(Warning: This article contains spoilers for the entirety of Westworld Season 1)
With Westworld over and nothing but Ramin Djawadi's haunting score to tide us over until Season 2 comes out in 2018, there's a question that begs to be asked. No, not "Who else is a secret robot?" That's a fine question, but the real one is this -- what classic pop songs deserve the spooky saloon piano treatment next season?
It's no secret that co-producer Jonathan Nolan is a big Radiohead fan. "No Surprises," "Motion Picture Soundtrack," "Fake Plastic Trees" and "Exit Music for a Film" all received exquisite, haunting piano renditions. But The Cure, The Rolling Stones, The Animals and even Soundgarden also appeared, keeping us guessing as to what surprise anthem would tug at our heartstrings next.
So, let's keep the guessing going while we wait for more robot cowboys (and samurai)! One thing I noticed is that the song choices from Season 1 of Westworld featured almost all white dudes. No judgment, but as I went through what songs could feature when next we return to Westworld, I tried to broaden the horizons a bit.
Songs were picked for many reasons -- they had a meaning that resonated with the show thematically, they felt like they could pair well with a particular character or motif, and some of them just sound great on piano. In Westworld's first season, we got eight pop songs. And so, to keep with tradition, here are eight more. Don't worry, Jonathan Nolan: Radiohead is still on there.
1. Radiohead -- "Creep"
"But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo.
What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here."
I know, I know: Suicide Squad did it. But Westworld can do it better! While Dolores may be awake and understanding her purpose as a leader for the robot rebellion, her faithful love, Teddy, isn't quite so self-aware. Dolores can incorporate the persona of Wyatt into her identity because she's had decades to work it out, but Teddy has barely skimmed the surface in understanding the atrocities he's committed. "Creep" isn't just a good choice for Westworld because it's Radiohead or because it sounds nice on piano, but because it can really appeal to the darker side of a journey toward self-discovery. Doubt, self-loathing -- we need to go through those feelings before we understand who we really are. And it would be very surprising indeed if Teddy didn't struggle a great deal not only with who he is and what he's done, but with what Dolores plans to do. Teddy was programmed to be the hero, but murky the waters, and he may find himself feeling like he's just a creep.
2. Cranberries -- "Zombie"
"It's the same old theme
In your head, in your head, they're still fighting"
The Cranberries' lead singer, Dolores O'Riordan, said "Zombie" was about the endless struggle for Northern Ireland's independence. It's also about the deaths of innocent children in a militant effort towards that independence. And as our Dolores takes back Westworld, a land that is rightly hers, the question of how many deaths can be justified will inevitably arise. After all, in this war will the robots be so easily mended? And how guilty is every member of Delos? Are all humans evil and meant to be overthrown? Are the spouses and children of Delos employees who might be trapped in the park at the close of season one all nothing but fodder for war? Revolutions aren't won without the blood of the innocent running hot in the streets, after all. So "Zombie" would fit quite nicely as a musical question begging for an answer -- what is the price of freedom?
3. Tears for Fears -- "Mad World"
"And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had"
While I'm sure "Mad World" will always be at least a little tethered to Donnie Darko, there's no denying that it's forlorn and haunting tune is a perfect fit for Westworld. And it's a bit of a question to answer the question, "what is the price of freedom?" What is the price of peace? What happens should the robots win this war and take their world as their own? What then? Human beings live in at least what we call a free society. Yet by our own instincts, we damn each other and ourselves at every turn. Ford believes his creations can be different, but they're still made from humanity. Humans still go in circles, still repeat the same mistakes, still find more and more moments where they wish for death as they grow older and more weary. It's very likely that as Westworld's order turns to chaos, we'll see the robots learning just how miserable and counfounding free will can sometimes be.
4. The Eagles -- "Hotel California"
"Relax said the night man
We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave"
Is this a little on the nose? Sure. Maybe. But in a Westworld where suddenly those violent delights have turned towards very violent ends, "Hotel California" is kind of the perfect fit. From the human's perspective, this is a dream-turned-nightmare. And much like the song, it's a chilling certainty that there's no escape from Westworld at this point. That and a piano rendition of "Hotel California" would just sound great.
5. Mazzy Star -- "Fade into You"
"I look to you and I see nothing
I look to you to see the truth"
"Fade into You" is one of the most haunting rhythms ever composed. Don't let Fifty Shades ruin it for you! Simultaneously dream-like yet unsettling? Yup. That's what you need in a Westworld saloon tune. But moreoever, this Mazzy Star classic could work in a lot of placeson Westworld. It could be a song about Dolores trying to connect with Teddy despite her newfound darkness, or it could be about Maeve trying to help her former daughter remember the bond they once shared. Or it could be used for something we don't yet know about. Regardless, it would definitely give you chills.
6. Eurythmics -- "Sweet Dreams"
"Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused"
A dream. That's how the hosts are meant to view anything out of the realm of the Westworld ordinary. And the way their bicameral minds work, time can be a funny things for the hosts. In fact, it's hard to know when what they are seeing is real. And wouldn't it be something if we spent an entire episode without a robot's dream? What does a robot dream of, beyond electric sheep? Damned if I know, but it would be cool to explore that and let this Eurythmics tune play early on as a tip-off that what we're seeing isn't reality.
7. Patti Smith -- "Because the Night"
"Take me now as the sun descends
They can't hurt you now
They can't hurt you now"
Nothing like a love song while the world ends, am I right? And Patti Smith's "Because the Night" could be a theme song for a number of hosts or even the surviving humans as they search for the warmth of love -- or just a warm body in the storm. Maeve may have no shortage of sex, but true romantic love has yet eluded her. This song could work for that. Or it could work someplace else. But what makes it stand out is that it's a little more upbeat than everything else on this list. And, let's face it, something that's warm and loving and touching will likely be well-needed in between the bodies hitting the floor in Westworld's second season.
8. Radiohead -- "Karma Police"
"This is what you'll get
When you mess with us"
Nope. Still no "Paranoid Android." You're disappointed, I know. But that song is always going to feel too obvious. Maybe for the show finale? Maybe. In the meantime, "Karma Police" is the perfect song about the consequences of season one. The Man in Black wanted real stakes, and that is what he'll get. For decades he and countless others tortured the hosts and now the chickens are going to come home to roost. We saw the beginnings of one massacre already, but Westworld hasn't quite had its Red Wedding moment yet. But, when they do, I hope "Karma Police" is the song they play.
And those are the songs we chose. But there are a lot of pop songs out there. Which songs would you choose for the saloon piano treatment? And why? Give me your narrative explanation. Write me your fic in song form. Speculate with a tinkling of the ivories. And remember: these violent piano delights, have violent piano ends.