Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Memo Mark Scott: Just hit play

THIS is a far better news theme than the one you have.

It's the one you used to have, (souped up by the Perth band Pendulum).

Want proof that its better loved?

Hit play, or examine the outcome of your own Tripe-J Hotest 100. This year it came in at Number 11!

Triple J wrote it up wrongly. The writer was under the impression it had been in use up until last year. In fact it was pulled off in 2005. But it will live much much longer in memory than this one, however long you leave it there.

I am guessing the reason JJJ thought it had been still in use was that it was replaced by what sounded (to the untrained ear) like a weaker version of it.

How did that happen? Ego, I suspect. The new head of ABC News wanted to signal a new era. Apparently the brief to the new composer asked him to write something a bit like the old one.

I'd go back to the original one, quite possibly using Pendulum's wonder remix. It is stronger, more memorable, and even after all these years it still says "news".

That young people like it is an incredible bonus. Not one I would dismiss if I was running the ABC.

You are running the ABC. Your predecessors stuffed things up (and were involved in messy litigation over the originality of the replacement, which I am sure you can put behind you).

The composer Peter Wall and the estate of his partner Tony Ansell would be delighted for their creation to return to its rightful place.

As would Australia.

Here's a way to do it. Reintroduce it for the flagship 7.00 pm ABC1 bulletin only. It'll sound right for that bulletin and make it stand out as special, which it is. Later, you can enhance the other bulletins and News 24 as well.

Your Australia Day eve concert broadcast on ABC1 referred to Eagle Rock and I Still Call Australia Home as our unofficial national anthems.

There's another one.

Dancing to Aunty's tune

Bella Counihan

National Times, June 3, 2010

Only five years after one of the most recognisable news themes was canned from the ABC news, the old piccolo trumpet fanfare is getting another lease on life. Pendulum, a drum and bass outfit from Perth, have remixed the tune, and ABC radio station Triple J has been bombarded with requests for it.

It seems to have struck a chord with people who grew up with the song as a feature of daily life. Who would have guessed that the next craze hitting the clubs and bars of this nation would be the intro music for a serious news program. Yes, public servant techno has arrived.

Imagine, if you will, a club full of people pretending to be cool in front of each other, sipping, leaning, posing - all of sudden they drop the pretence. A song comes on and everyone puts on that "hey, I know this" face, throw their hands up in the air and get dancing. As a member of Pendulum told radio when the remix was released, it taps into something deep in the young Australian person's mind: "you can't get away from those horns, I think we woke up and went to sleep to them every night growing up."

The new song has prompted some strong reaction with some arguing that it should become our new national anthem. One journalist noting that it has even been adopted by the souped-up car, mullet parade who have been blaring it out their V8s.

Remixing, of course, is a fine art. It can bomb or it can make something new, stamping a different sound on the original while keeping its fundamentals in place. And this is not even the first news theme to have been remixed. Comedian Bill Bailey did an amazing drum and bass re-interpretation of the BBC world news music. If you didn't know what to play at an apocalyptic rave, this would probably be your best bet.

Peter Wall, one half of the team that composed the original ABC news theme, which lasted 20 years, said it was always one of the best things he and his fellow composer Tony Ansell ever wrote. Wall (who has the original arrangement as his ring tone) says he's "delighted" that this new remix of his work is reaching a whole new audience. Wall is also amazed at how much the 20-somethings are responding to the remix, saying that its probably so popular with this demographic because it’s been with them their whole lives, on loop - "it could be an elephant fart, and they would still love it . . . it's just so familiar".

The current ABC theme, introduced in 2005 although similar, perhaps too similar, does not have the same impact as the original. Many at the time lamented its predecessor's passing, but perhaps this remix, spreading itself on the internet and in the dance music scene, promises a revival of sorts. The daughter of one of the composers is even considering a petition to get it back as the ABC news intro.

The remix is now available on iTunes at about $1.69 a download, but with it freely available on YouTube and on other websites it probably won't generate much money. Wall laments this - "it's getting harder to make a living from music" which he says is "very, very sad." The situation now will make it harder for composers in particular to get into the industry.

Danny Clayton, presenter for Channel V who has the pendulum version as his ring tone, recently played the remix in his DJ set. He said that he turned all the music off, and then let the iconic news tune play in. Initially "people were laughing and smiling" but when the beat dropped in the song "the entire room lit up, people went crazy, the room was electrified." According to Clayton, it's a shame that the original theme has been replaced with "a watered down version" which was much more ‘‘boring’’. Clayton is all for bringing the news theme back to the ABC, saying it would be "a pity to see a music like that disappear."
And it is a great piece of music, couple that with some familiarity for a whole generation of people and you have a winning formula. Back in the Hunter Valley 20 years ago Wall's two-year-old son would always jump up and down when he heard the music on the TV around news time. It looks like people, now a similar age to Wall's grown up son, are still jumping around to it. It's clearly time to bring it back.

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