"We created a 'shit-we-like' algorithm, then turned it Up to Eleven."
— Greg Plageman
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The original score is composed by Ramin Djawadi.note
- There is a separate Leitmotif for Finch, Reese, and the Machine ("Listening With a Million Ears").
- There is noticeable (and appropriate) overlap between the Finch theme and the Machine theme.
- The version of "Listening With a Million Ears" from the last three minutes of "Firewall" is particularly awesome.
- Also worthy of mention is the swank, jazzy, uptempo version used in "The Perfect Mark" when Price gets the baseball from the soda vendor.
- The dark version of Harold's theme that appears during his glorious monologue in "The Day the World Went Away". In combination with Michael's acting there are chills.
- Take The Machine's Leitmotif and play it backwards, and you get Samaritan's chilling theme. This piece is more of an Image Song since it doesn't really appear in the show itself, but still features both the aforementioned leitmotif and a second string backing theme that also appears quite often to represent Samaritan. Also particularly memorable is the version that plays when the Machine gives it her location in exchange for Harold and Root's lives, also intertwined with The Machine's theme.
- A particularly fantastic version of Martine's theme appears in "Prophets", duelling with a combination of the Machine's and Root's themes.
- The themes evolve: for example, here are Season 2 compilations of new music pieces for Finch, Reese, and the Machine.
- Root has a unique theme, which is usually introduced by the main notes of it being played in absence of other music. How awesome is it?
"...we wrote the character back into the season just to hear the music again."— Liner notes to Season 1 soundtrack album
- The music from the Ambiguous Ending of "Cura te Ipsum", "Do People Change?" is deliciously menacing.
- What makes "Elias" more awesome is how well it still fits him throughout his development. In the beginning, it gives an air of mystery to the man behind the name. When his motives are revealed, it highlights his quest for revenge well, fading slowly until returning loud and bombastic, like the man himself. After all is said and done, it adopts a tone that speaks very much to Elias' new power and control over New York. Truly a theme worthy of the Evolution of Organized Crime.
- Out of all Reese's Pieces, Knock Knock, featured during the scenes of action and vehicular mayhem, is the most awesome. Carter gets her own version of "Knock Knock" when committing Reese-style vehicular mayhem in "Endgame". As does Root, in "The Day The World Went Away".
- The slow, heartbreaking version of Shaw's theme that plays at the end of "If-Then-Else" during Shaw's Heroic Sacrifice and her Big Damn Kiss with Root. Oh, and the title? "Til Death Do Us Part".
- Control's theme is gloriously sinister.
- Aside from The Glitch Mob's "Fortune Days", "If-Then-Else" also features track of the same name that consists of Reese's and Machine's leitmotifs In the Style of... The Glitch Mob.
- The slow version of Carter's theme is exceptionally powerful and highlights some of the series more emotional moments. It first appears in "Dead Reckoning", before the infamous roof scene. It appears again when Beecher dies ("I Always Told Cal To Be Careful" on the soundtrack) and in "The Devil's Share" when Fusco arrests Simmons. It makes a final appearance in "Terra Incognita" when John hallucinates Carter.
- The showrunners were planning to use David Bowie's "Heroes" to close out "Return 0," but they quickly changed their minds when they heard Ramin Djawadi's score, which combines the Machine Theme with several other leitmotifs.
- One YouTube user has put together a series of videos illustrating the various leitmotifs featured in the show and where and when they crop up. From the more obvious themes like those of Team Machine, Team Samaritan, and other major recurrers like Zoe Morgan and the Brotherhood, to more obscure themes like those of Iris Campbell, Claire Mahoney, and even a theme shared by several of the one-shot POIs during their quieter scenes.
- "Angel" by Massive Attack, used at the climax of the Pilot, creates a wonderful tension for the climax of the episode.
- "Live With Me" by Massive Attack, from the end of "Mission Creep", made the scene absolutely heartbreaking.
- "New York" by Cat Power, from the end of "The Fix". Summing up Zoe's love for the city and giving her a triumphant end.
- The appropriately titled and catchy "Sinnerman" by Nina Simone, used at the end of "Witness".
- "I Know You Are But What Am I?" by Mogwai, hauntingly beautiful at the end of "Foe".
- "When Things Explode" by Unkle, from the end of "Number Crunch". Really emphasizes how dire the situation is.
- The chillingly ominous "If I Had a Heart" by Fever Ray, used in "Blue Code".
- The somber and ominous "Burn My Shadow" by UNKLE, used at the climax of "Flesh and Blood", while Reese saves Taylor Carter in spectacular fashion.
- "It Serves You Right to Suffer" by John Lee Hooker, in "High Road", very fitting for the sequence where Graham, fearing for his family's safety, leaves his wife a note confessing his hidden past and slips out to join the gang of robbers.
- "One of These Mornings" by Moby, used at the end of "'Til Death". As the song discusses the tragic nature of a person disappearing, it underscores the tragic nature of Finch and Grace's relationship.
- "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone was flawless in "Liberty".
- "Number Song" by DJ Shadow during the climax of "Mors Praematura"—and the 2013 San Diego Comic Con highlight reel.
- "The Devil's Share" has three memorable pieces to speak of:
- First, Johnny Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt", the soundtrack for the wordless opening sequence.
- Next, "Miami Showdown" by Digitalism, used as the team closes in on Quinn. It was the perfect backdrop for a seriously injured, emotionally unstable and a hundred times more deadly than usual Reese to go town on a dozen US Marshalls and for Root (with an assist from Shaw and Fusco) to take out the incoming Russians.
- Finally, "Color in Your Hands" by D.L.i.d. featuring Fink sets the tone while Fusco marches a handcuffed Simmons through the Eighth Precinct while the other cops watch in silence.
- "Take California" by Propellerheads highlights the light, energetic fun of the heist preparation scenes in "Provenance".
- "I Might Be Wrong" by Radiohead does a wonderful job setting the mood for the climax of "RAM".
- "Medicine", by Daughter, at the climax of "Death Benefit". Perfect music for a Downer Ending.
- "Exit Music (For a Film)" by Radiohead, used (where else?) to lead out the season finale, "Deus Ex Machina". And after the song was covered by composer Ramin Djawadi on Westworld (also by Jonathan Nolan), this came along.
- "Young Men Dead" by The Black Angels, used as the music bed for the 2014 San Diego Comic Con teaser reel. It returns in "Prophets" when Root engages in a massive gunfight with Martine Rousseau across a hotel lobby.
- In "Brotherhood", when Mini reveals his true nature with a bang, set to the badass tune of Emiliana Torrini's "Gun".
- Jetta's haunting cover of Ten Years After's "I'd Love to Change the World" (also seen in the trailer), used as the team gets back on track in the end of the first episode, "Panopticon". It reflects the Season 4 Arc Words: "The world has changed."
- The Glitch Mob's Fortune Days during each of the simulations in "If-Then-Else". It both accentuates the tension of the episode and nicely compliments Team Machine getting down to business.
- Moby's "The Violent Bear It Away" really enhanced the somber, yet still hopeful ending of "Control-Alt-Delete".
- Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine," playing as Finch and The Machine have their final conversation in the Season 4 finale "YHWH".
- "B.S.O.D."'s opening made excellent use of "No Wow" by the Kills. It highlighted the tension of the scene and badassery of Team Machine gloriously.
- The show often makes use of Nina Simone, usually with Elias, but "Do I Move You?" made for a glorious background for Root and Shaw reuniting properly in the simulation.
- "The Day The World Went Away" has two:
- Moby's "New Dawn Fades," during the firefight with Root & Shaw against Samaritan operatives.
- The title song by Nine Inch Nails. Not the first time a Nine Inch Nails song was played, and the circumstances are heartbreakingly similar. The lyrics and the tone are a fitting backdrop to the loss of a team member, and Harold Finch's escape from Samaritan's clutches.
- "Return 0" beautifully uses Philip Glass's "Metamorphosis One," for Reese's sacrifice, and the extremely apropos "Bunsen Burner" from the Ex Machina OST for the rooftop scenes with Finch.