The Traitors’ Producer On The Show’s Bonkers Music & That Round Table Song

Yes, he knows it’s so bad it’s good.

There are a host of factors that’ve made Peacock’s The Traitors (the U.S. version) one of the most talked-about reality shows right now: There’s the murderous, Mafia-like plotline; the cast of reality-show stars (from Housewives to star Survivor contestants); host Alan Cumming’s lavishly ornate costumes. And then there’s the music — the truly awful, incredible music that’s become its own event.

Every Thursday evening, I plop on my couch and emotionally prepare myself for whatever deranged lyrical soundbites await. In the season premiere, it was a sickly female voice crooning, “There’s a traitor in my heart now,” right as the traitors were gathering in their secret tower. The cues are about as subtle as Cumming’s head-to-toe tartan, but it’s that quality that’s made the music brilliant — and the center of a lot of divisive discourse among fans online.

Like Selling Sunset, The Traitors pushes the art of curating smooth-brained, seemingly AI-generated pop soundtracks to another level. And it turns out part of that description is partially accurate — when I get executive producer Sam Rees-Jones on the phone, he reveals that the show's soundtrack is actually bespoke, composed by two third-party companies, Bleeding Fingers Music and Feel For Music. Below, Rees-Jones gives us the inside scoop on the music of this season, how it compares to that of other reality shows, and to finally answer the question scores of fans have been wondering online: What is that one song that plays during the Round Table?

Euan Cherry/PEACOCK

I've been looking online and the music has been quite divisive. People either think it's horrible or they're like, “It's so campy that it's brilliant.”

I mean, our show is camp, isn’t it? We don't take ourselves too seriously. We're doing a show about murdering, and Alan’s quoting Shakespeare. There’s fun to the show, and music can have fun with that as well.

We liked the idea of having more slightly commercial-sounding tracks that had lyrics within them [for this new season]. Those were tracks we worked [on] with two composing companies called Bleeding Fingers and Feel For Music. There would be specific moments we would give to these companies, [like] the start of the episode when [the cast] arrives and the drums are playing outside the castle. We wanted this lone bagpiper outside at the gates playing this haunting music, and we wanted these drums to start building and crescendoing, and that track gave the feel for it. There were also moments that we discussed, like, “We want a track that talks to betrayal and backstabbing or whatever, and can you generate some of those tracks?”

So these aren’t “real” songs.

No, they're composing them for us. The lyrical tracks were moments [in the show] that we identified and talked about with these companies.

I don't know if you've seen Selling Sunset, but there was a moment online where people were describing that music as "Girl Boss" music. I was wondering, do you internally have a label to describe the music you use on The Traitors?

I don't think I've got as good a name as “Girl Boss” music. I call it “Traitorized Pop,” but I don't think that's a good way of selling it.

What terms do you use, then, to describe to the company what you want? Online, people say that it reminds them of the Hunger Games. Are there reference points you use?

We drew inspiration from lots of different places. There are bands like Ruelle, London Grammar, Bishop Briggs, Joseph William Morgan. These are people that give this dark sound, sometimes with this sweetness of haunting female vocals within it. It did take a while to get that sound right. I know they're fun and cheeky, but sometimes if it was overly commercial or a bit too on the nose, it felt naff in a bad way.

Do you work on The Traitors U.K. as well? I noticed the U.K. version of the show uses a lot of covers. Was that an intention to musically differentiate the two franchises?

The difference with the U.K. market is that the majority of people can use commercial music in the U.K. with a blanket agreement, and that's not the same in the U.S. We wanted to look at what we could do for the U.S. market that elevated it from season one [while] working around those restrictions. I feel like because we were able to bespoke-create tracks, there's a real joy and satisfaction in having specific moments. And we only use those tracks maybe three or four times an episode.

There's a group of very determined fans online who are trying to find a specific song that’s been used at the Round Table. Now, I know it’s a bespoke song, but would you ever consider releasing the soundtrack to the public?

Someone’s asked me about that. I need to speak to our team about that because, you're right, it's just within the show. So yeah, let me speak to someone about that. [But] isn’t it nice that it just lives within the show?

I mean, it really adds to the whole mythical lore of The Traitors, with the werewolf howls and such.

Well, what other shows do you have wolves howling in the night and crows crowing and flames burning and Alan [Cumming] quoting Shakespeare in a cape outside? The tone of the show is such a fun tone, but I hope we do it with a bit of a knowing wink.

‘The Traitors’ airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Peacock.