By Taylor Neumann
The most musical new show this winter is NBC’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (Sundays beginning Feb. 16). It’s like a singalong Spotify account delivering tunes to your TV screen every week. The gist is this: The titular Zoey (Jane Levy) is a computer coder who accidentally gets zapped while getting an MRI. Now she has the ability to hear the innermost thoughts of the people around her, expressed through song.
At first, she’s upset at this turn of events — as anyone would be after being caught in a citywide rendition of the Beatles’ “Help” — but she soon realizes her new power allows her to connect with her father (Peter Gallagher), who is incapacitated by a neurological disease. Others around her include her office friend Max (Skylar Astin of Pitch Perfect), boss Joan (Lauren Graham) and neighbor Mo (Glee‘s Alex Newell), who maybe sums up the show best when talking to Zoey about her gift. “Songs are all just an expression of our deepest wants and desires — joy, pain, heartbreak, yearning, forgiveness, revenge. Good music can make you feel things you can’t express in words.”
The first few episodes show Jane as a bystander to these epic displays of musicality, but Levy promises we’ll see her character bust out skills eventually, too. “About 70% into the first season, there is an episode in which Zoey performs every song. I’m really proud of it and excited for our audience to see.”
Behind The Music With Jane Levy
Are there any songs you’re hoping make an appearance on the show?
Jane Levy: I love Bonnie Raitt and Prince. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” is heart-wrenching and very in line with our show. Austin [Winsberg, creator], are you reading?
If you could pair up with any member of the cast to sing karaoke, who would you pick?
I would never pair up with any of them! They are far too talented to stand next to.
What’s the first song you remember loving and playing over and over when you were growing up?
When I was 13, I was obsessed with Avril Lavigne. I straightened my hair to look like hers and started wearing white tank tops to school. “Sk8er Boi” and “Mobile” were two of my faves.
What song makes you smile?
My friends make fun of me, but I love Pitbull radio. I take Zumba class when I’m in L.A. and any hip-hop/Latin/reggaeton hits make me smile!
On the flip side, what song do you listen to when you’re sad?
I listen to Neil Young a lot when I’m feeling nostalgic. It reminds me of driving roads through the redwoods where I grew up, and it’s incredibly soothing.