Sunday’s premiere of Pennyworth, the latest series entrant in the DC universe, gives viewers a glimpse into the origin story of Batman’s loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth. With bold hints of early Bond, we meet Alfie as a dashing diamond-in-the-rough former SAS officer trying to make his mark in a ’60s-era London full of political intrigues and great music.
The series opens with Rolling Stones classic ‘Paint It Black’ to set the tone, but although the show’s soundtrack is heavily influenced by the time period, they did take some creative license.
Music supervisor Marielle Jade Te (Gotham, Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, Silicon Valley) of HTGR shared with Tunefind that while Pennyworth is set in 1960s London, “it’s one where history played out differently. We say it’s a London 13 degrees weirder and darker than what we know. With this alternate reality, we were able to have a bit of fun with the music.”
The show is a prequel spinoff of the show Gotham, which followed the rise of Detective James Gordon in Gotham City years before Batman’s arrival. Gotham recently concluded after 5 seasons and over 200 songs, with the creative team – including HTGR – turning their focus across the pond to tell the story of Bruce Wayne’s legendary butler, Alfred Pennyworth (played by Jack Bannon) and his chance meeting of a young Thomas Wayne (played by Ben Aldridge) several decades earlier.
During the premiere, some of the action (including the Wayne-Pennyworth “meet cute” with fists) takes place inside The Scarlet Rope nightclub where Alfie and love interest Esme (played by Emma Corrin) both work. On stage an Amy Winehouse ‘Back to Black’ cover by Martin Tomlinson was featured. Te describes this rendition and Tomlinson’s performance as “glamorous, splashy and flamboyant.”
While ‘Back to Black’ is admittedly of a different era, Te explains how the tone of the song “fit perfectly in this universe. A nod to a different time within something familiar.”
Tomlinson is the lead singer of the band known as Selfish C**t. He has multiple writing credits, as well as an on-screen performance in How to Talk to Girls at Parties, based on a short story by Neil Gaiman (the author behind American Gods, Good Omens and Coraline).
Tomlinson’s rendition of ‘Back to Black’ is currently unreleased, but it gives a glimpse of what to expect from the new series.
Te shares, “For the most part, we use authentic catalogue cuts from the time and place, but there are moments here and there where we were able to take some creative liberty with quintessential British artists and either use the original or create covers to fit inside this sonic world we created.”
Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and executive produced by Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon, the season will consist of ten episodes and plenty of songs from a classic era of British music.
Te is keeping mum on whether the show will also tap the musical talents of Paloma Faith, who plays villainous henchwoman Bet Sykes in Pennyworth.
Tunefind will continue to track the music from Pennyworth and be sure to tune in Sundays on Epix. You can stream the first three episodes now via EpixNow.
〉Songs featured in the Pennyworth soundtrack
〉Songs featured in the Gotham soundtrack