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The Emmys failed to toss a coin to The Witcher

The Netflix show’s song deserved a nomination

Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia squares up on an armored knight in The Witcher on Netflix. Photo: Katalin Vermes/Netflix
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

Despite being the only fantasy series to find a footing in the race to replace Game of Thrones, Netflix’s 2019 series The Witcher earned no love from this year’s Emmys. On Tuesday, the Television Academy revealed its full list of 2020 Emmys nominations, highlighting dramas like Succession, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Watchmen, plus comedies ranging from Curb Your Enthusiasm to Insecure.

Geralt of Rivia was woefully unrepresented, despite his continued work slaying monsters across the Continent. With more obvious “prestige” series — and even The Mandalorian — filling up the top spots, the freshman action drama couldn’t squeeze into any acting, directing, or craft category. One overlooked aspect of the series feels especially egregious: Jaskier the Bard’s earworm single, “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher.”

Composed by Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli, and with lyrics by Jenny Klein, “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” went viral enough last December to become #1 on the iTunes Top Soundtrack Songs charts worldwide and #1 on Billboard’s Rock Song sales chart. But the meme-worthy phenomenon wasn’t enough to sell Emmy voters, who snubbed the song in favor of these (probably well-deserved) nominees:

“Letter To My Godfather,” The Black Godfather

Music and lyrics by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo

“And Salt The Earth Behind You / Song Title: All For Us,” Euphoria

Music and lyrics by Labrinth

“Eat Sh!t, Bob,” Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Music by David Dabbon, lyrics by Joanna Rothkopf, Jill Twiss, and Seena Vali

“Build It Up,” Little Fires Everywhere

Music and lyrics by Ingrid Michaelson

“One Less Angel,” The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Music and lyrics by Thomas Mizer and Curtis Moore

“Memorized,” This Is Us

Music and lyrics by Siddhartha Khosla and Taylor Goldsmith

“The Way It Used To Be,” Watchmen

Music and lyrics by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Not to slight the artists above, but Joey Batey’s performance in the second episode of The Witcher is a wailing, in-universe musical number that says everything about the character and the perspective of the world on Witcher culture. It’s vital! And credit is due to Belousova and Ostinelli for breathing life into the track. Belousova, a child prodigy who grew up in Russia, blew out the orchestration behind Batey’s vocals, then spent the months after The Witcher’s release re-recording versions of “Toss a Coin” in her home studio. Her enthusiasm for the work is infectious, and her versions are just as good.

The score and songs for The Witcher are full of unique instrumentation, including four- and five-string guitars, lutes, mandolins, laternas, flutes, Native American flutes, dulcimers, and mouth harmonicas. Belousova does a tremendous job breaking it all down in this “Anatomy of a Song” video.

Netflix isn’t hurting for 2020 Emmy nominations — the streamer scored 160 total, a new record for a single distributor — but my heart aches for “Toss a Coin for Your Witcher.” Unlike the Oscars’ companion category, there are rarely moments where TV shows find a way to incorporate original, diegetic songs, let alone ones that I’d listen to on purpose.

Oh well. No coin for The Witcher in 2020. We’ll just have to wait until the recently announced prequel series Blood Origins recruits Taylor Swift to adapt a cut folklore song into an anthem about the dryads of Brokilon forest.

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