Friday, September 08, 2006

It is time for other people to get geeky: Katie's theme.

Katie being Katie Couric, lately in the news for headlining CBS Evening News (and presumably on the verge of getting her name in the title) and becoming the first woman to do so in the process over there (since Katie is by all accounts a bit on the cuddly side, the main British equivalent would be something like Kate Garraway moving from GMTV to News at Ten, although over here there have been female hosts of Newsnight and the main news broadcasts. But then again, is there a British equivalent of Barbara Walters or Walter Cronkite? Or even the late Peter Jennings?) And since NBC called on the services of John Williams to write their long-lasting news theme, CBS brought on James Horner to write a new theme for the veteran presenter, which certainly isn't as bold as others. It's almost folksy... and it's very much in the Horner mould. One fan said it was a rewrite of Field of Dreams, but it's unfortunately not that good; I don't mind hearing it again, and it does suit her, but it ain't Williams, or indeed the theme from News at Ten ("Bong...").

Rashod D. Ollison from the Baltimore Sun writes: For someone who has composed songs for more than 100 movies, including the Academy Award-winning score for Titanic, writing a 10-second snippet of music should have been a cakewalk for James Horner.

But the assignment -- to create the theme that introduced Katie Couric on last night's CBS Evening News -- was anything but, at least according to a profile in yesterday's Wall Street Journal.

The network brass wanted "urgent and serious, yet light." Couric, said Horner, wanted "wheat fields blowing rather than Manhattan skyline."

So did Horner succeed?

Well, yes and no. The cough-and-you-missed-it clip was light on the strident drums and bombastic horns typical of the evening news. The music blows away without leaving an impression.

Jerry Del Colliano, a music industry professor at the University of Southern California, says the theme is "critical to a medium that routinely bombards audiences with sound effects, music bumpers, promos and theme music."

The music fits Couric: firm yet polite but ultimately boring. It complements the "warmth" of the orange-gold graphics. In a way, Horner, 53, accomplished his musical mission.

"Setting a this-isn't-your-father's newscast tone right from the start is important," says Vicki Kunkel of Leader Brand Strategists, a brand management firm in Chicago. "The theme song sends the message that this will not be an in-your-face newscast but will quietly and confidently deliver the news with a sophisticated air.

"Will viewers notice the snippet of majestic horns and strings?

"Older viewers shouldn't care," Del Colliano says. "An aging audience for evening newscasts and the proliferation of the Internet -- is anyone paying attention? ... The next generation listens to its own beat in more ways than music."

1 comment:

The Archivist said...

Ultimately boring? That explains why I yawned.

And to tell you the truth, Katie Couric doesn't really grab me.