In the pivotal final scene of Breaking Bad (No spoilers ahead, but really, why haven’t you watched the finale yet?!) fans found out the fate of Walter White while Badfinger’s song, “Baby Blue” played in the background. But it turns out, the song–off the band’s 1971 album, Straight Up–wasn’t relegated to the background at all. In the five days since the final episode aired people have been talking about Badfinger. A lot. And might even be listening to them right now.
The Monday (September 30) after the series finale, which raked in 10.3 million viewers, streams of “Baby Blue” on Spotify rose nine-thousand percent. By the end of that same day, the song’s streams on services including Spotify, Rhapsody, Slacker, AOL Radio, VidZone, Rdio, and Xbox Music were up over twenty-thousand percent, according to Billboard.
People also bought the song 5,300 times after the episode aired. To put it in perspective, the week before the finale “Baby Blue” sold 200 copies. The Breaking Bad bump also helped sales of their other songs like “Without You,” “Day After Day,” “Come and Get It,” and “No Matter What,” leading to a 656 percent sales boost for the band.
Badfinger’s music, specifically “Baby Blue,” has been featured on TV and in movies before, most recently being used in Martin Scorcese’s 2006 film, The Departed, which was what inspired Breaking Bad’s creator Vince Gilligan to pick the song to begin with. But none of those appearances, which included a cover of the song on an episode of The OC, were as iconic as the finale of Breaking Bad or as fitting for Heisenberg and his empire of blue meth with its chorus of “Didn’t know you’d think that I’d forget or I’d regret, the special love I had for you, my baby blue.”
Journey saw a similar sales bump when “Don’t Stop Believing” was used in the final scene of The Sopranos. But unlike that song, Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” is not sung in karaoke bars on a nightly basis. “Baby Blue” was a Number 14 single and the last Top 20 hit in the British band’s career.
Gilligan and his music team have helped other classic songs find a new audience before. In 2012, the show used the Monkees‘ song, “Goin’ Down,” which was the B-side to the band’s 1967 hit “Daydream Believer.” The spot helped bring attention to the song, much to Mickey Dolenz’s chagrin.
“ ’Goin’ Down’ has nothing to do with drugs, obviously,” Dolenz told The Hollywood Reporter after the episode aired. “And I certainly don’t condone meth — that is nasty stuff that kills a lot of people and ruins a lot of lives. …On the other hand, I like the TV show, it’s very well-made. … And no, I didn’t make a penny.”
Badfinger on the other hand seem to be relishing in the public’s newfound interest in their song, using their official site to keep track of all the stories written about them, posting messages to fans like “It’s official, Breaking Bad Executive Producer Vince Gilligan is a Badfinger fan!”
And why shouldn’t they enjoy their 15 minutes. As Rolling Stone points out, ”Baby Blue” has an appropriately bittersweet history that includes a label, the Beatles’ Apple Records, rejected their album Straight Up until George Harrison, then Todd Rundgren, finished its production. Three years later, singer Pete Ham committed suicide at 27. “To me, it was a lovely nod of respect to a band that had a very hard time of it,’ Thomas Golubić, the show’s music supervisor, said.
To see whether “Baby Blue” ends up on the Billboard charts, check back on October 9 when Nielsen SoundScan releases its weekly sales numbers and airplay data.
— Shannon Carlin, Radio.com