10 Best' Better Call Saul' Needle Drops


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Oct 15, 2023

10 Best' Better Call Saul' Needle Drops

From frenetic jazz-funk to forlorn pop hits, Better Call Saul had the perfect

From frenetic jazz-funk to forlorn pop hits, Better Call Saul had the perfect song for every mood and scene.

Music is an integral part of movies and television, helping to set the tone and evoke certain emotions. Sometimes, nothing works as well as the perfect song choice, and the team behind the music of Better Call Saul understands that all too well.

Better Call Saul has become known for its soundtrack, from its surf rock-esque theme to its use of familiar popular music. The show is judicious in its use of music, often sticking to the score or instrumental pieces and sometimes opting not to underscore tense scenes with music at all, instead letting them stand alone. Needle drops — moments featuring popular music — are fairly uncommon and are used wisely, with choices that are considered carefully for what they contribute to a given scene.

The season premieres have always shown Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk), now Gene, as paranoid, even more so in Season 5 — he calls out of work, wants to know if anyone has been asking about him, and is glued to a police scanner. When confronted by two men who recognize him, he's desperate to keep up his false identity.

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"Welcome to My World" by Jim Reeves plays as Jimmy goes about a routine day just before the men recognize him. It's a fitting choice for a scene that leads to his identity being discovered — and to him requesting a new one, then changing his mind.

Jimmy is unhappy with his job at the law firm Davis & Main, but he can't quit — at least not without repaying his signing bonus. Instead, he sets out to get himself fired with increasingly insufferable, absurd behavior that makes him a nuisance without crossing the line to truly horrible.

Few things move a good montage along like great musical accompaniment, and that's exactly what "Inflatable" has with "Scorpio," a fun, punchy instrumental track by Dennis Coffey. The song perfectly accompanies Jimmy's escalating behavior, from wearing bright-colored suits and bold ties and using a loud juicer in the officer kitchen to leaving toilets unflushed under the guise of saving water and badly playing bagpipes in his office.

The Season 4 episode "Something Stupid" deals in part with Jimmy and Kim's relationship, and at the same time, work on Gus’ (Giancarlo Esposito) underground lab is in full swing. Things are progressing slowly, leading to growing tension between workers.

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This episode features Burl Ives’ "Big Rock Candy Mountain," a whimsical folk song about a place a man imagines as paradise, "a land of milk and honey" overflowing with food like "a soda water fountain," "lemonade springs," and even "cigarette trees." But the song plays as Gus’ lab is being constructed, perhaps his own idea of "Big Rock Candy Mountain."

Kim (Rhea Seehorn) and HHM are engaged in a tug-of-war over a major client, the bank Mesa Verde. When the bank is ultimately swayed to stick with the firm rather than follow Kim as she opens her own practice, Jimmy sets out to sabotage the firm — his brother, Chuck (Michael McKean), specifically — to win their business back for Kim.

Little Barrie's "Why Don't You Do It" plays as Jimmy painstakingly alters documents, the lyrics seeming to egg him on in an act that's not just a huge betrayal to Chuck but is illegal. Jimmy cuts and pastes papers to make it look like Chuck made a major error, exploiting his sensitivity to electricity to make him look incompetent. It's an action which would have major consequences.

Season premieres of Better Call Saul tended to feature black-and-white sequences set to oldies showing Gene in the present day, typically going about his day at work. Although simple, they could also be very telling, and the Season 2 premiere sees Gene getting locked out and opting not to use the emergency exit, which would trigger an alarm and automatically notify the police, and instead waits it out for someone else to come.

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Billy Walker's "Funny How Time Slips Away" plays as Gene performs the mundane tasks of his job, a reference to daily life but also how things have changed since the events of both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. The song fittingly fades out over a shot of a clock.

Season 4 episode "Something Stupid" opens with a montage showing Jimmy and Kim drifting further and further apart over the course of a few months. They spend their evening dinners in silence — if Kim even comes home for dinner — and live practically separate lives, with their careers heading in very different directions.

In addition to "Big Rock Candy Mountain," this episode uses a bittersweet love song also titled "Something Stupid" — a cover by Lola March — over the montage of Jimmy and Kim. As the song fades out over the repeated line of "I love you," they aren't even in the same place, as Kim eats dinner in her office while Jimmy eats his alone at home.

As punishment for not informing her bosses at HHM about a television ad Jimmy filmed and aired, Kim is sent to work in document review. To get back in their good graces, she sets out to lure a major new client and gets in touch with virtually all of her professional contacts to do so, ultimately succeeding in winning the business of Mesa Verde Bank, which would play a major part in the series moving forward.

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While Kim combs through her contacts and calls each one, growing more frustrated while remaining determined, Gipsy Kings’ "A Mi Manera" plays a Spanish cover of "My Way," popularized by Frank Sinatra. The guitar is a fitting underscore to Kim's mood, but the lyrics and subject matter are even more appropriate, as Kim does her best to take control of and remedy the situation.

Season 4's black-and-white opening shows Gene collapsing at work and being taken to the hospital, where tests are run, and doctors poke and prod. Despite worries he suffered a heart attack, that isn't the case, and he's released.

All the while, "We Three (My Echo, My Shadow and Me)" plays a sad song about loneliness. On one level, it's about Gene's life in hiding, vastly different from the height of his success and wealth as Saul and without the companionship of Kim or, seemingly, anyone. But "We Three" is also a reference to his three identities over the course of the show — Jimmy, Saul, and Gene.

The Season 6 premiere deviates from the familiar black and white opening featuring Gene at Cinnabon, instead opening with a great shot of a collection of ties before pulling back to reveal what's really happening — Saul's house is emptied of all his expensive possessions. The audience gets a look at just how grandiose, even obnoxious, his lifestyle became. There are also some apt metaphors here, like a Saul Goodman cardboard cutout floating facedown in a pool that's later put in a dumpster.

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"Days of Wine and Roses" by Jackie Gleason Orchestra has an elegant element to it that matches the wealth seen on display in the home and adds a dramatic quality to the cleanup of the house. It's a sad reminder of Jimmy's transformation into Saul and how Saul lost everything and became Gene. But the question looming over Season 6 was what happened to Kim? And as the music fades out, there's a hint — a Zafiro Añejo bottle stopper falls out of a desk drawer and into the gutter, and it looks familiar. Kim took it after pulling a scam in Season 2, kept it in her office at Schweikart & Cokely, and then took it with her when she quit.

The very first scenes of Better Call Saul show the audience what Saul Goodman's life looks like after the events of Breaking Bad — he's in hiding and now goes by Gene, works a simple job in a mall Cinnabon, and he's paranoid. He is neither the Saul we’ve seen before nor the Saul we’ll see develop throughout the series.

"Address Unknown" by The Ink Spots plays as the audience sees Saul at work in black and white, perfectly establishing his current reality and establishing a pattern for subsequent season premieres. "Address unknown, not even a trace of you," the band sings, hinting at the situation, but the song could also be a poignant reminder of his loss of Kim.

KEEP READING: 10 Best Breaking Bad Needle Drops

Better Call Saul COLLIDER VIDEO OF THE DAY SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT Bob Odenkirk Jim Reeves Dennis Coffey Giancarlo Esposito Burl Ives Rhea Seehorn Michael McKean Billy Walke Lola March