So much of the excitement and success of Loki's six-episode first season could be sourced to the bonkers twists and MCU-expanding reveals that were spread throughout each installment. But the series' biggest spoiler-free delights absolutely came through the brilliant and pulse-pounding musical score crafted by composer Natalie Holt. The ever-evolving theme she put together for Tom Hiddleston's trickster god may very well be my favorite MCU composition yet, and it's basically followed by all the other Loki themes heard throughout. And though one might suspect such massive sonic-scapes had equally large-scale conceptions, Holt's process was surprisingly quaint in the best ways.
CinemaBlend recently spoke about all things Loki with Natalie Holt, who'd previously worked on the scores for UK TV projects such as Knightfall, Beecham House and Deadwater Fell. The way she successfully maneuvers between varying projects is by staying "sympathetic to the scale of the drama," so that she's not creating aural masterpieces that end over overtaking what's happening on screen. Luckily for everyone, Loki is a tale on such an epic scale that she was basically in a musical sandbox when creating all the instantly iconic themes. So let's dig into how some of those musical motifs came to life.
The TVA Theme
While the central character's main theme is possibly the one that boosts Loki fans' energy levels the most, the TVA theme is 100% equally memorable, and it just begs for a cappella renditions from viewers watching at home. And you know what? That's essentially how the theme was conceived in the first place. Here's how composer Natalie Holt described coming up with those earliest ideas.
I'll say, the TVA theme, I was walking along the street. I had this kind of break between getting the job and then starting spotting and going through the episodes with Kate, because she was filming. So I had about a month to kind of come up with the suite of all the themes. And like the TVA theme, I just was walking down the street, and I was like - [vocalizes the theme] - and I kind of hummed that into my phone. So you can see up my nose. I knew I wanted chords, but obviously, I can't sing chords. So then I just kind of sang that into my phone, and came home and demoed something up like computer. But yeah, that was kind of the most fun one.
How awesome would it have been to be out and about, perhaps walking one's dog, and to hear Holt humming that slam-banger of a theme nearby. If only Marvel fans had known at the time. And while her process of sounding out rhythms into a recorder is hardly strange behavior for musicians, I just love the fact that it's how the world got the theme that unlocked the whole damn multiverse.
While Natalie Holt did say that a lot of Loki's music was crafted while watching show footage and getting a sense of the universe from what director Kate Herron, Tom Hiddleston and everyone else were putting together, she said that the theme for Owen Wilson's Mobius was another one that she laid the groundwork for based mostly on her own inner influences. And in this case, she connected Mobius' jet ski fandom with '80s hair metal, and somehow another masterfully emotional theme was ushered into existence. In her words:
I think I came up with the Mobius theme just away from watching anything as well. I was thinking what Mobius would listen to fun in his downtime. I imagined it might be Bon Jovi, because he likes jet ski magazines. So, yeah, that was kind of starting point for his theme, and the guitars that I used for his theme.
Considering Mobius' theme sounds far more like Clint Mansell's meticulously soul-crushing "Lux Aeterna" theme from Requiem for a Dream, as performed by the Kronos Quartet, it's rather glorious that the TVA agent's sounds can be sourced back to songs like "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Wanted Dead or Alive." Both songs with titles that can reasonably be applied to Loki variants, oddly enough.
Then there's the man himself, Loki. While Natalie Holt didn't have any adorable stories about coming up with Loki's theme as she rode on an alligator's back through a gathering of giant stone heads, she did talk about what fed into that larger-than-life composition. And it was as much Tom Hiddleston's performance as anything else. According to Holt:
I think the way Tom plays Loki is very theatrical, and classical, and over the top, and grand, so I was very much inspired by those big classical works, and big brassy sounds, and rousing chords. Yeah, and kind of giant symphonic textures was my inspiration. But then also messing around with it and giving it style and irreverence. So yeah, a blend of those two things.
I rather cheekily asked if it was a situation where Tom Hiddleston might have come up to her to ask about adding more flute into the mix, but this was apparently not the way. Here's how Natalie Holt put it:
Oh, I don't know what I'd do if Tom Hiddleston came up to me and asked me for more flute. I'd probably melt into a puddle on the floor. No, my main musical directions were coming from Kate Herron, and also from Kevin Wright, the producer.
Here's hoping there's a recorder going if the composer ever melt into a puddle, since that would probably make a pretty unique noise. it'd probably go well with a theremin, too. Maybe for Season 2!
Experience Loki's magnificent souncscape again and again by streaming all six episodes on Disney+. Vol. 1 of the soundtrack has been officially released on platforms like Spotify, and I'm hoping the rest of it will come out soon.