Emmy-Nominated Main Track Composers Fight Skip Intro Button
According to Netflix, the Skip Intro button is pressed 136 million times in a typical day. Additionally, the feature has been embraced by streamers industry-wide. So what does this mean for a potentially iconic title theme? While approaches vary, the composers nominated for Outstanding Original Score of the Title Theme at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards are united in taking on the lighthearted with good humor and unbridled creativity.
“It makes people want to up their game and do something so catchy that people want to hear it,” says Disney+’s “Loki” nominee Natalie Holt. She likens it to writing a pop song: “Things that don’t get stuck in your head go in the trash.”
Siddhartha Khosla, nominated for Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” also uses a songwriting metaphor, calling his theme “the biggest, catchiest part of the chorus.”
Jung Jae-il, composer of Netflix’s “Squid Game,” took a slightly different approach. It fights the urge to skip by considering how people consume TV in the age of streaming. “I had to make music that sounded good not only in theaters but also on cellphones,” says Jung. “I refrained from using very low notes or dramatic changes in dynamics to ensure the music sounded great when heard through headphones or laptop speakers.”
Theodore Shapiro’s process for Apple TV+’s “Severance” was equally nuanced. He envisioned “a cooler, more electronic inner world and a more organic outer world”. A breakthrough came when Shapiro played an electronic chord progression on the piano. “It underscored the idea of this show as one big puzzle.”
This desire for experimentation is present in all the proposed themes. Cristobel Tapia de Veer, for example, incorporated screaming vocals and tribal drumming into HBO Max’s “The White Lotus” theme. “Maybe the primitive sound was very different from what people are used to hearing and that made it stand out,” he says. His goal was to echo the show’s theme and make it “sound like nature is crying out to humans”.
Howling isn’t the only unusual noise in the mix. Holt ran clocks through a tape recorder to give classic Loki mythology an analog feel, while Jung combined traditional Korean school instruments, including the sogo and melodeon, to create “something unconventional.” Khosla even turned to Home Depot buckets to salute New York street musicians in his “Only Murders” theme.
Each of these themes couldn’t be more different, but it’s this willingness to experiment that is congruent throughout and demands to be heard.