Some People Choose To Hear the Beauty In This World

“PAINT IT, BLACK! IT’S PAINT IT, BLACK, OH MY GOD!”

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Poster for the 1973 Sci-Fi film starring Yul Brynner that inspired HBO’s TV show of the same name. 

I had to call it before any of my friends figured it out. And I couldn’t hold it in; I was so excited. If you’ve ever wondered what The Rolling Stones would sound like if they had to write a spaghetti western theme with an orchestra at their disposal, that’s reason enough to check out Westworld.

This show scored major points by contracting Game of Thrones’ composer Ramin Djawadi to arrange classic songs in a style fitting for the wild west and its many veneers.

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Photo Courtesy of HBO.

Season One’s line up includes songs from:

  1. Sound Garden (Black Hole Sun)
  2. The Rolling Stones (Paint It, Black) (Obviously)
  3. Johnny Cash (Ain’t No Grave)
  4. Radiohead (No Surprises, Motion Picture Soundtrack, Fake Plastic Trees, Exit Music (For A Film)) Djawadi actually uses a cover of MPS by the Vitamin String Quartet for the show!
  5. The Cure (A Forest)
  6. Nine Inch Nails (Something I Can Never Have)
  7. Amy Winehouse (Back To Black)
  8. The Animals (House Of The Rising Sun)

These songs eerily fit into moments where Westworld’s main characters become consumed with curiosity, self-doubt, risk, and disbelief. The tunes echo a sensation of unrest in the characters and their audiences. If you’re a lyricist, you’ll notice the meanings of each song mesh with the on-screen drama in a way that makes your jaw drop, like you’ve just solved a riddle. You’ll hear House Of The Rising Sun play in the town’s brothel and realize that Ain’t No Grave could be referring to the hosts. Or the guests. Or the programmers. Or everyone.

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Photo Courtesy of HBO.

Does Djawadi select modern songs so the modern guests subconsciously feel at home while visiting the new “Old World?” Does he want the audience to feel this way, too? The songs are certainly hard to pick out when they’re partially buried under the din of gossip and shoot-outs that push the plot. Often, they’re played on an out-of-tune player piano, a novel piece of mechanized art for the portrayed era. Hinting at automated humanity while producing a hollow, creepy sound are Djawadi’s version of hitting two birds with one bullet.

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Photo Courtesy of HBO.

Whatever his reasons, this soundtrack has been added to my trail running playlist. Motivated by such an emotional, underdog-chiding echo, maybe I’ll finally make it to where the mountains meet the sea.

Have a Scien-tastic Day!

 

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