Bear McCreary's music on the series is nothing short of excellent, often subjecting the viewer to the horror and hopelessness the characters have to face during the apocalypse, but also really bringing the hope and elation to show that maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel after all.
Loxley's "Be What You Want" is just one of the many obscure musical pieces that has been praised by critics and viewers alike.
In "Wildfire," when they group is driving away after leaving Jim to die, as per his request, the wonderful "Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor)" from Sunshine plays, presumably as a Shout-Out to director Danny Boyle, who also directed 28 Days Later.
The preview for "Bloodletting" uses Johnny Cash's "I See A Darkness" to a truly haunting effect.
In "Nebraska", Clutch's "The Regulator" is used for a particularly haunting effect over the final scene of burning the barn Walker bodies.
Wye Oak's "Civilian" is used in the main trailer for Season 2, as well as the episode "18 Miles Out" when Rick is driving back to the farm at the end of episode.
In "Alone", Beth performs Waxahatchee's "Be Good" on a piano. Much like the Hyundais featured in the show, the song can't logically exist in the show's universe, as it was written in 2012.
In "Consumed", "Bad Blood" by Alison Mosshart and Eric Arjes plays over the prologue showing Carol's perspective between the episodes "Indifference" and "Too Far Gone". It's a slow, heart-wrenching song that perfectly accommodates Carol's grief over being exiled from the prison by Rick.
The quiet, ethereal piece during Tyreese's death is soothing and gentle, as Tyreese accepts his fate and passes on to the afterlife, and the group dejectedly buries him, and is forced to move on.
"We Carry On" by The Phantoms is used in a trailer for Season Six. It really sells one of the main themes of the series - "we will stand stranger to brother, we are one, we carry on." It plays over some cool visuals of the main cast of the season, the cast member in focus transitioning under a revolving light from above. Especially cool is Morgan's presence towards the end, confirming his return to the ensemble and as a major character to boot.
The epic track during the walker mission in "First Time Again" is haunting and epic as we see the group take on their biggest mission yet. There are sounds during the piece that sound like a cross between an automated car assembly line and a vocalist that help portray the unthinking machinery of the herd.
The piece at the end of "Start to Finish" has great piano as Deanna makes her Last Stand and the others exit the Anderson home Covered in Gunge. It really picks up as Rick's group stands on the porch, bracing themselves to step off into the danger of the open herd, and considering The Stinger, also brace themselves for the unknown and the darkness on the horizon whose name is Negan.
The Battle of Alexandria in "No Way Out" is accompanied by a great soundtrack, first a down and dirty section as Rick's group and the Alexandrians unite on the battlefield. Then once Daryl arrives with the RPG, the music turns hopeful with a bunch of strings, as Rick leads the final charge to take back their home.
Hozier's "Arsonist's Lullaby" at the end of "Not Tomorrow Yet" nicely underscores the group's emotions after their attack on the Savior compound. It was also used in the Season 6 trailer to great effect.
The piece during Eugene volunteering to make his Last Stand in "Last Day on Earth" is heart-wrenching and beautiful, as it perfectly captures the group's gratitude for Eugene's actions, Abraham and Eugene bidding each other farewell for the last time as the Season 7 premiere reveals, and Eugene trying to muster up the courage to stay the course, even in this Darkest Hour.
It's just barely there, but during the big Negan scene in "Last Day on Earth", there are these scratchy strings playing throughout (notable in one shot of Glenn after Negan introduces Lucille) that really sell the writhing frustration and anxiety of watching Negan play with his prisoners.
The track that plays during the actual victim picking with Lucille really helps regain all the terror and anxiety that the audience lost when the cliffhanger abruptly ended the Season 6 finale.
The tune that plays during "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be" as Rick collapses atop the RV is absolutely heartbreaking.
Finally, the tearjerking, gentle guitar that plays as the Saviors leave the clearing (and at the end of the episode when the group does the same). As the camera slowly pans over the survivors and their fallen friends, nothing sells the moment more than the score which truly emphasizes the horror they’ve just survived and that none of them will ever be the same.
"The Well" gives us a haunting, but gorgeous choral cover of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right". It's a great comedown from the horrors of the Season 6 finale, Season 7 premiere, and all the speculation and frustration during the seven month long cliffhanger.
"The Cell" features Roy Orbison's "Crying", and opens up with The Jam's "Town Called Malice".
The fight at Alexandria is accompanied by a glorious, cathartic track punctuated by exciting synthesizers. Life returns to the soundtrack and the series as the group finally fights back against the Saviors.
Quite possibly one of the best trailer tracks ever used: Future Royalty's "Take What's Mine" for the first Season 9 SDCC trailer. Even those who had long quit the show admitted that this song alone had them hyped for the New Beginning arc that will be adapted.
The pike massacre scene has an ominous, powerful score as it repeatedly cuts between revealing the identity of the victims and showing people questioning their whereabouts, all while a merciless set of strings escalated throughout the whole piece, culminating in Carol falling into despair upon finding Henry to be the last victim.
Beta gains a leitmotif starting in “Stalker” when he infiltrates Alexandria: a haunting, almost mechanical droning that perfectly sells just how scary this freak of nature really is.
Eugene gets a nice cover of "When the Cold Wind Blows" as he desperately tries to reconnect with Stephanie. It's awkward, unprofessional and a bit weird, but there's no doubting how sincere it is as Eugene tries his best to call back to the woman he's fallen in love with despite not even being able to see her. And she responds in kind, with Margot Bingham bringing her signature beautiful voice to sing back to him. It also plays over some of the last scenes we see of the survivors as they brace for battle, spending as much time together as possible knowing they may not survive the night.
The build-up to the climactic Battle of Hilltop in "Morning Star". The survivors have accepted they're all they've got, and are marching into battle all the same, ready to die together if need be after having said their kindest words to each other. A slow, gentle, but slowly more empowering electric guitar punctuates how the survivors are bracing themselves to battle the undead and their masters.
The epic soundtrack to the end of "What We Become" as it sends off Michonne to new horizons.
The scene in "A Certain Doom" where Carol and Lydia hide as the Whisperer horde is finally destroyed, sounding tragic, beautiful, and epic all the same as Alpha's reign of terror finally ends.
The Reapers have a guttural, mechanical leitmotif that first plays when we see Montanio open his eyes in "Home Sweet Home", and later heard prominently when Pope is introduced in Season 11's "Rendition". For characters who are violent religious terrorists, it's chilling and just plain evil to listen to.
For the Grand Finale, McCreary decided to go all out with a full orchestra rerecording the theme of the series for its' final opening sequence. This one adds in a lot of horns and drums to fully emphasize that this is the end.
The score during Rosita's death is peaceful, gentle, and stirring, not unlike "The Real Hero" from Avengers: Endgame, fitting for a send-off of one of the show's most heroic, long-tenured characters.
"Alive Inside", first played in the pharmacy office in Macon, plays during scenes with Clementine. A moving, crushingly sad version is played during the final scene when Lee tells Clem his final words.
"It's Over", which has played in major sad moments since Episode 2, particularly when leaving the St. John Dairy, when Kenny and Katjaa are deciding what to do with a bitten Duck, and when the player drops Ben to his death.
"Armed With Death", played only during Lee's potentially one-armed rampage through the streets of Savanna, which are infested with a horde of walkers.
"Take Us Back", by Alela Diane in the credits for the last episode of season one. It certainly punctuates the emotional roller coaster of Episode Five.
"Hope", which plays during some of the more uplifting scenes, such as when Carley flirts with Lee in Episode 3, where it is first heard, or when Lee's group discovers a functioning boat in Episode 4.
"In the Pines", which plays over the end credits of Season 2, Episode 2.
"At Peace", which plays when Kenny says his last words to Clementine or when he begs Edith to let her and AJ into Wellington.
"Grim Ranger", which plays over the end credits of Season 3 and The Stinger showing Clementine, further matured by her experiences with Javi, setting out to find A.J. on her own.
"Don't Be Afraid", which plays towards the end of Season 4 Episode 3. With the battle with the Delta looming on the horizon, Tenn suggests that this song be either sung by Violet or played on the piano by Louis. Either way, a beautiful yet somber song is performed that gives the children hope on what may very well be their last night alive.
''Safe And Sound plays over the end credits of Season 4 and perfectly embodies the ending. After years of running and losing the people she cares about, Clementine has finally found a safe place she can raise AJ and build a life for herself. So it is much more hopeful overall compared to most other songs here.