By Brian Ives
Last night, HBO premiered its newest series, the much-anticipated Westworld. Hyped as their next Game of Thrones-level epic, the cast boasts a lot of star power: it features Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins. And last night, if you were paying attention, the music was provided by Soundgarden and the Rolling Stones. But if you weren’t paying attention, you may have missed their songs, which were presented in radically different versions.
Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” from 1994’s classic Superunknown, seemed like a lounge song for the alt-rock ’90s when it was first released. Westworld converted it to an instrumental piano piece during a scene in a western bar. (It’s not the first instrumental version of the song; in 2006, Peter Frampton recorded an instrumental take, backed by Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready).
Meanwhile, the Rolling Stones’ iconic 1966 single, “Paint It, Black” was treated to an instrumental orchestral treatment, and was used during a shootout scene.
“Westworld” is a technologically advanced, Western theme park, which exists in an unspecified future, populated by life-like androids called “Hosts”; humans who pay to visit the park and interact with the androids are called “Newcomers.” The show seems to ask deep questions on the nature of humanity. It will be interesting to see how the show progresses. And what other music it uses to advance its story.