Music, as Madonna once sung, mixes the bourgeoisie and the rebel. Which is nice. But music, let’s face it, is also the oil in the engine of geek, certainly when it comes to movies and TV shows. Play the right piece of music and it detonates behind a geek’s eyes, fills their mind with visions of not just the show or movie it’s associated with, but the memories they have of it too. So, tune your instruments and get ready for a performance, as this week the Blogbusters answer the question:
What in your opinion is the greatest piece of science fiction theme music ever produced?
This week though, I added a caveat. If someone wanted to choose the Doctor Who theme tune they could, but they had to choose something else as well. So, let’s see who’s humming what tune, shall we?
Troo Topham: So many to choose from! So many iconic pieces, instantly recognisable from just a bar or two. The Doctor Who theme, the Imperial March, the Terminator theme, Inception…
I’m going to be awkward and go with a piece of eargasming genius from a film that only tangentially counts as Science Fiction… amongst all the other genres it passes through. Death Is The Road To Awe, by Clint Mansell, from The Fountain. I like almost all Mansell’s soundtrack music, but there’s something utterly special about this one. It’s music which makes the scene. And it is, ultimately, the film’s theme.
Now I have to listen to it again. Which is really not any hardship…
Laura McConnell: Oh, good Lord. How on Earth does one answer this question? As a band geek and trumpet player, it’s nigh impossible for me to pick just one. Jerry Goldsmith’s Life Is A Dream (Star Trek V) ranks up there. Elfman’s Batman (1989) is amazing. Silvestri made Back To The Future so much better. Zimmer has his place in this list with Pirates Of The Caribbean. Then, of course, there’s John Williams, who gave us ET, Star Wars and so much more.
But to choose just one? Well, in the end, I’m a trumpet player, and when all is said and done, I must bow to my brass roots. And so it’s John Williams, with Superman. From its majestic opening to that trademark stinger, it’s Superman. Ask me tomorrow and that might change, but for today, it’s Superman.
Steven Ellis: The first thing that comes to mind is the Star Wars theme music. From first seeing the film as kid right through to today, I still have a visceral reaction to the opening music every time I hear it. The Fox fanfare plays out and then we launch straight into that booming epic music. It’s just fantastic and it makes the hair on my neck stand on end every time. It’s more than just the main theme though, Williams’ work on the rest of the Star Wars saga score is just as good, from the Imperial March through Luke’s theme and The Duel Of The Fates in The Phantom Menace, there are so many great tracks to choose. The Star Wars soundtracks are some of the few film score albums that I own. The Star Wars Musical Journey DVD is excellent too.
I think John Williams is some kind of genius. He has more Oscar nominations that anyone else alive and he’s come up with so many memorable scores for so many films; the iconic movie themes for Star Wars, Superman, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, ET and Harry Potter are all his and there are many more. His music is all so hummable; I wonder if there’s anyone else alive who has earwormed sci-fi fans as often or as consistently as this man.
Also worthy of mention is Alexander Courage for his amazing original Star Trek TV show theme. Of all the shows I watched when I was growing up this is probably the music that stays with me the most. When I hear the tune today it takes me right back to Saturday afternoons in front of the telly with my dinner on my knee watching Kirk and Spock off on another adventure…
So, I have two answers. Two pieces of music that both take me right back to childhood. One for telly and one for films… my telly answer is Alexander Courage’s Star Trek theme and I pick John Williams’ Star Wars theme for film.
I kinda cheated with my answer again there didn’t I?
Kell Harker: The theme music I most often catch myself humming in the shower is Chuck’s instrumental version of “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake. Na, na-na-na-nah… I love you Chuck Bartowski! Marry me.
Now with added lyrics!
Matt Risley: Sure, it may not have been the most sophisticated score ever created, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Red Dwarf‘s jaunty, jingly, trumpet-y theme tune. It’s silly, it’s catchy and it reflects the show perfectly – getting you in the mood for yet another ridiculous Dwarf-ian adventure.
Elvis closing song
It’s Wednesday night! It’s amateur Hammond Organ recital night!
Dave Golder: Nothing sends shivers down my spine more than the theme to The Prisoner. Practically a mini-symphony in four movements, it kicks off with an overture of ominous bongos, before moving to the main section, where horns and strings are engaged in an ongoing-argument of overalapping musical phrases (somewhat apt considering the voice-over to come). Then it slows right, down, to a creepy mysterious vibe as Number Six wakes up in the Village, before finally welling up to a short, sharp explosive crescendo. (Ian’s just read this over my shoulder and said he’s going to send it to pseuds’ corner in Private Eye).
On the other hand, that choice’ like many others here, could partially be driven by nostalgia. There is one theme I adore, however, even though I’m no great fan of the show itself. And that’s Earth: Final Conflict. Many telefantasy shows have gone down the slightly-ethnic-sounding-wailing route since (yes, that includes you, Heroes), but none have ever done it quite so majestically.
Lee Harris: The Space Pirates theme. It’s not difficult. It has singalong, it has space, it has scurvy pirates, it has a shanty instrumental, and it has shouting, too.
Alasdair Stuart: No one else has played the wild card huh? Sounds like my cue! The Doctor Who theme is an extraordinary piece of music because of the decades of memories so many people have associated with it and also how mutable it is. This is a show, fundamentally, about change (That sound you can hear is people frantically typing what the show is really about. Hi everyone! Your mileage may vary!) and I love how the theme tune has evolved and changed with the show. Plus I really love the series five arrangement of it, so that’s my freebie:
But even with that, even with the fact I grew up around Doctor Who? I’m a Sunnydale boy. The Buffy theme is utterly, utterly perfect, a crunchy guitared punky distillation of the show’s themes; horror, the actual horror of growing up and funny, complicated people fighting monsters. I love it to tiny tiny pieces and always will:
So there you go, our all time greatest hits. And speaking of hits, next week’s question is a little… punchier.
What’s your favourite genre fiction fight scene?
So wrap your hands and get ready for that long training montage. We’ll see you in seven.