Westworld and Radiohead

Westworld Season 1 blew my mind.

Westworld Picture

I really enjoyed it while I watched it. But after having finished the season, the more I think back on it the more I feel impressed with the way the show was paced and layered. There were apparently some hiccups during production, but it really doesn’t show in the finished product the execution is incredible.

You could write a whole series of blogposts on Westworld and the subtleties of what’s happening in the show (especially the moral questions the show raises), but one thing in particular that really struck me was the way they used music in the show. In particular, two Radiohead covers really caught my attention and left a mark on my mind.

The opening of one episode starts with a pianola playing a cover of Radiohead’s song “Fake Plastic Trees,” a fitting song given the fake nature of the world which these people vacation into, and within which these androids live and die in an eternal recurrence. The song already fits into the opening sequence just as a nice background melody, but the depth of meaning of the song choice just adds another layer to an already well layered and well thought out masterpiece of a show.  The song haunted me so much so that I had to look it up, and I was surprised to see that another song that haunted me within the episode was a Radiohead cover as well.

I’ll do my best not to give too many specifics for the risk of mid-season spoilers, but the soft, harmonizing cellos of this cover are incredible during one particular scene during which an android experiences the world behind its reality. And as the android realizes its world was a lie, and all the bodies of androids all around are fake, you can just feel the hurt of that reality descending upon this character. The opening lyrics of the song are “Red wine and sleeping pills,” a deadly combination, and the song closes with the lyrics “I will see you in the next life.” This mirrors the android’s needing to kill itself over and over to go back to the real world and learn about the truths of its reality, and its next life is oftentimes as soon as a few short hours past the point at which it died. The parallels with the song and the moment within the episode blew me away once I started digging into them, and there’s just something incredibly melancholy about the song that seems to reflect the hurt and angst of a suddenly sentient being coming to understand what’s happening behind the scenes of its life, and experiencing that raw disillusionment and becoming hungry for more understanding.

If you get nothing else out of this post I hope you at least give those songs a try, they’re worth a listen without any knowledge of anything beyond the instrumental music itself. And if you can stomach a good vicarious existential crisis or two, Westworld might be the show for you.

23 thoughts on “Westworld and Radiohead

      • I think Radiohead are at Glastonbury this year…I almost wish I was going. I’ve seen a good number of my favourite bands live but I still need to cross them off. Got a favourite album? I think OK Computer was my generation’s answer to Sgt Peppers personally, yet the one I think I have the most fun with is Hail to the Thief just because I first heard it on my 20th birthday before the drinking started!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not going to lie I’ve never been a hardcore Radiohead fan I’ve listened to them through the years but I’ve never gone through an entire full album straight through I was literally just listening to Sgt Peppers yesterday though so I think I need to try listening to OK Computer full through now haha thanks for the recommendation!


      • They’re one of those bands where I felt like I had to go to the music instead of having it come to me…I know that sounds like so much bullshit but what I really mean is I had to listen to OK Computer quite a few times and WANT to like it before I grew to love it as much as I do now. The first time I heard it I thought half of it was brilliant and the rest was just filler…same with all their albums but I now have them all and have to listen track by track

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s really fascinating haha I might need to try that approach if I can’t vibe with it on a first listen through. I guess you heard something fresh within it the next time, and every successive time


    • Thanks so much JC, I really wasn’t ever a huge fan of Radiohead but I didn’t realize these two masterpieces of music came from covers of their songs it’s crazy. I’m happy you enjoyed the post man I hope all’s been well!! =D

      Liked by 1 person

  1. So glad that someone wrote about this. The pop covers (the only other one I can recall is “Black Hole Sun” in, I believe, the second or third episode) are awesome and certainly aren’t coincidental. The one in the season finale was great, although I couldn’t remember the name of it to save my life.

    I just finished a critique of season one overall. Would love some educated feedback, if you have the time to stop by!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Apologies for the delayed reply, that was a pretty fascinating break down about how shows change over the seasons and what drives us to them haha it really must be difficult to keep a show like Westworld touching on those types of subjects in a way that feels as genuine and thought through as the first season. I really hope they can maintain that type of pace though I don’t expect it to be a show that goes on as long as say Game of Thrones

      Liked by 1 person

      • No apology necessary and I COMPLETELY agree with your sentiment regarding WW and GoT. I’ve even heard HBO kind of touting WW as their next Game of Thrones, but I just cannot see any reality in which that happens. I think you nailed it when you said, “it really must be difficult to keep a show like Westworld touching on those types of subjects in a way that feels as genuine and thought through as the first season.” When it nails it’s true theme / subject matter (humanity), it really nails it; when it drifts into solo narrative mode, it truly loses the theme portion of it. Thanks for your reply!!

        Speaking of the MUSIC in the show, I’d love to write an analysis of how that opening them so perfectly nails what’s going on in the storyline. Did you notice it’s the same composer as GoT? Ramin Djawadi.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s