Themes from ‘elections’

“The Vote” 2018 Theme


For the 2018 midterm election, NBC went back to the theme that is since 2004 most closely associated with its election coverage. Composer Michael Karp did some additional versions of the election theme for NBC and MSNBC that were used in addition to the 2016 versions. The longevity of the theme is amazing. NBC did, however, replace it’s longtime Decision moniker with new branding: “The Vote: America’s Future”

Michael Karp - The Vote theme

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“Decision 2016” Theme


For the 2016 election, composer Michael Karp revised his legendary NBC election theme that has been on the air since 2004. It includes an entirely new thematic section, a new vamp section and other minor updates. In addition to MSNBC and CNBC, NBC also uses it for various election events such as “The Commander-in-Chief Forum”.

Michael Karp - NBC Decision 2016 theme

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“Today” 2016 Election Theme


During the 2016 election, Today continues to use its own election theme. This theme is not used by any other NBC News program. It’s composed by Adam Gubman for Non-Stop Music. The new music builds on the music that Today used since 2010 to introduce their election coverage. More can be heard on Gubman’s Soundcloud channel.

Non-Stop Music - Today Election Theme

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“CBS Evening News” Current Theme


This theme was originally composed for CBS’ election coverage. The CBS Evening News started to use it starting in May of 2016. For this election cycle CBS wanted an iconic score, something people would remember 10 to 15 years from now. Man Made Music was charged with that task. Composers Joel Beckerman and Wayne Sharpe came up with this theme centered on three orchestral stabs. It’s a special challenge to write music for an election a year before it takes place, as Beckerman explained to USA Today:

“What we’re doing is creating music for a movie that has not been shot—because we don’t know what the stories are. CBS News doesn’t yet know what will unfold through this whole election cycle. So we’re trying to predict the kinds of emotions that they’re going to need—the different energies, the different instruments, so that we can create almost an entire film score for them that can unfold in real time during the election cycle.”

The various sections of the orchestra give the theme its identity. Strings give it worldliness, lower brass adds trustworthiness and short note percussion gives it forward energy, said Beckerman to AdWeek.

Man Made Music - CBS Campaign 2016 Theme

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“This Week” 2012 – 2013 Theme


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 Music. 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 Music - Your Voice, Your Vote theme

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“Today” 2010 – 2015 Election Open


While all NBC News programs use the same graphics for their election coverage, they don’t all use the same theme music. Today has used its own election theme since 2010. It’s part of a package consisting of various secondary themes by Adam Gubman for Non-Stop Music. This particular cut was also used to open the 60th anniversary special edition of Today. During that broadcast the Empire State Building was lit in the colors of Today and anchor Ann Curry wore a dress with the Today sunburst prominently displayed on it.

Non-Stop Music - Today Election Open

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“Decision 2010/2012/2014/2016” Theme


After using Michael Karp’s election theme for several election cycles, NBC went into a totally different direction in 2010. This election theme is more understated and has a cinematic sound. You might be surprised to learn that the music is done in-house. Gordon Miller is the music director for MSNBC. Along with the election theme, he also composed the music for the news magazine Rock Center.

Gordon Miller - Decision 2010 theme

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“Vote 2010” Theme


This new election theme package (the “Rally” package) was composed by the CCO and Founder of DreamArtists Music, Matthew Kajcienski. The package was launched on the evening of November 2nd, 2010 for the election special hosted by ABC anchors Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos. ABC wanted something “big, bold, fresh, urgent, and exciting” for the new election season leading up to 2012.

DreamArtists Music - Vote 2010 theme

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“Inauguration of Barack Obama” Theme


This theme was used for CBS’ coverage of the inauguration of President Barack Obama, anchored by Katie Couric. It is a great variation on the CBS Evening News theme composed by James Horner. While the theme is based on the Horner composition, the composer of this theme is actually Joel Beckerman of Man Made Music. Beckerman knows Horner’s theme well because he was previously involved in converting Horner’s music to a music package suited to the needs of a TV broadcast.

Man Made Music - Inauguration theme

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“Vote 2006/08” Theme


Although there was also a more traditional sounding election theme, this piece of music is most closely associated with ABC’s coverage of the 2006 and 2008 elections. ABC still uses this music today as a secondary theme for its election coverage and World News. However, to be completely factual: this theme is part of VideoHelper’s library (it’s on disc 29 and called Presidential Persuasion) but ABC uses a custom version that sounds less threatening and less aggressive. The custom version, as you can hear below, has newer strings and the percussion is slightly different. The volume of the percussion was reduced and it was played straight through, not looped like in the library version. For a few years ABC World News used a headline bed that is derived from the custom version of this theme. The generic version was used by local ABC stations for their election coverage.

VideoHelper - Presidential Persuasion (generic version) VideoHelper - Presidential Persuasion (custom ABC version)

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“Campaign ’06” Theme


James Horner’s CBS package is fairly extensive, it literally contains hundreds of cuts. This is the music that CBS used for the election coverage in 2006. From 2008 onwards they used a slightly different theme.

James Horner - CBS News Campaign theme

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“Decision 2004/2006/2008” Theme


Election themes don’t get much better than this. Michael Karp composed this theme which NBC used for the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections. Decision 2004 was the last election anchored by Tom Brokaw who retired days later from NBC Nightly News. He anchored from a huge set built on and around Rockefeller Plaza (which was temporarily renamed Democracy Plaza). MSNBC started using this theme again in 2012 for its election coverage and continues to use it in the 2016 election.

Michael Karp Music - Decision 2004 theme

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“Campaign 2000/02/04” Theme


This theme was used during the last elections that Dan Rather covered for CBS. It’s composed by Michael Colina, who has done all election music for CBS since 1976.

Michael Colina - CBS Campaign 2000 theme

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“ABC 2000” Theme


To celebrate the start of the year 2000, ABC News sent reporters to notable places in every time zone to cover New Years celebrations. It was a huge operation, with Peter Jennings anchoring for 25 straight hours, that won critical acclaim. They did not attempt to do this again a year later, but created a smaller and more budget-friendly version of this program on New Year’s Eve 2002. This theme was used for these programs. However, it perhaps became most famous as the theme for most of ABC’s election coverage in 2000. Since then, it has been brought back occasionally, such as for the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009.

This theme was originally not composed for ABC but for Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The Epcot attraction uses it for their presentation called “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth”. Of course Epcot and ABC-TV are owned by the same company, Walt Disney, so it is not unusual that they share resources. This theme is composed by Gavin Greenaway, who won an Emmy for it.

Gavin Greenaway - IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

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“Decision 1996/1998/2000/2002” Theme


This theme has been used for coverage of the 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002 elections. Generally the broadcast networks go all out for general elections and special graphics, sets and themes are to be expected. This theme is composed by Non-Stop Music, which had already done some bumpers for Today and themes for MSNBC (as well as many, many other great themes for television).

Non-Stop Music - Decision theme

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