Themes from ‘Good Morning America’

“Good Morning America” Current Theme

To highlight the “news first” focus through the new show open, Good Morning America wanted its theme to carry a weight of importance and power. However, executives wanted to completely steer away from anything orchestral to set it apart from the competition. So composer Matthew Kajcienski of DreamArtists Music was asked to write a theme within a much fresher, more “current” sound world than anything in the past. This presented a significant challenge. Composers often turn to at least some elements of the orchestra to help propel those feelings of gravity, drive and power in news. “I had to limit the orchestration to electronic instruments heard more often in a hit song, rather than in the theme to a network morning show,” Kajcienski told us. “Where I would naturally turn to a horn stab or a rhythmic ostinato in the strings, I had to experiment and find other ways to use the sound palette to achieve the timbre, drive, and textures I was after.”

DreamArtists Music – Good Morning America theme

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“Good Morning America” 2017 – 2019 Theme

After just a little more than a year, and with the addition of Michael Strahan to the GMA anchor desk, ABC wanted to give the show a “bigger, bolder” sound to replace the more pop-centered theme of 2015. ABC turned to their friends at DreamArtists Music and composer Matthew Kajcienski to write the show’s main theme and theme package. Differently structured from before, ABC executives came up with a new format for the opening theme music in which it would be broken up into five parts. This was to mirror the intensity of the four main news stories used in the main open from “breaking news” to “light news”, and then exit with a bold, triumphant crescendo into the broadcast. The theme combines large-scale orchestral elements with electronics, a sound that DreamArtists Music is well known for creating in the ABC News division.

DreamArtists Music – Good Morning America theme

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“Good Morning America” 2015 – 2017 Theme

A day before GMA celebrated its 40th anniversary, the top rated morning show started using a new theme by DreamArtists Music. The new music combines elements of contemporary pop and electronic dance rhythms with a symphonic/concert music foundation for which DreamArtists and lead composer Matthew Kajcienski is known.

DreamArtists Music – Good Morning America theme

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“Good Afternoon America” Theme Song

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

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“Good Morning America” 2012 – 2015 Theme

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 Music. 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 Music – Good Morning America theme

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“Good Morning America” 2009 – 2012 Theme

When George Stephanopolous succeeded Diane Sawyer as anchor of Good Morning America, this theme was launched. This update of the previous theme – also by DreamArtists Music – is intended to reflect the more newsy direction that GMA has taken. The new theme was accompanied by a new opening format: (1) opening vamp under introductions by the main anchors, (2) main theme under a montage announcing the featured stories, (3) musical build over announcer with visuals of Times Square and (4) bumper into the show. The weekend edition of GMA continued to use the previous theme for a while but eventually adopted this version.

DreamArtists Music – Good Morning America

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“Good Morning America” 2007 – 2009 Open

Over the last few years, DreamArtists Music has been the “go to guys” for ABC News theme music and branding, but this one was the first. It was quite a remarkable accomplishment for them to get a chance to write the theme for GMA. At the time, in 2006, the company was just getting off the ground and consisted of a small group of recent Juilliard graduates in their mid 20’s, as well as faculty at the famed school. Although they were having some initial success in commercial writing, they had virtually no experience with composing news music for the big broadcast networks. Yet they had to compete with established big-name music production companies with expensive marketing firms. So how did they get their big break? When Charles Gibson took over World News Tonight in 2006, DreamArtists Music saw an opportunity for a possible theme change on the program. After ample research on target audiences, branding efforts, and trends in the industry, they created an elaborate presentation for ABC News with a full program music demo scored to picture. To their surprise and with the help of an equally young 2-man marketing team, they received a call the next day. Eventually they landed a meeting with ABC executives who were impressed by DreamArtists’ uniqueness as far as their accomplished concert music backgrounds, new positioning in the industry, and conservatory skill set. To their disappointment, World News was not in the market for a new theme at the time, but were told there might be an opportunity for them down the line. That unknown opportunity turned out to be anything but a small consolation prize. With persistence at their side (and a 26 year old at the company helm), they were called into the offices and asked to submit a theme for the GMA re-launch in 2007. Together with ABC, DreamArtists spent several months in the process – with almost daily work in the studio – before gaining everyone’s approval from executives to anchors. The result was a crafty orchestral theme a bit more upscale than what GMA had before.

DreamArtists Music – Good Morning America open

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“Good Morning America” 2005 – 2007 Promo Campaign

From 2001 to 2005 GMA used the popular though not commercially released song “Good Things are Happening” by Bill Deasy as their music in promos for the program. In 2005 they switched to an equally cheerful song, “Good to Go”. The song is sung by country singer Julie Roberts and, by means of warning, it gets stuck in your head very easily. The production is done by ABC’s go-to composer, Edd Kalehoff.

Julie Roberts – Good to Go

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“Good Morning America” 2004 – 2006 Open

This is the 2004 open to Good Morning America by VideoHelper, originally composed in 2000 as the theme to World News Tonight. When the theme started being used for GMA, the program had regained much of its momentum that it lost in the late 90’s. Though Charles Gibson left in 2006 to anchor World News, he was not replaced on GMA. A year before he left Robin Roberts was added as co-anchor so the program simply went back to having two anchors. Male personalities were added to the mix when Chris Cuomo and Sam Champion were appointed news anchor and weatherman respectively. GMA, however, was the first network morning show to have two female primary anchors. A few years later, Today would follow.

VideoHelper – Good Morning America open

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“Good Morning America” 1999 – 2004 Theme

In 1999 Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson were named interim anchors for Good Morning America, filling in until ABC found new permanent anchors for the breakfast program. However, as months became years, their status as interim was dropped. This theme started being used when the program moved into the Times Square Studios. The studios are owned by Disney and besides GMA, a wide array of ABC programs are taped there. The theme is composed by Desmond Child, who is known for composing hit songs for Ricky Martin, KISS, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi.

Desmond Child – Good Morning America theme

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“Good Morning America” 1997 – 1999 Theme

This theme embodies the transfer of GMA from the entertainment division to the news division as it contains the ABC News emblem. It is the first GMA theme to contain this signature. The theme is composed by Michael Whalen. A version of this theme is commercially released. It’s called ‘Morning Aire’ and is on the ‘The Softest Touch’ album, available on iTunes. Though the theme is excellent, it was used during a disastrous period for Good Morning America. When longtime anchors Lunden and Gibson left, there were no heirs apparent. ABC settled on Lisa McRee and Kevin Newman, but the competitive and lucrative morning slot was no place for two relative unknowns. Within months GMA was in danger of falling behind CBS, the long time bottom-dweller in morning television ratings. So within a year, the partnership ended and Good Morning settled on a new strategy.

Michael Whalen – Good Morning America theme

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“Good Morning America” 1992 – 1996 Theme

This theme was used during the latter years of the Lunden-Gibson era and is composed by Non-Stop Music. The early 90’s saw the morning shows travel the country and the world. Shows on the road became as synonymous with morning programs as chatty anchors, funny weathermen and soft news features. It’s hardly done these days.

Non-Stop Music – Good Morning America theme

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“Good Morning America” 1989 – 1992 Theme

This theme is composed by Frank Gari, who has composed news themes and image campaigns for TV stations in almost every single local market. It was used near the beginning of the Gibson-Lunden era, a very successful period for the show. Technically, however, GMA was not a news program at the time. While its competitors were produced by the news divisions of their networks, GMA was produced by the entertainment division. The news updates, however, did come from the news division. In the mid 90’s the program was fully transferred to News.

Frank Gari – Good Morning America theme

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“Good Morning America” 1987 – 1989 Theme

When David Hartman left Good Morning America, the program got a total makeover. The original GMA theme was dropped and the graphics were redone with a colorful neon-logo. Though this particular look did not last long, it was the start of the most succesful period of Good Morning America. Joan Lunden and Charlie Gibson beat the Today Show for many years.

Unknown composer – Good Morning America theme

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“Good Morning America” 1975 – 1987 Theme

ABC’s Good Morning America was launched in November of 1975. The first host was David Hartman with Nancy Dussault as his co-host (later replaced by Sandy Hill and then Joan Lunden). Good Morning America is still an everyday part of our life. But when it debuted, it revolutionized morning television. It introduced the living room set, which was the standard until the 1990s brought us street side studios. Also, it offered a far more entertainment-oriented approach, reflected by having a former actor as host. Viewers didn’t immediately reward this approach but they came around eventually and GMA toppled NBC’s Today in 1981. This is the original theme to Good Morning America. Unlike for NBC, not many legendary composers have composed themes for ABC. This is the notable exception. Marvin Hamlisch, one of only thirteen people to have won Emmys, Grammys, Oscars and a Tony, composed this theme built around 4 notes. When he played the theme live on a special edition of GMA, he said about it: “I wanted to write a theme I want to wake up to.”

Marvin Hamlisch – Good Morning America theme
Marvin Hamlisch – Good Morning America close

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