Roswell is one of those shows where the soundtrack elevated the show to new heights. Roswell not only introduced new and upcoming bands to a teen audience, but also licensed some of the biggest artists of the early 2000s. The music was such a large part of the show’s appeal that when the complete series was released on DVD after its cancellation, showrunner Jason Katims preemptively apologized to super fans for having to replace favorite songs due to prohibitively expensive licensing fees. Since then, many of the original songs were replaced for streaming services. Only those with the foresight to tape the original TV airings on VHS have the scenes with their essential music intact (thank you, YouTube).
Since Roswell‘s soundtrack was as important a character to the show as the aliens themselves, I thought I’d write up my completely subjective and in no particular order list of the best musical moments on Roswell (if your fave didn’t make the list, please know that this was the hardest top five I’ve ever had to write). For a complete list of songs from the show (and one badass early 2000s playlist), head over to Crashdown, which not only has all the original music, but also the songs that replaced them on the DVD release.
“Fear” by Sarah McLachlan (“Pilot”)
It’s the moment that gets “Dreamers” hearts pounding; the moment Max makes the fateful decision to save Liz’s life after she is shot in a robbery at the Crashdown Cafe (and therefore reveals his powers). It increases the tension in the scene, and when Liz gasps back to life as the song crescendos, it feels like it would have been wrong to have any other song in the scene. “Fear” is such a huge part of the scene that it’s one of the few songs that made the jump from TV to DVD. It is an unforgettable scene, and “Fear” plays a huge role in its longevity.
“Here With Me” by Dido (series theme song; appears in “Destiny”)
This is a song so iconic that reboot Roswell, NM paid tribute to it. “Here With Me” is forever linked to Roswell. The first four chords instantly transport me to the show and gives the series its slightly eerie, sci-fi tone. The song was also used in the season one finale, where Liz makes the choice to leave Max. It’s a moment that had viewers screaming at the screen in frustration, and the song is a major part in creating the mood for the scene. An acoustic version of the track (performed by Daniel Blake) appears in season one, episode 10 of Roswell, NM when Liz visits her sister’s grave.
“Crash Into Me” by Dave Matthews Band (“Pilot”)
After saving Liz’s life, both Max and Liz struggle with the new feelings they have for one another (and, you know, the whole “one of us is an alien” thing). Liz wants to push forward with their love, but Max is worried about putting her in danger. When they meet again at a festival marking the 1947 Roswell crash at the end of the episode, Liz finally thanks Max for saving her life. He insists they can’t be together, but the chemistry between them (and the literal firecrackers around them) say otherwise. “Crash Into Me” plays as the two talk, and like “Fear,” was such an iconic moment that it made the DVD release.
“Walk On” by U2 (“The Departure”)
The explosive season two finale, “The Departure,” features some huge revelations about the Pod Squad. Tess is revealed to be Alex’s killer, having used him to get back to their home planet. Distraught, Max threatens her life, but restrains himself for the sake of his and Tess’ unborn son. She departs for home alone, leaving the rest of the aliens behind. Max and Liz reconcile, and the shell-shocked group contemplates the future. Underneath all this emotion, U2’s classic song “Walk On” plays. It fits the moment perfectly, and it’s pretty amazing in hindsight that the WB could even afford to license it. With all the uncertainty created by the events of the finale — and when Roswell itself faced potential cancellation yet again before its move to UPN — “Walk On” works as either a season or series ending moment. It also made the DVD release. I still get chills when I hear the song on the radio.
“Sex & Candy” by Marcy Playground (“Sexual Healing”)
For fans of Max and Liz, I need only say this: the strawberries moment. The first season slowly builds to this episode, with the sexual tension between Max and Liz reaching its peak. Liz, daydreaming about Max, accidentally knocks over a basket of strawberries when Maria startles her at the Crashdown. Max appears, looking for Liz, and the two agree to be “just friends” as he helps her clean up the strawberries. However…they start passionately making out as “Sex and Candy” plays, and Liz sees flashes of Max’s past. It’s a great song by a 90’s one-hit-wonder that sets the mood for not only the scene, but the whole episode as Max and Liz realize that their passion for each other generates Max’s memories. It’s also what makes Tess’ arrival one episode later in “Crazy” so shocking. Say “strawberries” to any Roswell fan and they’ll know what you’re talking about — and this song is a big reason why.
Honorable Mentions: “She Cries Your Name” by Beth Orton (“Cry Your Name”), “With You” by Linkin Park (“Meet the Dupes”), “Amy Hit the Atmosphere” by Counting Crows (“Toy House”), “I Shall Believe” by Sheryl Crow (“The End of the World”), “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” by Sarah McLachlan (“Sexual Healing”).
The original Roswell is now streaming on Hulu. The reboot, Roswell, NM, starts its second season on the CW in 2020. The first season is now available on Netflix.
What were some of your favorite musical moments from Roswell? Let us know in the comments!