No good TV show achieves its fame without the help of a stellar soundtrack.
But for a more modern example of fantastic backing themes, look no further than AMC’s The Walking Dead, which returned to fans this Sunday night.
The Walking Dead has brought the best of horror onto mainstream TV with high-quality stage makeup, unrelenting plot twists, and a variety of relatable (and hate-able) characters. Now halfway through its fourth season, the horror show is transcending scare tropes to focus on a plot about survival in the face of the impossible.
But what’s not changing is the effective soundtrack mostly composed by Bear McCreary, who is known for the scores of Battlestar Galactica and Terminator. Motifs are also composed by guest musicians, whose music is featured in a lot of the more shocking, emotional scenes.
In honor of The Walking Dead‘s big return, we’ve compiled a few of the many musical gems found throughout its first four seasons. But if you haven’t checked out the show yet, you might want to save this entry for a rainy day.
Warning: MANY Spoilers Ahead
1. Wang Chung – “Space Junk”
Wang Chung’s “Space Junk” accentuated the show’s climactic pilot at the moment where main character Rick Grimes found himself trapped in a tank and surrounded by a sea of zombies. The English New Wave dance tune aptly expresses that feeling of being cornered in the middle of nowhere with its sultry, funkadelic vibe. It’s the cherry on top of an award-winning pilot.
2. The Clutch – “The Regulator”
In Season Two’s “Nebraska,” deputy Grimes undergoes some major character development when he murders two suspicious strangers in a bar. As the last shot rings, “The Regulator” revs up. We don’t get to hear the booming chorus that is the very soul of this song, but the seriousness of this bad-ass zombie show doesn’t need it. A solid hard rock song is perfect for the grungy atmosphere of the scene.
3. Lauren Cohen & Emily Kinney – “The Parting Glass”
This particular track is unique to the list because it employs the show’s own cast: actresses Lauren Cohen and Emily Kinney sing “The Parting Glass” as characters Maggie and Beth. The song, traditional Scottish folk, was immensely popular in the eighteenth century and suits the mood as the pair celebrate their new home in prison. Episode “Seed,” which it featured in, cuts in a more raw version. But the producers re-recorded the song for promo release with a much darker tone. The low hum of the synth and the steady drum parts add a dramatic flair to the lyrics.
4. Fink – “Warm Shadow”
Two men, hard at work, preparing to kill each other: the fantastic tempo of Fink’s “Warm Shadow” supports this sinister scene from an episode of the horror show. It’s perfect montage music as viewers watch Rick and the Governor ready their people for war. Vaguely reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “On the Run” or even “Run like Hell,” “Warm Shadow” energizes viewers, upping the suspense and making them crave for more.
5. Voxhaul Broadcast – “You Are the Wilderness”
Though never very popular and no longer active, Voxhaul Broadcast at least made themselves useful by making a fitting song for a great scene. At the end of Season Three’s “Prey,” we zoom in on Andrea tied to a chair in the Governor’s torture chamber with “You Are The Wilderness” blaring in the background. Like Voxhaul Broadcast, Andrea was also not very popular in the show and it was exciting to see the sticky situation she ultimately put herself in. This hard alternative rock song is the perfect reflection of Andrea’s wild character flaw.
6. Sharon van Etten – “Serpents”
This demo version of “Serpents” beautifully captures van Etton’s elegant voice and ingenious songwriting, more so than the drowned out studio version did. The guitar accompaniment gives the listener a sense of urgency while the panged yet controlled vocals reveal the harsh reality of a bad situation. As Rick sentences Carol to a life of exile, this track provides a gentle finale to Season Three episode “Indifference.”
What’s your favorite soundtrack moment from The Walking Dead? Better yet, your favorite TV soundtrack? Share your most loved small screen music moments in the comments.
Article by Jade Theriault