duckie, an ascendant rap star who narrowly avoids death—or does he?—revealing new storylines and easter eggs embedded in the first season all the while. Sounds impossible, but Lamar did it sonically; TV's best minds, where are you?

3. OutKast — Hey Ya

OutKast - Hey Ya! (Video) www.youtube.com

A master class in thematic complexity, this song is one of the saddest club bangers in history. Just listen to the lyrics; "Why oh, why oh / Are we so in denial? / When you know we're not happy here," sings André, making this song the perfect inspiration for a TV documentary about the way that social media allows us to project joyfully funkadelic exteriors while hiding the messiness and complexities of our real lives behind filters.

Plus, this song contains one of the best puns in history. "What's cooler than cool? Ice cold!" could somehow be an epic rallying cry for the polar vortex era.

4. Ariana Grande — thank u, next

Ariana Grande - thank u, next www.youtube.com

This song just needs to be the title of a dating show, preferably one about Pete Davidson and his relationship with the Internet, or Ariana and her tattoo artists. Seriously, the world just needs a button emblazoned with the song's title which, when pressed, sends rejected applicants off the island. Other option: this show could be about female prosecutors finding perpetrators of sexual abuse and totally destroying their careers on live TV; in this one the button could send its victims spiraling down a pit straight to prison. Netflix, are you listening?

5. Eminem — Stan

Eminem - Stan (Long Version) ft. Dido www.youtube.com

Not only does this Eminem-Dido collab tell one of modern music's most nuanced and disturbing stories; its title has also become a meme, with stanning implying an overly passionate obsession with a famous person. This show could follow around the world's most erratic stans as they try to befriend and ultimately stalk their celebrity idols, breaking into their houses, and sometimes killing their significant others.

6. Radiohead — I Will

Radiohead I will www.youtube.com

This epically apocalyptic song from Hail to the Thief allegedly stemmed from Thom Yorke's obsession with the Gulf War, but it seems like a relevant theme song for a post-apocalyptic drama about a couple stuck in a bunker / underground—a pregnant woman and her lover who become determined to take down the vaguely Trumpian overlord in a world ravaged by nuclear war. Alternatively, it could inspire a Black Mirror episode about a world in which androids reach the singularity and take over the human world so people have to hide in a bunker underground, only to later realize that they themselves are robots; the series already used Radiohead's Exit Music for one of its ending sequences, so it's high time for this eerie masterpiece to have its time in the spotlight.

7. The Killers — When You Were Young

The Killers - When You Were Young (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

Hear this out: the line "He doesn't look a thing like Jesus / but he talks like a gentleman" is simply begging for a TV show about people who have spiritual awakenings and realize that their gods look absolutely nothing like the ones they were told to believe in as children. Gorgeous shots of the show's stars "burning down the highway skyline" as they drive away from everything they've ever known to start cults in the desert could alternate with moving flashbacks to childhoods spent in Bible school, gazing out the window and dreaming of Satanic escapades. (Alternatively the Mountain Goats song The Greatest Ever Death Metal Band in West Denton would work very well for the same plot).

8. Mitski — Be the Cowboy

Mitski - Geyser (Official Video) www.youtube.com

Mitski's album topped many 2018 end-of-year lists and brought the indie musician tons of mainstream accolades. Now Be the Cowboy, an album about taking life by the reins and living with the confidence of your average white man regardless of one's actual race and/or gender, needs to become a TV reimagining of Western films starring a non-white, non-male lead who rides around on their motorcycle confiscating guns, preaching intersectional feminism, and saving the environment; all in all being the hero 2018 America does not deserve but desperately needs.

9. Nina Simone — Four Women

Nina Simone Four Women www.youtube.com

This one writes itself. Nina Simone's story about four unique women would be the perfect narrative for a series about Sarah, Saffronia, Sweet Thing, and Peaches, each of whom suffers in various ways because of the color of their skin. This song has already inspired a play, but it's so rich with meaning and relevance that it definitely deserves its day onscreen—at least before another vaguely heartwarming but long-extinct John Mayer track gets revived from its resting place in the depths of irrelevance by the guy who co-wrote the screenplay for Pixar's Cars.


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City.


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