I haven’t seen that much of True Blood, mainly because I am an adult male. Looking past the screaming camp, broad stereotypes, fetishized gore, and staggeringly terrible acting of Anna Paquin, the best part of the show is easily its opening theme song and credit sequence. A series of grainy, bleached images depicting a debauched hillbilly wonderland promises an ambitious, sprawling show that a small Southern town caught somewhere in between the rotting away of classy Southern traditions and modern crazy-ass meth-heads, peppered with bits of Faulkner, Toole, swamps, and honky-tonk barbecue joints. (And there is nary a mention of vampires and such.) Helping things along is the excellent, sexy/dirty/menacing theme song “Bad Things” by country singer Jace Everett.
It is not, I repeat, not, Chris Isaak. It is Jace Everett.
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Quality judgments of True Blood aside (because it’s stupid and I hate it), it’s been one of truly hot, zeitgeist-capturing TV shows of the last few years, enjoying network TV level ratings despite being on pay cable HBO. When a TV show gets really hot, it invades the rest of the cultural space, up to an including its theme song hitting high the charts. It happened with Friends, it happened with Welcome Back, Kotter, it happened with Hawaii Five-O (the first time). Strangely, it didn’t happen with True Blood and “Bad Things.”
Everett initially released the song in 2005 as a follow up to his minor country hit “That’s the Kind of Love I’m In.” It didn’t hit the country chart, let alone the pop chart. Re-released as a promotional tie-in with the beginning of the second season of True Blood in 2009, it still didn’t make a dent on U.S. radio or record sales. But it did hit #2 in Norway and #30 in Sweden, which kind of makes sense, what with that region’s fondness for black metal and letting the right ones in.