There are so many legendary aspects of The Sopranos that it’s hard to pick just one. Between masterful storytelling, deep character development, and uncanny acting, everything comes together to create a show that has been enjoyed for over two decades now. The most artistic aspect of the package, however, may just be the use of music, specifically the unique songs curated personally by creator David Chase that run during each episode’s end credits.
Ranging from oldies, foreign ballads, jazz compositions, and pure instrumentals, the variety is stunning and can keep you exploring the track list of the series for days. We’ve decided to narrow all of the end credit songs down to the best 15 in the series, listed in chronological order of airing. Enjoy!
Season 1 Episode 4: Meadowlands
“Look on Down from the Bridge” by Mazzy Star
The nice father-son moment between Tony and A.J. at the closing of this episode is accompanied by this beautiful track from Mazzy Star. A.J. sees his dad in a whole new light after Meadow tells him that he’s in the mafia, but a simple smile and wink from Tony reassures the youngest Soprano child that he certainly will still “look on down from the bridge” and see his family as the only priority in his life, no matter what criminal occupation he tries to hide on a daily basis.
Season 1 Episode 7: Down Neck
“White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane
This one follows the pattern of the show choosing to play a song earlier in an episode and then again during the final scene and credits. The Jefferson Airplane hit refers to drug use and being intoxicated, therefore changing as a person in the process. The song plays when Tony is taking prozac mid-episode and during the final scene in which Tony and A.J share an ice cream sundae and some whip cream together. No matter how much the therapy and the meds try to alter Tony’s life, he’ll remain the same man: a depressed mobster and a father who softens for his children.
Season 2 Episode 10: Bust Out
“Wheel in the Sky” by Journey
If you haven’t noticed by the time you’re done watching the show, The Sopranos loves to point out how trapped all of the characters are in the lifestyles they have either chosen or been forced into. Tony has betrayal surrounding him at every corner at the end of the second season: Richie and Janice plotting his removal, Carmela falling for a painter who is working in the family home, and Pussy’s FBI informancy reaching a climax. Still, the “wheel in the sky keeps on turning”. Tony finishes the episode having some fun with A.J. on the Stugotz, and he doesn’t “know where he’ll be tomorrow” but he’ll enjoy the time he has in the present.
Season 2 Episode 12: The Knight in White Satin Armor
“I Saved the World Today” by the Eurythmics
Tony returns home after disposing of Richie Aprile’s body because Janice shot him to death over a domestic dispute. After informing Carmela of the night’s bloody events, she quickly moves on to the list of chores and homemaker responsibilities she is going to lay at Tony’s feet for the next week while she goes on vacation with Ro Aprile. This apt song from the Eurythmics exemplifies everything Tony has to be in the lives of friends and family around him: always there to save the world for them.
Season 3 Episode 4: Employee of the Month
“Fisherman’s Daughter” by Daniel Lanois
This Dr. Melfi-centric episode is one of the most deservedly acclaimed hours in the drama’s history. When the final scene gives her a chance to let Tony loose on the monster who assaulted her, she powerfully takes the moral route and declines his services. The camera pans to black solemnly with this haunting instrumental track by Daniel Lanois, a perfect backdrop to allow the audience to ponder everything that just happened and why Melfi was able to maintain strength that so many others wouldn’t have mustered. Anything with singing would have detracted from the environment the writers were trying to create, so this is a great song choice.
Season 3 Episode 12: Amour Fou
“Affection” by Little Steven and the Lost Boys
The penultimate episode of the third season features the climax of the relationship between Tony and Gloria, in which the crazy affection that they have for one another boils over into violence. Yet another of the brilliant musical choices this show made was to use the same song twice: once earlier in an episode, and then again in the final scene and credits. This tune, sung by Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt) himself, plays with Tony and Gloria spending time together mid-episode and then again at the end credits.
Season 4 Episode 4: The Weight
“Vesuvio” by Spaccanapoli
Another example of double dipping on the same song in one episode. The above scene between Carmela and Furio dancing and falling in love right underneath Tony’s nose uses this romantic Italian track by Spaccanapoli, and then uses it again in the final seconds when Carmela is daydreaming about Furio while having sex with Tony. So sensual and heavy, the audience knows that Carmela is going down a path she can’t see through to the end, but the music signifies the passion that she will inevitably entangle herself in for the time being.
Season 4 Episode 7: Watching Too Much Television
“Oh Girl” by The Chi-Lites
When an assemblyman starts an affair with Tony’s ex-lover, Irina, there is quite a bit of jealousy and ownership that exudes from the mob boss. This classic from the Chi-Lites plays in the car on the way over to the assemblyman’s house as Tony drives over to confront him about “taking” his mistress from him. It is a song which causes deep reflection and nostalgia for a lost love, and prompts Tony to get emotional listening to it. Wonderful acting by Gandolfini and superb use of in-world music that plays over to the credits, something the show got down to an art and a science simultaneously.
Season 5 Episode 10: Cold Cuts
“I’m Not Like Everybody Else” by The Kinks
No, Tony Soprano is certainly not like anybody else. He insists that Janice see anger management counselors at the beginning of this episode, and when she actually improves her mood because of it, his narcissism makes him antagonize her until a typical Soprano family fight breaks out at dinner. Tony walks out of the house with a despicable smile on his face to the tune of this intense rock anthem.
Season 5 Episode 11: The Test Dream
“Three Times a Lady” by The Commodores
In an episode in which Tony spends 20 minutes literally dreaming about past and future problems in his life, culminating in the murder of Billy Leotardo by Anthony Blundetto, The Commodores soft romance hit plays us out. Tony calls Carmela to report about said dreams, part of which were repeat ones that have happened previously in Tony’s life. It’s nice for the audience to see these two having a tender exchange rather than the tense arguing that normally characterizes their marriage, especially because this was when the two were still separated previously throughout the fifth season.
Season 6 Episode 4: The Fleshy Part of the Thigh
“One of These Days” by Pink Floyd
Paulie Walnuts is a fan favorite for a myriad of reasons. Between his gray-haired wings and his immature one-liners, many forget that the mobster had one of the scarier violent streaks in the show. After discovering that his mother was actually his aunt, Paulie gets jealous of Jason Barone’s mother trying to protect him from the mafia after selling the sanitation business that serves as a front for the DiMeo crime family. This psychedelic, hard-rock snippet from Pink Floyd that blares in the credits after Paulie threatens Jason’s life at the end of episode is a strong reminder to the viewer that this is a character who borders on sociopathic most of the time.
Season 6 Episode 12: Kaisha
“Moonlight Mile” by The Rolling Stones
Unlike other iconic dramas, The Sopranos loved ending their season finales (and “Kaisha” is technically a season finale with season 6 split into two parts) with relative closure and absolutely no cliffhangers. The family has an enormous Christmas gathering at the Soprano residence, marked by A.J. bringing over an older girlfriend and Meadow’s rare absence from family time. This classic from The Rolling Stones that describes the feeling of trying to get back home off the road fits lovingly with the rare moment of calm before the storm that is the final season of the show.
Season 6 Episode 14: Stage 5
“Evidently Chickentown” by John Cooper Clarke
This closing piece by John Cooper Clarke is actually considered a poetry performance, and the anger and fury that it inspires as Phil Leotardo laments being taken advantage of a few too many times is palpable. This is when we knew that war in New York was going to be bloody. The song also symbolizes the perpetual frustration both Christopher and Tony have with one another when they hug at the former’s baby’s baptism. The final season was certainly kicked up a couple notches as these final credits rolled.
Season 6 Episode 17: Walk Like a Man
“The Valley” by Los Lobos
This somber piece plays alongside Christopher picking up a tiny tree in his front yard after Paulie had attempted to destroy everything on his property as revenge for a violent incident. After Christopher thinks they’ve made up, Paulie and the gang start making fun of his infant daughter and laughing in his face. It is at this point that Chris understands he is forever an outsider, not loved by a single person on the planet. He will just trudge along and try to keep upright, which are themes displayed in this chilling and melancholy song of choice.
Season 6 Episode 21: Made in America
“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
The most famous song in the show is also the final one that plays right before the screen goes to black and Tony Soprano’s fate is left up to our own imagination (kind of). It’s technically not an end credits song, but there’s no way it can be excluded from this list. The song represents the nostalgia of sharing one final family meal together, the simplicities of the Soprano family when you strip away the mobster lifestyle and the murder, and it encourages the audience to never stop believing their favorite mob boss is still alive if that’s what they so choose to desire. A special ending to a legendary show!