Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Listen to an orchestral cover of The Weeknd’s Wicked Games from last night’s iWestworld/i
Screenshot: Westworld (YouTube)

Since its premiere episode, the soundtrack to HBO’s Westworld has featured instrumental, often somber covers of popular songs. By inserting string or piano arrangements of recognizable tunes into their show, the showrunners are able to convey a feeling of eerie familiarity. Things may look or sound recognizable in the world of Westworld, and yet something about them is definitely off. Also, sometimes it just sounds cool, like this orchestral cover of “Wicked Games” by The Weeknd featured in last night’s episode.

Arranged by Grammy Award-winning composer Ramin Djawadi, this version takes the grimy, bass-driven beat of The Weeknd’s 2011 hit and turns it into a powerful, portentous song for classical strings. Over its five-and-half-minute runtime, the song builds in both tension and complexity, adding drums, synth bass, and even more string instruments. Djawadi has been with the show since season one and is responsible for previous covers like “Paint It Black,” “House Of The Rising Sun,” and “Heart-Shaped Box.”

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Both the show and the music have come a long way since those early player-piano renditions and it seems, as the scope of the show’s plot expands in the third season, so too do the ambitions of its composer.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Pay me to write for you, you coward.

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