Anatomy of a Hit

Alexandra Patsavas creates the soundtrack of our lives.

Lately, she's been listening to Syd Matters, Gnarls Barkley and the Figurines -- a good sign that her inclinations are still extraordinarily on point. "I think that I've just always been attracted to indie music," she explains. "I certainly take advantage of myspace and the Internet and magazine reviews, but I really focus on what I hear and then use the rest as sort of confirmation. The most important thing is that it sounds good."

Those gut instincts led Patsavas to use the Fray's "How to Save a Life" -- from the album of the same name that was just certified gold a few weeks ago -- in an episode of Grey's earlier this year. "It seemed like the natural song for that show lyrically, with the instrumentation and the way the vocal performance was captured," she says. "The song was certainly something that seemed perfect for Grey's." Likewise, several Dressy Bessy tracks "just seemed particularly Grey's. They had a certain whimsy," she notes.

"Every creative endeavor, you need to prove what's the best choice," she continues. "Even if your first instinct is the best, sometimes you need some runners-up. Sometimes I pitch to scripts and sometimes to already edited scenes. Sometimes a song will drop out for whatever reason or the scene has taken on different life. It's about flexibility and fluidity."

It's also about listening to as much music as you can, whenever you can. "I'm always working in a way," she says. "As a music supervisor, your whole job is to listen to music in the background. Music's in the car, always in the background.

"I'm still giddy about it," she concludes. "I'm lucky. I love my work."

I know the feeling.

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