After Barbara Walters had officially retired from The View in 2014 as co-host, changes were made. Control of the show was transferred from ABC Entertainment to ABC News. A new executive producer with roots in cable news was appointed as well as a couple of new co-hosts (including the return of Rosie O’Donnell).
The changes also included a new set, graphics and theme music. The classic theme music by Edd Kalehoff was given a very contemporary arrangement. I don’t know who is responsible for this recording. It, however, only lasted two months. The View now uses a totally new theme.
Unknown - The View theme
It had been a long time coming. Rumors of Nightline’s demotion to a later time slot, were finally confirmed in 2013. Jimmy Kimmel’s show brought in a younger audience and thus more profits, so Nightline now airs an hour later. At the same time, a number of anchors left the show, most notably Terry Moran and Cynthia McFadden.
I have yet to identify the composer of this theme. If anyone knows who deserves credit for this music, let me know.
Unknown - Nightline theme
In 2013 ABC’s This Week was given the makeover that it needed. The sunday morning show previously had no graphics or theme music of its own. Instead it was using ABC’s election package that was seemingly hastily converted into a show package when Christiane Amanpour was replaced by George Stephanopolous. Meanwhile, This Week had changed into a slightly hipper show. It now regularly uses pop music, for example, to lead into or out of commercial breaks. It’s a practice that has become a staple of morning shows but not the more serious sunday public affairs programs. DreamArtists Studios combined the popular and recognizable election music with some new secondary themes with a re-orchestration to add a bit of an ESPN-vibe to the show. Fun fact: DreamArtists Studios’ lead composer Matthew Kajcienski learned to play the electric guitar over a weekend just for this theme. But since he is trained as a concert violinist picking up a guitar was not a huge departure.
DreamArtists Studios - This Week theme
Would You Fall For That? was a hybrid news and entertainment show that aired in primetime during the summer of 2013 and was produced by ABC News. Its premise was to test people’s gullibility in various situations. For example, if you stepped into an elevator and everyone was facing the back instead of the doors as usual, would you comply with what is apparently the norm in that specific elevator? Research indicates you would and the show’s experiment proved it to viewers. Nick Watt hosted. The theme is by DreamArtists Studios. Freemdom Bremner is the vocalist.
DreamArtists Studios - Would You Fall For That? theme
The Lookout is a consumer-oriented show that uses the hidden camera as a tool to uncover scams and ripoffs. As a primetime news magazine, it is produced by the Nightline team and was originally to be called Nightline: Two Truths and a Lie. Nightline’s anchors serve as the principal reporters for the show. Stylistically The Lookout is a big departure from other news magazines. Its stories are accompanied by lots of music in different styles that sometimes emphasize the playful and quirky sides of whatever is being told. For the opening theme music, DreamArtists Studios was told in its creative brief to have fun with it. And they did. The result is a theme that doesn’t fit the traditional news music genre and emphasizes The Lookout’s ‘differentness’.
DreamArtists Studios - The Lookout theme
Throughout the years the graphics for ABC News Special Reports were regularly updated to fit in with the rest of the ABC News brand. The music however stayed the same. Finally in 2013, after much of ABC News had undergone a transformation with new music, the Special Report theme was updated as well. It’s composed by DreamArtists Studios.
DreamArtists Studios - ABC News Special Report theme
This World News Tonight theme is a composition by major Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer and his co-composer at Remote Control Productions Steve Mazzaro. They had previously worked together on the score for the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises”. This theme is a total departure from the theme that ABC’s evening newscast had been using in some form or another since the late seventies. Although Zimmer has adapted his style for news music, the World News Tonight theme still sounds like a classic Hans Zimmer theme. He relies heavily on thumping, pulsating strings that evoke a sense of urgency, energy and determination. In musical terms it is called ostinato and in film scores it is often used to propel a scene forward which lacks dynamic visual action.
The result is a theme that sounds decidedly cinematic. It continues a trend of movie composers doing news themes that was started by NBC which commissioned John Williams in 1985 to compose The Mission. On Primetime Live movie composer Bill Conti composed the theme music. The theme debuted along with new graphics and a slightly refreshed set. ABC kept the theme when David Muir became anchor of the broadcast that reverted back to its original name.
Remote Control Productions - World News open
Remote Control Productions - World News close
For the fall 2012 season, 20/20 was given a makeover. The darker and more dramatic look that was adopted two years earlier were replaced with a more colorful palette. The ABC news magazine still, however, does not have its own set. It’s taped in the World News studio. In 2013 20/20 co-anchor Chris Cumo left ABC News for CNN. He was replaced by David Muir. For the theme music, ABC turned to DreamArtists Studios, who composed the third new 20/20 theme in a row. The theme music has that big and bold sound (with a touch of cool) that has become synonymous with ABC News.
DreamArtists Studios - 20/20 theme
For the two decades after the 1964 Winter Games, ABC made the Olympics a staple of their network and invented the way it is still televised today. The torch has since been passed to NBC which adopted many of the stylistic elements ABC pioneered, including the theme music. Bugler’s Dream by Leo Arnaud is synonymous with the Olympic Games because it has been used since the 1960’s by the network that has the broadcasting rights. For their coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, ABC turned to DreamArtists Studios to capture the Olympic spirit. Given their background as concert orchestral composers, this was an assignment that played to their strengths. DreamArtists scored an Olympic theme package with an orchestra consisting of a massive brass section. There was, in fact, enough brass to fill 4 concert orchestras. Remarkably the theme was composed in only 24 hours. The result is a theme that is edgy and driving, with more percussion than Olympic themes at the other networks. The music reflects the truly grand scale of this world event.
DreamArtists Studios - ABC Olympics theme
Good Afternoon America was a GMA spinoff that aired for two months in the summer of 2012 on ABC’s daytime schedule. It was hosted by GMA’s news anchor Josh Elliot and its lifestyle anchor Lara Spencer. Good Afternoon America was taped each morning right after GMA in the upstairs studio of the Times Square Studios from which GMA originates. The show featured lighter fare like discussions about celebrities in the news, a little like ABC’s The View. A studio audience was present for each show. The distinctive theme song was written and performed by the popular country music band Little Big Town. On one of the shows, they performed the theme live.
Little Big Town - Good Afternoon America
These are two of the tags that are used at the end of ABC News broadcasts. On air the music is accompanied by a voice-over saying: “More Americans choose ABC News to see the whole picture.” ABC went for a big and bold sound with a touch of cool, a formula that put GMA in the #1 spot.
DreamArtists Studios - ABC News tag 1
In version 2 you might note that the end crescendo sounds like a TV turning off which is done by using reverse effects. It symbolizes that ABC News is the complete news source — period.
DreamArtists Studios - ABC News tag 2
GMA wanted a new theme that sounded “hipper and fresher” but was still “thoughtful and interesting” to reflect the show’s increased emphasis on lifestyle and entertainment. For the third time in a row they turned to DreamArtists Studios. Principal composer Matthew Kajcienski explains the challenge in composing this new theme: “You want your demographics to be able to hook into it, rather than targeting a specific group while alienating others – and just create something cool. The key here was to keep the thematic material subtle but still give it a sound that could be identified easily through texture, orchestration, and most importantly a unique and memorable percussion track.” Given these demands, the process of composing the theme was different than usual as Kajcienski explains: “We actually began by composing the percussion track first as it had to hold interest completely on its own before adding the harmonic elements. Once we had that, we dashed the track with some melodic/harmonic color and kept things simple. As the new graphics have its own ‘hook’, the music had to in essence be the sonic representation of that.” The theme is part of an extended package that gives GMA’s rejoins and breaks a modern pop feel.
DreamArtists Studios - Good Morning America theme
This year ABC launched a new promotional campaign with the tag line “see the whole picture”. This image, which stresses relevance, is in response to the whirlwind of information coming at us these days. ABC News defines its mission to help us make sense of it all. The promos were shot with more a commercial-like feel using dramatic images of the ABC News team in stride. DreamArtists Studios – who did an incredibly successful branding campaign for ABC in 2008 that later turned into the 20/20 theme – was commissioned to compose the accompanying music. The music reflects the more contemporary feel of the promo.
DreamArtists Studios - See the Whole Picture promo
Since George Stephanopoulos took back the reins of This Week, the well-received “Your Voice, Your Vote” theme was slightly altered to be used as the new theme for This Week. Former World News anchor Charles Gibson provides the voiceover that introduces Stephanopoulos each sunday morning. “Your Voice, Your Vote” is how ABC brands its election coverage for this election year. In prior years their coverage had simply been titled “Vote (fill-in-the-year)”. Along with a new name and new graphics a new theme was needed and so ABC turned once again to DreamArtists Studios. This new theme is a new arrangement of the “Vote 2010″ theme — a bit more driving and slightly less melodic. This was then spun out into an extensive new package including tracks of various moods and lengths.
DreamArtists Studios - Your Voice, Your Vote theme
When Christiane Amanpour debuted on This Week, the program was relaunched with new theme music from trumpeter Chris Botti. But Amanpour’s tenure wasn’t an immediate hit with viewers and so changes were made. ABC in particular felt that the Botti theme was too reflective and soft for the “we get to the bottom of it” feel of the show. So they wanted a theme with a bold, exciting yet traditional sound reminiscent of the Brinkley days. ABC asked DreamArtists Studios to take their Vote 2010 theme as an inspirational start. The result was a sort of hybrid theme. Although you might think the thematic material is a combination of several ABC motifs from various eras, it sticks mainly to unique elements that DreamArtists Studios composed in combination with thematic snippets taken from the original ABC News theme. The result was a theme made up of a fanfare-like open, then a series of building plateaus each featuring a different musical motif, then finally a bumper building to a giant “ABC News” signature. A couple of months after the theme debuted, Amanpour left This Week and ABC started to use a slightly altered version of its election theme for the program. Some cues from the extended 2011 package are still used today, including the moving “In Memoriam” cue.
DreamArtists Studios - This Week theme