Despite composing an Academy Award-winning film score, Trent Reznor isn’t done with Hollywood yet — his long-dormant HBO project has finally found its screenwriter. As if the thought of a Reznor-helmed television project isn’t bizarre enough, the long-in-the-works series titled Year Zero will be based on the 2007 Nine Inch Nails album of the same name. Yes, the HBO-developed, Jim Uhls-penned show will take a dystopian concept record as its source material. Now, the news has us thinking about albums we would want to buy the TV rights to. Check out our suggestions after the jump, and leave yours in the comments.
Prince Paul, A Prince Among Thieves
A Prince Among Thieves is The Wire of hip-hop albums. Compelling, complex, and gritty, it tells the story of an aspiring young emcee who is introduced to the drug world and is subsequently lost to the streets. Cinematic and character-driven, it is an album that demonstrates hip hop’s storytelling at its best, and thanks to climatic police ambushes and one deadly showdown, would make for thrilling television.
Janelle Monáe, The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)
Janelle Monáe’s debut studio album presents the second and third parts to her Metropolis series. These suites tell the story of Cyndi Mayweather, a messianic android traveling through an oppressive world. Including elements of romance, war, and civil rights, The ArchAndroid opens up the genre of science fiction to address an entire breadth of modern identity politics. If adapted for television, Monáe’s album could give us a powerful female heroine the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Buffy.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Murder Ballads
Unlike the other albums on this list, Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads doesn’t contain one coherent storyline. Instead, it’s episodic, relaying the details of multiple crimes of passion. From Henry Lee, a man killed as a result of rebuking a woman’s advances, to Crow Jane, a woman who kills the 20 miners who raped her, Murder Ballads‘ stories are lush and sinister. We imagine that a television series based on it would be an ensemble drama with a motley cast of characters.
The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
The story of Yoshimi’s battle against evil pink robots lasts only for the first four songs of The Flaming Lips’ 2002 album, yet the tale is charming and delightful enough to leave us wanting more. We think that a series based around Yoshimi should be animated and suggest none other than The Flaming Lips frontman himself, Wayne Coyne, to draw the concept art. Slightly campy and surprisingly melancholic, the album would make for a cartoon that transcends the genre’s age-limitations.
Pedro the Lion, Winners Never Quit
Don Draper, Walter White, Enoch “Nucky” Tompson — if today’s hit shows prove one thing, it’s that America loves a protagonist who behaves badly. Yet it’s not just about characters who do bad things; we love characters who challenge us to hate them, who blur the line between “bad” and “good.” The troubled characters of Pedro the Lion’s Winners Never Quit do just that. Written about a sanctimonious politician who fixes his own election’s results and later murders his wife, the album is seeped in irony, delusion, and disgrace, featuring one unforgettable fall from grace.
Deltron 3030, Deltron 3030
If we knew HBO was looking for a dystopian concept album to base a miniseries on, we would’ve suggested Deltron 3030’s eponymous debut album. A hip-hop supergroup composed of Del the Funkee Homosapien, Dan the Automator, and DJ Kid Koala, Deltron 3030 produced one of the most forward-thinking albums in hip hop history, a rap opera that tells the story of Deltron Zero, a disillusioned mech soldier rebelling against a New World Order. Moving seamlessly from social critique to hilarious skits to intergalactic battles, the record is an aural assault that sparkles — we can only imagine the visual feast that a series would be.
Mike Watt, Contemplating the Engine Room
If a rap opera wasn’t enough, how about a punk opera? On his second solo album, Matt Watt, the former bassist for the Minutemen, decided to combine the seemingly antithetical genres in order to tell a story that is both a personal and musical history. Contemplating the Engine Room is as much a memoir as anything written by David Sedaris, weaving together the story of his veteran father with Watt’s experiences in LA’s early punk scene. Period series have become vastly popular in today’s television, and we can’t imagine anything more riveting or with more potential for great characters than the punk rock scene of the early ’80s.
Honeydogs, 10,000 Years
Ever since Lost‘s season finale, we have been searching for a new complex, sci-fi mystery to take its place. Perhaps a series based on the Honeydogs’ 2004 album, 10,000 Years, would be able to fill the island-sized hole in our lives. Radically unique and stunningly well-crafted, it tells the story of a test-tube baby who is kidnapped by a clairvoyant and later becomes the world’s savior. While the Honeydogs craft this tale into catchy and poignant music, the album, which runs just a little over an hour, leaves many avenues to be explored.
Coheed and Cambria, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
Really, any of Coheed and Cambria’s records could have made this list — theatrical and epic, their music is highly conceptual and vividly sensory. The band’s ongoing science fiction story line, called The Armory Wars, has spanned five studio albums, a comic book series, and one full length novel. Although the plot is far too intricate to try and summarize here, trust us when we say it would make for a fantastic television series. Following the cancellation of Battlestar Galactica, TV needs a new sci-fi saga.
Dr. Octagon, Dr. Octagonecologyst
Dr. Octagon is a homicidal, extraterrestrial, time-traveling gynecologist and surgeon, originally from Jupiter. Dr. Octagonecologyst, rife with non sequiturs and middle-school humor, details the doctor’s history and adventures. We’re not sure how any network would develop Dr. Octagonecologyst into a television series — we just know that it would be awesome if they did.