Parks and Recreation has always been great with the music references. April’s Neutral Milk Hotel obsession, Andy’s love of Dave Matthews, Ben’s Letters to Cleo shirt, Donna being Ginuwine’s cousin, Tom worshipping all things hip-hop and R&B… should we go on? Last night’s episode went above and beyond.
As you can guess from the title, “Prom Night” focused on Pawnee’s prom, with the Parks Department volunteering to organize the high school dance. As a compromise, Tom (Aziz Ansari) and Ben (Adam Scott) will serve as co-DJs for the night, much to Tom’s chagrin.
The partnership gets off to a rocky start when the ’90s-loving Ben, who hosted a 3 a.m. swing-themed radio show in college, doesn’t want to let Tom just play his “bangers,” the only songs Tom will download. The “banger” criteria? Beats per minute, how many drops, how dope are the drops, and no acoustic instruments. “I once accidentally downloaded a Lumineers song,” says Tom. “I had to throw away my whole computer just to be safe.”
That’s when the music jokes really kick into high gear. “I hope that high school auditorium is big enough because I’m bringing 10,000 Maniacs,” Ben says. Tom responds, “Thank god we don’t have to be seen together,” and informs Ben that he’ll be appearing instead as DJ Rumbodrop, donning the Daft Punk gold helmet of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. At the prom itself, Tom complains that they didn’t bring his Yeezus mountain, while Ben is miffed that they didn’t give him the right turntable cartridges. “How am I supposed to keep my Husker Du albums in near-mint condish?” he wonders. The kids’ reaction to one of Ben’s picks: “I only listen to CDs. It’s the way music like this was meant to be heard.” To which Tom retorts, “But it’s not even Auto-Tuned!”
We won’t spoil any more of what happens at the prom itself, but it includes songs by 2 Chainz, R.E.M., Weezer, and Blur. Watch the full episode below, and check out the Spotify playlists of both Tom and Ben. We’ll see if Parks and Rec can outdo this episode with its season finale, which will feature Jeff Tweedy, Yo La Tengo, Ginuwine, the Decemberists, and Letters to Cleo.