Music has always been extremely important to the universe of “The Watchmen.”
No one really thinks Trent Reznor got into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall-Of-Fame because of his work on the HBO’s amazing T.V. Noir series “Watchmen.” But man is it cool to know that showrunner Damon Lindeloff was so serious about the project that he chose to employ a composer worthy of the hall-of-fame.
Music has always been extremely important to the universe of “The Watchmen.” The original graphic novel was littered with references and allusions to the likes of Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Elvis Costello, The Police, Devo, and many more. While the movie also made music a centerpiece, featuring iconic scenes set to equally iconic tunes. It will definitely be quite some time before anyone forgets the incredible opening sequence of “The Watchmen” movie set to “The times they are a-changing,” by Bob Dylan.
HBO’s “Watchmen” “remix,” as Lindeloff referred too it, kept that spirit alive by really letting the music in the show tell it’s own dynamic story. They also made some musical nods to the comic, ala Adrian Veidt’s love of reggae music scene in episode three when Ozymandias is listening to Desmond Dekker & The Aces tune “The Israelites.”
But the incendiary soundtrack of the show only told half of its sonic story. The other half was told by Reznor and his legendary industrial sound. Through his musical compositions and decisions, the show gained a distinctly foreboding tone that was still uniquely modern. It really lent itself seamlessly to the subversive dystopian mood of the entire series. I’m not saying it takes Rock ‘N Roll Hall-Of-Famer to accomplish that mission, it just certainly doesn’t hurt when you have one.
Reznor will be entering the Hall under the name of his seminal 1990’s industrial project Nine Inch Nails, and while obviously his achievements on “Watchmen” pale in comparison to his achievements with NIN. There is no denying that without his envelope-pushing work toward the end of the millennium, he never would have discovered the sound that made “Watchmen’s” score so disquieting and alienating.
Reznor’s heavy tones lent themselves so well to the “Watchmen” universe because like the source material, this music is not meant to comfort you. As you pull back the many layers of “The Watchmen’s” subject matter you continually discover more of Allen Moore’s dark sense of humor and deeply satirical messaging. The same can be said of Nine Inch Nails music and for the score Reznor so brilliantly composed.
To score a masterpiece it takes a master, and when it comes to unsettling music that can still lend itself to a narrative Trent Reznor might just be the world’s foremost authority. The ever so subtle differences between the universe created for HBO’s “Watchmen” and our own were so gorgeously highlighted by the score Reznor brought to life. I think it might have proved an impossible task for any other composer. Here’s hoping the Emmy’s agree!
The other 2020 Rock N Roll Hall-Of-Fame inductees include Whitney Houston, Notorious B.I.G., Doobie Brothers, Depeche Mode, and T. Rex.