The Downton Files: A Musical Mash-up

By Saralyn Smith | 9 years ago

There aren’t really many areas of overlap between British period drama Downton Abbey and Chris Carter’s The X-Files. Downton Abbey plays in the United States on PBS’s Masterpiece Theater and wins Golden Globes, while The X-Files built a cult following on a young broadcast network. Downton Abbey deals with the chaos and fear of a political and socioeconomic world changing in concrete ways. The X-Files deals with the fear and paranoia caused by postmodernism and decades of government coverups (both real and imagined). Mulder and Scully had to worry about killer computers, aliens and super viruses, while Downton‘s Dowager Countess gets freaked out by electric lighting. Perhaps the only immediate comparison is that both shows long delayed the pairing off of characters everyone knows are meant to be together (I’m looking at you, Matthew and Mary Crawley). But, thanks to the weird and delicious way the internet has of bringing together seemingly disparate fandoms, someone noticed another area of overlap between Downton Abbey and The X-Files: their distinctive theme songs.

If you happen to be interested in both conspiracy theory-filled 1990s American science fiction AND the lives of British nobles and their house staff in the 1910s and 1920s, this might be the best thing you listen to all day:

Both shows have rhythmically looping themes that can either get stuck in your head for weeks at a time or put you into a kind of trance, but playing them side by side shows just how similar they really are. The real surprise comes when the two are combined, though. Instead of cacophony or even the note-by-note syncing you might expect if Downton‘s theme had been pilfered from the earlier show’s theme, it produces a beautifully layered piece of music. It’s dense, but the richer instrumentation of Downton‘s theme compliments the pulsating synthetic nature of the theme from The X-Files really well.

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