We really need to talk about The Walking Dead: Dead City soundtrack

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead: Dead City _ Season 1, Episode 6 - Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead: Dead City _ Season 1, Episode 6 - Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC /

Many would agree the acting is often a top-notch quality, (although often overlooked during award season) of AMC’s The Walking Dead. This strength transitioned beautifully into The Walking Dead: Dead City, but that’s not what we’re talking about today.

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I’ve written articles before about the music of The Walking Dead, most recently choosing the best trailer songs (in my opinion), which included Kari Kimmel’s Black (I still adore this song) and Future Royalty’s Take What’s Mine. Outside of those songs, I’ve come to love and appreciate the grandeur of music composed specifically for the show.

I’m talking musical scores that rip your heart out while you watch a character tragically die. You know, ones that fill your body and soul with goosebumps when the villain arrives on screen, and the ones that remind you of all the good in the world when the heroes finally have a moment of luck.

For those who don’t know, Bear McCreary was the man behind The Walking Dead’s music. He composed the unforgettable The Mercy of the Living, The Governor’s eerie theme The Pulse, the spooky The Hand, Negan’s theme which always reminded me of violent insects in the night and so forth.

Who is behind The Walking Dead: Dead City’s incredible soundtrack?

The Walking Dead: Dead City
Zeljko Ivanek as The Croat – The Walking Dead: Dead City _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC /

So, imagine my surprise when I didn’t see McCreary’s name as the composer for Dead City. I had assumed this spinoff prove all the doubters wrong, but I didn’t expect to be completely swept away by music that embodies everything Dead City is and was going to be.

Dead City’s composer is Ian Hultquist, who you may recognize from his works in movies and television such as Dickinson, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Good Girls and A.X.L. Let me tell you, Ian has met and exceeded the bar of expectations, creating something refreshing yet familiar.

Because let’s be honest, The Walking Dead had 11 seasons. Yet, Ian’s ability to compose music for an already established universe that, for me anyway, has left a heavier, if not more, lasting impact, to the same effect as The Mercy of the Living.

I’m not talking about a few musical moments; I’m talking about the season as a whole. Throughout the entire first season, every time I heard music, regardless of the unfolding scene, I felt immediately transported into the episode.

That’s 6 episodes worth of music that will never leave me, not that I want it to. If I had to pick my favorites from the show, it would easily be The Croat’s theme and Keys to the Kingdom.

The Croat’s theme gave me intense chills while watching the first two episodes at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. This is the kind of villain intro that effectively terrifies its audience because it holds a very scary yet unpredictability to it.

The Croat is not a loud mouthed, charismatic or outwardly psychotically unhinged villain. He’s crazy yes, but still holds a manner of control and sophistication.

The Keys to the Kingdom will probably play rent free in my head until Dead City season 2 airs. It’s sad yet impactful because probably for the first time in a while, we see Negan in a predicament that he doesn’t see an easy way out of.

He knows he’ll have to play The Dama’s game for a while in order to successfully escape. Even if it means he’ll be away from his family even longer than expected.

I look forward to what Ian creates for the next season. In the meantime, I’ll listen to Dead City’s season 1 soundtrack on repeat for the ultimate listening experience and inspiration.

You can listen and purchase The Walking Dead: Dead City soundtrack on Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music and Soundcloud. Learn more about composer Ian Hultquist by checking out his website here.

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Did you watch The Walking Dead: Dead City? Let us know in the comments what you thought of this Walking Dead spinoff.