Season 2 of Mindhunter is finally here, and with it a very immersive and era-specific soundtrack. The show takes viewers into the minds of some of history’s most notorious serial killers as FBI agents Holden Ford, Bill Tench, and Wendy Carr develop early psychological profiling. We can’t think of a better way to take us back to a specific time and place — in this case the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, than with a killer soundtrack (pun intended).
The soundtrack features a smattering of better and lesser known tracks from the time, ranging from underground hits such as “The Overload” by the Talking Heads to more popular songs like “Call Me” by Blondie. Some of the songs definitely appear to have been picked based on subject matter as much as historical accuracy. Songs like “Guilt” by Marianne Faithfull, “Intruder” by Peter Gabriel, “Darkness” by The Police, and “Crime of the Century” by Jason Hill reflect the dark shadow looming over the season as the team investigates the Atlanta Child Murders, delve into the twisted minds of some of the century’s most violent criminals, and Ford continues to struggle with panic attacks.
Many of the songs act as subtle cues of the era to remind us that a lot of criminal psychology and profiling has been a relatively recent development when you take into account the history of detective work and solving crimes. Much of it was developed in the past 40 to 50 years which is underscored by the music. It’s a throwback, for sure, but the throwback isn’t that far.
One song in particular evokes an even higher level of creepiness. In the end credits of episode 5, which spends a considerable time on a storyline involving Charles Manson, the song playing, “Cease To Exist,” is by Manson himself.
Warning: spoilers for Mindhunter season 2 ahead.
Roxy Music, "In Every Dream Home a Heartache"
The song and the scene don't explain too much except to foreshadow the continued look we'll get at the man who becomes the BTK Killer.
Neil Diamond, "September Morn"
In a brief moment, we see Agent Bill Tench enjoying civilian life outside of the Bureau and quickly discovers that his job is the subject of great interest among his neighbors.
Jason Hill, "Crime of the Century"
Viewers see agent Holden Ford for the first time since he was hospitalized.
The Doobie Brothers, "What a Fool Believes"
This song serves as the backdrop for Tench and Agent Wendy Carr discussing Ford's panic attacks.
Talking Heads, "The Overload"
The counter-culture favorite plays at the end of episode 1 during the credits, perhaps as foreshadowing to what the rest of the season will hold.
Willie Nelson, "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground"
Throughout the season a number of songs play in the car as they drive to various locations of crimes and interviews. This one plays as Tench drives while on a solo mission in Kansas.
Eddie Rabbitt, "I Love a Rainy Night"
Tench sits with a local man at a bar in the early days of what will become a long investigation into the BTK Killer.
Blondie, "Call Me"
With Ford out of commission, Tench is the main focus of episode 2. In this scene, he runs into his co-worker Carr at a bar.
Fleetwood Mac, "Tusk"
Another great end credits track to cap off episode 2.
Cologne Chamber Orchestra, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, & Helmut Müller-Brühl, "Statbat Mater: Quando Corpus Morietur"
Episode 3 opens with a scene of the BTK Killer keep in thought doing research at a library.
Grace Jones, "Warm Leatherette"
Ford is back on the job and joins a hotel receptionist for an impromptu dinner.
The Brothers Johnson, "Stomp!"
Ford enters the restaurant to find that it wasn't the date he had in mind.
Pretenders, "Brass In Pocket"
The Pretenders classic plays during the end credits of episode 3.
David Bowie, "Ashes to Ashes"
Carr drives to a briefing on the latest update on the Atlanta Child Murders.
The Doobie Brothers, "China Grove"
Carr goes on a date with Kay, a bartender, at a bowling alley.
Joan Armatrading, "I'm Lucky"
Carr's date with Kay has quite the soundtrack. "I'm Lucky" plays as she arrives at the date.
Boston, "More Than a Feeling"
Carr and Kay hit it off on their date.
Charles Manson, "Cease To Exist"
In the episode where Ford finally gets his wish to speak to Charles Manson, this song plays during the end credits as an unsettling conclusion.
Kenny Rogers, "The Gambler"
Tench speaks to his wife on the phone while away at a country club retreat.
Red Rider, "Lunatic Fringe"
The public is made more widely aware of the Atlanta Child Murders as a city official makes a statement for the press.
Al Jarreau, "We’re In This Love Together"
Ford searches the FBI headquarters.
The Police, "Darkness"
The song, which plays during the end credits of episode 7, perfectly sums up the feeling of the season which has been shrouded in darkness.
Pat Benatar, "Hell Is for Children"
This is the first glimpse viewers get at Wayne Williams, who was eventually convicted of the Atlanta Child Murders.
Patti Smith, "Dancing Barefoot"
Carr's storyline gets a pretty great soundtrack. "Dancing Barefoot" plays as she approaches her girlfriend's house.
Christopher Cross, "Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)"
In a nice bonding moment with his son, Tench takes him out for ice cream.
Gary Numan, "M.E."
Ford is still clearly not back at his best. Tench turns on the car and this song startles Ford.
Steely Dan, "Hey Nineteen"
The police and the media close in on Williams as they show up on his street.
Marianne Faithfull, "Guilt"
Carr plays a record at home.
Peter Gabriel, "Intruder"
Episode 8, and the season, ends with "Intruder" playing over the end credits. Could it be a hint at what's to come in season 3?