The Witcher's Catchy as Hell Bard Song Was So Good, It Became the Heart of the Show's Soundtrack

O’ valley of plenty, O’ valley of plenty, O’...
O’ valley of plenty, O’ valley of plenty, O’...
Image: Netflix

If you sat down with a Swallow or two to bingewatch The Witcher this weekend, then you might have, like myself, found yourself uncontrollably singing a few bars from “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” out loud every once in while. Jaskier’s hype song for Geralt is one hell of an earworm—one so potent, it actually became a secret weapon of The Witcher soundscape.

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Decider has an excellent, in-depth interview with Jaskier himself, Joey Batey, as well as Witcher composers Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli, about the creation of “Toss a Coin,the sleeper hit of The Witcher (sorry, Henry Cavill in a Bathtub, you’ve been dethroned. De-tubbed?). There’s a bunch of interesting factoids about its development, like the fact there was almost, potentially, a rap version of the song—god, should’ve been the end credits theme—or how Batey was apparently “sick as a dog” by the time it came to actually record the track, making it all the more impressive he pulled off the hottest lute jam of 2019.

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But perhaps most fascinating is how Belousova and Ostinelli constructed the composition of “Toss a Coin” to not just reflect Jaskier’s arc and the overall tone of the show, but also how, upon realizing what a catchy ditty they had on their hands, it slowly seeped its way into the series’ soundtrack at large. The lyrics for the piece were written by Jenny Klein, who wrote the script for the episode it debuted in, “Four Marks. But Belousova and Ostinelli wanted to have the composition reflect Jaskier’s growth from a failing troubadour to the Continent’s equivalent of a Rock God, building from a simple, medieval-influenced solo piece to a swelling, contemporary-inspired rock ballad by its end.

“When we were creating it there was a steady conversation about who Jaskier was as a character. Aside from being the bard, the troubadour, the storyteller, if we were to translate it to a modern day context he could be very quickly clumped into an Instagram influencer kind of role,” Batey told the site of his take on a contemporary bard. “His job is to wander around the Continent and tell stories and entertain people and also give them the news. This is how people would find out what’s happening in the world around them. Having that aspect as well in the back of my head was always resonating, which is why I think the song is leaning at times toward almost pop.”

After Belousova and Ostinelli finished their composition, Batey helped form some of the song’s catchy melody simply as part of the process of recording, creating the earworm we eventually hear. One so good, the composers started seeding the melody in and around different moments of the show—and not just in “Four Marks” to audibly establish Jaskier and Geralt’s relationship, but far and wide, to emphasize that Jaskier basically penned the fantasy version of a Billboard Hot 100 hit that everyone can’t get enough of.

“By the time the audience gets to the end of the episode and hears the song, it’s brand new for them. But at the same time it’s something that they’ve already heard before,” Belousova said. “...Sometimes in the tavern you hear this soft music and it’s in the background. You don’t always register it. But actually what hear is a modified version of ‘Toss a Coin to Your Witcher.’”

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Now if you’ll excuse us, we need to get back to tossing a coin or two in our Witcher’s general direction and having this on loop for the rest of the year.

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James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

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DISCUSSION

j4x
The Final Days of Gawker Have Come

The song is fantastic and I was all about it on my commute today.

Now that I finished the season last night, I can firmly say there is a lot to like and so much potential for the more epic parts of the story. Ready for season two and the “actual” start of the series.

Which I’m not sure is a complaint I’m on board with. While flawed in the presentation, I rather enjoyed this idea of seeing the Witcher evolve over decades in individual stories that speak to a larger character arc. Besides, with the story progressing, there won’t be any more room for such stories except for a flashback episode or some such.

So, things I loved -

choreography, damn good fights.

dragons

Roach

hedgehogs

geralts stubborn determination to stay out of others affairs, when we all know damn well his stubborn sense of honor will demand action

the way they have weaved music into the story in a meaningful way, i didn’t realize how much i wanted some silliness in my high-budget fantasy

things i liked -

Yennefers acting, though i feel we haven’t seen the best writing the actress can deliver on yet

the special effects were quality, as were the costumes. Nilfgard armor is particularly nefarious in design

things i didn’t dislike but wish had been done better -

The Battle of Sodden is an epic event that mostly occurs in the background of the novels. I was hoping for a much more...?definitive? show of magic from the mages. I’m still not sure what Yennefers last stand was really about...I get that her arc is going to be finding something she believes in enough to defend but...I dunno, there should have been a scene where she decided the battle was worth fighting on its on sake, not just as a favor.

The time jumps, not going to be easy for new viewers who don’t know character names to easily grasp.

Ciri’s story is not bad per se but was a wasted opportunity to fill in some expository background. listening to stories that explain Witchers or some such. guessing we’ll see that at Kaer Morhen and in her lessons from Triss\Yenn\whomever.

some distinctly important things are not explained clearly\at all. Geralts medallion vibrates when he is near magical creatures and we see him reach for it repeatedly but no one who didnt know before hand would ever realize.

Also, the reason Geralt can’t sleep is his dreams of Ciri are non-stop...something they did not explain, there is a missing scene in there.