Top Scores #12: Unloved & Killing Eve
Taking things in a slightly different direction from previous film focused Top Scores, this week we’re going to be diving into the score for BBC America’s wildly popular drama series Killing Eve.
Predominantly soundtracked by Unloved with specially composed tracks as well as songs from their 2016 album ‘Guilty Of Love’, the series garnered a lot of praise for its creative approach to the score. Comprising of producers and film composers David Holmes (who previously wrote the music for the Ocean’s Eleven movie series) and Keefus Ciancia along with singer Jade Vincent, Unloved channels its members’ cinematic experience to create compelling, filmic songs perfectly suited to the drama and black humour of Killing Eve.
Vincent’s brooding vocals reveal something of the interior life of the two female protagonists, with her voice becoming “the voice inside their head, either to sooth or maybe a warning or some sort of empowering thing.” ‘When A Woman Is Around’ plays over a scene of the murderer for hire Villanelle approaching the Tuscan home of her next victim, providing a sense of foreboding but also channelling a rebellious kind of female power.
As the show shifts location, taking in sights across Europe as Villanelle goes on her murderous mission assignments, so too does the soundtrack. Influences from the pop and folk songs of each country went into the score, with Russian folk song ‘The Dark Eyes’ becoming something of a theme tune for the assassin.
Crucially, the score deliberately aims to avoid obvious emotionally manipulative tropes. According to Holmes, “a lot of composers in certain sequences within the series would’ve gone for a much more kitchen sink, full-on drama. And what we were doing was actually turning that on its head”. Instead of relying on orchestral crescendos to emphasise moments of action or drama, Unloved took things down a more dark, psychedelic route that doesn’t patronise the viewer and ends up being far more compelling.
Season 2 of Killing Eve is already out in the USA and Australia and lands in the UK on BBC One this Saturday.
Listen to ‘When A Woman Is Around’ by Unloved here: