Why You Should Listen Closely to That Cure Song on Westworld

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Following each week’s episode of Westworld, show composer Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones) will be Vulture's guide to the music.  

Usually, the player piano acts as a sort of jukebox for Westworld’s saloon — the tunes we hear are hits of their respective eras, classics that should be recognizable to the guests on their vacations. At least, that was the case with Soundgarden in episode one and Radiohead in episode two. But in episode four, we get a lesser-known track from the Cure — not one of their more poppy mainstream hits, but a song associated with their signature sound: “A Forest” from the band’s second album, Seventeen Seconds. “You’d probably expect something like ‘Friday I’m in Love’ first,” Ramin Djawadi said. “It’s kind of cool to have a different one in there.”

The song was slightly trickier to translate to piano — “It really came down to figuring out the left-hand accompaniment, the harmonies, and then playing the melody with the right hand” — but what’s more interesting here is the why rather than the how. It’s our first solid clue that the song selection might be meant for the hosts as well as the guests. When we got Radiohead, Maeve was in the saloon, trying to woo a brothel customer, and failing, putting her at risk of being shut down. Is it a coincidence that the missing lyrics to her background song seem to speak to her situation? (“A job that slowly kills you …”) Or take in this episode, when Maeve is trying to puzzle out a memory and gets confused by Clementine’s eyes, just as her background song’s missing lyrics urge on someone who is lost (“Come closer and see … Just follow your eyes”). We don’t hear the lyrics in either version, but is it possible that the hosts’ robotic brains can fill in the gaps?

Without giving too much away, Djawadi agreed that there are various possibilities as to why this song would be played in this situation. “One, it could be somebody going, ‘I really want to listen to this song, even if the guests don’t recognize it.’ Selfish programming,” he said. “Or is there a deeper meaning, with the title, the lyrics?”

Because of the fan response to the player-piano versions of modern music on the show, Djawadi is currently looking to release some of the music from Westworld earlier than the official soundtrack, and hopes to make an announcement later this week.