Music to Break Bad To – “DLZ,” by TV on the Radio

As much as Breaking Bad has come to redefine the cinematic scope of television shows, it also goes above and beyond in its use of music. By now, the stature of the average Breaking Bad musical montage is beyond repute, and even the most unassuming of instrumental compositions can pack as much of a wallop as the show’s action. Vince Gilligan and crew have obviously striven to make every aspect of the show as top notch as possible over the past 5 years, and now with the end in sight, let us take this opportunity over the weeks to come to pay tribute to some of the show’s most indelible musical moments.

For me, the definitive Breaking Bad musical scene came in the season 2 episode “Over,” which climaxed to the tune of TV on the Radio’s “DLZ.” That particular episode provided viewers with the last semblance of calm before season 2’s climactic rush towards utter oblivion: Bryan Cranston’s Walter White is out running a home repair errand when he happens to see an obvious meth cook loading up on supplies. After a brief interaction, Walt mulls over the meeting for a bit before resolutely storming off into the parking lot to assert himself further.

Cue the ominous refrain of “DLZ,” which as best as I can figure is short for “Dawn of the Luz of forever” (never you mind the above video’s mistranslation).¬†That’s a rather oblique snippet of lyrics, possibly meant to evoke the Yeats poem “The Second Coming,” which also ends with apocalyptic predictions regarding Egyptian cities. Again, such platitudes seem appropriate considering how Breaking Bad’s second season ended.

The rest of “DLZ” is far more direct in its lyrical references. Walter White is very much a “Death Professor,” and even his modus operandi seems here laid out: “You force your fire and then you falsify your deeds / Your methods dot the disconnect from all your creeds / And fortune strives to fill the vacuum that it feeds.” It’s genuinely the kind of thing that would make you think the song was written directly for the show.

As this spoilerific fan-made video illustrates, it’s also a song whose sound is very much in line with Breaking Bad’s general tone. There’s a deep and dirty edge to the constant pounding back beat, and singer Tunde Adebimpe’s vocals convey by turns loneliness and aggression in a manner similar to Walt’s own temperament. ¬†Breaking Bad is a show about one man’s gripping, slow self-destruction, and this song makes for fitting accompaniment. “DLZ” may have played over a moment where Walter White felt more self-assured than ever, but make no mistake, it rung loud and clear the inevitability of his downfall.

T.J. Dempsey

T.J. Dempsey

T.J. Dempsey

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  • dparkdon07

    So well written and aptly appropriate. TV on the Radio is one of my favorite bands and this ominous tune is the perfect foreshadow of Walt’s rise and ultimate fall. I had to post the lyrics here because reading them when you watch the seen and everything becomes so clear!

    “DLZ” – TV on the Radio

    Congratulations on the mess you made of things;
    On trying to reconstruct the air and all that brings.
    And oxidation is the compromise you own
    But this is beginning to feel like the dog wants her bones saved

    You force your fire then you falsify your deeds
    Your methods dot the disconnect from all your creeds
    And fortune strives to fill the vacuum that it feeds
    But this is beginning to feel like the dog’s lost her lead

    This is beginning to feel like the long winded blues of the never
    This is beginning to feel like it’s curling up slowly and finding a throat to choke

    This is beginning to feel like the long winded blues of the never
    Barely controlled locomotive consuming the picture and blowing the crows, the smoke

    This is beginning to feel like the long winded blues of the never
    Static explosion devoted to crushing the broken and shoving their souls to ghost

    Eternalised. Objectified.
    You set your sights so high.
    But this is beginning to feel like
    the bolt busted loose from the lever

    Never you mind
    Death professor
    Your structure’s fine
    My dust is better
    Your victim flies so high
    All to catch a bird’s eye view of who’s next

    Never you mind
    Death professor.
    Love is life,
    My love is better.
    Eyes could be the diamonds
    Confused with who’s next

    Never you mind
    Death professor.
    Your shocks are fine,
    My struts are better.
    Your fiction flies so high,
    Y’all could use a doctor
    Who’s sick, who’s next?

    Never you mind
    Death professor.
    Electrified, my love is better
    It’s crystallized, so am I.
    All could be the diamond
    Fused with who’s next

    This is beginning to feel like the dawn of a loser forever
    This is beginning to feel like the dawn of a loser forever
    This is beginning to feel like the dawn of a loser forever