« Previous | Main | Next »

THE MUSIC OF BEING HUMAN: PART ONE

Post categories:

Garret Keogh, Online Editor | 14:51 UK time, Thursday, 12 February 2009

tobyh.jpg

New to BH? Watch out, this post contains spoilers from series one...

 

 

After being flooded with comments about the soundtrack of Being Human, we've done a bit of digging into why certain tracks were chosen.  Here Toby Haynes, the director of Being Human episodes one and two, discusses the reasons he chose such iconic tracks...

 

 

When I read the scripts for Being Human I was totally blown away.  I love horror, especially Werewolves, so Toby Withouse's script was the closest thing to 'An American Werewolf in London' I'd ever read. It was brilliant.
 
I was immediately filled with an overwhelming sense of protection over the show. I didn't want it to fall into the hands of someone who didn't understand the genre. It needed to be bold and punchy, cinematic and personal, also with enough nods to the archetypes our characters had emerged from.
 
I felt the music in the pilot had been particularly successful in places. Its use of Amy Winehouse's 'Rehab' 
seemed to really sum up the concept of the show, without being gothic or obvious. This, I felt was the key; songs that sum up the moment, emotion or action, the lyrics had to have relevance. This also sits well with Being Human's spiritual granddaddy 'An American Werewolf' where John Landis only used tracks with the word 'moon' somewhere in the lyrics, genius!
 
It was all very well to say all tracks had to have relevance, finding them was much trickier than I thought. I put out a challenge to the crew to come up with songs that had the words Vampire, Ghost, Wolf, Blood, Moon, Change, etc in the lyrics or title. This was a mistake. Every time I would walk onto set, or down a corridor someone would jump out and shout "Killing Moon!" or "Ghost Town!" which was very distracting. I ended up with a huge database of horror related songs, but during the editing process a lot of them just didn't fit. I realised that because the show was about much more than just ghosts and ghouls, the music had to also reflect this complexity.
 
One of my favourite tracks in opening episode was The Arctic Monkeys' 'When The Sun Goes Down'
It sums up Georges predicament perfectly without being all wolfy and on the nose about it. This was a suggestion from Ross Sellwood our music advisor (who does loads of work coming up with good ideas that I callously ignore, so it's great he got one through here!). It's also a good contemporary track; this always relaxes the execs when they know we're appealing to our demographic instead of indulging our love of obscure Death Metal B-sides.
 
I opened each of my episodes with the Supergrass track 'St Petersburg'
, which has a sort of melancholic thoughtfulness about it that chimes with Annie's look, taking us into the opening titles.
  
Johnny Cash's 'Hurt' 
was a last minute thing Matt [Bouch the producer] and I came up with in the Sound Mix. We'd wanted to reprise the St Petersburg track, but it just didn't sit right with the mood of the scene - where Mitchell is sitting shaken by the death of Becca. HURT with its feelings of regret and consequence really captures the house mates mood at this time.
 
In Episode 2, I wanted to sum up the weird and dislocated mood George is in after meeting another werewolf for the first time. I found this excellent rare track from The Coral called 'Shadows Fall'
which has a lovely eerie, deserted funfair feel to it.
 
Roachford's 'Cuddly Toy' 
is on the radio when Tully is doing his little shimmy in THAT dressing gown. "Feel for me Baby!" that's Tully alright. Which brings me to 'The Hounds of Love' which plays out on the café radio as Tully tries to coach George in the dark arts of picking up chicks.
 
Once again I tried to end the episode with a killer track, and I think Muse's 'Showbiz'
really cracks the sentiment here. With George having had to face who he really is, and Mitchell struggling with his addiction, I think the opening line of the song is something like "controlling my feelings for too long..." ooh, feel the relevance!
 

It was an intense and exciting experience making Being Human. The quality of the show is testament to the talented crew Matt Bouch put together, all working to bring Toby Whithouse's words to the screen unharmed. For me it was a privilege to kick this genre-bending series off on a journey that will hopefully play out over many seasons to come. 

 
Anyway, that's it for my Episodes, check out the list below its got all the tracks and artist we used in Episode 1 and 2 so enjoy!
 
 Episode 1

Track & Artist

Smack my Bitch Up - The Prodigy 

When the Sun Goes Down - The Arctic Monkeys

St Petersburg - Supergrass

Wondering - Dirty Pretty Things

Books from Boxes - MaximoPark

Take Her Back - Pigeon Detectives

Friendly Ghost - The Eels

Hurt - Johnny Cash

 

 

Episode 2

Something Inside of Me - The Coral 

Shadows Fall - The Coral

Showbiz - Muse

St Petersburg - Supergrass

Cuddly Toy - Roachford

The Hounds of Love - The Futureheads

Secret Kiss - The Coral

 

(Note - The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.)
 

 

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Yay :-)

    Excellent job, fantastic choices.

    Thank you and well done :-)

  • Comment number 2.

    Toby, thanks for the insight into the making of the show’s soundtrack, you all did a terrific job!

  • Comment number 3.

    "It's also a good contemporary track; this always relaxes the execs when they know we're appealing to our demographic instead of indulging our love of obscure Death Metal B-sides."

    I must be in that demographic, then. ;-)

    However, I loved the use of Johnny Cash in that scene - just perfect.

    The way music is used in this show is definitely one of the factors that make it so compelling. Without a doubt. Great job - and thanks for making up this list, and especially for giving an insight into the thought processes behind it.

  • Comment number 4.

    I totally agree that the soundtrack to the series is one more thing that is making Being Human a cut above the rest.

    Bravo!

    (You know if you released a soundtrack cd people would buy it. Hint hint.)

  • Comment number 5.

    Will you be doing this for each episode?

    I think someone else asked this one..what's the song that plays when Annie is handing Owen a towel/ironing his shirt etc in Episode 3?

  • Comment number 6.

    well, I've just bought the supergrass track :D

  • Comment number 7.

    This will be a regular feature, so check out the blog next week when we'll have Alex Pillai, director of episodes 3 & 4, telling us about his choices. (then you too can grab your headphones and have 'Gilbert fun')

  • Comment number 8.

    normally I don't notice music playing in the background of scenes (it's not that significant) while watching a show but eps of BH the choices really stand out and add to what exactly we're seeing on screen.
    I really liked the music choices for G's transformation scenes - I noticed nice continuity with one Prodigy song in pilot and another Prodigy song in ep 1 - have to wonder if there is a hidden meaning to choices at times. Why Aqua's "Barbie-girl" plays during Annie's poltergeist explosion? Or I'm *overanalysing* the music on the show. It's addictive though; wanting to see more eps to find out what song choices going to be added for scenes 8-)

  • Comment number 9.

    Great to hear it will be a regular thing, thanks.

    Awww, Gilbert, one of my fave charcters/actors in it so far. Such a shame he was only in one episode.

  • Comment number 10.

    To those who asked, the song from ep 3 with Annie/Owen is "Little Garcon".

  • Comment number 11.

    JohnTFolden, thank you. I tried googling the lyrics before, to try and find out, and had no luck. Have now downloaded it, thank you.

  • Comment number 12.

    Silverchair's 'Freak' came up on my playlist today...reckon that'd work for BH actually!

  • Comment number 13.

    The music for Episode 3: Soft Cell, Marc and the Mambas. Totally inspired! What a combination! My all-time favourite singer; my all-time favourite album (Torment and Toreros) and my all-time favourite horror characters: vampire and werewolf! This episode was a delight from start to finish. The series is the only thing I watch on tv each week - worth the licence fee in itself! Lots more of this show in the future please!!!

  • Comment number 14.

    The music has been fantastic throughout the series. I especially loved the music in episode three. The Smiths and Joy Division...fantastic. :)

  • Comment number 15.

    Have the BH team thought about going what John Landis did in An American Werewolf in London and using only songs with the word moon in the title next time there's a george episode?

  • Comment number 16.

    What is the music playing, near the end of Episode 4, when Michell is walking up to Herrick? If any one knows what it is and could get back to me that would be great. I just love the sound of it.

  • Comment number 17.

    The music playing at the end of Episode 4 is a song called "Sad eyed lady of the lowlife" by Alabama 3. The opening song where Mitchell is smoking in the streets is also by Alabama 3 and is called "Too sick to prey." Great choices I must say, but that goes for each and every episode. Keep up the good work! I can't wait till this Sunday to see what happens next...and by the looks of it, I'm not alone in this. Great show!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    As the director says, a whole bunch of songs about vampires, ghosts etc.would just grate and miss the point But spare a thought for Michael Hurley's sublime "Werewolf" which is not just creepily beautiful but howls at the moon for the loss and the pain and the loneliness of being an outcast who can only hurt the things he loves.

    You can hear his long holler from away 'cross the moor
    That's the holler of a werewolf when he's feelin' poor

    He goes out in the evenin' when the bats 're on the wing
    An' he's killed some young maiden before the birds sing

    For the werewolf, for the werewolf
    Have sympathy
    'cause the werewolf he is someone
    Just like you an' me

    http://open.spotify.com/track/61ZtsKvM5TO8Y5i9EIwCBz

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.