Rian Johnson's Knives Out has a fantastic score to set the mood for the whodunit, but it also includes a few songs in certain scenes throughout the film. Starring Daniel Craig as famed detective, Benoit Blanc, Knives Out is Johnson's homage to the classic murder mystery, pulling inspiration from Agatha Christie to Clue and everything in between.
While to many in the audience Johnson is best known for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the writer/director's latest film has more in common with his earlier work. Whether it's Brick, the hard-boiled detective story set in a suburban high school, or the tale of time-traveling contract killers in Looper, Johnson enjoys presenting the familiar in a fresh way. With Knives Out, he's putting his own spin on the whodunit, crafting a murder mystery that's surprising in ways beyond the reveal of the murderer. For the film's score, Johnson enlists his go-to composer and actual cousin, Nathan Johnson, who previously scored his earlier films: Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper. Here, he creates a score that's perfectly suited for a murder mystery, building tension and helping to bring a heightened emotion to each twist and turn.
Along with Nathan Johnson's score, there are a handful of songs featured throughout Knives Out. Interestingly, the one song may would expect in a movie with this title - Radiohead's "Knives Out" - does not make an appearance. Rian Johnson - who is himself a huge Radiohead fan and admits the song is where he got the idea for the film's title - would later explain to the L.A. Times he doubted they could afford the track, but added that if viewers "start humming the song in your head, that doesn’t cost us a dime." Otherwise, here's every song that's actually heard in Knives Out:
- "More Than This" - Roxy Music
- "The Inspector" - Tal Bergman
- "Animal Zoo" - Spirit
- "Righteous Rocker #1" - Larry Norman
- "Sundown" - Gordon Lightfoot
- "Lightning Rod" - Craig Carothers
- "E strano! - 'Ah, fors'è lui'" from La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi - Anna Netrebko & Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Carlo Rizzi
- "Losing My Mind" from Follies by Stephen Sondiem - Daniel Craig
- "Sweet Virginia" - The Rolling Stones
Quite a few of the songs heard in Knives Out come from the flashback scenes to Harlan's (Christopher Plummer) party. For instance, Roxy Music's "More Than This" is the song Joni (Toni Collete) dances to at the party, irritating her sister-in-law, Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis). Later on in the film, while Marta (Ana de Armas) is explaining to Ransom (Chris Evans) what happened to his grandfather, more music can be heard playing. In this case, it's songs like Larry Norman's "Righteous Rocker #1" playing in the background of the roadside diner.
Classic rock and pop songs aren't all that's heard in Knives Out, either. The film includes the opera track, "E strano! - 'Ah, fors'è lui'" from La Traviata and it plays during the scene of Blanc sitting quietly with Great Nana (K Callan), Harlan's mother. Just before Marta meets with Fran (Edi Patterson), she leaves Blanc behind in her car. As he's waiting for her to return, Blanc is seen wearing headphone and, from his singing along, we know he's listening to "Losing My Mind", a song form the Stephen Sondheim musical, Follies. For its credits song, Knives Out returns to the classic genre, though this time with a touch of country twang, choosing "Sweet Virginia" by The Rolling Stones to play the film out.