Mr. Robot has a great soundtrack so far. It isn’t exactly a show that relies heavily on music and shoving it unnecessarily to the point that it comes off as blatant shilling, and for obvious reasons.
Instead, the music supervisors opt for ominous minimalist sounds in scoring most of the scenes, (notably when hacking) to further add to the show’s dark atmosphere and appeal.
On the few times they use actual music, it’s timely and appropriate. Below are some of the best uses of music in the show.
- The Pixies – “Where Is My Mind?”
Since the first few episodes, “Fight Club” accusations have incessantly hounded the show. Even if some scenes had viewers doubting the theory (with Mr. Robot engaging Romero directly, among other examples), the whole “Mr. Robot is him talking to himself” observation has persisted in social media and many a household all season.
In a cunning display of self-awareness however, Sam Esmail sent an “I’m not that dense” message to everyone by inserting a piano rendition of “Where Is My Mind?” near the end of episode nine (in a bit of David Fincher worship as well, conjuring reminders of The Social Network’s infamous trailer), as Elliot and Tyrell are set to take out E Corp – the same soundtrack used in Fight Club as Project Mayhem unleashes anarchy and destruction in the city.
- Time Zone – World Destruction
Immediately following the execution of Fsociety’s great hack, the season finale opening sees Michael Hansen watching TV and comes across the burgeoning chaos that resulted with E Corp’s data being leaked.
The video montage is scored by the appropriately-named “World Destruction”, a song by the artist Afrika Bambaataa through his collaborative Time Zone project, magnificently tabbing the help of the Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten for this one. It was released a few decades ago but its themes and chorus still resonate today and through the show: “This is a world destruction / Your life ain’t nothing / The human race is becoming a disgrace / The rich get richer / The poor are getting poorer”.
- The Cure – Pictures of You
Most viewers had no idea what to make of Elliot and Shayla with their dynamic that bordered on awkward and strange, and was anything but romantic. It doesn’t help that by the sixth episode, “br4ve-trave1er.asf”, Shayla was unceremoniously killed off in the most anti-climactic circumstances.
But on the following episode’s cold open, we were treated to a flashback set to The Cure’s “Pictures of You” – a song about first love, its eventual dissolution, and the forlorn look back at said memories – as Elliot reminisces the first time he met Shayla. In just a few minutes, it gave us a bit of insight on the origin of the fish and their generally quirky relationship, and had us going “Aww, that sucks” for them.
- Len – Steal My Sunshine
Despite being a one-hit wonder about essentially nothing and featuring some of the most incomprehensible lyrics by a hit song ever, it’s inclusion in Mr. Robot was yet another shining example (no pun intended) of music being put to excellent use. Elliot, in a rare case of euphoria after learning that he’s “free” of Mr. Robot, declares that he will be living a bug-free life moving forward and acquiescing to the interests and activities of the general populace.
As he sips on a Venti cup of Starbucks latte, Elliot makes his way through the streets of New York and back to the office, all set to the addicting, saccharine beats of this late-90s classic.
- FKA Twigs – Two Weeks
FKA Twigs wrote this critical and surprisingly commercial hit – given its vulgar lyrics and antisocial theme – about wooing someone out of a relationship devoid of sex. And it was truly fitting as Tyrell’s background music as he dials up his calculated seduction of Sharon Knowles to eleven, but killing her just as quickly.
We’re not exactly sure if Mr. Knowles was “dead in bed” to evoke one’s partner to fly out of the nest, but then again Sharon most likely wouldn’t be doing that if he was taking care of business.